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Democracy 21

Self Description

April 2002: "Democracy 21, along with its affiliate, Democracy 21 Education Fund, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work for all Americans. Democracy 21 works to eliminate the influence of big money in American politics and to ensure the integrity and fairness of our government decisions and elections. We support campaign finance and other political reforms to accomplish these goals.  Democracy 21 also pursues ways to use the Internet and other new media to strengthen democracy and involve citizens
in government and politics.  Check with us for the latest news on money in politics, as well as updates on what's happening in the nation's capital, and on court challenges to the new campaign finance law."

Third-Party Descriptions

October 2013: '"Now imagine that overall contribution limits are struck down. Presidential candidates in 2016 could solicit and each of these donors could contribute as much as $1.2 million to their joint fundraising committees" said Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, a longtime activist on campaign spending reform. "It may well open the door to striking down all of the remaining contribution limits, taking us back to the robber-baron era."'

March 2008: 'The House last night approved one of the most significant changes to its ethics rules in decades, creating for the first time an independent panel empowered to initiate investigations of alleged misconduct by members of the chamber...."The bottom line is, it is a major improvement in the system," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the watchdog group Democracy 21. "It addresses the single biggest problem with the ethics committee: Things go to the committee and disappear into a black hole."'

October 2007: 'What's driving it is a desire by maxed-out donors to max out on their maxing out,' said Fred Wertheimer, president of campaign finance reform organization Democracy 21, who sought, unsuccessfully, to outlaw child donations five years ago. 'More often than not, you're dealing with people who are simply trying to circumvent the limits of what they can give.'

January 2007: But government watchdog groups said they saw much to praise in the bill, and they worked hard for its passage. After Republicans temporarily derailed it late Wednesday, the watchdogs responded furiously. Democracy 21 posted what it called a 'Hall of Shame,' listing the 45 Republicans that voted to filibuster the bill. The League of Women Voters condemned what it called 'late night shenanigans.'

December 2006: These fines do not meet the test, said Fred Wertheimer, the head of Democracy 21, a nonprofit group that has complaints pending at the FEC over spending by eight 527 groups in the past two federal election cycles. 'We feel it is too little, too late,' Wertheimer said, noting that by not making the rules clearer before the 2004 election, the FEC left the door open to huge spending that his group contends was illegal.


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Founded/Co-Founded by Fred Wertheimer Person

Articles and Resources

Date Resource Read it at:
Oct 06, 2013 Money and politics high court's first big case this term

QUOTE: They object to a 1970s Watergate-era law restricting someone from giving no more than $48,600 to federal candidates, and $74,600 to political action committees, during a two-year election cycle -- for a maximum of $123,200. McCutcheon says he has a constitutional right to donate more than that amount to as many office seekers as he wants, so long as no one candidate gets more than the $2,600 per election limit.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Mar 12, 2008 House Creates New Panel On Ethics

QUOTE: The House last night approved one of the most significant changes to its ethics rules in decades, creating for the first time an independent panel empowered to initiate investigations of alleged misconduct by members of the chamber.

Washington Post
Oct 24, 2007 As Campaigns Chafe at Limits, Donors Might Be in Diapers

QUOTE: Congress tried to outlaw political contributions from those under age 18 as part of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002, but the Supreme Court struck down that provision as an infringement on the constitutional rights of minors. With that ruling in mind, the Federal Election Commission wrote new regulations two years ago that tried to balance what it considered a legitimate desire among some children to make political contributions against the possibility that parents would seek to pad their donations by funneling money through children.

Washington Post
Jun 11, 2007 Ethics Overhaul Over? Democrats Lose Traction on Reforms

QUOTE: Keeping momentum on ethics reforms is proving tough for House Democratic leaders, who are struggling to sell lawmakers on a proposal for overhauling House ethics enforcement, which is part of the party's pledge to improve accountability in Congress.

Washington Post
Jan 19, 2007 Senate Passes Ethics Package: Parties Reach Hard-Fought Deal On Lobbying and Other Reforms

QUOTE: The Senate legislation, hailed by proponents as the most significant ethics reform since Watergate, would ban gifts, meals and travel funded by lobbyists, and would force lawmakers to attach their names to special-interest provisions and pet projects that they slip into bills. Lawmakers would have to pay charter rates on corporate jets, not the far-cheaper first-class rates they pay now.

Washington Post
Dec 25, 2006 Nonprofit Connects Murtha, Lobbyists: Ties to Pa. Group Mutually Beneficial

QUOTE: arrangement over the years has yielded millions of dollars in federal support for the contractors, businesses and universities, and hundreds of thousands in consulting and lobbying fees to Murtha's favored lobbying shops, according to Federal Election Commission records and lobbying disclosure forms. In turn, many of PAID's directors have kept Murtha's campaigns flush with cash.

Washington Post
Dec 14, 2006 FEC Fines 3 '527' Groups for Use of Large Donations in '04

QUOTE: The Federal Election Commission yesterday slapped heavy fines on three independent fundraising groups it said had illegally injected tens of millions of dollars into the 2004 presidential campaign, concluding unanimously that the funds were drawn from large donors and corporations in violation of election laws.

Washington Post
Jan 12, 2006 Lobbyists' Emergence Reflects Shift in Capital Culture

QUOTE: The implied bargain -- money for access -- struck many as just too obvious. Three days later, Bentsen ended the breakfasts and acknowledged that his error of judgment had been "a doozy." Now, every day Congress is in session, there are lobbyist-organized fundraisers for senators and which the basic transaction is little different than what got Bentsen in hot water.

Washington Post
Jun 05, 2005 Groups Weigh In on Web Politicking: FEC Urged to Exempt Most Activists From New Regulations

QUOTE: "A raft of lawmakers, campaign finance watchdog groups, election lawyers and bloggers urged the Federal Election Commission on Friday to exempt the vast majority of -- if not all -- individual political activists on the Internet from new regulations."

Washington Post