Public Comments for 01/14/2022 Privileges and Elections
Last Name: Boyer Organization: American Promise Virginia Locality: Annandale

American Promise Virginia had organized zoom discussions about the need for campaign finance reform in Virginia with more than 45 members of the General Assembly during the last year, mainly to clarify that we rate 46th out of 50 states in terms of limiting and tracking campaign contributions. We have also provided these members of measures other states have taken which Virginia should consider implementing. The last two times this issue was studied, the need for reforms was confirmed but nothing could be done because there was no budget available. This year is different. We must not lose this opportunity to begin addressing this shameful record.

Last Name: Millhouser Organization: BigMoneyOut VA Locality: Fairfax County

A recent Wason poll found that an overwhelming number of Virginia voters, irrespective of party, support campaign finance reform legislation. The poll highlights the perception of many Virginians that unchecked political spending in Virginia by special interest groups and wealthy individuals is overwhelming the voices of average citizens . I fully support the comments submitted by other BigMoneyOut Va members and and urge you to pass long-overdue common sense reforms to the Commonwealth’s antiquated campaign finance laws and regulations. Thank you for your consideration, Bill Millhouser

Last Name: Hutchison Organization: Big Money Out VA - American Promise VA Chapter Locality: Ashburn, Loudoun County

Passing meaningful campaign finance reform legislation is essential. If it is not because we just experienced one of the most expensive elections in VA history with an alarming $7 million contributions by undisclosed donors; or because Virginia ranks 46 out of 50 on the S.W.A.P. index for accountability and transparency in ethics and related legislation; or for the fact that utility companies and special interest groups have a very concerning influence on our legislators and legislation; or because Virginia is one of only 5 states with no donation limitations; or because Virginia is one of two states which has no restrictions on personal use of campaign funds; We need to pass meaningful campaign finance reform legislation because the citizens of the Commonwealth overwhelmingly feel that there is a need to take action on this issue (confirmed by a recent non-partisan poll conducted by the Wason Center2 and commissioned by Big Money Out, VA - American Promise VA Chapter). This is a bipartisan issue. Continuing to ignore this will erode the integrity of the causes citizens advocate for and legitimacy of the whole system in the eyes of the people. Zeina Hutchison Ashburn, Virginia Big Money Out, VA

Last Name: Mitchell Organization: BigMoneyOut VA Locality: Arlington

The money spent during our 2021 elections highlighted the need for our Commonwealth to take action to join 45 other states to regulate election spending. The Virginia General Assembly, in the name of good governance, has the responsibility to put in place common sense campaign finance laws which protect the integrity of our political system, help legislators spend less time fund-raising, and build trust among citizens. Now is the time because that trust is vanishing quickly.

Last Name: Mott Organization: Virginia Chapter of American Promise Locality: Arlington

We ask that you carefully consider and take decisive action to undertake campaign finance reform during this 2022 session. Virginia requires such reform in order to increase the legitimacy and integrity of government and to enable our elected legislators and other elected officials to better reflect the interests and will of citizens. Campaign finance reform is not a partisan issue. According to the recent opinion poll by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University, an a majority of Virginians support implementing campaign finance reform. This poll revealed that an overwhelming 78% of Virginians support reducing money from big campaign donors, and 88% of Virginians support public disclosure of contributions. Legislators have proposed at last count, 20 proposed bills related to campaign finance reform for consideration during this session. Hence we are looking forward to the committee's support and approval of legislation to (a) restrict personal use of campaign funds, (b) strengthen current disclosure provisions, (c) enhance oversight authority of the state board of elections, and (d) limit the value and type of contributions. We await meaningful results. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Robert Locality: McLean

Honorable members of the Committee: The explosion of “dark money” spending, estimated by VPAP at $7 million in 2021, means that members of the public cannot easily, reliably and in real time find out who is funding campaign ads as they assess their contents, under current policies. Please enact common sense, bipartisan transparency and accountability-enhancing campaign finance legislation in this session--and insist on allocation of the resources absolutely essential for adequate monitoring, public reporting and implementation of Virginia’s campaign finance policies. I worked in a legislature and am well aware that most elected officials do not want to change a campaign finance system that did not prevent them from winning election. I understand this. Nonetheless, I believe that the public--the constituents to whom elected officials pledged to serve--is owed publicly accessible, complete, accurate, real time information not only on campaign contributions but on the funders of political ads. This is entirely constitutional under current US Supreme Court case law. Virginia is presently a backwater nationally among states in campaign finance policies. We need and should want to change that, to do far better. The current makeup of the legislature provides an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation on this issue, at least. Please get this done for our Commonwealth. Thank you for listening. Very respectfully submitted, Bob Tate concerned citizen volunteer

Last Name: Sales Organization: MoneyOutVA Locality: Alexandria

Please, let’s at least pursue low-hanging fruit and start to work at getting VA off the SWAMP index. We can show we’re a state with integrity even by just enacting a campaign finance disclosure bill. Thank you all for your service!

Last Name: Morgan Organization: VA Chapter of American Promise Locality: Alexandria

I'm Nancy Morgan, the Coordinator for the VA Chapter of American Promise, a non-partisan group working on campaign finance reform. Our Wason-commissioned polling on campaign finance reform shows that nearly 80 percent of Virginians want to curtail the influence of big money donors, and 88 percent of voters want full disclosure. We hope that after years of not talking action on campaign finance that this committee seriously reviews the 17 bills covering limitations, disclosure, and enhanced oversight by the Board of Elections. Just to remind you, there are only 2 staff in the Dept of Elections working on campaign finance.....$179,000 is spent on this out of a budget of $33 million. This should be the year that Virginia, a state with the laxest campaign finance laws in the country, passes meaningful legislations which allows Virginian voices heard over the $millions of dollars contributions to our electoral races by special interests.

Last Name: Piper Organization: Commissioner, Virginia Department of Elections Locality: Henrico

I am available if called upon. At home quarantining.

End of Comments