Fair Elections Now Act

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The Fair Elections Now Act is a 2009 bill to create a voluntary public election financing system that allocates competitive levels of money to candidates, puts a cap of $100 on individual contributions and bans contributions, fundraising and bundling by political action committees. In the Senate, the bill was introduced as S. 752, and in the House, it is H.R.1826.

Video of Fair Elections Now Act Press Conference held at the bill's introduction on March 31, 2009.

The bill is designed to allow federal candidates the choice of running for office without relying on large contributions, big money bundlers or donations from lobbyists, and would free candidates from the burden of constant fundraising so they can turn their focus more towards what people in their communities want.[1]

In order to qualify for public financing, candidates would have to raise a minimum amount of money in the form of small contributions from individual donors in their home state. Both the contribution threshold and the dollar amounts for public financing grants would be uniform for all House candidates, but would be determined for Senate candidates by a formula based on the state's size.[2]

Lead sponsors of the legislation are Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and House Majority Whip John Larson (D-Conn.)

Video of the press conference for the introduction of the Fair Elections Now Act is at right.


Impetus for the bill may have come from an anticipated Supreme Court ruling in a major campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The issue in the case is whether federal campaign finance laws apply to a highly critical, 90-minute documentary film attacking Senator Hillary Clinton that was made to be run while Clinton was a candidate for the U.S. presidency. The film, created by Citizens United, was intended to be shown in theaters and through on-demand to cable subscribers. [3] Citizens United wanted to run television ads promoting the movie during election season without disclosing the ad's funders, but the Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled that they could not run the ads without disclosing the donors. Citizens United challenged the FEC's ruling. A decision in Citizen United's favor could weaken campaign finance laws and give an upper hand to resource-rich corporations.

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. PublicCampaign.org 2009 Fair Elections Now Act Bill Summary Accessed December 9, 2009
  2. Michael Beckel Public Financing Bill for Congressional Contests Introduced Capital Eye Blog , OpenSecrets.org, April 1, 2009
  3. Lyle Denniston Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Wiki, SCOTUSBlog, December 9, 2009

External resources

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