The George Washington University-based Campaign Finance Institute released a statement today calling Governor Tim Pawlenty’s decision to eliminate the Political Contribution Rebate an elimination of "an important force for democracy in Minnesota government."
Based on its research over the last five years, the Campaign Finance Institute has found that the PCR rebate is an important part of the "unusually large role" that small donors play in Minnesota’s state elections. In Minnesota, small donors (those who gave $100 or less to any one candidate) accounted for 45% of the private contributions to candidates for state office, while in most other states they accounted for less than 10%.
"Eliminating the rebate would remove an important force for democracy in Minnesota government," said CFI’s Executive Director Michael Malbin, who is also a professor of political science at the University at Albany (SUNY). "The refund promotes greater equality by building up from the bottom. It deserves significant credit for the role of small donors in Minnesota. The PCR deserves to be imitated, not destroyed."
Because small donors play a larger role in state elections, candidates are more likely to look to average citizens, not wealthy donors, for campaign funds, making them more accountable to the people.
Common Cause, a government watchdog group, has called Governor Pawlenty’s elimination of the refund a "seeming abandonment of Minnesota’s long held principles of good government." They’re hosting a free speech and panel discussion titled "Is The Era of Good Government in Minnesota Over?" with Common Cause President Bob Edgar next Monday, July 13th. Click here for more information or to RSVP.