Durbin Statement on Supreme Court Striking Down Limit to Campaign Contributions

Washington, D.C. – Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement today on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down limits to individual campaign contributions:


“The Supreme Court once again has sold American elections to highest bidder. This decision may be more good news for American oligarchs, but it is bad news for voters,” Durbin said. “We have to move away from the wild west of deep corporate pockets and special interest war chests and focus on creating a fair elections system that allows mere mortals, without million dollar bank accounts, to have their voices heard by the candidates that seek to represent them.”

Durbin is the author of the Fair Elections Now Act; a measure that will dramatically change the way we finance Congressional elections. Under Fair Elections, qualified, legitimate candidates will earn grants, matching funds, and television vouchers to run competitive campaigns based on small dollar donors, not special interest money from lobbyists, Super PACs, and corporations.  Video of Durbin discussing the legislation can be found here.

How the Fair Elections Bill Works:

The Fair Elections Now Act amends the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971 to establish a voluntary method for financing Senate campaigns. Fair Elections are composed of three stages:

  • To participate, candidates would first need to prove their viability by raising a minimum number and minimum dollar amount of small-dollar qualifying contributions from in-state donors. Once a candidate qualifies, that candidate must limit the amount raised from each donor to $150 per election.
  • For the primary, participants would receive a base grant that would vary in amount based on the population of the state that the candidate seeks to represent. Participants would also receive a 6-to-1 match for small dollar donations up to a defined matching cap. After reaching that cap, the candidate could raise an unlimited amount of unmated $150 contributions if needed to compete against high-spending opponents.
  • For the general election, qualified candidates would receive an additional grant, small-dollar matching, and media vouchers for television advertising. The candidate could continue to raise an unlimited amount of $150 contributions if needed.


The bill also establishes a “My Voice Tax Credit” to encourage individuals to make small donations to campaigns. The maximum refundable amount for the tax credit would be $25 for individuals and $50 for joint filers. To ensure that the tax credit targets small donors, it is only available to individuals who do not contribute more than $300 to a candidate or political party in any given year.


Special rules would apply for runoff and uncontested elections. Participating candidates would receive enough funding to compete in every election.  Instead of spending most of their time courting lobbyist, wealthy donors, and Super PACs, Fair Elections candidates would have an incentive to spend their time with the ordinary Americans they seek to represent.


Fair Elections wouldn’t add a dime to the deficit. It would be financed by a .05% fee on annual federal contracts over $10 million, with a maximum fee of $500,000 per year.


The following groups support the measure: Alliance For Justice, American Family Voices, Americans for Campaign Reform, The Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for America's Future, Common Cause, Credo Action, Communication Workers of America, Democracy Matters, Demos, Democracy for America, Food and Water Watch, Franciscan Action Network, Friends of Democracy, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn, NAACP, OurTime.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, People For the American Way, PICO National Network, Progress Florida, Progressives United, Progress Florida, Public Campaign/Public Campaign Action Fund, Public Citizen, Rebuild the Dream, Rootstrikers, Service Employees International Union, Sierra Club, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Steelworkers, US Action, USPIRG, Voices for Progress, Wolf-PAC and Working Families.