Forum Scheduled on New Public Campaign Financing Law
The Montgomery County Council will join the Montgomery County Democratic and Republican central committees on June 15, for a forum on the new law that will allow candidates for County Council and County Executive to qualify for partial public financing for their campaigns.
The law, which was unanimously approved by the Council in September, is the first measure of its type for county elective offices in the Washington region and in Maryland.
In approving the County’s Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget on May 21, the Council added $1 million to begin building the fund that will start making public funds available in the 2018 election cycle.
The forum, entitled “A Public Discussion of Montgomery County’s New Public Financing System for County Elections,” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Third Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County website at:
Explaining the law and answering questions about it from attendees will be a panel including Jared DeMarinis, director of the Candidacy and Campaign Finance Division of the Maryland State Board of Elections; Phil Andrews, a former member of the County Council who was the lead sponsor of the bill that created Montgomery’s public financing system; and Bob Drummer, the senior legislative attorney for the County Council.
Since 2001, members of the Montgomery County Council have urged the Maryland General Assembly to provide the County with the authority to adopt campaign finance reforms, according to a release from the county. In 2013, the General Assembly enacted a bill that enables counties to provide the option of public financing for county elective offices beginning with the 2015-18 election cycle. Participation by candidates is voluntary.
“We all share the concern over the influence of money in politics,” said Council President George Leventhal. “The new law that will be in effect for the 2018 election for Montgomery County Executive and County Council will offer a voluntary choice for candidates who opt to use it. Under that optional system, the power of individual contributions will be maximized, and no contributions from PACs, corporations or labor unions may be spent by participating candidates.”
The goals of the law are to reduce the influence of big contributors in County elections and to encourage more residents to participate in the elections, according to a release from the county.