“The one reform that allows all other reforms.- California Clean Money Campaign

Do you feel your vote can’t compete with big campaign contributions from special interests?

Do you want an open and accountable government that's responsive to the needs of all Californians, not just big money campaign contributors?

The solution is called “Clean Money, Fair Elections”, which would change the way we finance election campaigns.  With your help, we'll bring it to California.

Read this page to learn the basics about:

The Problem: Too often politicians serve the needs of big money campaign contributors, instead of the voters. Good candidates can’t run without big money support.

Clean Money is the Solution: Clean Money replaces private campaign contributions with public funding so voters can once again take control of government.

How Clean Money Works: Candidates demonstrating broad public support can choose to receive public funding to run competitive campaigns if they forgo private money.

Results in other States: Clean Money has been working in Arizona and Maine since the 2000 elections. It has led to more qualified and diverse candidates, increased voter turnout, and increased attention to voters’ issues.

How We’re Bringing Clean Money to California: With a grassroots campaign to educate Californians and get it passed at the state level here in California.


The Problem with the Current System

What chance do honest candidates without money have to be elected in California? Not much. Not if they don't want to accept money from special interests.
What chance do citizens have of voting for politicians who aren't wealthy or tied to special interests? Not much, either.

Sadly, no matter how qualified candidates may be, if they don't have money themselves or accept it from private interests, they don't really stand a fighting chance in California.

Not in a state in which $130 million was spent by Gov. Gray Davis, Bill Simon and the other contenders in the 2002 governor's race, and in which Gov. Schwarzenegger has been breaking all of Gov. Davis' fundraising records. Not in a state in which lobbyists looking for budget favors ply legislators with piles of $1,000 checks at hundreds of campaign fund-raisers.

Ours is now a government of big money special interests, not a government of the people. Is it any wonder ordinary citizens feel their voices aren't heard? Is it any wonder our state and country are in such a mess?

Clean Money is the Solution

Arizona and Maine are different. Their citizens got fed up with politicians chasing after special-interests' money and then voting in their favor. So both took back control of political campaigns by changing the way they finance election campaigns.

Both states now have Clean Money Clean Elections systems in which qualified candidates may run for office using public financing. That gives all candidates a fighting chance to win. It also gives citizens a chance to vote for candidates who don't owe their campaign funds to big private interests.

How Clean Money Works

"Clean" candidates who qualify in Arizona and Maine receive enough public financing to run viable campaigns. If privately funded candidates outspend them, they receive extra public funding to match, up to a limit. They qualify by gathering a set number of individual $5 contributions and agreeing not to accept any private money.

Results in Other States

It's a resounding success for both voters and candidates.

Voters had more choices at the polls, since more qualified candidates were able to run. More than 60 percent more candidates ran for statewide office than in 1998 in Arizona, the election without Clean Money. The number of minority candidates tripled.

Legislators are now listening to the needs of the voters, rather than the interests that gave them money.

Maine became the first state in the nation to pass a form of universal health care. Health care advocates and the public had been pushing for it for years, but had always been stopped by lobbyists. But after 77 percent of Maine’s senate was elected “clean” in 2002, that all changed.

Arizona saved so much in special interest giveaways that a bipartisan coalition of cleanly-elected Democrats and Republicans has been able to pass budgets that increase spending on social services that Arizonans want by nearly a billion dollars.

Voters have showed their approval in several ways. First, realizing that their vote counts again, they increased turnout at the polls by more than 20 percent.

Second, they elected “clean” candidates to ten of eleven statewide offices in Arizona -- including Janet Napolitano, the first publicly financed governor ever elected.  80% of Maine's legislature was elected “clean” in 2004.

Third, Arizona citizens approve of Clean Money more than ever, with an overwhelming 66 percent support in the polls.

Leah Landrum, a member of Arizona's House of Representatives, sums it up:

"Now the only interests I'm tied to are my constituents. And they feel a lot more connected to me. My constituent calls have tripled."

How We’re Bringing Clean Money to California

Arizona and Maine show how it can be done. Both states passed Clean Money initiatives after a lot of research, coalition building and grassroots organizing. Public education campaigns spoke directly with citizens in countless forums and explained plainly how Clean Money would strengthen their voices. These efforts laid the groundwork for their successes.

Now it's California's turn. Our goal is either pass Clean Money in the legislation or, if required, go directly to the people and pass an initiative.

We, too, deserve a government that's more responsive to its citizens than to big-money special interests.

We, too, can restore our lost democracy by electing candidates to public office who owe their allegiance to voters rather than to private interests.


Advisory Board Member Ed Asner


Arizona Senator John McCain (R), campaign finance reform champion, with Paul Turner, a member of our board of directors, and the Senior Programming Manager of the Greenlining Institute’s Claiming Our Democracy program.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D), the first ever governor elected with only public funds.


Maine State Senator Peter Mills (R): “I feel a certain independence from certain special interest groups. It was nice to be able to say, 'Thanks for the thought, but I'm running clean.'"