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Sarbanes: Fighting corruption starts with reducing big donor influence | READER COMMENTARY

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) held a news conference last September to mark 200 days since they passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act.
Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO), Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) held a news conference last September to mark 200 days since they passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

The Baltimore Sun editorial board is right on the money about our city’s brand new Fair Elections Fund (“Here’s how $2.5M can help protect Baltimore residents against public corruption,” March 9). To bolster confidence in our political system, small donors must be empowered to compete with deep-pocketed special interests. Baltimore’s groundbreaking effort to institute a citizen-owned clean elections system can get us there.

The Baltimore City Fair Elections Fund will create a multiple match system for small donations, leveraging the influence of average citizens and giving them a greater voice in the political process. The fund will also enable a more diverse group of candidates to run and compete in campaigns because merit, not money, will determine the viability of their campaigns. Once elected, their allegiance will be to the people, ensuring that they make policy for the public interest, not the special interests.

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Drawing on the momentum of local reform efforts all across the country, the U.S. House of Representatives acted one year ago this week to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act — a transformative anti-corruption and clean elections bill that would rebalance power in Washington, uproot entrenched special interests and put the American people back in charge of our democracy. H.R. 1 includes a multiple matching system for congressional campaigns for all the same reasons that Baltimore is pursuing its new system.

With the combined energy of local and federal reform efforts, we can clean up political corruption and return power back to the American people — where it belongs.

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John Sarbanes, Towson

The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. As chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, he authored and led the House passage of H.R. 1.

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