On Monday, May 2nd, Maryland PIRG, Common Cause Maryland, Jews United for Justice, and the Baltimore Fair Elections coalition sent a letter to Mayor Brandon Scott urging that funding for the Fair Elections program be included in the FY23 budget. The full text of the letter is located below:

May 2, 2022

The Honorable Brandon Scott 

Office of the Mayor 

250 City Hall, 100 N. Holliday Street 

Baltimore, Maryland 21202 

Mayor Scott, 

We write to you as advocates of good governance, transparency, and democracy. We are thrilled that you and the City Council voted in 2018 to create a Fair Elections program, and that you have supported Fair Elections as a City Councilmember, Council President, and while campaigning for Mayor. We urge you to allocate $3 million to the Fair Election Fund in the FY23 budget and to finalize the creation of a Fair Election Fund Commission to ensure that candidates can utilize the program in the 2024 elections, as outlined by the city charter.

Wealthy donors have outsized influence in Baltimore City’s elections, with over 80% of the money contributed in the 2020 Baltimore mayoral elections coming from entities that are not eligible to vote in those elections.

Large campaign contributions, which few Baltimoreans can afford to make, overly affect which candidates can afford to run for office, which issues are prioritized, and ultimately who wins elections. Wealthy donors are not representative of Baltimore families–they’re disproportionately white, far less likely to be women or people of color, and have markedly different policy positions and priorities. 

Fair Elections programs amplify the voice of ordinary voters by multiplying the impact of small-dollar donations and requiring participants to reject contributions from PACs, corporations, and lobbyists. This program was a resounding success in Montgomery County, with participating candidates receiving twice as many contributions from Montgomery County voters as traditionally funded candidates. By reducing the influence of big money donors in the political process, we can ensure that all voters have a say, regardless of the size of their wallet.

We are grateful for your previous support of the Fair Elections program. We encourage you to continue moving Baltimore towards a more democratic and equitable political system by appointing members to the Fair Election Fund Commission and allocating $3 million to the Fair Election Fund in lieu of a formal recommendation by the Commission. 

Sincerely, 

Emily Scarr, Maryland PIRG

Joanne Antoine, Common Cause Maryland

Molly Amster, Jews United for Justice