Broad Coalition forms in support of Fair Election Fund ahead of Baltimore City Council Hearing

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WHAT: Press Conference announcing formation of the Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition, ahead of Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee vote on Fair Election Commission Charter Amendment

WHEN: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 ~ 4:00 p.m. (hearing at 5:00)

WHERE: Baltimore City Council Lobby ~ 100 N. Holliday Street (4th Floor)

WHO: The Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition, Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, Emily Scarr (Maryland PIRG), Mr. Hassan Giordano, Baltimore City Council Co-sponsors

WHY: To call on members of the Baltimore City Council to pass CB 18-0229, establishing a Fair Election Commission in order to reform campaign finance laws in Baltimore City.

BACKROUND: Baltimore, Maryland – On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at 5:00pm, the members of the Baltimore City Council’s Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee will hold a public hearing regarding CB 18-0229 which would establish a Fair Election Commission in order to implement campaign finance reform in local Baltimore city elections. Considered a nationwide good governance best practice, the bill was introduced on April 23rd by freshman Councilman Kristerfer Burnett (D-08), and calls for a charter amendment forming a blue ribbon commission to identify sources of revenue to create the Fair Election Fund. The charter amendment would need to be passed by the voters on the November ballot after being approved by the City Council and signed by the Mayor. Neighboring jurisdictions Montgomery and Howard counties have already passed Fair Election Funds, and similar legislation is currently being considered in Prince George’s County.

“By creating a Fair Election fund, we allow candidates running for local elections the opportunity to spend more time talking to voters about their needs, and less time dealing with big money donors and funders” says charter amendment bill sponsor Councilman Kristerfer Burnett. “This levels the playing field, and allows candidates with the best ideas, and not just the best access to donors, the opportunity to run competitive races in Baltimore City”

Joining Burnett in support of the proposal is the newly formed Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition which includes a diverse group of local, state and national organizations and activists from good government, faith, environmental, community, and other organizations. The list of groups supporting the proposal includes: League of Women Voters – Baltimore Chapter, Maryland PIRG, Maryland Clean Water Action, SEIU Local 500, Maryland Working Families, MD NAACP, Jews United for Justice, Rev. Brian Murray, Common Cause Maryland, Represent MD, Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, MD ACLU, Interfaith Power and Light, League of Conservation Voters, Communities United, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, No Boundaries Coalition, Progressive Maryland, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Demos, and Every Voice.

“Dozens of groups have come together today to support the Fair Elections Fund because we believe that in Baltimore, the amount of money your family makes – your race, your gender – should not determine the volume of your voice,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “Enough is enough. Let’s stand up to the corporations and mega donors who dominate our elections and put our city government in the hands of Baltimore families.”

“Baltimoreans want access to clean water and healthy air. With the Fair Elections Fund we can ensure candidates for city government can run campaigns without pressure to accept donations from polluting industries or corporations that value profit over protecting public health,” explained Emily Ranson with Maryland Clean Water Action.

“As seen in cities all across the country where campaign finance reform was passed, this kind of legislation levels the playing field for candidates from all walks of life, and prevents great candidates from suffering defeat merely because they aren’t able to raise enough to compete with the politically-entrenched candidate who has access to big pocket donors,” says Mr. Hassan Giordano, who has gotten two previous charter amendment bills passed through the council and approved by the voters since 2011.

“Working families in Baltimore City deserve to have their voices heard,” said Maryland Working Families Director Jay Hutchins, “This effort will help empower voters, strengthen local democracy, allow candidates and elected officials to spend more time with their constituents, and rein in the influence of big money in our elections.”

The press conference will be held at 4:00pm announcing the formation of the Baltimore Fair Elections Coalition. Members will then be on hand to testify in front of the Judiciary and Legislative Investigations committee at 5:00pm in support of Bill 18-0229.

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