Democracy NC sent this out on Sen. Obama's opt out of public financing:
Statement from Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina, regarding Barack Obama’s decision to forego participation in presidential public financing program.
Senator Obama’s decision is predictable, given the shortcomings of the presidential public financing program and his capacity to raise money from private sources. The current program lacks the carrots and sticks – the incentives and penalties – to attract and sustain participation by major party candidates. For example, the program does not provide sufficient funds for a candidate to mount a truly competitive campaign across the nation, without relying on unregulated spending by outside groups. Nor does it compensate for the candidate who opts out of the program by providing additional, matching money to the opponent who stays in the program. Barack Obama’s decision may have been different if the program provided twice the money it now does (that would still be less than $1 per voting-age citizen) and/or awarded matching money to John McCain for every dollar Obama raised above a fixed limit.
North Carolina has two public financing programs now underway that aim to provide qualified candidates with the minimum needed to campaign, plus a matching fund provision. Qualifying is not easy, and the programs need constant attention to keep up with new challenges – something that has not happened with the presidential program. In North Carolina, 92% of the candidates covered by the judicial program and 67% of the candidates in the executive branch program are participating – Republicans and Democrats, men and women, blacks and whites, challengers and incumbents.
One important effort to reform the presidential public financing program is being led by North Carolina’s own Rep. David Price. Please note the release about that effort and the organizations involved in it: http://price.house.gov/issues/uploadedfiles/campaign3.pdf
We don’t expect politicians to heavily handicap themselves by ignoring the realities of the current arms race in fundraising. What we most want to see is aggressive leadership to provide effective alternatives to a worsening money chase that corrupts government and shuts out ordinary people. We need leaders who champion concrete reforms that, step by step, move us closer to “voter-owned elections.”
Democracy North Carolina