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(Syracuse, NY – September 4, 2020) Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for President, filed on August 24 with the Federal Election Commission to be the only candidate certified for presidential campaign matching funds.
Jill Stein of the Green Party was the only candidate to receive Presidential primary matching funds in 2016.
‘While it is an important milestone for a campaign to qualify for primary matching funds, unfortunately the two major parties have allowed public campaign financing to lapse into irrelevance. Barack Obama delivered the final death blow when he opted out of financing for the general election in 2008. The result is that America has the worst democracy that Wall Street is allowed to buy,” noted Hawkins.
No major-party presidential nominee has accepted the primary matching funds since Al Gore (D) in 2000 and no nominee has accepted public funding for the general election since John McCain (R) in 2008.
“By evading the presidential public funding system, the major party candidates can raise far more funds from special interests seeking favors through the system of legalized bribery of private campaign contributions,” Hawkins said.
To receive presidential primary matching funds, a candidate must receive at least $5,000 in donations from at least 20 states, with only $250 form any contributor counting towards the match. While the Green Party primary is over with (though petitioning in some states continues), the Hawkins campaign will be able to spend the matching funds to pay off any debts it has incurred during its primary campaign. The Green Party nominee in 2024 will be eligible for a public campaign grant for the general election in 2024 if Hawkins receives at least 5% of the vote.
Hawkins and the Green Party have long been advocates for full public campaign financing such as Maine and Arizona have, rather than a partial public finance system that continues the dominant role of large donations. In a full public campaign finance system, every candidate who opts in and qualifies by raising a reasonable number of small (e.g., $5) donations receives an equal public campaign grant sufficient to reach the voters of their district with their message. A condition of receiving the grant must be participation in a series of publicly-sponsored debates.
Hawkins also supports the We The People Amendment (H.R. 48) to the U.S. Constitution to establish that only natural human beings, not artificial corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights and that money is property, not protected speech. This amendment would repeal the Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutcheon v. FEC Supreme Court decisions and enable we the people through our elected representatives to publicly and fully regulate and finance public elections.
In Citizens United, the Supreme Court further expanded the ability of special interests to buy elections by allowing unrestricted campaign funding provided by groups do not “coordinate” with the candidate. These 501(c)(4) nonprofits and SuperPACs can use Dark Money whose source is not publicly disclosed to influence elections. While Biden has said he wants to crack down on Dark Money, he is being heavily financed by Dark Money, saying like most other Democrats that he will not unilaterally disarm and will continue to abuse campaign finance loopholes. Open Secrets reports that such Dark Money groups have already plowed tens of millions of dollars into the Biden election effort.
“Biden could make Dark Money a campaign issue by refusing to accept it and contrast his transparency in campaign financing to Trump’s dirty Dark Money funding. Instead, he’s as dirty as Trump with Dark Money,” Hawkins said.
In March 2019, Democratic House passed H.R. 1, which increases five-fold the money a campaign must raise to qualify for presidential primary matching funds from $5,000 in each of 20 states to $25,000 in each of 20 states and decreases the contributions from an individual that qualify from $250 to $200. Hawkins participated in a Green Party protest of this provision of H.R. 1 in Washington, DC, in April 2019.
Bruce Dixon, the late managing editor of Black Agenda Report and senior advisor to the Hawkins campaign, said when the bill was proposed that this provision of H.R. 1 “is surgically aimed to eliminate federal matching funds for Green Party candidates…. HR 1 would cut funding for a Green presidential candidate in half, and by making ballot access for a Green presidential candidate impossible in several states it would also guarantee loss of the party’s ability to run for local offices.”
“Big pay-to-play campaign donations have long been the most lucrative investment that wealthy real estate, Wall Street, military contractor, and other special interests doing business with the federal government can make. The taxpayers are stuck with the bill for the tax breaks, subsidies, contracts, harmful and exploitative policies, and regulatory favors this legalized bribery buys,” added Hawkins.