This week marks Issue One’s second anniversary and we couldn’t be prouder of the progress we’ve made to help unite both parties behind real solutions to our broken campaign finance system. It’s been a busy two years.
Our ReFormers Caucus is 158 members strong, and one-third Republican. Comprised of former governors and members of Congress from both parties, it is the largest group of former elected officials ever brought together to focus on the issue of money in politics.
In two years, we have deployed their expertise on listening tours around Capitol Hill, across the country and throughout the national media — including USA Today, C-SPAN, Politico, the Washington Post, MSNBC, The Hill and TIME. ReFormers have reached out to voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and other states, delivering the message that it is time for our elected leaders to address pay-to-play politics and the selling of access in Washington. They’ve put a spotlight on the presidential candidates’ positions on the issue, demanding that solutions to special interest dominance in Washington be part of their platforms.
In keeping with the bipartisan nature of our ReFormers Caucus and our overall bipartisan approach, Issue One has been a champion of solutions proposed by both parties on Capitol Hill, hosting the first ever “Solutions Summit” with the Brookings Institution. Last spring, we launched Right on the Money, a growing compendium of the best statements, polling and research from Republicans and conservatives concerned about the outsized role money plays in our politics and government.
In partnership with Ipsos, we conducted a poll revealing that reducing the influence of money in politics is a top five voting concern for Americans ahead of the election. The poll shows strong support for a bipartisan solution to the problem, and desire for either party to take the lead.
We have worked hard to spread our message more broadly and more persuasively. We commissioned groundbreaking new research leading to the Price We All Pay messaging framework, used across the sector, which draws connections between our broken political system and Americans’ kitchen table concerns. We also published the first-of-its-kind solutions report, Blueprints for Democracy: Actionable Reforms to Solve Our Governing Crisis to highlight and explain alternatives to our modern campaign finance system at work in the states right now.
Speaking of the states: ReFormers Caucus members and other Issue One representatives have spoken to nearly 100 former state legislators at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Issue One directed substantial resources to the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections’ successful effort to pass Question 1, a state ballot referendum that restored funding to Maine’s clean election system. In Iowa, we supported the bipartisan group “Iowa Pays the Price” and their efforts to increase transparency and educate voters in the state about campaign finance issues. We have also worked with our conservative allies Take Back Our Republic and their state chapters around the country.
At the federal level, on Capitol Hill, Issue One provided advice on a bill to ensure foreign money doesn’t influence our elections and backed legislation to empower the Federal Election Commission. We rallied quickly with a coalition of watchdog organizations to beat back proposed budget cuts to the Office of Congressional Ethics.
To ramp up our Hill work, we recently hired leading ethics advocate Meredith McGehee as our chief of policy, programs and strategy. Her decades of experience on a wide-range of issues, including leading the push for the Office of Congressional Ethics, will be critical as Issue One continues to recruit business leaders, former elected officials and other experts to our cause while pursuing a strategy to unite the two major parties in Congress.
Issue One shed light on the more than 970,000 hours elected lawmakers have spent dialing for dollars instead of governing since 2015. Before the year is out, the 114th Congress will have collectively spent more than one million hours filling their campaign war chests and attending fundraisers in Washington and in their districts.
Finally, we are keeping an eye on the long-term as well: Issue One continues to support the Campaign Legal Center’s efforts to establish a new, pro-reform jurisprudence.
Needless to say, plenty of work lies ahead. We are ramping up for a new administration and the 115th Congress to begin making democracy and government more responsive to the demands of voters. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.