Midwest Democracy Network Releases Responses to Presidential Candiate Questionnaire

Only Edwards and Obama Answer Questions

November 27, 2007

Midwest Democracy Network

Madison - The Midwest Democracy Network (MDN) – a nonpartisan alliance of 20 civic and public interest groups from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin – today released full and unedited responses to a detailed questionnaire on federal political and government reform issues from former U.S. Senator John Edwards and U.S. Senator Barack Obama, the only candidates to reply to the survey. The questionnaire, sent to all the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates on September 11, covers campaign finance, government ethics, communications policy, election laws, voting rights, and congressional redistricting.

“Voters deserve to know where candidates for our nation’s highest office stand on issues fundamental to the health of our democracy,” said Andrea Kaminski of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, one of the groups in the Midwest Democracy Network. “The nation’s political system has suffered repeated shocks in recent years. We’ve seen serious breakdowns in election administration, an upsurge in government secrecy, a succession of high-profile political scandals, partisan mid-decade congressional redistricting, and brazen violations of campaign finance laws. The 2006 election results and opinion polls since then have consistently shown that Americans are fed up with politics as usual and yearn for competent, fair and honest government. But getting there will not be easy, and without presidential leadership it may not happen at all.”

“Senators Edwards and Obama are to be commended for spelling out how they would strengthen our nation’s political system,” Wisconsin Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe said. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of the presidential candidates chose not to address voters’ concerns about the health and direction of American democracy. Their silence is disappointing and the American people have every reason to feel let down. During the remaining weeks before the 2008 caucuses and primary elections, we hope voters everywhere – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – will continue to press all the candidates to explain how they would clean up our politics and reinforce our democracy.”

“The MDN questionnaire represents the most ambitious effort this year by the nation’s civic community to provide the presidential candidates with a forum for discussing political reform,” Common Cause in Wisconsin’s director Jay Heck said. Although the Midwest Democracy Network and its affiliates focus primarily on state issues, there are numerous federal laws and regulations – such as the Voting Rights Act, the Federal Election Campaign Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the more recent Help America Vote Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act – that have and will continue to affect both the substance and implementation of state laws. “And for that reason,” Heck said, “we believe it is essential that the presidential candidates reveal their positions on issues that are likely to influence the shape of political reform at the state level in the future.”

“All the presidential candidates deserve credit this year for laying out their views on many issues of concern to voters – from the Iraq War, immigration and health care policy to education, homeland security and the economy. But a serious debate about effective and practical ways of ensuring the health of our own democracy has not yet gotten underway,” McCabe said. “Senators Edwards and Obama have now provided all the contenders with an opening. So let the debate begin.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Mike McCabe
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
255-4260

Andrea Kaminski
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
256-0827

Jay Heck
Common Cause in Wisconsin
256-2686

Presidential Questionnaire Responses (pdf file)