Miss Sheila Krumholz, the Executive Director of the organisation, made this known while briefing selected journalists from across the globe by the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Global Public Affairs – to cover the U.S. election.
Speaking at a webinar, Krumholz said that the candidates had been hauling in humongous amount of funds right from the primaries.
“So doing this work allows us to see, for instance, that the last election cycle cost more than US$5.7 billion, the biggest jump in midterm election spending in at least 20 years.
“Given the massive hauls that Trump and Biden are bringing in today, US$476 million for the Trump campaign, more than half a billion, US$531 million for Biden, not to mention the sum spent by the billionaire presidential candidates, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer earlier in the democratic primary, 2020 will without a doubt shatter all previous spending records.
“So I am very sorry about the bad timing, but stay tuned as we will be releasing our estimate for total spending in the next 24 to 48 hours. So please visit our site,” she said.
Krumholz charged voters not to allow those who fund political parties to alter the principles of democracy.
She stressed the need for transparency, saying this is an essential pillar of democracy and that campaigns finances should not be hidden from public scrutiny or protected from the accountability of criticism.
Krumholz said that transparency also reassures the public of the integrity of campaign finance laws in the political system.
She said though not much can be done about the donors, the electorates must monitor the activities of their representatives in government and ensure democracy is protected.
She said that the donors would ordinarily want to influence policies of government for their narrow interests which is against the principles of democracy.
“Absolutely, I mean, to them donors will be blunt about their expectation for access and their rationale for spending the money, being to influence outcomes, policy outcomes in favor of their own narrow agenda.
“So unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do about that, about private interests, spending money in hopes of skewing policy toward their advantage.
“What we can do as citizens is to hold our representatives, the people that we hire to represent us accountable. They are the ones that we need to connect with to ensure that they know that we are paying attention.
“We see to whom they may be beholden because of their fundraising and their benefactors.
“And that we are paying attention to what they are doing in our name, because if we are not paying attention, then they are essentially, we are giving them carte blanche; we are letting them do whatever they want.
“But this is their charge not to sell policy, but to make policy in the best interest of their constituents and in the national interest.
“And it is a hefty charge for the voters to pay attention, to understand what their employees are doing in Washington in their name and to make change if it is called for,” she said.
She said without transparency, journalists and research institutions would be operating with one hand tied behind the backs.
According to her, in a democracy, “we need everyone at the table enjoying the privileges with equal access to public information about how policy is made and how money is used to shape it”.