WASHINGTON, D.C. – Only days after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to create publicly financed elections in New York State, a coalition of Congress members introduced federal legislation for citizen-backed national elections. The New York Fair Elections Campaign, a bipartisan group that supports comprehensive campaign finance reform, applauded the bill, which will reduce the influence of big money donors and raise the voices of everyday Americans in our elections. Both of the proposals will create a matching system for small donations, similar to the highly successful system in New York City.

The Government By the People Act (HR 20) is the latest legislative response to the torrent of money in politics unleashed by the Citizens United decision in 2010. For too long elected officials have been forced to ask billionaires and major corporations for campaign funds, rather than their hardworking constituents.

“More and more Americans across the country know that our campaign finance system is broken, so it is heartening that our legislative leaders have realized the same thing.” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. “The Government By the People Act in Congress, and the public funding program endorsed by Gov. Cuomo for New York are not just helpful, but necessary, to restore a political process that gives everyday people the chance to be heard.”

The Government By the People Act matches small donations of $1 to $150 on a six-to-one basis. This is almost exactly the same as the system of public financing Gov. Cuomo recently included in his budget proposal to the New York legislature. Both proposals will amplify donations by ordinary Americans, wage-earners, and small business owners, reducing the clout of special interests.

Since New York City instituted its system in the 1990s, the city has seen drastically increased rates of political participation by women, lower income people, and minorities. Donations from lobbyists and special interests have decreased ten-fold, and their power has similarly been eroded. There are common sense caps on the total matching amounts, and all campaigns are strictly audited to ensure that taxpayer money is not being misspent.

“Our government is supposed to be a democracy of the many, not the money,” said Congressman Paul Tonko, a sponsor of the bill. “Far too often and far too frequently nowadays we hear about multi-million dollar donations from nameless and faceless donors. This bill will ensure that elected officials are held accountable to the voice of the people, instead of big money donors that are too influential in politics today. Among the many challenges we face as a nation, restoring power to everyday Americans in the electoral process is one that we can tackle sensibly and immediately. I thank the New York Fair Elections Campaign for their hard work advancing this issue, and believe that this is something that every Republican and Democrat in Congress can get behind.”

“Polls show that almost two thirds of New Yorkers, and over of half of Americans, support public financing of elections. It is long past time for our elected officials to turn away from the big checkbooks of the special interests and listen to the people,” added Scharff. “Lawmakers in New York and in Congress should support efforts to make our elections more thanjust disagreements among the super-rich – as soon as possible.”

Learn more about the Government By the People Act at: http://ofby.us

Read about Gov. Cuomo’s proposal here: http://nyti.ms/LvOXuR