A (More) Populist Campaign Financing Model

And probably popular too.

In what might be a beat-sweetener article about Democratic Senator and possible 2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, we notice this very interesting bit buried near the end (boldface mine):

When Ms. Gillibrand forswore corporate PAC money in February, she was following Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren; Mr. Booker joined them within hours. (Ms. Harris, at a town hall, initially waffled on doing so. “It depends,” she said. But she soon reconsidered and joined the rest of the bloc by late April.)

For Ms. Gillibrand, it represented a stark reversal for a politician who raised nearly $5 million from business PACs earlier in her career, and was confronted in 2013 by John Oliver on “The Daily Show” about her substantial contributions from the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase & Company.

“What is required of you, for that money?” Mr. Oliver asked. “Because it makes me uncomfortable.”

Today, Ms. Gillibrand, who has long called for publicly financed campaigns, says that her decade-plus in Washington has taught her that “every ill in Congress, no matter what it is, it will stem from the fact that money corrupts politicians and politics.”

…Now her increasingly populist rhetoric and agenda appears to be a calculated gamble that, should she run in 2020, the traditional donor class by then may be eclipsed by the grass-roots fund-raising model for national Democrats.

Indeed, her aides estimate that forgoing corporate money will cost Ms. Gillibrand $800,000 to $1 million this year alone. But she has invested heavily in digital fund-raising, collecting roughly $4.5 million online in 2017 alone, according to her campaign. About 97 percent of her donations this cycle have been $100 or less.

Ms. Gillibrand sounded happy with where she is now. “It’s a much better policy to take no corporate money,” she said.

Interesting to see that this isn’t just a Senator Sanders-specific model. And it’s good to see that there’s an opening for more candidates to forgo large donations. We might even get some good policy out of that…

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