Victory! Money-in-politics reform won across the country on election night

  • Ken Forsberg

On November 8, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump’s call to “drain the swamp” clearly resonated with many voters. While most of the news coverage is focusing on Mr. Trump, voters also showed their hunger for change by approving several important state and local ballot initiatives that will reduce the power of special interests and open up state and local politics to broader participation and greater transparency.

One of the most comprehensive victories was the approval of the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act by voters there. The bill’s passage means that South Dakota will no longer be the only state in which lobbyists are allowed to give secret, unlimited gifts to politicians. Among other important provisions, it also creates a system that gives each registered voter two $50 “Democracy Credits” to assign to the candidate or candidates of their choice, to make politicians less dependent on wealthy campaign donors.

Voters in Berkeley, California and Howard County, Maryland approved small donor matching programs to boost the power of small campaign contributions.

Rhode Island voters approved a constitutional amendment giving the Rhode Island Ethics Commission the power to investigate and sanction improper behavior by state lawmakers.

Contribution limits were reinstated or strengthened in Missouri and in Multnomah County in Oregon.

In San Francisco, voters passed a measure that prevents lobbyists from donating to the campaigns of politicians they lobby.

Finally, around the country, a number of states and localities — including California, Washington, and Wisconsin — passed resolutions condemning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and calling for overturning it.

While only about half the country will be celebrating the results of the presidential election, all Americans can be cheered by the revival of our democratic foundations slowly spreading across our communities and states, as represented by the victories above. Issue One is excited to continue our work to fan those flames and bring them to the federal level.