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Political Contribution Refund Program

Minnesota has an interesting program that I just learned about via the Jesse Mortenson for State House website.

Basically…

Individuals who contribute to a registered political party or to a state level partisan candidate who has agreed to limit expenditures are eligible to apply for a refund of their contribution. For purposes of the political contribution refund (PCR) program, only monetary contributions qualify for the refund. Receipts forms may not be issued to contributors who donate goods or services.

The maximum refund contributors may receive is $50 per person or $100 for married couples. The program is available to individuals who are eligible to vote in Minnesota. Those individuals may file only one refund application per year and there is no opportunity to amend the PCR.

So… what do you think? Good idea or bad idea? I’d love to hear some feedback from all sides.

9 Responses to “Political Contribution Refund Program”

  1. Mike Grimes Says:

    It’s a nice program, although it can be a crutch too. Only major parties are elegible so right now thats limited to the Democrats Republicans and Independence Parties.

    I imagine the program will be cut if Peter Hutchinson has a good showing but comes up short this year as the Democrats and Republicans will relize it is helping defeat them.

  2. Mike Grimes Says:

    They have a better program in Maine and Arizona I forget the details but if you look up fair vote or F.A.C.E (fair and clean elections) you should find them.

  3. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Don’t the Greens also have access to the program?

  4. mesoandy Says:

    The Greens, as a minor party, have access to this program. It’s essentially a partial public funding of elections. It’s the only way many people who would not otherwise donate to a political campaign can be convinced to do so.

  5. Mike Grimes Says:

    Is it available to the Greens as a party, or only to Green candidates? I’m unclear on the significance of minor pary status.

  6. mesoandy Says:

    It’s available to Greens as a party as well and is a source of significant fundraising for the state party and several locals.

  7. undercover_ararchist Says:

    I’m surprised there weren’t a bunch of libertarians denouncing this program here.

    I guess the program is an improvement, but there are far better ways to fund elections. Maine’s public program is good. This is just so-so.

  8. Jesse Mortenson Says:

    Minor party status in Minnesota ensures access to the PCRP program and the “checkoff fund.” The checkoff fund is another limited source of public financing funded by Minnesotans optionally checking off the name of a political party (or the general campaign fund) to give $3 (for free) to that party (checkoff funds can only be used in certain campaign-related ways). It was great to have major party status from 2000-2004, but it’s becoming evident that the Green Party in MN can be very effective as a minor party. Though minor party status does not include guaranteed ballot access, Minnesota’s petition requirements are not too burdensome. I will need to collect 500 signatures this summer - no problem!

    There have been noises, especially from the GOP camp, of a desire to cut the PCR program. That would be a real shame, as Andy notes, because it would significantly impede third parties and people who aren’t wealthy but want to participate in grassroots politics. The state GOP benefits the most from the program in absolute financial terms (with the DFL afterwards), but I would wager that it wouldn’t have too much trouble replacing those dollars if they cancelled the program. In contrast, the piddly $20,000-$30,000 the Green Party (that doesn’t include individual campaigns) earns in PCRP donations is essential to us, and much of that really is from people who wouldn’t donate $50 otherwise.

  9. Mike Grimes Says:

    Adding on to what Jesse said The Independence party raised $15,846 in PCR donations in 2005 representing 46% of our funds.

    Thats all nice and those #’s will improve this year with elections for every office in the state, but to me it makes fundrasing seem to effortless and doesn’t lure in those extra dollars that we absulutly need, plus it makes people feel like they did there part simply by giving there $50.

    As a party principaled against the influance of money in politics there are some supporters that just aren’t ever gonna dig deep, but we need to be doing better then $15,000 even in an off year.

    Speaking of which anyone want to make a donation to the Independence party of Minnesota?

    http://www.mnip.org/contribute.shtml

    I wrote that so hey you should give something.

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