City Council Approves Public Campaign Financing Option

The Baltimore City Council today approved legislation to establish public campaign financing for candidates seeking City elective office.

The voluntary program would allocate matching funds to candidates who agree not to accept individual donations larger than $150 or donations from corporations, unions, and political action committees (PACS).

According to WYPR:

For example, mayoral candidates must raise either $40,000 or receive donations from 500 individuals or more to tap into the fund; candidates for comptroller or city council president must raise $15,000 or receive donations from 250 individuals while city council candidates must receive donations from 150 individuals or raise $5,000.

Once candidates meet those requirements and opt into the program, the city will give an influx of cash to each campaign. These “boosts” are separate from matched donations. Eligible mayoral candidates will get $200,000 while those running for comptroller or city council president will get $50,000. City council candidates will not receive boosts.

Sixteen states — including Maryland — and a handful of localities have some form of public financing for elections. Under Maryland Election Law, Section 13-505, counties may establish their own system of public campaign financing.

Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties have approved public financing for local candidates. Baltimore County voters next year will consider a ballot measure to establish a system of public campaign financing.

Proponents of public financing for candidates say such programs boost citizen engagement in elections by amplifying the power of small donors and encourage more candidates to run in local races. Opponents of public financing argue that the government has no business in funding individual campaigns.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

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WYPR: City Council Passes Bill To Create Fair Election Fund, Match Small Donor Contributions

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