Presidential Public Funding

A record of more than $1 billion was spent by campaigns in the 2008 election. Barack Obama, then candidate for president and long an advocate for public financing of elections, opted not to use the presidential public financing system.

The system worked well for nearly a quarter of a century by limiting the amount that participating presidential candidates could spend on their campaigns. But now, after three elections in which the winner didn't opt in, it’s clear the system is broken.

Politicians need huge sums to run their campaigns and they often get the money from wealthy donors and special interests. Many of those contributors expect paybacks in the form of earmarks, contracts, or plum government appointments. Because of the corrupting influence of money, many Americans have lost faith in politics and government.

The solution is the public funding of elections. We must modernize the badly outdated presidential public financing system so that it is once again a viable option for all competitive candidates. Recently, a Presidential Public Funding Bill (PDF) (H.R. 6061, S. 3681) was introduced in Congress.

Take Action for Public Funding of Presidential Elections

More Resources on Public Funding of Presidential Elections

Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


You can support the fight for greater government and corporate accountability through a donation to either Public Citizen, Inc., or Public Citizen Foundation, Inc.

Public Citizen lobbies Congress and federal agencies to advance Public Citizen’s mission of advancing government and corporate accountability. When you make a contribution to Public Citizen, you become a member of Public Citizen, showing your support and entitling you to benefits such as Public Citizen News. Contributions to Public Citizen are not tax-deductible.

Public Citizen Foundation focuses on research, public education, and litigation in support of our mission. By law, the Foundation can engage in only very limited lobbying. Contributions to Public Citizen Foundation are tax-deductible.