2008 Annual Review

Posted on 06/18/2009 in Democratic Practice

Each year, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's annual review focuses on an issue central to its mission. This year's cover story centers on the RBF's Democratic Practice program and covers several topics, including voting rights and election reform, public financing, and immigration.

Excerpt from "Public Financing: A Moment of Real Opportunity for Reform" annual review feature:

When Deborah Simpson decided to run for a seat in Maine's House of Representatives in 2000, she was an unlikely candidate for elected office: as a waitress and single mother, she lacked connections to deep-pocketed donors. She had, however, heard about the state's new Clean Elections Act and figured she could campaign by talking about issues instead of asking people to write her checks. That year she won a seat representing the old mill town of Auburn and went on to serve four terms in the legislature. In 2008, she won a seat in the state Senate.

In many ways, Ms. Simpson is a poster child for the public financing of elections. Freed from having to fundraise, she could focus on the issues affecting her constituents.

"Public funding of elections, or clean elections, allows people who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to run to participate effectively in the political system, and that's the way it ought to be," says Adonal Foyle, founder and president of Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan student organization that works to get big private money out of politics and people back in.