Asmaller textAnormal textAlarger text

Conference Livestream: American Elections at the Crossroads

July 22, 2015

Presented by the New York City Campaign Finance Board, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Committee for Economic Development. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Featuring keynote remarks by Ann Ravel, Chair of the Federal Elections Commission.

Recent American elections have been marked by two disturbing trends: a flood of non-candidate spending in our elections, and voters choosing in greater and greater numbers not to participate at the ballot box. Public financing of campaigns is one way to help ensure the voices of all the people are heard by restoring voters’ faith in our elections and getting them back to the polls. Elected officials, campaign finance experts, academics, and advocates will discuss how public campaign finance programs can combat low voter participation and civic engagement in society today.

Tweet #electionsR4voters to join the conversation.

8:30 am–9:30 am: Breakfast

9:30 am: Welcoming Remarks
Fritz Schwarz, Chief Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice
Former Chair, NYC Campaign Finance Board

10:00 am–11:30 am: Small Donors vs. Super PACs
How has the landscape changed for public financing of elections post-Citizens United? What role does public financing play in blunting corruption in this era of unlimited contributions to unregulated third-party spenders? Is the volume of spending causing voters to perceive our elections as spoiled or corrupted?

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Brennan Center Fellow, Professor, Stetson University
Jay Costa, Executive Director, CounterPAC
Brad Lander, New York City Council Member, Brooklyn
Paul Ryan, Senior Counsel, Campaign Legal Center
John Sarbanes, U.S. Congressman, Maryland

12:00 pm–1:30 pm: Lunch – Keynote speaker
Ann Ravel, Chair, Federal Election Commission

1:45 pm–3:00 pm: Public Financing: What’s the ROI at the Voting Booth?
What can we do to increase voter participation and civic engagement generally to ensure our government is formed “from the great body of the society”? While public financing programs like the one in New York City are designed to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption, can they also help to increase voter participation? How can we improve these systems to encourage greater civic participation?

Amy Loprest, Executive Director, NYC Campaign Finance Board
Letitia James, New York City Public Advocate
John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor, CUNY Graduate Center
Tom Petri, former U.S. Congressman, Wisconsin
Eric Ulrich, New York City Council Member, Queens

3:15 pm–4:30 pm: Making Public Financing a Reality
What lessons can we learn from states and cities that have public financing programs? What resources and conditions are needed to enact and launch a successful public financing program? How can state and local advocates and governments make a case for public financing when voters see their elections drowning in outside spending?

Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director, Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice
Jared DeMarinis, Director, Maryland State Board of Elections
Karen Hobert Flynn, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Programs, Common Cause
Michael Malbin, Executive Director, Campaign Finance Institute
Mike Petro, Vice President, Committee for Economic Development

4:30 pm– 5:00 pm: Closing Remarks
Rose Gill Hearn Chair, New York City Campaign Finance Board
Former Commissioner, New York City Department of Investigation

5:00 pm–6:00 pm: Mixer