Van Hollen Calls On GOP To Support Transparency in Our Elections
Jan 26, 2011 -
Today Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, spoke on the House floor in opposition to Republican efforts to get rid of public financing of presidential campaigns and party conventions. Below are Van Hollen’s remarks, and you can watch video of his statement here:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I thank my colleague. I rise in strong opposition to this measure, which, along with the Supreme Court’s radical decision in Citizens United, takes our nation’s campaign finance system in precisely the wrong direction – less transparency and less information for the voters.
“Americans from across the political spectrum – Democrats, Republicans, Independents – want less special interest money in politics, not more. They want clean, transparent, and competitive elections and campaigns, where candidates – those of us in this room, presidential candidates – rise and fall based on the quality of their ideas, the strength of their arguments, and their ability to attract support from the voters that they seek to represent.
“What they don’t want – what they don’t want are campaigns decided by how much secret money flows into an election from secret outside groups. And they will no long tolerate – I believe – those politicians turning around and saying to those citizens you have no right to know who is paying for what in our political campaigns. You have no right to know who is paying for those TV advertisements that you’re watching.
“Let’s remember what we’re talking about here. The current presidential financing system that this bill would eliminate arose from public outrage in the post-Watergate period. Rather than presidential candidates trafficking in secret slush funds, our nation decided that our democracy would be better served by a system of public disclosure, contribution limits, and emphasis on smaller dollar contributions, matched by the presidential financing fund.
“The system is voluntary, one line on your tax code, not complicated. And, while not perfect, for most of its 36 years in existence, it has served this nation well. Candidates from across the political spectrum – from Ronald Reagan to Jesse Jackson — have voluntarily participated in the presidential financing system.
“Now, as a colleague on the other side of aisle mentioned, there is no doubt that the current law needs to be modernized. It needs to be fixed. We saw that in the last presidential election, but rather than throw out something that has served the country and the electorate well for 36 years – rather than throw it out, let’s fix it. And Mr. Price from North Carolina, and I, and others, have introduced legislation to do exactly that.
“So rather than shielding an avalanche of unlimited special interest money from public view, we should shine a light on it. We should do it by modernizing the presidential system and we should also pass the DISLCOSE Act, which we could have brought up and voted on except for the previous question was just defeated.
“Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, our nation’s democracy doesn’t belong to Presidents or Members of Congress. It belongs to the voters who send us here. And we have a solemn responsibility to safeguard it on their behalf and protect it for future generations from the lessons and corruption of history. Let’s mend it, let’s fix it, let’s not throw it out.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”