Public Comments for 01/21/2021 Privileges and Elections - Campaign Finance Subcommittee
HB1756 - Campaign finance; prohibited contributions to candidates.
Last Name: McKiernan Organization: Virginia Election Administrators Locality: Rappahannock

During the course of your duties, when considering our (Election Administrators/General Registrars/Directors of Elections) request to finally be paid commensurate with our duties after 29 years of added duties without corresponding compensation, please keep in mind that every election law that is passed adds to our duties. There were over 69 NEW Election laws last year in the midst of a pandemic and the most grueling, contentious election cycle EVER. Every election law passed without funding jeopardizes our ability to get it all done due to lack of resources, staff, funding and time. The loss of any of the experienced, dedicated General Registrars because of compensation is a travesty and is likely to become a reality without the appropriate compensation. Please correct this inequity in compensation THIS SESSION. 1. Adjust compensation brackets in accordance with state studies (2 of them) 2. resume 100% reimbursement of NEW base salary to localities 3. Make it happen THIS session. We have earned it. We are the ones out here taking the abuse as a result of unfounded accusations and insinuations. Please understand that the 133 General Registrars statewide who count votes, compile results, verify results, process absentee by mail ballots, and so much more, do so with bi-partisan observers (sent by local political committees!!) and sworn election officials every.single.step! NOTHING is done in secret. EVERYTHING is reviewed and verified by a three member board (Electoral Board) representing both political parties. These board members are nominated by the local political committees and signed off on by a panel of judges! WE are not the enemy and the more you present laws insinuating that something is shady, the more you erode voter confidence on both sides of the aisle! The fact that a bill has passed the house to ADD SUNDAYS to early voting should be enough reason to pay us appropriately itself. We work 100s and 1000s of hours of overtime yet aren't paid equally and aren't valued equally to our fellow county government counterparts. The longer you ignore this and pass over doing the right thing, the more you send the message to your constituents, candidates, and fellow delegates that elections aren't important to you. NOW is the time to make this right.

Last Name: Lind Locality: Tazewell

I have not read the specific bill in question, so don't express a direct opinion about it. But I want to use this forum to express my strong opinion that Virginia needs the following campaign finance reforms: strict limits on the amount of individual contributions; an absolute ban on acceptance of out-of-state campaign contributions, and on laundering of such contributions, with stringent penalties; an absolute ban on contributions by incorporated bodies, with an explicit statement that corporations are NOT "artificial persons" under Virginia law and do not enjoy the status of legal personhood (although they can still own property, sue, and be sued), and strict disclosure requirements. (If any of these provisions are included in the present bill, I would endorse it to that extent.) Also, IMO, the statutory prohibition on incumbent legislators accepting otherwise legitimate campaign contributions while the legislature is in session serves no useful purpose, and should be abolished. It does not accomplish anything except create an accounting nuisance for legislators of both parties.

Last Name: Montgomery Organization: Nono Locality: Rockingham

HB 1933- absolutely NO! Protect our state's rights. HB's 1970, 2205, 2209- vote YES. Protect integrity of our elections.

Last Name: Samuel Locality: Ashland

The electoral College keeps power in each state. Do not give up Virginia‘s power by agreeing to a national popular vote. The national popular vote would take power from individual citizens in the United States, leaving national elections open to the state that could produce the most fraud. Then we have a banana republic, as in the 2016 election.

Last Name: Denise DaMoude Locality: Virginia Beach

Thank you

Last Name: Kline Locality: Shenandoah

I encourage delegates to vote for HB 1756. Big money from corporations or individuals should not be allowed to sway votes. Our general assembly members were elected by the people and represent the people of their district. Finance contribution reform is needed.

Last Name: Hasbrouck Locality: Ashland

I support both of these bills for the good of Virginia. Much is needed to secure fair and reliable voting practices and decrease voter fraud. We have lost a lot of faith in the voting process integrity during the past elections. Re. HB1833 I am opposed to this bill re: negating the electoral college .

Last Name: Prentice-Best Organization: n/a Locality: MONTVALE

I urge you to cosponsor HB1756. Every American has been impacted by the undue influences of corporate and ultra wealthy donors who buy favorable legislation and regulation. In a democracy the People are the ultimate power. Legislation and regulation should balance the needs of every sector and determine the best way to meet all those needs. When money overrides the interests of the voting public, we no longer have a democracy. Please stand for democracy. Thank you.

Last Name: Little Locality: Charlottesville

Please support this bill. When candidates receive huge donations from corporations and their corporate PACS, they vote their money rather than the interests of their constituents. We want politicians who prioritize people over companies. HB1756 Prohibits any candidate from soliciting or accepting a contribution from any public service corporation or any political action committee established and administered by such a corporation. We need this desperately in the commonwealth. We have the sixth highest electricity bills from a company that is supposed to be regulated by our government but there is a problem because our government's delegates and senators take lots of money from them! Public service corporations should serve the interests of the people not the bidding of corporations. Our political system is badly in need of repair. No more lobbyists writing our laws, no more lesser of two evil elections, no more ignoring the will of the people. Please support this legislation for the people.

Last Name: Norquist Locality: Fredericksburg

Insure you sign COS and stop with politics!

Last Name: Allen Locality: NEWPORT NEWS

I would make some changes to our election process. -rigid background checks for candidates BEFORE they run -any qualified person can run regardless of money backing them -elections should be a PUBLIC SERVICE requiring NO huge financial backing (that would eliminate big corporations, tech, media, etc., and include the average American who can not PAY for a candidate) that encourages puppets in government -campaigning on TV and in public should be free and volunteers working for candidates

Last Name: Ball Locality: Christiansburg

The election have been a fraud in Virginia for many years.

Last Name: Reese Locality: Bracey

We need this bill.

Last Name: Rice Locality: ALEXANDRIA

Happy to see Rep. Samirah's bill, and hope he adds the telecommunications industry to those who should be blocked from funding legislators. For too long, we have seen the influence of the large telecom companies in state policy, by perpetuating a pro-monopoly stance, and by pushing legislators to support policies to just subsidize these telecoms already billion dollar companies if we want them to serve the unserved they have turned their backs on. We need competitive options for our citizens, as with genuine competition, we quickly see a reduction in service rates, and improvements in customer service and technology that are absent in a monopoly market.

Last Name: Fisher Locality: Bluefield

We urgently need campaign finance reform. That's why I support HB 1956, HB 1902 and HB1952. Sincerely, Donna Fisher

Last Name: Morgan Organization: American Promise/MoneyOutVA Locality: Alexandria

Banning campaign donations from Public-Service Corporations - Delegate Ibraheem Samirah (HB 1756) My name is Nancy Morgan, the coordinator of the VA chapter of American Promise and I support this bill because Virginia, known as a "Pay-to-Play" state, is one of only 5 states with no campaign finance limitations. Public service corporations have a long history of influencing lawmakers and public policy. This influence, combined with plentiful campaign contributions to legislators who are involved in decisions related to these companies' bottom lines, raise the specter of impropriety and perception of corruption Prohibiting publicly regulated utilities and other public service corporations from donating to campaigns is a critical step to establishing a legislature that represents people, and not profits. In addition, there is precedence in many states of candidates being prohibited from receiving any contributions from certain sources, such as government contractors, lobbyists, and public utility companies. Public service corporations are well defined in Virginia state stature. They currently are a big part of political spending in Virginia, creating a regulatory landscape which benefits their bottom lines and curtails measures to benefit Virginian consumers and other public interests. Since 1996, Dominion Energy-- Virginia’s largest utility monopoly—has been one of the largest individual corporate contributors to Virginia’s elected officials, donating more than $2 million in 2018/2019. Since 1996, they have contributed over $14 million to election campaigns. Over the past decade, it has reportedly overcharged its customers by more than $2.3 billion. To date, less than 5% of this money has been refunded. Electric bills for have skyrocketed, and are the 7th highest in the country. In another example, the telecom industry is among one of the other largest campaign donor groups, with contributions totaling nearly $8 million in 2018/2019. Virginia is cited as being one of only three states with the most types of restrictions to municipal broadband investment, along with Alabama and Wisconsin. Elimination of these restrictions could lead to 10% greater access to low-price broadband, especially benefiting rural areas.

Last Name: Smith Organization: Myself Locality: Reston

As a nation, we have witnessed the "pay to play" world of Citizens United. As a State we can trace back over time to the root of the overwhelming influence Public Utilities have on legislation (through large contributions to legislators' campaigns). Check the contributions to senators and delegates -- the total sum is visceral. It is time to give citizens the right to both select their legislator and to be the most influential voices in guiding the legislators' discussions and votes -- Not Dominion or Comcast or other "Public" utilities. We are the public, forced to use the utilities so the public and not the utilities voice should be heard. I support HB1756 -- and I will support the candidates who pledge to never accept money from corporations -- especially public utilities.

Last Name: Besa Organization: Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Locality: Chesterfield County

Sierra Club Virginia Chapter wishes to express its support for HB1756 and HB1952. We had not had an opportunity to take a position on HB1906 before this hearing. Good environmental policy often impacts industry, for example, requiring reductions in pollution or the expanded use of renewable energy. These same industries are often large campaign contributors with a major lobbying presence to influence the outcome of bills that impact that industry. HB1756, by prohibiting campaign contributions from public service corporations, would address the particularly troublesome reality of contributions from industries regulated by the state including electric utilities and telecom companies, for example. HB1952 prohibits the use of campaign contributions for personal use with the exception of childcare costs related to campaigning. With the unlimited campaign contributions permitted in Virginia, rightly or wrongly, citizens may infer that larger campaign contributions not used during the campaign and available for personal use may exert undue influence on a legislator voting on legislation impacting that campaign donor. In each instance, there is at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. For these reasons, we urge your support of HB1756 and HB1952. Thank you. Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Last Name: Halverson Locality: CHESAPEAKE

Corporations should not have more voice and influence than citizens. I support both of these bills.

Last Name: Stanfield, Josh Organization: Activate Virginia Locality: Yorktown

A common concern with campaign finance reform bills is constitutionality, particularly in light of the Citizens United v. FEC (2010) decision. In the case of contribution bans like the bill in question, however, Citizens United does not control - FEC v. Beaumont (02-403) 539 U.S. 146 (2003) does. In FEC v. Beaumont, SCOTUS reversed the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court and established that the "closely drawn" standard would be applied - as opposed to strict scrutiny - to campaign finance regulations. Given Beaumont, Virginia campaign finance reform bills only have to satisfy a "closely drawn" standard to match a “sufficiently important interest.” In the case of Dominion Energy, Appalachian Power Company, the telecoms, and other public service corporations in Virginia, the state could definitely demonstrate a "sufficiently important interest" in prohibiting campaign contributions. Federal and state courts consistently uphold corporate contribution bans, as well as selective bans on contributions from other groups. In Ognibene v. Parkes (2012), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New York City’s expansion of its ban on contributions from some corporate entities and its limitations on contributions from people and entities who do business with the City. From the Second Circuit opinion: “In other words, because the scope of quid pro quo corruption can never be reliably ascertained, the legislature may regulate certain indicators of such corruption or its appearance, such as when donors make large contributions because they have business with the City, hope to do business with the City, or are expending money on behalf of others who do business with the City. Furthermore, such donations certainly feed the public perception of quid pro quo corruption, and this alone justifies limitations or perhaps an outright ban. Citizens United, 130 S.Ct. at 908, 910.” In Wagner, et al. v. FEC (Miller v. FEC) (2016) the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on contributions by federal government contractors in federal elections. SCOTUS refused to grant a writ of certiorari. It’s important to recognize this same constitutional reasoning - and dependence on FEC v. Beaumont - provides the foundation for the constitutionality of banning all corporate contributions (see Del. Carter's HB1906). In Texas Democratic Party v. King Street Patriots (2017), the Supreme Court of Texas unanimously upheld a ban on corporate contributions in state politics. And in 1A Auto, Inc. v. Director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, 480 Mass. 423 (2018), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed a superior court judge in upholding the state’s corporate contribution ban. From the decision: “The Court in Citizens United did not, however, overrule its decision in Beaumont. Indeed, the majority opinion did not even cite Beaumont. Moreover, Citizens United left much of the reasoning in Beaumont undisturbed.” And: “To our knowledge, every Federal circuit court that has considered a constitutional challenge to laws banning corporate contributions since Citizens United has applied the controlling precedent in Beaumont and concluded that the laws were constitutional under the First Amendment.” Please support both HB1756 (as amended to cover all public service corporations) and HB 1906 and understand that their constitutionality should not be in serious question.

Last Name: Burgess Locality: Crewe

I encourage my members to support HB 1756, HB 1906 and HB 1952.

Last Name: Khan Organization: Virginia Political Cooperative Locality: Sterling

I am writing in support of the following campaign finance related bills: SB1233 - HB1952 - HB 1756 - SB1236 - HB1906 - HR526. Per the Constitution of United States of America, corporations whether a public service company or otherwise are NOT people and their contributions to candidates running for public office need to be banned. Dominion MUST refund ratepayers their money that it has overcharged. In a 2018 poll, 88 percent of Americans – including 84 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 86 percent of Independents agreed that it is important to “reduce or counterbalance the influence of big campaign donors  – including special interests, corporations and wealthy people.  Meanwhile, 85% of business leaders believe that our campaign finance system is broken and action needs to be taken to repair it.  Thanks to all the committee members for siding with the people.

Last Name: LeMenestrel Organization: Virginia Democracy Forward (VADF) Locality: McLean

The bottom line is that Virginia currently is one of the worst states when it comes to corporate money in politics and the deleterious effects of all that money sloshing around.  it simply is not right that a company allowed to be a monopoly in exchange for the promise of being subject to state regulation is permitted to buy off the Commonwealth’s regulators and legislators.  And the problem is getting worst:   the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) reported that in 2020, while almost every other business interest ramped down its contributions in this year of COVID-19, Dominion gave five times more than it had in 2018 – from $113,381 to a whopping $615,500.   The solution to this problem – the corrupting and “capture” of our state government, regulatory agencies, etc. – won’t be simple, but this bill is the first step in addressing it.  Thank you for your leadership for recommending this bill to a floor vote!  Chris LeMenestrel, Virginia Democracy Forward (VADF), McLean 

Last Name: Cathcart Organization: Dominion shareholder Locality: Roanoke City

It's unacceptable for Dominion to spend money on political contributions after slashing shareholder dividends. Even worse Dominion hasn't refunded ratepayers their money for when Dominion overestimated the cost of the Clean Power Plan. If Dominion has extra money they need to first give the ratepayers back their money and then if there's any left over the shareholders should have their dividends restored. Plus it's inappropriate for a monopoly to give money to the members of a governmental body that writes the legislation to regulate their industry. No wonder Virginia is one of the last states to prevent political contributions to public monopolies. Please vote for this bill.

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

The peons here are tired of being run by VEPCO and other big interests instead of being govt. of, by, and for the people. Stop telling us you care for us and start acting like it.

Last Name: KITTS Locality: BLUEFIELD

Good candidates are going right down the drain because of bad candidates who get big bucks from big powerful people or companies and then they're beholden to them once in office. You wonder why you hear so much cynicism about the government from the guy on the street? or on Facebook? It's because there's no fairness in financing campaigns, so there's no fairness in campaigning. The only ones who can reform this is you, the legislators. PLEASE support HB1756, 1906 and 1952.

Last Name: William Lynch Locality: Arlington

I would like to state my strong support for both these bills. As a resident of Virginia, I believe that it should be we the people who decide who to vote for without the influence of corporate backers.

Last Name: Roberts Locality: Tazewell

I urge members to support HB1756, HB1906, and HB1952. We need to end the obscene amount of spending on elections and it is high time that Virginia joins other states in getting BIG MONEY and DARK MONEY out of politics.

Last Name: Chowdhury Locality: Fairfax

While donating money to candidates and legislators is important, in order to fund the legitimate day to day operations of staying in office and serving the people, the risk of corporations unduly shaping the laws that govern the markets they operate in (often in opposition to the vast majority of the citizens who live in these districts and states), by wielding financial power beyond what the average citizens could even collectively bring to bear, is not worth it. The potentially corrupting influence of corporate money in politics runs the risk of turning the ideal of a fair market into a pipe dream, and turning our great State into a haven of crony capitalism that will lead to poorer outcomes for all but the few who lead the winning corporations, who have played the game best. In this, we all lose - we lose our democracy, and we lose the American principles this country was founded on. Our founding fathers did not envision a country where corporations have this much financial influence, and to continue to allow corporate money to influence our politics would be unpatriotic, and a betrayal of our duty to them, and our duty to our children. One might argue that this gets in the way of corporations' sincerely held beliefs of how Virginia should be run. But the idea of corporations having legitimate political views is often betrayed by the gap between the views expressed by a company's PR department, and the political donations of that same company. Take this excerpt from the Center for Political Accountability, which stated the following: "In the 2010 election cycle, the 20 largest public company donors contributed more than $7 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focused on winning state legislative campaigns. About 10 of these 20 firms had explicit diversity policies on their books in 2010, but their donations facilitated the drawing of legislative and congressional district lines following the 2010 elections – gerrymander – that in several cases the courts later held to be racially motivated. In the current election cycle, public companies – despite their near unanimous support for Black Lives Matter – have contributed $12.9 million (as of June 30, 2020) to the RSLC, which is seeking to retain GOP control of state legislatures, including those racially gerrymandered a decade ago." (from their 2020 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability: https://politicalaccountability.net/hifi/files/2020-CPA-Zicklin-Index.pdf).

Last Name: efthymiadis Locality: manassas city

Honorable Delegates, I want to start by thanking you for your time. I am writing in support of bills HB1756 & HB1906. Elections are expensive. I get that. Campaigns must be funded so donations must be received. I get that too. particularly if those donations are made by individuals who support you. I have made my fair share of donations to candidates because they were running on positions I agreed with. citizens donating to campaigns? sure. One particular aspect of campaign finance I can't agree with is Corporate donations especially donations from a company with state guaranteed profit. Honorable Delegates, part of your job, part of the reason why we send you to Richmond is to regulate companies. How am I to trust you listen to me and my needs with the 50 dollars a month I give rather than the $1,276,016.17 that Dominion spread around via its PAC? And on the issue of Dominion, why does it get to contribute? It appears to me to be a conflict of interest especially if someone on the committee that regulates Dominion were to receive money from Dominion. Ultimately how are we to trust you to regulate them effectively when you're taking money from them and listening to their paid lobbyists? We need real, effective reforms here in the Commonwealth and I know the best way is to get money out of politics and to stop having our Delegates take money from the corporations they're supposed to regulate and instead listen to the voters that sent them to Richmond in the first place. corporations have their lobbyists. The average Virginian doesn't. Dominion and other corporations shouldn't get to pay contributions and have lobbyists. The voters sent you to where you are now. remember that. Sincerely, Vasileos Efthymiadis

Last Name: Maysaud Locality: Alexandria

It is no secret that money in politics has too much power in dictating who gets elected, the policy of both political parties, and our governance at the expense of the will, desire, and speech of the people. I strongly support these two bills so that Virginia can listen to the needs of the state to reduce environmental racism and mitigate climate change so that our children and grandchildren have a hospitable planet to live on. Banning contributions from electric utilities is a necessary first step which I strongly support, but Carter's bill goes further in ensuring the needs of the people are heard in all matters of governance, not corporations who care for nothing but their profits.

Last Name: Haney Locality: Loudoun

As a new resident of Virginia, I look forward to the passage of these two bills. The citizens of the Commonwealth deserve a system of elections that protects our elected officials from undue influence of the interest of corporations. To do any less than pass these bills and ban corporate contributions would continue to silence citizens below the deafening din of corporate voices. Thank you for taking the time to review these bills and these comments.

Last Name: Clark Locality: Richmond City

Both of these bills work to create a much fairer Virginia. Candidates who don't cater to the needs of big business should not be put at a gross monetary disadvantage. Everyone needs to work for the everyone, not just big business and monopolies like Dominion Power.

Last Name: Klein Locality: Alexandria

Since we do not intend to commonwealthize Dominion and other utility monopolies, we should at a minimum ban corporate contributions from these monopolies that rely on bribing politicians to maintain their status. I support HB 1756 and HB 1906.

Last Name: Nawaz Organization: yyyy Locality: McLean

Dear Delegate, Please support HB 1756. This bill states, very simply, that candidates, campaign committees, political committees, or political parties are precluded from soliciting or accepting contributions from any public service corporation. One such corporation plays an outsized role in Virginia, and that’s Dominion. It’s not that Dominion is able to “buy” legislators – it’s more nuanced than that. When a legislator has received money – sizeable money – from an entity, it is only natural that the legislator will be inclined to hear out the issues and concerns of that donor. Opposing views do not have the same ability to voice and defend the other side. The results of the current system are clear. Dominion’s influence is reflected in the high electricity bills that Virginia residents pay – the 6th highest in the country. Our legislature is tasked with keeping the interests of Virginians paramount. This bill will help. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Greenaway Organization: American Promise Virginia Locality: Caroline

HB1756 and 1906 - As a resident of Caroline County, who recently relocated from Prince William County, the monopolistic control of broadband by a few companies who have contributed significant campaign donations to both parties has seriously impeded the economic development of my community. Thanks to their control, I have one choice for internet service provider, a satellite internet company headquartered in Maryland. They provide Internet and phone connections, but I cannot use the phone to call internationally or receive international calls which is necessary for the consulting business that I run from my home. Further, if I want hardline phone service, I have one choice, Verizon, but I cannot use their service to connect to the Internet because dial-up modem's are no longer technically capable of connecting to digital internet services. Finally, if I want to have TV service, that is a third company which provides neither phone service nor internet connection and requires a separate satellite dish. However, the issue with satellite internet is not just the cost, but the quality of the service. I am constantly having to shut off my camera on Zoom calls because the connection is so bad. Further, it is difficult for me to participate in a meeting because there is a lag in the time that I speak and when the person on the other end hears my input. Finally, if there is a rainstorm or a strong wind, the satellite dish cannot connect. As a result, I lost the equivalent of three full weeks worth of business because the satellite and phone connection was down this past year. Even the cellular service is poor or non-existent and it is the same for any company that provides the service whether it is AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile. In order to have three bars on my phone inside my home, I had to purchase a cell site booster, without which I could not even make 911 calls. In short, all of these services cost several hundred dollars per month which I have to pay to run my business. But my community is filled with farmers and laborers, many of them cannot pay for these services. And there are no wi-fi hotspots within 20 miles of my community. In short, the corporations who provide an essential service should not have greater access to a legislature through campaign donations than citizens like me. We should be able to band together and collectively negotiate the services we receive and there should be free market choices. Competitive markets for broadband services and other public services exist in a number of states and what all of those states have in common is that they ban direct corporate donations to candidates. The millions of dollars that are spent on campaign donations in Virginia by these companies and others are money that is not being spent on building infrastructure for rural communities like mine. As a citizen of this state, I am concerned that campaign contributions by these corporations are considered the means that justify the ends. It is time to end the Virginia Way and level the playing field for campaign donations by banning direct corporate donations to candidates like they have done in 22 states. HB1952 - I support this bill. No other state allows the use of campaign financing to pay personal expenses. It should not be allowed in Virginia. I am asking that all of these bills be passed to the full committee for a vote. It is time that Virginia joins 45 other states in regulating campaign donations.

Last Name: Mehta Locality: Arlington County

I am a preschool teacher residing in Arlington, VA. I have seen firsthand the dangers of elected officials who works for their corporate donors at the expense of working families in their district. My question to the committee is who does our current legislature work for: Virginia's working people or corporations and special interests? I urge the committee to vote YES on both HB1906 and HB1756 so that our legislators and General Assembly are exclusively representing the working people of their districts, not corporations, lobbyists, regulated state monopolies, or special interests. 22 states ban corporate contributions to candidates and legislators, and it is time Virginia joined the effort to remove that corporate influence. We must demand that our elected officials always prioritize people over profits as the foundation of their elected positions. At a time where we are seeing historic levels of income and wealth inequality, we must ensure that our basic economic and human rights are not commodified and put up for sale. Once again, I urge the committee to vote YES on both HB1906 and HB1756.

Last Name: Chaves Organization: Virginia Organizing; Mothers Out Front Locality: Blacksburg

I'm writing to ask you to support HB 1756, 1906, and 1952. Big campaign donors--whether corporations, regulated utilities, or wealthy individuals,--create a non-democracy where political power is dictated by economic power. The will of the people is then usurped by individuals or entities with deep pockets. Unfortunately, their interests often undermine the public interest, as can readily be seen in the case of climate change where a network of fossil fuel interests for decades used private economic power to block and delay meaningful climate action. The somewhat simple and straightforward decision to reduce private economic influence in the form of campaign contributions will have an enormous impact on how our state's democracy functions. Thank you.

Last Name: Jacobs Locality: Herndon

I support all three bills. I support Samirah’s HB1756. Who watched the watchmen? That’s what this is all about. I have faith in our esteemed Delegates and Senators that they’re not intensionally taking money from Dominion and then letting Dominion overcharge customers. I have faith that none if you are taking money from Verizon and writing broadband legislation that give the Verizon exclude power to overcharge and ignore the hard-to-reach. I don’t wish to impugn any of you. I’m only asking you to stop taking money from the corporations controlled by the State Corporation Commission; this should be illegal because you may not be corrupted by that money, but taking it sure makes you look like you are. I support Simon’s HB1952. I just donated to the Jennifer Carroll-Foy for Governor. I gave her campaign money, expecting her to use it to buy ads on social media, to put out messages on broadcast media, to hire campaign workers, and to support text, phone and foot canvassing. I do not expect her to be using it to take her family to Paris. If she goes to Paris, c’est bonne, I’d be happy to tell her what to see as I used to live in the city of light, don’t use my campaign contribution for it! That should be on her own dime. But it can be! Nothing illegal about that. Simon’s Bill would fix this flagrant loophole. I support Carter’s HB1906. Corporations are not people. And for-profit Corporations are even less like individuals. It may seem preventing for-profit contributions from corporations from making Campaign Contributions would be unconstitutional, but the truth is, Carter’s bill is *not* unconstitutional. The federal government has laws fining contribution above a certain limit. Many states do to. But in Virginia, it’s a free-for-all. It’s one of the major reasons Virginia ranks 45 out of 50 in terms of keeping money out of politics. This is why I support these three bills!

Last Name: Tabony Organization: VA Progressives Locality: Charlottesville

We want VA to join other states in committing to get "Big Money" out of politics!

Last Name: Pannabecker Organization: Virginia Organizing, Green New Deal VA Locality: Montgomery County, Blacksburg

HB 1756 Campaign finance; prohibited contributions to candidates. Introduced by: Delegate Ibraheem Samirah as Chief Patron, Co-Chief Patroned by Delegate Joshua Cole, and Co-Patroned by many others is a critical bill to move forward for a vote, and to fully support during voting this session. Every year we see bills defeated by massive lobbying from irresponsible public service corporations -- bills that would improve the lives of all Virginians, especially those in communities of color, and marginalized, underserved, underrepresented, and lower socio-economic communities. For example, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power who hold monopoly power over their territories in Virginia continually exert their undue, unearned, and unwanted influence over legislators in Virginia General Assembly who take their money each year. Equitable access to affordable, ethically responsible electricity that is sourced increasingly by innovative green infrastructure is critical to reduce the climate emergency that affects all of our well-being daily, and this is one of the initiative areas these public service *corporations* do their utmost to whittle down to nothing even when legislation is passed. Further, while raking in profits and overcharging Virginians, they exert their influence again to demand higher rates. -- If no legislators were allowed to accept their funds, all legislators will be on the same footing related to these corporate interests. This bill is critical to remove the dependence VA legislators have on these funding sources that are *not* acting in the interests of Virginians. I urge you to sign on to co-patron, support, and move this bill to a vote in the General Assembly and I urge you to vote in favor of it.

Last Name: Payne Locality: Norfolk

I encourage our members to support HB 1956, HB 1902 and HB1952.

Last Name: Parr Organization: Virginia Progressives Locality: Arlington

I/we would like ALL Members to support the following Bills 1. HB 1756 2. HB 1906 and 3. HB 1952 It is well past time to get "BIG MONEY" out of Virginia Politics. We Progressives are tired of living in a "Pay to Play" State The Good Ol' "Virginia Way" has had its day. Its time for a New Dawn! SUPPORT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM - NOW!!!

Last Name: Haider Locality: Alexandria

I encourage our members to support HB 1956, HB 1902. HB 1746 and HB1952

Last Name: MILLHOUSER Organization: Self Locality: Falls Church

I strongly support House Bill 1756 to prohibit contributions to candidates by public service corporations (PSCs). Public service corporations are given special monopoly status by the Commonwealth and the legislature must be able to protect the interests of rate paying citizens without the influence of large political campaign contributions to our elected officials. While some legislators argue that there is no conflict of interest in their receiving PSC funding, the public perception of corruption is widespread. In fact, it strains credulity to believe that Dominion Energy and other PSCs would spend such large amount of funds if they did not think it benefitted their bottom line. I urge passage of this bill to ensure that our PSCs truly meet the needs of the citizens of Commonwealth.

Last Name: Deal Organization: Virginia Money Out of Politics Locality: Vienna

I support Delegate Samirah's bill to ban campaign contributions from all Public Service Corporations, particularly from the telecom industry, whose influence has limited competition to needed internet service across the state. Only a third of Virginia's families in rural areas have broadband access, a situation shared by tens of thousands of urban residents. When online learning became the norm during this pandemic, many Virginia students and their parents were forced to drive to a library or church parking lot to access a hotspot so they could do their homework. "Public service" telecoms, despite federal and state subsidies, operate at an unaffordably high price point for many rural and low income families. "They have neither the motivation nor the mandate to address the public service needs of our community," according to one rural county supervisor. The telecom industry campaign contributions and lobbying (nearly $8 million in the 2018/19 electoral cycle) serve to limit competition by less costly and more sustainable local broadband authorities. Virginia's broadband regulatory environment, one of the three most onerous in the country, stymies alternative, more sustainable solutions. CARES funding will soon expire and alternative funding such as the VA Technology Initiative (VATI) is being steered largely to private internet service providers, whose cost structure will continue to leave a large percent of the population unserved -- expanding the divide between the haves and the have nots. Moreover, the telecom industry lobby used its potent influence to place a number of its representatives on the Broadband Advisory Council (BAC) charged with overseeing grant application reviews. Del. Samirah's PSC Ban bill will go a long way toward removing the harmful influence of public service telecoms, leveling the playing field, and opening up competition, and promote consideration of lower cost options. Otherwise, rural areas will increasingly suffer from access to telehealth services, remote work opportunities, and incentives for small business to grow. Last year, the House of Delegates did not conduct a hearing on a similar PSC Ban bill. The 10 Senators who voted against a similar bill by Senator Petersen this year and last collectively received $60,000 in campaign contributions from the major telecoms. The people of Virginia deserve better. I urge you to take seriously the need for sustainable access to affordable broadband and support this bill. Thank you for your attention.

Last Name: Honeycutt Locality: Salem City

I support strongly support HB 1756 and HB 1906. We need to eliminate the hold these entities have on our government and have our representatives work for the people that elect them. Get the big money out, and let the people truly have a voice.

Last Name: Hopler Locality: Fairfax

I support HOUSE BILL NO. 1756 to prohibit contributions to candidates by public service corporation. I am most concerned about Dominion Power's ability to assert power to maintain its monopoly over VA power production and distribution. We cannot have progress an innovations with energy if our elected officials are heavily funded by a corporation that is vested in stagnation for its profitability. I support HJ 526 Comprehensive campaign finance reform; joint subcommittee to study and and HB1906 to remove corporate campaign money. It is imperative that we limit campaign finance contributions and reduce the costs of campaigns. We will not get diverse voices and experiences in office that represent VA well if excessive funds are required from corporations to get them elected.

Last Name: Shearer Organization: eNRG - Energizing Renewable Growth in Holston Valley Locality: Emory

The bulls are buying off their wranglers! It's time that public utilities, granted special monopoly status by the Commonwealth, are prohibited from attempting to bribe, with fat cat campaign contributions, General Assembly members, the Attorney General and Governor, all charged with seeing that these so-called "public service corporations" act in the public interest. Dominion Energy, for example is the largest corporate contributor to candidates. Last I checked, giving nearly twice the money that the #2 corporation donates. Dominion and it's executives are not signing checks to politicians out of charity. They know it buys them access. Dominion literally writes legislation that Assembly members put their names on and vote for. I don't think you would do that for me. It's long past time to end this rodeo and put wranglers representing the people back in control. Bulls are dangerous when they have their way in the legislative china shop. Maybe if utilities couldn't buy better rates of return and non-refundable overcharges, they would start seeking out ways to turn a profit by loaning customers money to insulate their homes and purchase roof top solar. So please support HB1756, so that all Virginia candidates campaign on a level playing field with no advantage to those who take the check, submit the power company legislation, and vote for their campaign contributing pals. (You know that's happening.)

Last Name: williams Organization: Green New Deal Virginia Locality: Richmond

I would like to comment in SUPPORT of HB 1756 and HB 1906 on behalf of over 70 environmental and social justice organizations and their members within the Green New Deal Virginia Coalition. Public service corporations are currently a large demographic of political spending in Virginia, creating a regulatory landscape which benefits their bottom lines and curtails measures that would benefit consumers and communities. From environmental racism in Union Hill to the ecological destruction of our mountains and water, these unregulated "pay to play" schemes and way of doing business in Virginia must stop so that we have a legislature that elevates the wellbeing of people over profits. It's not the Corporation's fault. Corporate entities exist for one driving purpose; to generate profits for the shareholders who own the company. Their business practices are designed to enhance that agenda. It is the legislatures responsibility to enact rules to regulate their influence and actions.

Last Name: Phillips Organization: self Locality: Oakton

HB 1756: Corporations are not people. Let representatives represent the People. HB 1933: Virginia has over three times the number of people per electoral vote as Wyoming does. The process does not represent one person, one vote. Make it fair and join the compact. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population#:~:text=List%20of%20U.S.%20states%20by%20population%20%20,%20%205.91%%20%208%20more%20rows HB 2278: Don't make it harder to vote. People need to be engaged in the process. If you want to change up the voting system, go to Rank choice voting https://ballotpedia.org/Ranked-choice_voting_(RCV)

Last Name: Jacobs Organization: Self Locality: Herndon

I wholeheartedly and free of mind and will do attest, as a full citizen, my support of this bill. We need to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact so that the chaos of the 2020 election never happens again given such a clear popular vote winner. We need to stop PSC controlled corporations from contributing to those we vote to protect us from their near monopoly power which requires them to be regulated in the first place. Indeed, we should eliminate corporate contributions to political campaigns; bring campaigns back to the middle! Also, no more spending those campaign dollars on trips to fancy beaches and mountain resorts—that’s not why we give! Let the people vote, no more discrimination of any kind and if we let them drive at 16 they should be able to vote on those laws. If they were convicted of an unjust felonious infraction, such as marijuana possession, they should not have their voting rights abdicated so they can’t vote to overturn the unjust code through voting! And we need to keep our elections free and fair and not allow firearms at the polls to intimidate voters and politicians! I voted against the marriage act because I support the LGBTQ community and also support common law marriage protections for women. We need to amend this unconstitutional and disrespectful portion of our chief document.! We should be a Souls to the Polls state and have Sunday early voting! Absentee ballots should not be considered after-thought tie-breakers. They are legitimate ballots and should be counted as they came in. What happened in Pennsylvania should never happen here! Finally, I wish to state for the record as a citizen from the fastest growing region in the Commonwealth, the region from Reston/Great Falls to Leesburg, I was aghast when I saw of the 64 names legislators chose to send to the judges, not a single one the legislators selected was from this region. This is a major flaw of this Amendment—politicians as gatekeepers! But, we have the amendment and who knows what shenanigans the folks on the board will try. This is why we need fuller transparency with every action the committee takes under public scrutiny. Thank you and I sincerely hope you will pass this bill!

Last Name: Pien Organization: Earth Rise Indivisible, Loudoun Climate Project Locality: Leesburg

I support HB 1756 and I urge you to as well. This bill is critical to ensuring that Virginia's legislators act in the best interests of Virginia citizens, not Virginia utilities. The VA General Assembly must regulate public service corporations including Dominion Power and not be beholden to corporations that donate to their political campaign. Nationwide, 84 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 86 percent of Independents agreed that it is important to “reduce or counterbalance the influence of big campaign donors—including special interests, corporations and wealthy people. Meanwhile, 85% of business leaders believe that our campaign finance system is broken and action needs to be taken to repair it. This bill will accomplish what the nation and our commonwealth needs.

Last Name: Siler Locality: Waynesboro

Our elected officials should only answer to their constituents. We should be your number one priority, not the corporations. We need to get big money out of politics and bring it back to public service. We can start here in Virginia, today.

Last Name: Malady Locality: Chester

<notice: 3500 Char[a]cter Limit> Our government is founded on the principle of governance of, by, and for the people of this nation. Corporations are legal constructs, not people. A contractual document, such as a corporation, is not entitled to protections under the Bill of Rights. No contractual document has a right to contribute to a political campaign. Any legislation that seeks to end erroneous corporate personhood and claims to human and/or citizens rights is a step in the right direction toward an uncorrupted governance of, by and for people. HB1756 is one of those steps.

Last Name: Miller Organization: People Demanding Action Locality: Caroline

I strongly support this bill! When candidates receive huge donations from corporations and their corporate PACS, they vote their money rather than the interests of their constituents. Public service corporations should serve the interests of the people not the bidding of corporations. Our political system is badly in need of repair. No more lobbyists writing our laws, no more lesser of two evil elections, no more ignoring the will of the people. Honesty and integrity are bi-partisan ideals and should be supported by all political parties.

Last Name: O'Keefe Organization: EXTINCTION RE RICHMOND Locality: Richmond

I fully support all 3 of these bills as important steps towards an electoral system that ensures the voices of ordinary citizens are not drowned out by corporate interests and wealth. I enthusiastically encourage the P & E committee to approve these bills and bring us closer to a democracy representative of the people.

Last Name: Spitz Organization: Progressive Democrats of America- Virginia Locality: Fairfax County

Virginia is one of only five states that do not regulate money in politics and is the only state that allows such money to be used for personal expenses. It is past time for this to change. Corporations should not be able to give unlimited amounts of money to candidates for the General Assembly, especially those public service corporations granted special status by the General Assembly. This creates a conflict of interest and the public perception of corruption. The Virginia Way must not continue to be pay to play.

Last Name: Caywood Locality: Virginia Beach

As a ratepayer I have no choice in where I purchase electricity. Since there isn't a free market, I depend on state government to regulate what I am charged. Thus when my electric utility takes what I paid and makes campaign donations with it and then lobbies for rate increases or retention of overcharges, I am being forced to subsidize political activities that are not in my interest. I appreciate many things about my electric utility, especially responsiveness in weather emergencies. I simply want to see an end to the feedback loop between regulation and donation that excludes and misrepresents my voice. Thank you.

Last Name: Logan Locality: RICHMOND

As a voter, one of the first things I look for when considering a new candidate is where their campaign money comes from. When I see organizations like Dominion listed under the campaign contributions, my first assumption is that the candidate is not running for the people of Virginia. We live in an amazing Commonwealth with so much valuable natural resources; time and again, we've watched Dominion take actions that actively harm both those resources and Virginia residents. I support any campaign finance reform that reduces the influence of big corporations in the electoral process, and I encourage my representatives to do the same.

HB1906 - Campaign finance; prohibited contributions from corporations, civil penalty.
Last Name: McKiernan Organization: Virginia Election Administrators Locality: Rappahannock

During the course of your duties, when considering our (Election Administrators/General Registrars/Directors of Elections) request to finally be paid commensurate with our duties after 29 years of added duties without corresponding compensation, please keep in mind that every election law that is passed adds to our duties. There were over 69 NEW Election laws last year in the midst of a pandemic and the most grueling, contentious election cycle EVER. Every election law passed without funding jeopardizes our ability to get it all done due to lack of resources, staff, funding and time. The loss of any of the experienced, dedicated General Registrars because of compensation is a travesty and is likely to become a reality without the appropriate compensation. Please correct this inequity in compensation THIS SESSION. 1. Adjust compensation brackets in accordance with state studies (2 of them) 2. resume 100% reimbursement of NEW base salary to localities 3. Make it happen THIS session. We have earned it. We are the ones out here taking the abuse as a result of unfounded accusations and insinuations. Please understand that the 133 General Registrars statewide who count votes, compile results, verify results, process absentee by mail ballots, and so much more, do so with bi-partisan observers (sent by local political committees!!) and sworn election officials every.single.step! NOTHING is done in secret. EVERYTHING is reviewed and verified by a three member board (Electoral Board) representing both political parties. These board members are nominated by the local political committees and signed off on by a panel of judges! WE are not the enemy and the more you present laws insinuating that something is shady, the more you erode voter confidence on both sides of the aisle! The fact that a bill has passed the house to ADD SUNDAYS to early voting should be enough reason to pay us appropriately itself. We work 100s and 1000s of hours of overtime yet aren't paid equally and aren't valued equally to our fellow county government counterparts. The longer you ignore this and pass over doing the right thing, the more you send the message to your constituents, candidates, and fellow delegates that elections aren't important to you. NOW is the time to make this right.

Last Name: Allen Locality: NEWPORT NEWS

I would make some changes to our election process. -rigid background checks for candidates BEFORE they run -any qualified person can run regardless of money backing them -elections should be a PUBLIC SERVICE requiring NO huge financial backing (that would eliminate big corporations, tech, media, etc., and include the average American who can not PAY for a candidate) that encourages puppets in government -campaigning on TV and in public should be free and volunteers working for candidates

Last Name: Fisher Locality: Bluefield

We urgently need campaign finance reform. That's why I support HB 1956, HB 1902 and HB1952. Sincerely, Donna Fisher

Last Name: Halverson Locality: CHESAPEAKE

Corporations should not have more voice and influence than citizens. I support both of these bills.

Last Name: Stanfield, Josh Organization: Activate Virginia Locality: Yorktown

A common concern with campaign finance reform bills is constitutionality, particularly in light of the Citizens United v. FEC (2010) decision. In the case of contribution bans like HB1906, however, Citizens United does not control - FEC v. Beaumont (02-403) 539 U.S. 146 (2003) does. In FEC v. Beaumont, SCOTUS reversed the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court and established that the "closely drawn" standard would be applied - as opposed to strict scrutiny - to campaign finance regulations. Given Beaumont, Virginia campaign finance reform bills only have to satisfy a "closely drawn" standard to match a “sufficiently important interest.” In the case of corporate contributions in Virginia, the state could definitely demonstrate a "sufficiently important interest" in prohibiting campaign contributions. Federal and state courts consistently uphold corporate contribution bans, as well as selective bans on contributions from other groups. In Ognibene v. Parkes (2012), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New York City’s expansion of its ban on contributions from some corporate entities and its limitations on contributions from people and entities who do business with the City. From the Second Circuit opinion: “In other words, because the scope of quid pro quo corruption can never be reliably ascertained, the legislature may regulate certain indicators of such corruption or its appearance, such as when donors make large contributions because they have business with the City, hope to do business with the City, or are expending money on behalf of others who do business with the City. Furthermore, such donations certainly feed the public perception of quid pro quo corruption, and this alone justifies limitations or perhaps an outright ban. Citizens United, 130 S.Ct. at 908, 910.” In Wagner, et al. v. FEC (Miller v. FEC) (2016) the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on contributions by federal government contractors in federal elections. SCOTUS refused to grant a writ of certiorari. It’s important to recognize this same constitutional reasoning - and dependence on FEC v. Beaumont - provides the foundation for the constitutionality of banning all corporate contributions. In Texas Democratic Party v. King Street Patriots (2017), the Supreme Court of Texas unanimously upheld a ban on corporate contributions in state politics. And in 1A Auto, Inc. v. Director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, 480 Mass. 423 (2018), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed a superior court judge in upholding the state’s corporate contribution ban. From the decision: “The Court in Citizens United did not, however, overrule its decision in Beaumont. Indeed, the majority opinion did not even cite Beaumont. Moreover, Citizens United left much of the reasoning in Beaumont undisturbed.” And: “To our knowledge, every Federal circuit court that has considered a constitutional challenge to laws banning corporate contributions since Citizens United has applied the controlling precedent in Beaumont and concluded that the laws were constitutional under the First Amendment.” Please support both HB 1906 and HB1756 (as amended to cover all public service corporations) and understand that their constitutionality should not be in serious question.

Last Name: Ho Locality: Reston

I strongly support this bill. Corporate influence on our elections is inherently undemocratic. The power of our elections should be in the hands of our people. Having our elections focus on fundraising and money takes power away from the people directly. Our elections should be publicly funded with little to no influence other than the voters themselves. I hope that the subcommittee pushes forward this bill and the general assembly passes it.

Last Name: Burgess Locality: Crewe

I encourage my members to support HB 1756, HB 1906 and HB 1952.

Last Name: Khan Organization: Virginia Political Cooperative Locality: Sterling

I am writing in support of the following campaign finance related bills: SB1233 - HB1952 - HB 1756 - SB1236 - HB1906 - HR526. Per the Constitution of United States of America, corporations whether a public service company or otherwise are NOT people and their contributions to candidates running for public office need to be banned. Dominion MUST refund ratepayers their money that it has overcharged. In a 2018 poll, 88 percent of Americans – including 84 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 86 percent of Independents agreed that it is important to “reduce or counterbalance the influence of big campaign donors  – including special interests, corporations and wealthy people.  Meanwhile, 85% of business leaders believe that our campaign finance system is broken and action needs to be taken to repair it.  Thanks to all the committee members for siding with the people.

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

The peons here are tired of being run by VEPCO and other big interests instead of being govt. of, by, and for the people. Stop telling us you care for us and start acting like it.

Last Name: KITTS Locality: BLUEFIELD

Good candidates are going right down the drain because of bad candidates who get big bucks from big powerful people or companies and then they're beholden to them once in office. You wonder why you hear so much cynicism about the government from the guy on the street? or on Facebook? It's because there's no fairness in financing campaigns, so there's no fairness in campaigning. The only ones who can reform this is you, the legislators. PLEASE support HB1756, 1906 and 1952.

Last Name: William Lynch Locality: Arlington

I would like to state my strong support for both these bills. As a resident of Virginia, I believe that it should be we the people who decide who to vote for without the influence of corporate backers.

Last Name: Roberts Locality: Tazewell

I urge members to support HB1756, HB1906, and HB1952. We need to end the obscene amount of spending on elections and it is high time that Virginia joins other states in getting BIG MONEY and DARK MONEY out of politics.

Last Name: Chowdhury Locality: Fairfax

While donating money to candidates and legislators is important, in order to fund the legitimate day to day operations of staying in office and serving the people, the risk of corporations unduly shaping the laws that govern the markets they operate in (often in opposition to the vast majority of the citizens who live in these districts and states), by wielding financial power beyond what the average citizens could even collectively bring to bear, is not worth it. The potentially corrupting influence of corporate money in politics runs the risk of turning the ideal of a fair market into a pipe dream, and turning our great State into a haven of crony capitalism that will lead to poorer outcomes for all but the few who lead the winning corporations, who have played the game best. In this, we all lose - we lose our democracy, and we lose the American principles this country was founded on. Our founding fathers did not envision a country where corporations have this much financial influence, and to continue to allow corporate money to influence our politics would be unpatriotic, and a betrayal of our duty to them, and our duty to our children. One might argue that this gets in the way of corporations' sincerely held beliefs of how Virginia should be run. But the idea of corporations having legitimate political views is often betrayed by the gap between the views expressed by a company's PR department, and the political donations of that same company. Take this excerpt from the Center for Political Accountability, which stated the following: "In the 2010 election cycle, the 20 largest public company donors contributed more than $7 million to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focused on winning state legislative campaigns. About 10 of these 20 firms had explicit diversity policies on their books in 2010, but their donations facilitated the drawing of legislative and congressional district lines following the 2010 elections – gerrymander – that in several cases the courts later held to be racially motivated. In the current election cycle, public companies – despite their near unanimous support for Black Lives Matter – have contributed $12.9 million (as of June 30, 2020) to the RSLC, which is seeking to retain GOP control of state legislatures, including those racially gerrymandered a decade ago." (from their 2020 CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Disclosure and Accountability: https://politicalaccountability.net/hifi/files/2020-CPA-Zicklin-Index.pdf).

Last Name: efthymiadis Locality: manassas city

Honorable Delegates, I want to start by thanking you for your time. I am writing in support of bills HB1756 & HB1906. Elections are expensive. I get that. Campaigns must be funded so donations must be received. I get that too. particularly if those donations are made by individuals who support you. I have made my fair share of donations to candidates because they were running on positions I agreed with. citizens donating to campaigns? sure. One particular aspect of campaign finance I can't agree with is Corporate donations especially donations from a company with state guaranteed profit. Honorable Delegates, part of your job, part of the reason why we send you to Richmond is to regulate companies. How am I to trust you listen to me and my needs with the 50 dollars a month I give rather than the $1,276,016.17 that Dominion spread around via its PAC? And on the issue of Dominion, why does it get to contribute? It appears to me to be a conflict of interest especially if someone on the committee that regulates Dominion were to receive money from Dominion. Ultimately how are we to trust you to regulate them effectively when you're taking money from them and listening to their paid lobbyists? We need real, effective reforms here in the Commonwealth and I know the best way is to get money out of politics and to stop having our Delegates take money from the corporations they're supposed to regulate and instead listen to the voters that sent them to Richmond in the first place. corporations have their lobbyists. The average Virginian doesn't. Dominion and other corporations shouldn't get to pay contributions and have lobbyists. The voters sent you to where you are now. remember that. Sincerely, Vasileos Efthymiadis

Last Name: Maysaud Locality: Alexandria

It is no secret that money in politics has too much power in dictating who gets elected, the policy of both political parties, and our governance at the expense of the will, desire, and speech of the people. I strongly support these two bills so that Virginia can listen to the needs of the state to reduce environmental racism and mitigate climate change so that our children and grandchildren have a hospitable planet to live on. Banning contributions from electric utilities is a necessary first step which I strongly support, but Carter's bill goes further in ensuring the needs of the people are heard in all matters of governance, not corporations who care for nothing but their profits.

Last Name: Fulton Locality: Arlington

I've been a Virginia resident since I was stationed here 7 years ago and stayed when I transitioned to Veteran status 4 years ago, and in that time corporations have consistently drowned out any input my perspective has. Serving our country didn't lend me huge amounts of money to throw at special interests or to throw at candidates for a particular fight; there is no reasonable way where we expect private business dollars to play as fairly as our votes. Please remove the unfair hand tipping the scale. Very Respectfully, Chris Fulton

Last Name: Bradshaw Locality: Richmond Citt

As a concerned citizen, it raises alarms in how corporations are allowed to use their considerably larger financial resources to stifle the voices of smaller groups and individuals. Allowing Corporate contributions or contributions from any large holdings, is not healthy for our state government.

Last Name: Nawaz Locality: McLean

Dear Delegate, Please support HB 1906, which prohibits contributions from corporations. The issue is the influence of money in politics. It’s not that a corporation is able to “buy” legislators – it’s more nuanced than that. When a legislator has received money – sizeable money – from an entity, it is only natural that the legislator will be inclined to hear out the issues and concerns of that donor. Opposing views do not have the same ability to voice and defend the other side. Our legislature is tasked with keeping the interests of Virginians paramount. This bill will help. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Haney Locality: Loudoun

As a new resident of Virginia, I look forward to the passage of these two bills. The citizens of the Commonwealth deserve a system of elections that protects our elected officials from undue influence of the interest of corporations. To do any less than pass these bills and ban corporate contributions would continue to silence citizens below the deafening din of corporate voices. Thank you for taking the time to review these bills and these comments.

Last Name: Clark Locality: Richmond City

Both of these bills work to create a much fairer Virginia. Candidates who don't cater to the needs of big business should not be put at a gross monetary disadvantage. Everyone needs to work for the everyone, not just big business and monopolies like Dominion Power.

Last Name: Klein Locality: Alexandria

Since we do not intend to commonwealthize Dominion and other utility monopolies, we should at a minimum ban corporate contributions from these monopolies that rely on bribing politicians to maintain their status. I support HB 1756 and HB 1906.

Last Name: Washington Locality: Glen Allen

I fully support this bill put forward by Lee J. Carter. Corporate money in politics is a polluting and corrupting force. It is corrosive to democracy, especially when considering the "revolving door"—it's all to common for politicians and political appointees to leave government and return to the private sector as a lobbyist to influence policy—or worse, the other way around. Banning corporate money will help this issue greatly. I urge the Virginian legislature to pass it.

Last Name: Greenaway Organization: American Promise Virginia Locality: Caroline

HB1756 and 1906 - As a resident of Caroline County, who recently relocated from Prince William County, the monopolistic control of broadband by a few companies who have contributed significant campaign donations to both parties has seriously impeded the economic development of my community. Thanks to their control, I have one choice for internet service provider, a satellite internet company headquartered in Maryland. They provide Internet and phone connections, but I cannot use the phone to call internationally or receive international calls which is necessary for the consulting business that I run from my home. Further, if I want hardline phone service, I have one choice, Verizon, but I cannot use their service to connect to the Internet because dial-up modem's are no longer technically capable of connecting to digital internet services. Finally, if I want to have TV service, that is a third company which provides neither phone service nor internet connection and requires a separate satellite dish. However, the issue with satellite internet is not just the cost, but the quality of the service. I am constantly having to shut off my camera on Zoom calls because the connection is so bad. Further, it is difficult for me to participate in a meeting because there is a lag in the time that I speak and when the person on the other end hears my input. Finally, if there is a rainstorm or a strong wind, the satellite dish cannot connect. As a result, I lost the equivalent of three full weeks worth of business because the satellite and phone connection was down this past year. Even the cellular service is poor or non-existent and it is the same for any company that provides the service whether it is AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile. In order to have three bars on my phone inside my home, I had to purchase a cell site booster, without which I could not even make 911 calls. In short, all of these services cost several hundred dollars per month which I have to pay to run my business. But my community is filled with farmers and laborers, many of them cannot pay for these services. And there are no wi-fi hotspots within 20 miles of my community. In short, the corporations who provide an essential service should not have greater access to a legislature through campaign donations than citizens like me. We should be able to band together and collectively negotiate the services we receive and there should be free market choices. Competitive markets for broadband services and other public services exist in a number of states and what all of those states have in common is that they ban direct corporate donations to candidates. The millions of dollars that are spent on campaign donations in Virginia by these companies and others are money that is not being spent on building infrastructure for rural communities like mine. As a citizen of this state, I am concerned that campaign contributions by these corporations are considered the means that justify the ends. It is time to end the Virginia Way and level the playing field for campaign donations by banning direct corporate donations to candidates like they have done in 22 states. HB1952 - I support this bill. No other state allows the use of campaign financing to pay personal expenses. It should not be allowed in Virginia. I am asking that all of these bills be passed to the full committee for a vote. It is time that Virginia joins 45 other states in regulating campaign donations.

Last Name: Mehta Locality: Arlington County

I am a preschool teacher residing in Arlington, VA. I have seen firsthand the dangers of elected officials who works for their corporate donors at the expense of working families in their district. My question to the committee is who does our current legislature work for: Virginia's working people or corporations and special interests? I urge the committee to vote YES on both HB1906 and HB1756 so that our legislators and General Assembly are exclusively representing the working people of their districts, not corporations, lobbyists, regulated state monopolies, or special interests. 22 states ban corporate contributions to candidates and legislators, and it is time Virginia joined the effort to remove that corporate influence. We must demand that our elected officials always prioritize people over profits as the foundation of their elected positions. At a time where we are seeing historic levels of income and wealth inequality, we must ensure that our basic economic and human rights are not commodified and put up for sale. Once again, I urge the committee to vote YES on both HB1906 and HB1756.

Last Name: Chaves Organization: Virginia Organizing; Mothers Out Front Locality: Blacksburg

I'm writing to ask you to support HB 1756, 1906, and 1952. Big campaign donors--whether corporations, regulated utilities, or wealthy individuals,--create a non-democracy where political power is dictated by economic power. The will of the people is then usurped by individuals or entities with deep pockets. Unfortunately, their interests often undermine the public interest, as can readily be seen in the case of climate change where a network of fossil fuel interests for decades used private economic power to block and delay meaningful climate action. The somewhat simple and straightforward decision to reduce private economic influence in the form of campaign contributions will have an enormous impact on how our state's democracy functions. Thank you.

Last Name: Jacobs Locality: Herndon

I support all three bills. I support Samirah’s HB1756. Who watched the watchmen? That’s what this is all about. I have faith in our esteemed Delegates and Senators that they’re not intensionally taking money from Dominion and then letting Dominion overcharge customers. I have faith that none if you are taking money from Verizon and writing broadband legislation that give the Verizon exclude power to overcharge and ignore the hard-to-reach. I don’t wish to impugn any of you. I’m only asking you to stop taking money from the corporations controlled by the State Corporation Commission; this should be illegal because you may not be corrupted by that money, but taking it sure makes you look like you are. I support Simon’s HB1952. I just donated to the Jennifer Carroll-Foy for Governor. I gave her campaign money, expecting her to use it to buy ads on social media, to put out messages on broadcast media, to hire campaign workers, and to support text, phone and foot canvassing. I do not expect her to be using it to take her family to Paris. If she goes to Paris, c’est bonne, I’d be happy to tell her what to see as I used to live in the city of light, don’t use my campaign contribution for it! That should be on her own dime. But it can be! Nothing illegal about that. Simon’s Bill would fix this flagrant loophole. I support Carter’s HB1906. Corporations are not people. And for-profit Corporations are even less like individuals. It may seem preventing for-profit contributions from corporations from making Campaign Contributions would be unconstitutional, but the truth is, Carter’s bill is *not* unconstitutional. The federal government has laws fining contribution above a certain limit. Many states do to. But in Virginia, it’s a free-for-all. It’s one of the major reasons Virginia ranks 45 out of 50 in terms of keeping money out of politics. This is why I support these three bills!

Last Name: Pannabecker Organization: Green New Deal VA and Virginia Organizing Locality: Montgomery County, Blacksburg

Regarding HB 1906 - Campaign finance; prohibited contributions from corporations, civil penalty, introduced by: Delegate Lee Carter as Chief Patron, Co-Patroned by Delegate Joshua Cole, which you will discuss in your sub-committee Thursday is a critical bill to move forward for a vote, and to fully support during voting this session.   In Virginia we over and over again, see bills that will improve the lives of Virginians left out of committee, fail to pass committees for a vote in the General Assembly, or get voted down, due to the massive, out-sized, undue, irresponsible influence that corporation donors exert based on their exorbitant campaign contributions. It is past time that a bill be passed to end this unethical practice that prevents Virginia residents from having the say they should have in the legislation going through the peoples' General Assembly. Twenty two states (1), and the Federal government, prohibit corporations from contributing to political campaigns. The aggregation of power by large corporations is the big threat to American politics and our representative democracy.  Election spending by special interests works against the public interest both at the national and state levels and drowns out voices of citizens. Even Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, stated a century ago that "All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law". Only five states, including Virginia, allow unlimited contributions to candidates and state campaigns. I, like most Virginians, fully support and urge you to ban campaign contributions from corporations. I urge you to sign on to co-patron, to fully support, and to move this bill to a vote in the General Assembly. At the vote, I urge you to vote in favor of it. (1) https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/campaign-contribution-limits-overview.aspx?link_id=10&can_id=e5a9da5b19bd3d8524ce6b9e95bee3bb&source=email-action-alert-campaign-finance-reform&email_referrer=email_1048473&email_subject=_action-alert-campaign-finance-reform

Last Name: Tabony Organization: VA Progressives Locality: Charlottesville

We want VA to join other states in committing to get "Big Money" out of politics!

Last Name: Payne Locality: Norfolk

I encourage our members to support HB 1956, HB 1902 and HB1952.

Last Name: Parr Organization: Virginia Progressives Locality: Arlington

I/we would like ALL Members to support the following Bills 1. HB 1756 2. HB 1906 and 3. HB 1952 It is well past time to get "BIG MONEY" out of Virginia Politics. We Progressives are tired of living in a "Pay to Play" State The Good Ol' "Virginia Way" has had its day. Its time for a New Dawn! SUPPORT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM - NOW!!!

Last Name: Haider Locality: Alexandria

I encourage our members to support HB 1956, HB 1902. HB 1746 and HB1952

Last Name: Morgan Organization: American Promise (MoneyOutVA) Locality: Alexandria

I support of Delegate Lee Carter’s bill to ban corporate contributions. Thirty years ago, Governor Wilder's commission report on campaign finance, corruption, and ethics reform recommended that campaign contribution limits should be established in Virginia. Yet in 2021, Virginia is one of only five states with no limitations on campaign finance contributions and last year not one campaign finance bill was voted on in this subcommittee. A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt stated that "All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law." This was echoed in 2019 by our own Governor who said he supports imposing limits on Virginia’s wide-open campaign finance system, including banning direct contributions from corporations and businesses. Just to remind ourselves, 22 states currently completely prohibit corporations from contributing to political campaigns. A federal ban on corporate contributions, in force since 1907, is one of the core protections against corruption in our democracy. These bans are constitutionally legal, as ruled by the fourth Circuit Court in 2012. In this Massachusetts case, the state said, “Experience confirms that, if corporate contributions were allowed, there would be a serious threat of quid pro quo corruption.” Since 1996, corporations such as Dominion, Verizon, Altria, Comcast and others have funneled millions of dollars to our legislators’ pockets., In a Senate P&E committee hearing last year on banning contributions to public service corporations, some of these same companies asked for consistency with other States in which they operate. In the case of Dominion and Appalachian Power, these states include North Carolina and West Virginia, both of which ban corporate contributions. Let’s honor their wishes. Some legislators argue we should do nothing because Supreme Court rulings, including Citizens United, have opened the door to money flowing into elections through legal loopholes, such as “dark money” channels. Virginia citizens, on the contrary, argue that our legislature needs to take all measures within its power to regulate campaign contributions. I support this bill banning corporate contributions; it should be considered as a "down-payment" to Virginia citizens who have been waiting for three decades for comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Last Name: Honeycutt Locality: Salem City

I support strongly support HB 1756 and HB 1906. We need to eliminate the hold these entities have on our government and have our representatives work for the people that elect them. Get the big money out, and let the people truly have a voice.

Last Name: Hopler Locality: Fairfax

I support HOUSE BILL NO. 1756 to prohibit contributions to candidates by public service corporation. I am most concerned about Dominion Power's ability to assert power to maintain its monopoly over VA power production and distribution. We cannot have progress an innovations with energy if our elected officials are heavily funded by a corporation that is vested in stagnation for its profitability. I support HJ 526 Comprehensive campaign finance reform; joint subcommittee to study and and HB1906 to remove corporate campaign money. It is imperative that we limit campaign finance contributions and reduce the costs of campaigns. We will not get diverse voices and experiences in office that represent VA well if excessive funds are required from corporations to get them elected.

Last Name: Arries Locality: RICHMOND

please enact this bill so elected leaders can not be bought by the highest bidder

Last Name: williams Organization: Green New Deal Virginia Locality: Richmond

I would like to comment in SUPPORT of HB 1756 and HB 1906 on behalf of over 70 environmental and social justice organizations and their members within the Green New Deal Virginia Coalition. Public service corporations are currently a large demographic of political spending in Virginia, creating a regulatory landscape which benefits their bottom lines and curtails measures that would benefit consumers and communities. From environmental racism in Union Hill to the ecological destruction of our mountains and water, these unregulated "pay to play" schemes and way of doing business in Virginia must stop so that we have a legislature that elevates the wellbeing of people over profits. It's not the Corporation's fault. Corporate entities exist for one driving purpose; to generate profits for the shareholders who own the company. Their business practices are designed to enhance that agenda. It is the legislatures responsibility to enact rules to regulate their influence and actions.

Last Name: Jacobs Organization: Self Locality: Herndon

I wholeheartedly and free of mind and will do attest, as a full citizen, my support of this bill. We need to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact so that the chaos of the 2020 election never happens again given such a clear popular vote winner. We need to stop PSC controlled corporations from contributing to those we vote to protect us from their near monopoly power which requires them to be regulated in the first place. Indeed, we should eliminate corporate contributions to political campaigns; bring campaigns back to the middle! Also, no more spending those campaign dollars on trips to fancy beaches and mountain resorts—that’s not why we give! Let the people vote, no more discrimination of any kind and if we let them drive at 16 they should be able to vote on those laws. If they were convicted of an unjust felonious infraction, such as marijuana possession, they should not have their voting rights abdicated so they can’t vote to overturn the unjust code through voting! And we need to keep our elections free and fair and not allow firearms at the polls to intimidate voters and politicians! I voted against the marriage act because I support the LGBTQ community and also support common law marriage protections for women. We need to amend this unconstitutional and disrespectful portion of our chief document.! We should be a Souls to the Polls state and have Sunday early voting! Absentee ballots should not be considered after-thought tie-breakers. They are legitimate ballots and should be counted as they came in. What happened in Pennsylvania should never happen here! Finally, I wish to state for the record as a citizen from the fastest growing region in the Commonwealth, the region from Reston/Great Falls to Leesburg, I was aghast when I saw of the 64 names legislators chose to send to the judges, not a single one the legislators selected was from this region. This is a major flaw of this Amendment—politicians as gatekeepers! But, we have the amendment and who knows what shenanigans the folks on the board will try. This is why we need fuller transparency with every action the committee takes under public scrutiny. Thank you and I sincerely hope you will pass this bill!

Last Name: Siler Locality: Waynesboro

Our elected officials should only answer to their constituents. We should be your number one priority, not the corporations. We need to get big money out of politics and bring it back to public service. We can start here in Virginia, today.

Last Name: O'Keefe Organization: EXTINCTION RE RICHMOND Locality: Richmond

I fully support all 3 of these bills as important steps towards an electoral system that ensures the voices of ordinary citizens are not drowned out by corporate interests and wealth. I enthusiastically encourage the P & E committee to approve these bills and bring us closer to a democracy representative of the people.

Last Name: Spitz Organization: Progressive Democrats of America- Virginia Locality: Fairfax County

Virginia is one of only five states that do not regulate money in politics and is the only state that allows such money to be used for personal expenses. It is past time for this to change. Corporations should not be able to give unlimited amounts of money to candidates for the General Assembly, especially those public service corporations granted special status by the General Assembly. This creates a conflict of interest and the public perception of corruption. The Virginia Way must not continue to be pay to play.

HB1952 - Campaign finance; prohibited personal use, child care exception.
Last Name: McKiernan Organization: Virginia Election Administrators Locality: Rappahannock

During the course of your duties, when considering our (Election Administrators/General Registrars/Directors of Elections) request to finally be paid commensurate with our duties after 29 years of added duties without corresponding compensation, please keep in mind that every election law that is passed adds to our duties. There were over 69 NEW Election laws last year in the midst of a pandemic and the most grueling, contentious election cycle EVER. Every election law passed without funding jeopardizes our ability to get it all done due to lack of resources, staff, funding and time. The loss of any of the experienced, dedicated General Registrars because of compensation is a travesty and is likely to become a reality without the appropriate compensation. Please correct this inequity in compensation THIS SESSION. 1. Adjust compensation brackets in accordance with state studies (2 of them) 2. resume 100% reimbursement of NEW base salary to localities 3. Make it happen THIS session. We have earned it. We are the ones out here taking the abuse as a result of unfounded accusations and insinuations. Please understand that the 133 General Registrars statewide who count votes, compile results, verify results, process absentee by mail ballots, and so much more, do so with bi-partisan observers (sent by local political committees!!) and sworn election officials every.single.step! NOTHING is done in secret. EVERYTHING is reviewed and verified by a three member board (Electoral Board) representing both political parties. These board members are nominated by the local political committees and signed off on by a panel of judges! WE are not the enemy and the more you present laws insinuating that something is shady, the more you erode voter confidence on both sides of the aisle! The fact that a bill has passed the house to ADD SUNDAYS to early voting should be enough reason to pay us appropriately itself. We work 100s and 1000s of hours of overtime yet aren't paid equally and aren't valued equally to our fellow county government counterparts. The longer you ignore this and pass over doing the right thing, the more you send the message to your constituents, candidates, and fellow delegates that elections aren't important to you. NOW is the time to make this right.

Last Name: Caywood Locality: Virginia Beach

I support HB1952 because I listened to the discussion at the subcommittee and found it convincing.

Last Name: Besa Organization: Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Locality: Chesterfield County

Mr Chairman Member of the House Privileges and Elections Committee: On behalf of Sierra Club - Virginia Chapter, I'd like to express our positions on three of the bills you have before you today. SUPPORT HB1952 (Simon) Campaign finance; prohibited personal use, child care exception - This fix to Virginia's campaign finance law is critical to upgrading the integrity and the public's perception of our campaign finance system. However, the child care exception makes good sense. SUPPORT HB1890 (Price) Discrimination, prohibited in voting and elections administration - With Virginia's long history of voter suppression, this legislation is an important means of insuring that such abuses do not continue into the future. The public notice requirements and the review of the Virginia's Attorney General's office would provide needed scrutiny of changes, such as precinct locations, etc, that could discriminate against communities of color and other protected classes of voters. SUPPORT HB2125 (Lopez) Voter registration; preregistration for persons 16 years of age or older - Research shows that the earlier citizens begin to vote, the more likely they are to be regular voters. Allowing 16 year olds to pre-register serves as an important citizenship lesson that can be incorporated into our high schools' social studies curriculum. Thank you, Glen Besa for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Last Name: Norquist Locality: Fredericksburg

Insure you sign COS and stop with politics!

Last Name: Allen Locality: NEWPORT NEWS

I would make some changes to our election process. -rigid background checks for candidates BEFORE they run -any qualified person can run regardless of money backing them -elections should be a PUBLIC SERVICE requiring NO huge financial backing (that would eliminate big corporations, tech, media, etc., and include the average American who can not PAY for a candidate) that encourages puppets in government -campaigning on TV and in public should be free and volunteers working for candidates

Last Name: Weiss Locality: Williamsburg, VA

HB1952 should be the easiest bill to pass this session. Almost every state and the federal government don't allow personal use of campaign funds. There are obvious reasons for this. First, public confidence is critical for free and fair elections. According to a Pew poll, 17% of Americans nationwide lack trust in their government. Letting candidates spend donors' hard-earned money on their personal life only hurts that perception. Second, the Supreme Court has narrowed the definition of campaign finance regulations to laws preventing quid pro quo corruption (or the appearance of quid pro quo corruption). Without passing this bill, individual and corporate funders alike are able to pad the personal pockets of legislators with legal impunity. This is the definition of quid pro quo corruption. Virginians have a right to be assured by statute that their elected officials are good stewards of their treasure and their trust. Even if not a single legislator has to change their behavior as a result of passage, Virginians will have more reason to trust the system and their legislators.

Last Name: Fisher Locality: Bluefield

We urgently need campaign finance reform. That's why I support HB 1956, HB 1902 and HB1952. Sincerely, Donna Fisher

Last Name: Besa Organization: Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Locality: Chesterfield County

Sierra Club Virginia Chapter wishes to express its support for HB1756 and HB1952. We had not had an opportunity to take a position on HB1906 before this hearing. Good environmental policy often impacts industry, for example, requiring reductions in pollution or the expanded use of renewable energy. These same industries are often large campaign contributors with a major lobbying presence to influence the outcome of bills that impact that industry. HB1756, by prohibiting campaign contributions from public service corporations, would address the particularly troublesome reality of contributions from industries regulated by the state including electric utilities and telecom companies, for example. HB1952 prohibits the use of campaign contributions for personal use with the exception of childcare costs related to campaigning. With the unlimited campaign contributions permitted in Virginia, rightly or wrongly, citizens may infer that larger campaign contributions not used during the campaign and available for personal use may exert undue influence on a legislator voting on legislation impacting that campaign donor. In each instance, there is at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. For these reasons, we urge your support of HB1756 and HB1952. Thank you. Sierra Club Virginia Chapter

Last Name: Burgess Locality: Crewe

I encourage my members to support HB 1756, HB 1906 and HB 1952.

Last Name: Khan Organization: Virginia Political Cooperative Locality: Sterling

I am writing in support of the following campaign finance related bills: SB1233 - HB1952 - HB 1756 - SB1236 - HB1906 - HR526. Per the Constitution of United States of America, corporations whether a public service company or otherwise are NOT people and their contributions to candidates running for public office need to be banned. Dominion MUST refund ratepayers their money that it has overcharged. In a 2018 poll, 88 percent of Americans – including 84 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 86 percent of Independents agreed that it is important to “reduce or counterbalance the influence of big campaign donors  – including special interests, corporations and wealthy people.  Meanwhile, 85% of business leaders believe that our campaign finance system is broken and action needs to be taken to repair it.  Thanks to all the committee members for siding with the people.

Last Name: Nicholls Locality: Chesapeake

The peons here are tired of being run by VEPCO and other big interests instead of being govt. of, by, and for the people. Stop telling us you care for us and start acting like it.

Last Name: KITTS Locality: BLUEFIELD

Good candidates are going right down the drain because of bad candidates who get big bucks from big powerful people or companies and then they're beholden to them once in office. You wonder why you hear so much cynicism about the government from the guy on the street? or on Facebook? It's because there's no fairness in financing campaigns, so there's no fairness in campaigning. The only ones who can reform this is you, the legislators. PLEASE support HB1756, 1906 and 1952.

Last Name: Roberts Locality: Tazewell

I urge members to support HB1756, HB1906, and HB1952. We need to end the obscene amount of spending on elections and it is high time that Virginia joins other states in getting BIG MONEY and DARK MONEY out of politics.

Last Name: Greenaway Organization: American Promise Virginia Locality: Caroline

HB1756 and 1906 - As a resident of Caroline County, who recently relocated from Prince William County, the monopolistic control of broadband by a few companies who have contributed significant campaign donations to both parties has seriously impeded the economic development of my community. Thanks to their control, I have one choice for internet service provider, a satellite internet company headquartered in Maryland. They provide Internet and phone connections, but I cannot use the phone to call internationally or receive international calls which is necessary for the consulting business that I run from my home. Further, if I want hardline phone service, I have one choice, Verizon, but I cannot use their service to connect to the Internet because dial-up modem's are no longer technically capable of connecting to digital internet services. Finally, if I want to have TV service, that is a third company which provides neither phone service nor internet connection and requires a separate satellite dish. However, the issue with satellite internet is not just the cost, but the quality of the service. I am constantly having to shut off my camera on Zoom calls because the connection is so bad. Further, it is difficult for me to participate in a meeting because there is a lag in the time that I speak and when the person on the other end hears my input. Finally, if there is a rainstorm or a strong wind, the satellite dish cannot connect. As a result, I lost the equivalent of three full weeks worth of business because the satellite and phone connection was down this past year. Even the cellular service is poor or non-existent and it is the same for any company that provides the service whether it is AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile. In order to have three bars on my phone inside my home, I had to purchase a cell site booster, without which I could not even make 911 calls. In short, all of these services cost several hundred dollars per month which I have to pay to run my business. But my community is filled with farmers and laborers, many of them cannot pay for these services. And there are no wi-fi hotspots within 20 miles of my community. In short, the corporations who provide an essential service should not have greater access to a legislature through campaign donations than citizens like me. We should be able to band together and collectively negotiate the services we receive and there should be free market choices. Competitive markets for broadband services and other public services exist in a number of states and what all of those states have in common is that they ban direct corporate donations to candidates. The millions of dollars that are spent on campaign donations in Virginia by these companies and others are money that is not being spent on building infrastructure for rural communities like mine. As a citizen of this state, I am concerned that campaign contributions by these corporations are considered the means that justify the ends. It is time to end the Virginia Way and level the playing field for campaign donations by banning direct corporate donations to candidates like they have done in 22 states. HB1952 - I support this bill. No other state allows the use of campaign financing to pay personal expenses. It should not be allowed in Virginia. I am asking that all of these bills be passed to the full committee for a vote. It is time that Virginia joins 45 other states in regulating campaign donations.

Last Name: Chaves Organization: Virginia Organizing; Mothers Out Front Locality: Blacksburg

I'm writing to ask you to support HB 1756, 1906, and 1952. Big campaign donors--whether corporations, regulated utilities, or wealthy individuals,--create a non-democracy where political power is dictated by economic power. The will of the people is then usurped by individuals or entities with deep pockets. Unfortunately, their interests often undermine the public interest, as can readily be seen in the case of climate change where a network of fossil fuel interests for decades used private economic power to block and delay meaningful climate action. The somewhat simple and straightforward decision to reduce private economic influence in the form of campaign contributions will have an enormous impact on how our state's democracy functions. Thank you.

Last Name: Jacobs Locality: Herndon

I support all three bills. I support Samirah’s HB1756. Who watched the watchmen? That’s what this is all about. I have faith in our esteemed Delegates and Senators that they’re not intensionally taking money from Dominion and then letting Dominion overcharge customers. I have faith that none if you are taking money from Verizon and writing broadband legislation that give the Verizon exclude power to overcharge and ignore the hard-to-reach. I don’t wish to impugn any of you. I’m only asking you to stop taking money from the corporations controlled by the State Corporation Commission; this should be illegal because you may not be corrupted by that money, but taking it sure makes you look like you are. I support Simon’s HB1952. I just donated to the Jennifer Carroll-Foy for Governor. I gave her campaign money, expecting her to use it to buy ads on social media, to put out messages on broadcast media, to hire campaign workers, and to support text, phone and foot canvassing. I do not expect her to be using it to take her family to Paris. If she goes to Paris, c’est bonne, I’d be happy to tell her what to see as I used to live in the city of light, don’t use my campaign contribution for it! That should be on her own dime. But it can be! Nothing illegal about that. Simon’s Bill would fix this flagrant loophole. I support Carter’s HB1906. Corporations are not people. And for-profit Corporations are even less like individuals. It may seem preventing for-profit contributions from corporations from making Campaign Contributions would be unconstitutional, but the truth is, Carter’s bill is *not* unconstitutional. The federal government has laws fining contribution above a certain limit. Many states do to. But in Virginia, it’s a free-for-all. It’s one of the major reasons Virginia ranks 45 out of 50 in terms of keeping money out of politics. This is why I support these three bills!

Last Name: Pannabecker Organization: Green New Deal VA and Virginia Organizing Locality: Blacksburg

Regarding HB1952 - Simon - Campaign finance; prohibited personal use, child care exception, I urge you to move this bill forward for a vote in the General Assembly and to fully support it. Virginia is the only state in the country that allows unlimited use of campaign contributions. Legislators shouldn’t be able to spend their campaign contributions on vacations, school tuition, mortgages, or investments in LLCs. Child care expenses incurred as a direct result of campaign activity would be allowed. Rather than campaign finance reform, passing this bill would simply result in good, ethical practices for Virginia legislators. It is a basic bottom line. I urge you to fully support HB1952 so that it comes to a vote in the General Assembly, and to vote in favor of it.

Last Name: Tabony Organization: VA Progressives Locality: Charlottesville

We want VA to join other states in committing to get "Big Money" out of politics!

Last Name: Tabony Locality: Charlottesville

I want VA to join other states in committing to get Big Money out of politics.

Last Name: Payne Locality: Norfolk

I encourage our members to support HB 1956, HB 1902 and HB1952.

Last Name: Parr Organization: Virginia Progressives Locality: Arlington

I/we would like ALL Members to support the following Bills 1. HB 1756 2. HB 1906 and 3. HB 1952 It is well past time to get "BIG MONEY" out of Virginia Politics. We Progressives are tired of living in a "Pay to Play" State The Good Ol' "Virginia Way" has had its day. Its time for a New Dawn! SUPPORT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM - NOW!!!

Last Name: Haider Locality: Alexandria

I encourage our members to support HB 1956, HB 1902. HB 1746 and HB1952

Last Name: Morgan Organization: American Promise/MoneyOutVA Locality: Alexandria

I support this bill because Virginia, known as a "Pay-to-Play" state, is one of only 5 states with no campaign finance limitations. It is particularly egregious that it is the only state in the country that allows unrestricted use of those campaign contributions. Legislators shouldn’t be able to spend their campaign contributions on vacations, school tuition, mortgages, haircuts, nor investments in LLCs. There have been many media accounts of "improper" use of campaign contributions and this contributes to voters feeling that our Government doesn't work for citizens but only for the wealthy and special interests. It also contributes to Virginia's low marks in the recently released SWAMP index where Virginia was ranked 46 out of 50 states due to low transparency, the lack of a code of ethics, and the absence of functioning ethics agencies which have monitoring and investigative powers. This lack of a code of ethics, including the lack of restriction on use of campaign donations results in a "quid pro quo" perception of bribery. We’re delighted that this bill finally is putting restrictions on use, while being progressive in terms of identifying those expenses which facilitate participation in campaigning for office, such as child care, etc. This facilitates young and more diverse candidates to run for office. This bill is the right thing to do and a very very low hanging fruit. But this is not to be considered campaign finance reform, just good ethics. The hard lifting of implementing comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reform entails a broader legislative package which encompasses limitations on contributions, a disclosure bill which tracks money coming from independent spending, including on-line ads, the establishment of an single ethics enforcement which has investigatory powers, monitoring and enforcement capacity for violations of strict laws on conduct.

Last Name: Jacobs Organization: Self Locality: Herndon

I wholeheartedly and free of mind and will do attest, as a full citizen, my support of this bill. We need to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact so that the chaos of the 2020 election never happens again given such a clear popular vote winner. We need to stop PSC controlled corporations from contributing to those we vote to protect us from their near monopoly power which requires them to be regulated in the first place. Indeed, we should eliminate corporate contributions to political campaigns; bring campaigns back to the middle! Also, no more spending those campaign dollars on trips to fancy beaches and mountain resorts—that’s not why we give! Let the people vote, no more discrimination of any kind and if we let them drive at 16 they should be able to vote on those laws. If they were convicted of an unjust felonious infraction, such as marijuana possession, they should not have their voting rights abdicated so they can’t vote to overturn the unjust code through voting! And we need to keep our elections free and fair and not allow firearms at the polls to intimidate voters and politicians! I voted against the marriage act because I support the LGBTQ community and also support common law marriage protections for women. We need to amend this unconstitutional and disrespectful portion of our chief document.! We should be a Souls to the Polls state and have Sunday early voting! Absentee ballots should not be considered after-thought tie-breakers. They are legitimate ballots and should be counted as they came in. What happened in Pennsylvania should never happen here! Finally, I wish to state for the record as a citizen from the fastest growing region in the Commonwealth, the region from Reston/Great Falls to Leesburg, I was aghast when I saw of the 64 names legislators chose to send to the judges, not a single one the legislators selected was from this region. This is a major flaw of this Amendment—politicians as gatekeepers! But, we have the amendment and who knows what shenanigans the folks on the board will try. This is why we need fuller transparency with every action the committee takes under public scrutiny. Thank you and I sincerely hope you will pass this bill!

Last Name: O'Keefe Organization: EXTINCTION RE RICHMOND Locality: Richmond

I fully support all 3 of these bills as important steps towards an electoral system that ensures the voices of ordinary citizens are not drowned out by corporate interests and wealth. I enthusiastically encourage the P & E committee to approve these bills and bring us closer to a democracy representative of the people.

Last Name: Spitz Organization: Progressive Democrats of America- Virginia Locality: Fairfax County

Virginia is one of only five states that do not regulate money in politics and is the only state that allows such money to be used for personal expenses. It is past time for this to change. Corporations should not be able to give unlimited amounts of money to candidates for the General Assembly, especially those public service corporations granted special status by the General Assembly. This creates a conflict of interest and the public perception of corruption. The Virginia Way must not continue to be pay to play.

End of Comments