Campaign Finance Reform and Good Governance

Campaign Finance Reform

The strength of our democracy depends upon the strength of the rules governing political spending and speech.

Congressman Blumenauer has long been an ardent supporter of campaign finance reform, including public financing for congressional campaigns. He believes that campaign finance reform is a fundamental building block of good governance.  It’s integral to protecting free speech, citizen participation and accountability and, historically, has been a bipartisan issue. 

The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC represented a radical step towards unraveling the modest campaign finance controls already in place and escalated the campaign spending arms race. Corporations can spend an unlimited amount of money on political advertising, drowning out small donors and individuals.  The Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission was another victory for wealthy interests.

Congress must act to clarify that corporations are not people and that money is not speech.

Blumenauer is a cosponsor of H.J. Res. 22, which would amend the U.S. Constitution to reverse Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, which have given corporations and America’s wealthiest donors the right to buy unlimited influence in our elections. Last Congress, he was a cosponsor of H.J. Res. 25, which would have amended the Constitution to clarify the authority of Congress to regulate the expenditure of funds for political activity by corporations, and make corporate spending transparent when it comes to funding elections.

Publicly funded campaigns would loosen the stranglehold that a tiny sliver of large donors have on the political process, and would give qualified candidates who demonstrate broad constituent support an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. 

Congressman Blumenauer is an original cosponsor of H.R. 20, the Government by the People Act, to publicly finance Congressional elections, substantially reduce the influence of big donors, diversify the pool of political candidates, and encourage campaigns to build bases of small donors and real people. 

Blumenauer is also a cosponsor of the following bills to reform campaign finance laws:

H.R. 885, the Voting Rights Amendment Act, would reverse the damage caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder by strengthening voting rights protections and giving the federal government and voting rights advocates new tools to combat voter discrimination.

H.R. 154, the Close the Floodgates Act, would repeal the provision hidden in the omnibus spending bill passed in December 2014 that increased the amount of money individual donors can contribute to political parties.

H.R. 430, the DISCLOSE 2015 Act, would increase transparency of political spending by requiring corporations, lobbyists, and outside groups to disclose expenditures, campaign contributions, and connection with broadcast advertisements.


Voting Rights

The individual right to vote is the cornerstone of a representative democracy.  Unfortunately, though we have seen greatly expanded access to voting in some states (such as my home state of Oregon), the right to vote is under growing threat. Congressman Blumenauer strongly believes that the federal government must do a better of job of protecting and expanding the right to vote. 

The Supreme Court’s egregious decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) gutted the Voting Rights Act and led to the erosion of voting protections around the country. Congress must act to restore these protections of the right to vote and prevent state and local governments from disenfranchising those who need a voice the most: minority and low income communities. 

Congressman Blumenauer joined civil rights movement leader John Lewis when he introduced H.R. 12, the Voter Empowerment Act. This bill will modernize our voter registration system, allow online voter registration, expand early voting, ensure the equitable allocation of polling place resources, and prohibit voter caging and other deceptive practices that deter people from exercising their constitutional right to vote. He supports expanding options for voting, and has championed legislation for Automatic Voter Registration and Vote by Mail in Federal elections. 

Blumenauer also supports the following legislation to repair the damage done by the Shelby County decision:

H.R. 885, the Voting Rights Amendment Act

H.R. 2867, the Voting Rights Advancement Act

Oregon is a bright spot for voting rights, with statewide vote by mail and now automatic voter registration. The benefits of vote by mail are well-documented—lower costs to the state, increased turnout, and more equitable access to the ballot, to name a few. Oregon’s automatic voter registration system has yielded unprecedented participation in the political process and is being duplicated across the country.   

Congressman Blumenauer believes that every American should have the same access to the ballot and voting options that all Oregonians do, and he introduced H.R. 5819, the Vote By Mail Act, legislation that would create automatic voter registration and provide for universal vote by mail in every federal election. 


Redistricting & Reapportionment

Congressman Blumenauer has long-championed that a more transparent and accountable redistricting and reapportionment process that guarantees fairness and equity is key reform that is needed.

2003 New York Times Op-Ed: Redistricting: A Bi-Partisan Sport

2005 Wingspread Journal Op-Ed: Making Gerrymandering an Endangered Species

Political parties have developed into an art form the ability to manipulate the redistricting process to punish opponents and protect incumbents.  It should concern us all when politicians have more of an influence picking their voters than voters have in picking their politicians.  The result is a House of Representatives that is increasingly dominated by the political extreme and that punishes those whose positions may be more complex.

The House began with 65 Representatives in 1789. This has been adjusted upward to reflect the increases in population, reaching the current 435 Member threshold in 1911.  At that time, the U.S. had only 92 million people and the average district was just under 200,000 people. 

The average size of a district after the 2000 Census was 650,000, and after the 2010 Census, the average population per district is 710,000.  In Oregon, the average is even higher, closer to 770,000 people per district.  These trends are clearly unsustainable if we’re going to have a truly accountable government. Congressman Blumenauer believes it’s time for reform, and supports legislation that would make all redistricting information public and accessible.    

Congressman Blumenauer has also championed legislation to take congressional redistricting out of the hands of states by creating a national bipartisan commission tasked with creating restricting plans for each state. 


Performance-Based Regulations

There are few ways government can do more to increase efficiency, promote effectiveness, and deliver on its goals than moving towards a performance-based regulations model. Through his experience as an administrator responsible for compliance, and as a policy maker at the local, state and federal levels, Blumenauer understands that regulation, when done right, can ensure public safety and accountability, while simultaneously leading to better results faster.

Congressman Blumenauer’s leadership on this issue has been particularly important in protecting the environment. He fostered the development of such a model in Oregon that helped local businesses not only meet their development goals, but also enhance air quality and save the environment. 

Congressman Blumenauer has made it clear that there is a better way for the government to make sure that both public and private interests are taken into account through a performance-based regulations process.  He will continue to work with the administration and his colleagues to see that these principles are implemented.