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Democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Voter-Owned Elections Voter-Owned Elections The people deserve to Be Heard.

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Presentation on theme: "Democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Voter-Owned Elections Voter-Owned Elections The people deserve to Be Heard."— Presentation transcript:

1 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Voter-Owned Elections Voter-Owned Elections The people deserve to Be Heard

2 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Democracy North Carolina Democracy North Carolina is a nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase voter participation, reduce the influence of big money in politics and achieve a government that is truly of the people, for the people and by the people. Voter-Owned Elections are vital to building a government that answers to the people.

3 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Voter-Owned Elections Elected officials are beholden to the PEOPLE instead of to big donors. Public policies are driven by the PEOPLE, not by special interests PEOPLE can run for office without special interest backing. A way for the people to be heard at every step. Candidates can concentrate on the issues important to the PEOPLE.

4 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Why We Need VOE Now We must restore the integrity of our government and electoral system:  We must fight ethical corruption triggered by big money politics.  We must protect the voice of the people in the wake of Citizens United.  We must ensure the public’s interest is respected during major policy debates.

5 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Is money in politics really Is money in politics really a problem?

6 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Problem Is Real The high cost of public office is eroding our democracy:  Potential candidates are opting not to run, robbing voters of choice in leadership.  Donors feel pressured to give big sums and many want something in return for their “investment.”  Citizens see how policy is skewed by special interests and lose confidence in government.

7 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Rising Costs in North Carolina Total dollars spent running for both houses of the NC General Assembly in Presidential election years: Source: The Program On Public Life

8 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Problem Is Systemwide Sample 2008 fundraising and spending totals: Kay Hagan Bev PerdueWalter Dalton Elizabeth DolePat McCrory Robert Pittenger $ 17.7 million $ 8.5 million $ 2.7 million $ 19.5 million $ 5.6 million $ 6.4 million

9 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Whose voice is being heard? The typical NC campaign contributor:  97% are white.  73% are men.  81% have annual incomes exceeding $100,000. Less than 1% of North Carolina gives 90% of ALL campaign contributions in the state.

10 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Whose voice is shaping policy debate? Top industries contributing dollars to federal level candidates from NC during 2008: Source: Center for Responsible Politics

11 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Whose voice is shaping policy debate? Top industries contributing dollars to federal level candidates from NC in the first Quarter of 2010: Source: Center for Responsible Politics

12 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Power of Special Interests 2008 donations to NC campaigns: These are donations to federal candidates and political parties only: state level candidates added even more! Lawyers/Law Firms$ 2,752,813 Real Estate$ 1,920,982 Education$ 1,616,590 Health Professionals$ 1,298,423 Commercial Banks$ 1,207,582 Pharmaceuticals/Health Products$ 988,668 Business Services$ 967,428 Tobacco$ 80,820

13 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people WHY do PACs give so much? Top 10 PAC’s in North Carolina: NC Realtors Association Citizens for Higher Education NC Medical Society NC Home Builders Association Academy of Trial Lawyers Academy of Trial Lawyers Progress Energy Bank of America Bank of America Nationwide Insurance Nationwide Insurance NC Hospital Association NC Hospital Association Duke Energy

14 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Cost Of Special Interests A case in point the powerful NC pollution lobby: A case in point – the powerful NC pollution lobby:  Donates $10,000 for every $100 donated by pro- environmental PACs.  Supports dozens of lobbyists in Raleigh.  Not only influences legislation affecting the environment – sometimes they WRITE it. Who pays for the clean-up and health costs triggered by pollution? NC taxpayers.

15 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Cost Of Special Interests A case in point Duke Energy: A case in point – Duke Energy:  Its senior executives and PAC have given nearly $750,000 to NC candidates since 2005.  Duke Energy’s PAC ranks each year as one of the top 5 company-sponsored PACs in NC.  Duke gives this money even as it seeks favorable treatment on controversial energy policies.  The resulting policies affect public health, the economy and the environment.

16 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people We Pay the Price In Other Ways  Fundraising overshadows the issues: we don’t know where candidates stand.  People lose confidence in government: power cedes to special interests.  Special interests get large tax breaks: state revenues suffer.  Fewer people run for office: without new leadership, nothing ever changes.

17 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Consensus Is Clear An April 2010 poll showed:  91% of North Carolinians believe campaign contributors influence public policy decisions.  80% of NC voters believe the high cost of campaigning keeps qualified candidates from running for office.  80% also believe that state lawmakers listen more to groups that fund their campaigns than to voters.  71% of all NC voters favor a major overhaul to the state’s campaign finance system.

18 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people What can be done to change the way we elect leaders? What can be done to change the way we elect leaders?

19 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Support Voter-Owned Elections What are Voter-Owned Elections?  Voluntary programs that provide money to candidates running for specific offices.  Strict program requirements ensure only truly viable candidates qualify to receive program funds.  Qualifying candidates receive program grants in exchange for accepting spending limits.  Sometimes called Fair Elections, Clean Elections or Public Campaign Financing.

20 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people VOE Lets The People Be Heard Who decides who runs for office? THE VOTERS OF NORTH CAROLINA Who decides what candidates talk about? THE VOTERS OF NORTH CAROLINA Who are officials accountable to? THE VOTERS OF NORTH CAROLINA Whose interests do policies reflect? THE VOTERS OF NORTH CAROLINA

21 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Other Benefits of VOE  Proven alternative / ruled constitutional.  Widespread, bi-partisan public support.  Opens doors for more candidates.  Enforces accountability.  Makes room for real policy debate.  Strengthens democracy by eliminating conflicts of interest and restoring confidence.

22 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Embraced By Voters & Politicians  June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction “[With Voter-Owned Elections] the voice of the voter who has just $10 to contribute speaks as strongly as the one with $4,000 in races without public financing.”

23 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people How does a How does a Voter-Owned Elections program work?

24 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people How a VOE Program Works  Step 1: Candidate decides to seek public funds. VOE programs are voluntary.  Step 2: Candidate proves he or she is a viable candidate.  Step 3: Qualifying candidates receive a program grant to fund his or her campaign.  Step 4: Candidates must abide by strict program rules and return unused funds.

25 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people VOE Candidate Standards Strict program rules protect the public trust and the program’s integrity:  Small donor thresholds must be met to qualify.  Private fundraising after qualifying is prohibited.  Large donations from individuals and PAC’s are prohibited at all times.  Candidates may only use a limited amount of their personal money before qualifying.

26 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people How do we pay How do we pay for Voter-Owned Elections?

27 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Funding Varies With The Program No tax increase is necessary:  Programs can be paid for through fees on companies doing business with the state.  Some VOE program proposals call for voluntary funding by non-public sources.  A penny per day per adult in NC would cover the cost for all state level races.  Just closing some tax loopholes would also pay for VOE for all state level races.

28 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people VOE Can Even Enhance Revenues  Special interest tax breaks are reduced.  Special interest legislation is reduced. …each year, millions in special tax breaks are granted to big campaign donors in our state. Closing those loopholes would bring millions into our state’s coffers.

29 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people North Carolina is a national VOE leader

30 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people VOE in North Carolina Programs are being implemented at the state and local levels.  The N.C. Public Campaign Fund for NC Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges began in 2004.  A Council of State program covering 3 offices was a huge success when it debuted in 2008.  A local pilot program began in Chapel Hill in 2009 and proved successful.

31 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Power of VOE The Insurance Commissioner’s race proved VOE reduces special interest influence: Special Interest Donations in Thousands Special interest donations have plummeted.

32 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Power of VOE The Insurance Commissioner’s race proved VOE can compete against the big money system:

33 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The People Are Being Heard  Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance “[The VOE program] has engaged and involved a myriad of voters who never contributed or paid much attention to an Insurance Commissioner campaign before. Their involvement is great for democracy.”

34 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people VOE Is Gaining Steam Nationally  Statewide and local VOE programs now exist in six states, with all programs proving successful.  NC’s U.S. Rep. Walter Jones is a primary sponsor of a federal public campaign financing bill called the “Fair Elections Now Act” for Congressional races.  Other NC co-sponsors of the federal bill include Rep. G.K. Butterfield, Rep. Larry Kissell, Rep. Brad Miller, Rep. David Price, and Rep. Mel Watt.  Citizens United has inspired growing support for VOE across the United States.

35 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people What’s ahead for VOE?

36 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people The Future of VOE Our 2010 Legislative Priorities:  Expand VOE to include the other 5 Council of State agency races.  Allow other local governments to adopt VOE programs if a town’s citizens want VOE.  Expand VOE to include pilot legislative races.  Support passage of the federal Fair Elections Now Act as soon as possible.

37 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Momentum Favors VOE  Ethical scandals have underscored the need to eliminate conflicts of interest.  Citizens United made many people realize the voices of citizens are in danger.  Recent policy debates have highlighted how special interests corrupt the policy process.  Politicians are feeling the pressure from constituents and calling for reform.

38 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people BE HEARD Support Voter-Owned Elections!  Learn all you can about VOE  Contact legislators: voice support for VOE.  Educate others via workshops, seminars and hand-outs.  Write letters to the editor: ask us how.  Check YES to the $3 N.C. Public Campaign Fund on your NC tax return.

39 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people For More Information: Democracy North Carolina  www.democracy-nc.org NC Voters for Clean Elections Coalition  www.ncvce.org

40 democracy NORTH CAROLINA Of, by and for the people Support Voter-Owned Elections The people deserve to Be Heard


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