Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell: Republican Voters Want You to Fix The System

“We applaud the Democratic Congressional leadership for stepping forward yesterday with a campaign finance reform initiative. However, voters’ concern about the problem crosses all partisan lines,” said John Rauh, founder of Americans for Campaign Reform and now Chair of the New Hampshire voters’ group Open Democracy.

Campaign reform was a major issue in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary, and it’s still very much on voters’ minds as we welcome potential 2020 candidates to the Granite State. It’s a particular concern for New Hampshire’s Republican voters, who care deeply about whether government represents citizens or special interests.” Rauh said. “We look forward to hearing from Republican Congressional leadership about how the system should be fixed.”  

Information about the Democrats’ initiative can be found at https://abetterdeal.democraticleader.gov/better-deal-for-our-democracy/

The evidence is overwhelming: Republican voters are worried about the consequences of special interest influence over elected officials.


  • 63% of young Republicans cite “money in politics” as a top factor responsible for problems in America today. http://iop.harvard.edu/about/newsletter-press-release/nearly-two-thirds-young-americans-fearful-about-future-democracy
  • Almost half of Republicans – and more than half of independents – say “the influence of campaign contributions” challenges their faith in our country’s form of government. (30% of Republicans and 44% of independents say they have already “lost faith” in our form of government) https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PZ-ITv4o5A3-K4_CQLzerggaIYWsrx-qpzgtTBKLSak
  • According to The Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board, a business-led policy organization: “If the country’s democracy cannot make itself sustainable, then the country’s capitalist system cannot be sustainable. Similarly, the American ideal and American prosperity both will die. We hold our future in our own hands.” (from their recent book, Sustaining Capitalism) CED calls for public funding of federal elections to “make it possible for our elected policymakers to run without reliance on big-dollar donors.” https://www.ced.org/policyissues/money-in-politics  
  • Money in politics was on voters’ minds during the 2016 elections: Two-thirds of Republicans believed our form of government is “at risk” if nothing is done to reform the influence of money in politics. A whopping 96% of Republicans believed elected officials pay more attention to donors than voters. 78% of Republicans believed we need major changes (“sweeping laws”) to reduce the influence of money in politics. 90% of Republicans said they would be likely to vote for a presidential candidate who pledged strict rules on campaign funds. 79% of Republicans said they would support their Congressional representative working with members of “the other party” to reduce the influence of special interest money. https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/79-americans-agree-we-need-sweeping-laws-reduce-influence-money-politics  

In the Granite State:

  • In a recent poll of New Hampshire voters, 74% of Republicans and 85% of independents agreed that “big money is a problem” in our elections. Concern is so strong that 50% of Republican voters and 68% of independent voters in New Hampshire support a system to publicly fund elections. http://www.opendemocracynh.org/polling_data_ppp
  • Last week’s bipartisan Congressional Candidates’ Forum featured two GOP candidates who are talking about the problem in their campaigns. Video of the Forum is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjT3U3iHJw8 and candidates’ quotes are below. Money in politics will be in the news this year because it is a distinguishing issue in this fall’s Democratic gubernatorial primary: one candidate is campaigning on a plan to publicly fund state elections; the other candidate opposes it.
  • In New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary exit polls, 88% of voters in the Republican primary described themselves as either “dissatisfied” or “angry” about the way our federal government is working. Half were looking for a candidate “from outside the political establishment.” https://www.cbsnews.com/elections/2016/primaries/republican/new-hampshire/exit/
  • Republican candidates in the 2016 New Hampshire presidential primary heard voters’ concern about the influence of money in politics and responded to it. (A sample of candidates’ quotes follow.)

“We look forward to hearing from Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell about how Republican leadership proposes to fix the system, reduce special interest influence in Washington and level the playing field for candidates who want to challenge incumbents,” Rauh said.

The problem – and voters’ concern about it – has been building for a long time. Heading into the 2016 elections, 81% of Republicans believed “the influence of money over politics is worse now than any other time in my life.”  https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/79-americans-agree-we-need-sweeping-laws-reduce-influence-money-politics

Open Democracy Action is renewing its call for publicly funded elections, which is included in yesterday’s proposal by Democratic leadership.  “We need a campaign finance system that underscores the values our country was founded on,” Rauh said. “We need a system that focuses on public funding, to give every citizen – not just wealthy special interests – an opportunity for their voice and perspective to be heard and to be able to consider for high office candidates who would serve well but do not have access to wealthy donors.”

Former Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-NH) testified in favor of a bill to publicly fund federal elections in 2007:

“I am here to state unequivocally that I support public funding of elections and specifically support the Fair Elections Now Act that has been introduced by Senators Durbin and Specter… I have seen how the influx of cash on our system has distorted our nation's agenda, undermined our democratic values, driven voters away from the polls and limited electoral competition… The reality is that private financing loosens a cascade of special interest money… Financing federal elections with private money has led to apathy and alienation, if not corruption and fraud.”  https://www.scribd.com/document/2689842/Rudman-Testimony-6-20-07


Open Democracy Action is a crosspartisan grassroots group, based in New Hampshire, with more than 33,000 supporters. 


- - - - - - GOP Candidates in Their Own Words - - - - - -


At our May 14, 2018 bipartisan forum for congressional candidates:


Andy Martin, Republican candidate for NH First Congressional District:

“One of the things the candidates do is, they make promises, ‘I’m going to do this.’ Inevitably they’ll tell you that they’re going to stand up to the big guys, stand up to the establishment or overturn the settled order. And by the way, that settled order is bipartisan, let’s not kid ourselves… There’s plenty of dirty money in the Democratic party. There’s scandals in both parties… We know it’s a problem, and it’s a bipartisan problem.”


Brian Belanger, Republican candidate for NH Second Congressional District:

“I’m the only Second CD campaigner here today. That must be because I don’t take that SuperPAC money and I don’t go out-of-state trying to raise money from SuperPACs. I look at ‘We the People’ – and that’s something I haven’t heard here today. I haven’t heard from one candidate what ‘We the People’ means. You know, those words are from a long way back, when there wasn’t a Republican and a Democratic Party and an Independent and Tea Party, it was just We the People leading in Pennsylvania: farmers, local clergymen, the storekeeper, they actually showed up to discuss issues and to make laws that actually helped build who we are.  I plan to get to Congress in the Second Congressional seat. I plan to hit the ground running, to try to introduce bills.  I like the ‘Real Reform Amendment.’ I’d like to try and overturn Citizens United. … New Hampshire’s losing that mom-and-pop shop because government don’t care anymore. They’re pushing all those small businesses out, for these big corporations; and again, it’s because we’re being lobbied.”

More information about the Real Reform Amendment: http://www.realreformamendment.org/


During the 2016 First in the Nation presidential primary:


Jeb Bush, November 4, 2015 (Wolfeboro, NH):

“You have to change the Constitution to deal with the SuperPACs – which, you know, is now protected.  We’ve got to change the Constitution and it’s going to take a long time to do it. I think we ought to have total transparency and money ought to go directly to campaigns. It ought to be put on the internet within 48 hours of when you get a contribution. That would be my idea. But that’s not going to happen until we change the Constitution.”


Ted Cruz, June 5, 2015 (Manchester, NH):

“It shouldn't be the federal government picking winners or losers. It shouldn't be the federal government picking one player over another.”

“People are fed up with the corruption and crony capitalism is the direct result of that, and the only way to stop it is to move the power in Washington back to the people, and that is fundamentally what this campaign is trying to do.”

“If you think we need fundamental change to break power out of Washington and back to we the people - that is what is at the heart of this campaign.”


Carly Fiorina, April 17, 2015 (Manchester, NH):

“Crony capitalism is a big problem, thank you for the question and first of all in terms of money for lobbying we need everyone to play by the same rules. So I don’t have any problems saying that big companies can’t lobby but that means that big unions can’t lobby and big environmental groups can’t lobby either and then NRA can’t lobby. You have to have everyone play by the same rules, but you can’t have everyone play by some rules and have another set of rules for another set. That is called corruption. The only way is to level the playing field. Tilt it back from only the wealthy, the big, the powerful and the well connected. The only way to level the playing field is to simplify. It’s common sense.”


Jim Gilmore, June 22, 2015 (Manchester, NH):

“Right now we have too many back-room deals going on, particularly with members of Congress.  I think we have to expose who is influencing who and who is providing the money and who is in fact doing that kind of influence in Congress and in other places.”


Lindsey Graham, April 8, 2015 (Barrington, NH):

“Citizens United basically struck down parts of McCain-Feingold, and now it’s the wild, wild west.  How many of you guys have seen these?  You’re going to be sick of political ads before this campaign is over.  I can only tell you what happened in North Carolina, I’m from South Carolina.  They spent $100 million dollars on the Senate races in North Carolina.  I got so sick of seeing ads…half the people in South Carolina thought they were voting for the two candidates in North Carolina.  The only way you can change this, I think, is through a constitutional amendment.  I don’t know if we can get one passed, but here is what you’ve opened up to…right now, I need about 15 million dollars to be competitive on the campaign side.  That is a lot of getting on the phone, and calling, and $2700 events, and a lot of just fundraising.  But one person who doesn’t like me can write a check to wipe all that out.  What I worry about is that we are turning campaigns over to about 100 people in this country, and they are going to be able to advocate their cause at the expense of your cause.  If we don’t figure this out soon, we are going to lose what has been a pretty good system.  Money in politics has to be regulated, because, if it’s not, you lose your influence.  You lose your voice.  Do you think unlimited giving by a handful of people doesn’t affect legislation?  I’m in the place—I can tell you it would.  So ma’am, I don’t know, but somebody needs to figure out a way to deal with Citizens United, or we will lose the democracy that a lot of people died for.”


Mike Huckabee, March 7, 2015 (Altoona, IA):

“It’s not just corporations, per se.  Are they involved in politics? Yeah. And is some of it unholy? You better believe it. The problem, and I’ve spoken about this so often, is that there is a Washington to Wall Street axis of power, in which the donor class feeds the political class, who then dances the tune of the donor class, who then demands that the donor class more funding for more tunes. If it ever feels like the folks out here in the middle of America have been left out of the process, it’s because people in the middle of America have been left out of the process. That’s why it feels like that. Now here’s the real challenge. Have you noticed that there isn’t much difference between whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge of Washington? You know why?  Because the same donor class that are giving to one [party] are giving to the other, and they’re taking care of themselves.  It’s not just corporations, it’s the broader sense of the donor class.”


Bobby Jindal, July 6, 2015 (Manchester, NH):

“I don't think the Republican Party should be the party of big government, but I also don't think it should be the party of big business.”


John Kasich, November 20, 2015 (Hollis, NH):

“I am open to any campaign finance reform plan that makes sense, that after we pass it today we don’t regret it tomorrow.  The idea of involving small donors – and I know Warren Rudman and his organization has thought about that – I’m open to it.”


George Pataki, November 13, 2015 (Concord, NH):

“It’s something that troubles me enormously: how we have lost control of the campaign process.  One of the things I would do is, Ronald Reagan put in place a tax credit for up to $200 of contributions to presidential candidates to encourage small donations, and that got wiped out after Reagan left. I think we want to encourage small donations, because that’s the people who should be electing the president – not somebody who can write a $30 million check to a SuperPAC.”


Rand Paul, January 16, 2015 (Manchester, NH):

“It's a filthy system, it gets worse and worse because the money we spend is lobbied for back policy and it gets worse. It is a problem that I am interested in. I think that one solution would be limiting federal contracts, limiting what you can do if you're going to get federal contracts.”


Rick Santorum, August 7, 2015 (Weare, NH):

“I have huge concerns about what’s happened in this country, certainly among Democrats and increasingly among Republicans, with this cronyism that we see. You have huge interests at stake and you’ve got all of these mega corporations and they’re all coming to you. So much of it is clouded by who wins and who loses… instead of ‘what is the free market way to do so?’ [or] ‘what is the way to create sort of a level playing field?’


Donald Trump, February 2, 2016 (Milford, NH):

“I don’t think I have gotten the proper credit for the fact that I am self-funding.  I don’t think it means anything to anybody. [Laughter] Really. Bush has $128 million he got.  Wouldn’t he have been better off just taking the money and throwing it out a window or something? [Laughter] But if you look at Ted Cruz. He has got tremendous money from the oil companies. He is going to take care of the oil companies and Wall Street. If you look at some of these people – all of them – they all have money. It is all from Wall Street, oil, different things. Those people are 100% like a little puppet. They will take care of those interests. With me, I have nobody. I just want to take care of you. I just want to do the right thing.”

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