Public Funding Of Elections
The Root of Corruption is Private Money in Public Politics
Publicly Funded Elections
If there were a single cause as to why our government and society have been corrupted to the degree we see presently, it’s the fact that wealthy interests have the ability to legally bribe our elected representatives through “campaign contributions.” These interests can spend billions of dollars to fund election campaigns, we can’t, thus they purchase influence over our interests at will.
To change this, the Alliance Party would institute a legal framework that would mandate all election campaigns for public office be funded exclusively from public money, prohibiting candidates from accepting third-party funds. Before we go over its details, we'll review some of the things it would (and would not) do.
Third-parties would be free to spend their own money to promote a candidate or cause as they desire, but they must do so under an honor rule. That means all political speech promoted by a third party (or donations to that effort) must be fluidly transparent. In short, anyone promoting a third-party message must sign their name to it - and do so conspicuously.
If Mark Cuban (for example) wants to buy a few million dollars worth of airtime advertisements promoting a candidate, he has a sacrosanct First Amendment right to do that. But in exercise of that right, Mr. Cuban should sign his name to any advertisements he pays for so the public knows that he is the solicitor of the message they are seeing. He wouldn't be able to, for example, pay his secretary to run the advertisement under their name - in our model that would be unlawful.
Our model places no limits on the amount of money individuals can spend on advertisements they personally sign their name to. However, it would limit the amount of money individuals could donate to Political Action Committees to $2,500. If they wish to spend private money promoting a candidate or initiative beyond that, they must pay for personally solicited advertisements.
Corporations would have higher restrictions. If Pfizer wants to run an ad promoting a candidate with pro-pharma leanings, their opinions shouldn't be muzzled. But without exception, every political advertisement they buy in every form must have "A message from the Pfizer Corporation" conspicuously posted. Moreover, corporations would be limited in the amount of money they could spend during an election cycle. Corporations would be prohibited from donating any amount of money to Political Action Committees. They could spend up to $1 million for advertisements that they sign their name to.
For Political Action Committees, any donor over $500 must be conspicuously listed on the committee website. All advertisements must provide clear notifications directing people to where this list can be found (such as a URL).
We support and seek to strengthen laws that prohibit interactions between election campaigns and Political Action Committees or third party promotions. The Alliance Party supports the First Amendment right of Americans to voice their opinions, and is not in the business of preventing corporations from speaking their mind either. We all benefit from more voices in the room, and if a voice is louder by way of financial means, so long as the public knows exactly who or what is behind that voice - we're okay with that.
But as all elections are funded by public money in this model, should a candidate collude with a third-party promotion effort, that would be a felony offense. Cheating the American public is never acceptable, and we would seek criminal penalties that hammer home that message.
With this said, the framework the Alliance Party proposes to publicly fund elections is as follows:
Estimated election cost and spending cap
Ballot qualification standards
Stages of election and release of funds
Transparent and Public Accounting
This concludes the initial model we'd deploy to publicly fund elections. Should our party gain enough support to achieve this goal and the others we have set, more concrete policy proposals will be provided with more details at that time.