Illinois PIRG applauds introduction of the Government by the People Act

Staff Report

CHICAGO — Illinois PIRG applauded U.S. Reps. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., Bobby Rush, D-Ill., Mike Quigley (D-5) and Danny Davis (D-Ill.) for co-sponsoring new legislation aimed at raising the voices of everyday people in the political process.

Reps. Kelly, Schakowsky, Gutierrez and Rush are co-sponsors of the Government By the People Act (House Resolution 20), legislation that would allow candidates to run competitive campaigns for office by relying on small-dollar donors.

It’s time we return to government of, by, and for the people, not special interests,” said Dev Gowda of Illinois PIRG. “The Government By the People Act would reduce Congress’ dependence on big-money campaign donors and help ordinary citizens get their voice heard.”

A recent report by Illinois PIRG and Demos found the current post-Citizens United election system allows large donors to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. In fact, in 2012, the top 32 donors to Super PACs spent as much money as every single small donation to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney combined, equaling the gifts of more than 3.7 million Americans.

The Government By the People Act would change the way our elections are financed through a combination of matching funds for small donations, and a “My Voice” tax credit. Instead of relying on Wall Street executives or lobbyists, participating candidates would rely on the ones the founding fathers intended them to represent: we the people. Here’s how it would work:

• People would be encouraged to give small contributions through two parts of the proposal: first, contributions of less than $150 would be amplified on a six-to-one basis by a newly-created “Freedom from Influence Fund.” No large contributions would be matched at all.

• Second, the first $25 people contribute would qualify for a “My Voice” refundable tax credit.

The Government By the People Act currently has 133 co-sponsors.

The American people deserve a political system that makes sure all of our voices are heard, not just special interests that can afford to spend the most,” said Gowda. “This legislation will help to make that a reality.”

Learn more about the Government By the People Act at

Posted Feb. 12, 2014

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