Congressmen to Discuss Curbing Influence of Big Money in Politics

Two Democratic congressmen will discuss legislative solutions to the influence of big money in politics on Thursday, Jan. 31, at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

“Big Money vs. Grassroots Democracy: Empowering Citizens to Take Back Their Government” will feature U.S. Reps. John Sarbanes, D-Md., and David Price, D-N.C. The event, which is free and open to the public, starts at 5 p.m. in the Sanford School’s Fleishman Commons and concludes with questions from the audience. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

A reception at 4:30 p.m. in the Sanford School lobby is also open to the public.

Sarbanes and co-sponsors have introduced the Grassroots Democracy Act, which seeks to limit the influence of big funders on congressional campaigns. The legislation's proposed solutions include establishing a tax credit to make grassroots campaign contributions more appealing, implementing a contribution match system for donations of $100 or less and creating a commission to provide oversight to Congress. 

Price’s Empowering Citizens Act (ECA) would reform the system of public financing primarily for presidential elections. His bill includes regulatory changes that would allow smaller donors to be more influential and prohibit coordination between PACs and campaigns. 

They will be joined on the panel by Anita Earls, the Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a nonprofit organization founded in Durham in August 2007 to assist families and communities engaged in social justice struggles, and NC Representative Larry Hall, the House minority leader, who represents the 29th disctrict, which includes parts of Durham.

“In the wake of Citizens United, big money poses a real threat to democracy,” said Gunther Peck, a Sanford School professor who will moderate the discussion. “There are now grassroots solutions on the table to combat that influence in the struggle to create a fair political system.”

The event is sponsored by the Sanford School, the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke and the Triangle Scholars Strategy Network. Event parking is available in the Bryan Center Visitor Lot.

For more information, contact Mary Lindsley at (919) 613-7312 or