NCVCE's 2010 Scorecard on Campaign Reform

As record amounts of money are being poured into this year’s elections, a new report finds that support for publicly-financed, “clean elections” is growing among state lawmakers.

The 2010 Campaign Finance Reform Scorecard, published by the non-partisan NC Voters for Clean Elections coalition, finds that even though measures to expand an innovative Voter-Owned Elections program to more state-wide races didn’t pass this legislative session, more state lawmakers earned perfect 100% scores for their support of election reform than ever before.

“This election year is showing just how important it is to have a clean elections alternative to campaigns run by big money,” said Melissa Price, director of the Raleigh-based group. “North Carolina is a national leader in campaign finance reform, and support for reform continues to grow.”

Currently in North Carolina, appellate judges and some Council of State races can use Voter-Owned Elections – an alternative campaign financing system that reduces candidates’ reliance on raising money from special interests. Under the system, candidates who prove they have broad public support from small donors and agree to strict spending and fundraising limits can receive a public grant for their campaign.

An initiative to expand Voter-Owned Elections to five more Council of State offices and create a sustainable fee-based revenue stream for the program was contained in the Senate’s ethics bill. However, the reforms were pulled from the final version of the ethics bill after an aggressive call-in campaign led by the group Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by North Carolina conservative philanthropist Art Pope of Raleigh.

Although the “clean elections” measures didn’t pass, the overall grades state lawmakers earned for their support of campaign finance reform has continued to grow. In 2010, 48% of House members and 52% of Senators had perfect scores – up 20% in both chambers from 2008.

“More and more, North Carolina leaders see Voter-Owned Elections as the answer to the mushrooming problem of big money in politics,” said Price. “These reforms offer a proven way to improve our elections and state legislators have taken note.”

Other 2010 Campaign Finance Reform Scorecard Highlights:

  • The average 2010 score for support of clean elections reform was 78% in the House and 74% in the Senate.
  • A new lifetime score evaluated legislator’s votes on over two dozen initiatives between 2005-2010. Perfect lifetime scores were earned by 23 House members and 10 Senators.
  • The lowest scorers in the House were Reps. George Cleveland, Leo Daughtry, Ric Killian, James Langdon and Darrell McCormick with 33% scores each.  The lowest scorer in the Senate was Sen. Phil Berger with a 23% score for the 2009-2010 session.  

The full results of the scorecard can be downloaded here.