Campaign Contribution Reform

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Two local District citizens have decided to reform the way political candidates and sitting politicians receive campaign funding. Ward 1 activist and former city council candidate Bryan Weaver, along with Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Sylvia Brown proposed an initiative in January that would limit the amount of money corporations can give to candidates.
 
Forming the Committee to Restore Public Trust, Weaver and Brown are leading a group of activists that are seeking to curtail the influence of corporations in city politics, where Brown will serve as the committee’s chairwoman. Their initiative seeks to change the city’s current financial system, where business entities can directly donate to political funds: campaigns, transition teams, legal defense funds and constituent services funds.
 
As the law now stands, business entities can donate directly to political campaigns, transition committees, constituent services and legal defense funds, although limited to the same $1,000 limit that applies to individuals.
 
The committee will need 22,723 valid signatures from D.C. registered voters to get on the November ballot with their initiative. Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells (D) has been the most prominent supporter of the initiative, already pushing to include new limits and disclosure requirements. Ward 4 Council member, Muriel Bowser (D) has stated that she will pursue campaign finance reform after the April 3 primary, where she is up for reelection.
 
Weaver has said that the legislation is based on former Council member, Kathleen Patterson’s (D- Ward 3) previous legislation that did not pass over a decade ago. He credits her language in the previous bill, as the basis for his initiative. His initiative will ban political funds from directly benefiting elected officials.
 
In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled to liberalize corporate spending on American election in the Citizens United case; however, it did not address a ban on direct contributions. Third party groups are now forming under the auspice of a super PAC, as a non profit organizations and political action committees.
 

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