Fixing politics – $65M since 1996

A handful of foundations have invested $65 million since 1996 in state and local groups that want to revamp the system of financing elections in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 17.

“We created organizations from scratch and they’re carrying the ball,” Larry Hansen, vice president of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, told the Journal.

Fund for campaign finance include $20 million from Joyce, $15 million each from the Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia and the Florence and John Schumann Foundation in Montclair, N.J., headed by journalist Bill Moyers; $9 million from the Carnegie Corp. of New York; $8 million from the financier George Soros’ Open Society Institute in New York.

The foundations are backing a network that includes the National Institute on Money in State Politics in Helena, Mont., which aims to post records of campaign contributions for all 50 states online by the end of the year, along with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and the National Voting Rights Institute in Boston, which have drafted legislation and defended overhaul measures in court, the Journal said.

Critics say the network represented a coordinated effort by “ultraliberal” foundations to push their agencies, the Journal said.

Reform advocates concede they have a big agenda but say it’s driven by their political experience, not foundation funding.

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