Victory for DC Fair Elections

Victory for DC Fair Elections - Proteus Fund

We have good news to share! Yesterday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser officially signed the DC Fair Elections Act. Advocates are celebrating another public financing victory – the result of a multi-year effort led by the DC Fair Elections Coalition, a group of 70 community-based organizations.

Piper Action Fund has been funding the work of DC Working Families and the DC Fair Elections Coalition to mobilize residents and advocate for reform for over two years. After experiencing several delays, because of the relentless effort by the coalition, the legislation was passed unanimously by the DC Council last month.

Mayor Bowser, who had until today to sign the legislation, had indicated that she did not support it and was considering a veto. She also vowed not to include the program in the city’s budget. Community members maintained public pressure, doing outreach through mainstream and social media, testifying before relevant committees, and speaking at community forums to demand her support.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Bowser shared a copy of the signed legislation via Twitter, and credited the coalition organizers for her change of heart. “Over the past few weeks at budget engagement forums and community meetings across the District, residents have shown up to share their belief that the #FairElectionsDC Act would strengthen our democracy. I have heard them and I have been moved by their passion,” she wrote.

This win means that everyday people will have more influence over local decisions being made in Washington DC. The act will allow candidates for mayor, attorney general, city council and school board to voluntarily participate in the city’s new small donor public financing system, which provides a 5:1 match on small dollar-contributions from DC residents. To qualify, candidates must collect a required number of small donations and reject all contributions from corporations and political action committees.

This is a significant victory for public financing advocates everywhere, as this legislative win and the organizing effort that led up to it are a clear demonstration of the public’s desire for comprehensive money in politics reform. The DC public financing program is set to be launched in 2020, following formal congressional approval of the city’s budget.

Congratulations to DC Working Families and all the members of the DC Fair Elections Coalition that made this policy victory possible!