[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/17/art.fairelections.ad.jpg caption="Tea Party supporters and progressives have teamed up to support the Fair Elections Now Act."]
(CNN) - Campaign finance reform is the issue that the Tea Party and progressives can agree on – at least in new ads designed to drum up support for the Fair Elections Now Act. But not always at the same time.
The legislation -designed to incentivize small donor fundraising in congressional campaigns– is being supported by a six-figure TV ad campaign featuring conservative and progressive voices. Ads with conservative points-of-view will air in Washington, DC during the broadcast networks' Sunday talk shows and on FOX News while ads highlighting progressives and conservatives together are set to air on MSNBC and CNN.
"This is not your grandpa's campaign finance reform bill," says David Donnelly, campaign manager for the national effort to pass the Fair Elections Now Act, known as Campaign for Fair Elections.
The Fair Elections Now Coalition, including U.S. PIRG, Democracy Matters, Public Campaign, and Public Citizen, among others, is launching ads that showcase a rare occurrence in today's political theater: Tea Party members and Progressives, agreeing.
Citizens featured in one ad include progressives at rallies in Louisville, KY and Seattle, WA and Tea Party members interviewed at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally in DC. They agree that campaign finance practices must change, stating that "Money has too much power" and "Anyone …would be in favor …knowing that their votes would begin to count."
"If we could change the way we fund elections, it would make a huge difference," says one rally attendee, identified as progressive. At the "Restoring Honor" rally, a conservative-identified supporter agrees, "This is a much bigger problem than Republican, Democrats."
In the bill, if a candidate for the House collected 1,500 contributions in the amount of $100 or less he would receive matching funds from Fair Elections. The candidate would need to raise a minimum of $50,000 from his own community. Fair Elections funding would then match the local campaign fundraising effort 4 to 1, for every dollar, candidates would receive four. Qualifying candidates could receive additional matching funds if they continue to raise small donations from their home state, as funding qualified for a match cannot come from out of state.
There are 164 members of Congress that co-sponsor the bill according to the Fair Elections Now Act website, a list that includes 162 Democrats and 2 Republicans.
The Committee on House Administration will hold a vote on The Fair Elections Now Act on Thursday, September 23rd. Donnelly believes that the proposed campaign finance system will encourage more citizens to support their candidates for Congress and wrest control of campaigns from the hands of corporations.
The House panel will vote on a second, more "streamlined" version of the bill that was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania in March of last year, according to Donnelly.
The new version of the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC). It is designed to pull the purse strings of corporate campaign financers closed, for good. Instead, federal candidates would raise money in their community and fund their campaigns by raising large numbers-of small donations.
So where would Fair Elections get its funding to fund candidates? The answer: 10% of revenue generated through the auction of unused broadcast spectrum, a source that has raised $19 billion in past auctions, enough to fund four election cycles. When asked what happens if the auction does not generate enough revenue Donnelly replied: "That is a question for future Congresses to decide." He believes that once they realize how successful this is, they'll want it to continue.