At Harvard Law, Rep. Sarbanes ’88 argues against big money in politics

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At a Nov. 8 talk at Harvard Law School, Rep. John Sarbanes ’88 (D-MD) advocated for “grassroots democracy” funded by the people rather than by Political Action Committees and other large donors. Sarbanes is a co-sponsor of the Grassroots Democracy Act, intended to empower small donors and to free lawmakers from their dependency on big money. The event was sponsored by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

According to Sarbanes, the rise of large donors, often in the form of Political Action Committees, ‘PACs’, or Super PACs, has created a dependency culture in Washington. Average voters, he said, cannot compete. In the last election, what he calls grassroots donors—individuals who give $100 or less—donated 10 percent of what big donors and PACs gave. Because of their reliance on large campaign contributors, Sarbanes argued, members of Congress begin to subconsciously lean toward policy that favors those donors.

“We’ve got to break that dependency,” said Sarbanes, who does not accept PAC contributions. “There’s a lot of people in Washington that are plugged into the money matrix, [and] they don’t even know they’re in it.”

Read the rest of the article on the Harvard Law School website.