There's a lot about money in politics that is flawed. But how do we fix it? Betsy Sweet is running for U.S. Senate in Maine with a passion for getting money out of politics, and she has a history of work on the issue. Betsy helped write the Clean Elections Act in Maine, the nation's first full public funding system for state legislative and gubernatorial races. She ran for governor as a "Clean Elections Act" candidate and is now hoping to secure the Democratic nomination to take on Senator Susan Collins in 2020, a must-win seat for Democrats in their bid to retake the majority in the Senate. Betsy joins the Money in Politics podcast to discuss how money can corrode politics, and some ideas she has to "reform Democracy."
Andrew Blumenfeld: 0:05
I'm Andrew Blumenfeld, and this is the money in politics Podcast. As one of the co founders of a political fundraising technology company, I am acutely aware of the failings of our current political fundraising system. We do our best to support campaigns within our current system, but there's no doubt in my mind that that system itself is broken, and it'll take a lot more than just innovative technology to fix it. It's gonna require new laws, new regulations and maybe even new amendments to our country's Constitution. But none of that is possible without some new leadership. So I'm excited to chat today with Betsy Sweet. She's one of the candidates running in the Democratic primary for one of the United States Senate seats that's up for election this year in Maine. This seat is currently held by Senator Susan Collins. She's considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate this cycle, and flipping this seat is critical to the Democrats' goal of taking back the Senate. So it has already attracted enormous amounts of interest and, of course, money as well. Betsy, therefore, has a front-row seat to money and politics in action in this race. But it's also not a topic that is new to her. Money and politics is brought to you by CallTime.AI.
You're listening to money in politics brought to you by CallTime.AI. Campaigning is hard. Why not make fundraising easy? Using automation and artificial intelligence, CallTime.AI Let's you fundraise five times faster with easy to use tools like instant donor research, automated voice mail drop, and donor scoring, so you're always calling the right person, at the right time, with the right ask. Go online toCallTime.AI to schedule a demo and start your free trial today.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 1:52
Well, Betsy Sweet, thank you so much for joining me today. It's really a pleasure to have you.
Betsy Sweet: 1:56
Thank you so much for having me. It's my pleasure as well.
Betsy Sweet: 1:58
Wonderful. Well, why don't we start actually with you just introducing yourself? Tell us a little bit about your background, how it is that you find yourself a candidate for the United States Senate in Maine?
Betsy Sweet: 2:08
Awesome. Yes. Oh, I have been a activist and an advocate in Maine for the last 37 years. Working on all social justice issues, environmental justice issues, all nonprofit work, starting with women's organizations and doing LGBTQ work and environmental work and doing all of that work back in the early nineties. We also then got very interested in money in politics. So I can't wait to talk to you more about that. But basically I ran for governor in 2018 and in Maine, we have ranked-choice voting. So we had a seven-way Democratic primary and we did extraordinarily well. We didn't win, but we came very close. And one of the things that I found was that people are so hungry for someone different, someone who is not part of the political establishment, someone who is willing to tell the truth, someone who knows how to get things done but again is not part of that broken system, largely based on the money part of it. And then we had Senator Collins, who has really drifted away from being a senator from Maine and really become the senator of Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party. And people in Maine, that's not who we are, is not what we want. We want people that are on our side and, you know, again that I wanted to bring my, I call myself the sweet spot because I have decades of writing legislation, passing legislation, being involved, knowing how things are done but not being part of that broken system that is so corrupt, I believe so.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 3:31
Let me actually pick up right there because you helped author and passed the Clean Elections Act in Maine in 1996. And I think that's something that folks who are listening to this podcast to be really interested in learning more about. Cuould you just tell us a little bit more about that legislation.
Betsy Sweet: 3:46
Absolutely. So back in the nineties, a lot of progressive organizations were working together, and we're working on a wide variety of things. We're working on health care. We were working on wages, we were working on environmental stuff, and one of the things that we found is that it was getting more and more difficult to get people to run for office and to recruit people to run for office because of the cost of doing that. So that was the one side of it on the other side. we were looking at who was paying the costs and who was contributing. And that was increasingly business interest, corporate interests, people who were making an investment, not in our system, in the goodness of democracy, but an investment for the particular issues that they wanted to have happen. So in 94, we said, "You know, we've got to do something about it." I'm a very much outside the box thinker, I like to, you know, if there's a problem, we should take care of it. So we were horrified back then that a state Senate race in Maine cost $6000 to run. Now, those were the days, right? And I just said, you know, but we will never get anybody to do anything about this until we can show examples of where a vote was taken and then money came in and then the vote changed, and we can't you know, we all sort of feel like money and politics is a problem, and I'm sure you and your listeners are aware that in the United States right now, 98% of people think money and politics is a problem and 96% think there's nothing we can do about it. So we were like, "No, we're gonna do something about this." When so I spent a summer in my attic with a bunch of college interns and we went through, nothing was electronic then, we went through every issue and donors and where they were coming from. And Eureka, we found not just one. But we found many examples of where votes were taken in a committee, the one that was a sort of signature one was that came up from a committee unanimous "Ought not to pass," the president of the Senate at the time, then fundraised for four days. For people, it was about getting Medicaid coverage for a particular service. He raised money from those interests for four days, raised a ton of money and then the next, when the Senate took a vote on it, they reversed what the committee had done, and they passed it. So it was crystal clear and again there was more than one example. So what we did is we brought together the secretary of state at the time, somebody from the governor's office, me and one other person to say OK, what would this look like? And so we paired. You know, you have to balance public financing, which I think many people support with, "How do you make sure that somebody's credible? How do you make sure that everybody just doesn't say I'll try," and then they all qualify the same amount of money. So we had to say, How do you do this? And so in Maine, we have this wonderful system where you qualify by getting a certain number of $5 contributions from people because we figured everybody can, most everybody can give $5 you get a certain number, and then you get a certain amount of public financing. And then, to get more public financing, you have to continue to show that your support is growing. And so it's really a wonderful system. And so we have had that system since 1996. Now, when we started it, it was much more comprehensive, so it matched independent expenditures. It matched leadership Pac money. It was it was really comprehensive, and there have been efforts all along the way by people to undo it, to stop it. You know it's gone back out to the voters again, but those have not been successful, so it's been whittled away a little bit. But it's still an incredible system. And now 62% of our local legislators, representatives, and senators in Maine are elected through the clean Elections program.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 7:19
Well, that's fantastic. And so you then also were one of the candidates who availed yourself of that just in 2018 isn't right.
Betsy Sweet: 7:26
Yes. So when we had a really terrible governor for eight years, the one who said he was Trump before Trump. So it was like, Okay, and we have to get somebody in. And unfortunately, I had seen a lot of the work that I had done over the last 30 years be undone and gone away. And so when we were looking at who was gonna run, two things were happening. One is people were just pissed off at the establishment, pissed off at the political establishment on both sides of the aisle. And so when Democratic candidates were coming forward, there was nobody. So there was a Republican who was gonna run as the clean elections candidate, even though he consistently voted against clean elections in the Legislature, there was an independent who was gonna run as a clean elections candidate. And there was not a single Democrat who was gonna run as a clean elections candidate despite the fact that there were six candidates in the race. And I said, This can't be possible. This is our moment. This is our chance to actually show that you can run a serious race and do it. And so while we didn't win, we absolutely put to bed any notion that it was not possible to run a credible race, that it puts you at a disadvantage any of that stuff. We actually showed that you can run an amazing and we ended up getting more money than four of the other candidates by running as a clean elections candidates. So it was really an awesome experience. And people I got a lot of support from people because I was a clean elections candidate.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 8:43
Yeah, I've had I mean, it's not hard to believe. I guess that even just the knowing that that's the way you've decided to run your campaign would be very attractive to a lot of voters and potentially to small dollar donors who might not otherwise think to put their money behind a candidate.
Betsy Sweet: 8:57
Yeah, no, that's really true.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 8:59
Were there other realizations? I mean, so this law you helped write in 1996 and then got to experience firsthand all these years later in 2018, any other takeaways about what it would take for that kind of legislation to be truly as effective as possible after watching it for decades and also having now lived it yourself as a candidate,
Betsy Sweet: 9:18
It is a great question Andrew. So yes, I think a couple of things. One is that I think that this is what everybody wants. You know, people are sickened by the fact that we are not holding elections anymore. We're holding auctions and auctions go to the highest bidder, and you and I and our neighbors are not the highest bidders. And so I think one of the things that's really important that I learn just running as a candidate is we have to connect the dots for people. We have to say the reason that you can't get insulin at an affordable price here in Maine, and we're so close to Canada, you know what the difference is very palpable. The reason you can't get affordable insulin is directly related to the $1.4 million that our Senator has taken from pharmaceutical companies. Those things are directly related. The reason, and I believe this in my bones, the reason we're the only industrialized nation in the world not to have full coverage for health insurance is directly related to the millions of dollars that insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies and people who profit off our current healthcare system our sick-care system, give to the politicians. And I mean, that's the only reason that makes sense. And so I think, for people again, people feel it, what the problem is, and they sort of make the connection. But it's very vague. So I think we have to make some of those direct distinctions for people, and I think when we say no, we're gonna do this differently. It's a sigh of relief. It's a breath of fresh air. It's like Oh, like, really like you're gonna actually be beholden to us. You're gonna be accountable, too us. And then the answer to that question then, is yes, So I think that's a really important piece. Another takeaway I think is it really has changed who can run. So that is true on the local level for local state people. But it's also true, it is true on the gubernatorial level. Like I don't have a lot of means. I'm a single mom of three kids, and you know I do fine. But I don't have a lot of savings. I don't have any of that. I don't have my own resources to put towards a race. My work has all been with nonprofit organizations with low-income organizations, so I don't have a network of golf partners and tennis partners who are gonna chip in a lot of money, right? So if you look at the way the current system works, that would basically count you out. And yet it is not where people are. It's not what people want. And so this allowed a clean election system, or getting a system that pairs public financing and those very, very small-dollar donors that show Momentum allows all kinds of people to run, and I hear from people every single day that say thank you, I could not have run if it wasn't for clean elections. I would not have run if it was not for clean elections, and so it really makes a big difference. And that's a huge thing. And in Maine, we also have ranked-choice voting. So the pairing of rank choice voting and clean elections really has changed the landscape of who can run and what we expect from our politicians.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 12:10
You know, that's really it's clear there's a lot of innovation on that front happening in Maine. That's that's terrific. And I wonder now, as a candidate for federal office for U. S Senate, I imagine a lot of what you were just discussing at the state level in Maine you would want to see brought over to the federal level. Are there other things that the federal elections, guidelines, rules, the way that we spend and raise money in federal elections, How does need to change?
Betsy Sweet: 12:35
We need a tsunami of change. I mean, to me, it's the underlying issue for everything else we care about. As I said, I've spent decades fighting for health care, you know, we need a green new deal. We need, you know, climate change, gun safety, college loans, prison reforming. I mean, name the issue and the core of why we're not doing, not just what I would consider to be the right thing, but to do the thing that Americans value. I mean, when 87% of Americans want single payer coverage in a democracy, right, that should make it easy. But it doesn't so I see it all the time, like on steroids at the national level, and we don't have a clean election system. So I actually have put forward a three point plan to try and address this issue, and it would have to be a constitutional amendment. But one is to overturn Citizens United, which I assume is a slam dunk for all of you and your listeners. The second thing is to create a clean election system like we have in Maine on the federal level, because it's it's a great interim step. And the third thing, which I've done tons of town halls across the state until recently. And this is the thing that got people to their feet clapping all the time, which is to limit the campaign cycle to 12 weeks because that takes care of the spending. And it's not just the money raising right. We do not need to campaign for a year, two years, three years. The only people that benefits is what I call the political industrial complex in Washington. The consultants who tell you what to say and how to say it and what to wear and what you know. Like they're the people who are making money off of this. And who are the reason we have to raise money, right? So there's that and paying for some staff and buying ads, you know, in every other country, does it this way, right in England. It's a six week campaign cycle. The Nordic countries. It's an eight week campaign cycle. Canada is a 30 day campaign cycle in Japan. I just heard his 12 days could imagine that a 12 day presidential cycle. Now, some people say, and I just wanted any listeners likely saying Well, but doesn't that advantage the incumbent? Well, no, because first of all, they're already advantage in the current system because of, you know, the packs and people who give them money. But to you could say you were running five years out and go do what I've been doing. Hold town halls go meet people in their work places in their living rooms. You could do anything that I think Israel democracy, which is talking and listening with people. But you couldn't raise or spend money except for those 12 weeks. And I think that would really, like, shake things up and make people say, Oh my God, I actually have to go talk to people if I want to do this you know? And I think that's a really benefit because in my race, Andrew. So I'm running against Susan Collins. This is one of the most targeted races in the country. We need to win it. If the Democrats are gonna flip the Senate. The Washington consultants are saying that this race is gonna cost when all is said and done with all the candidates between 100 and $150 million. Now Maine is a poor state. We don't have a lot of income. We only have 1.3 million people, and only 870,000 of them can vote. So $150 million. That's obscene, and you have to wonder. First of all, I keep asking people what could we do with 100 $50 million right now in this pandemic, we could have a public health system. We could take care of student debt. We could lower our property taxes. We could get a roads and bridges taking care of, you know, So there's a lot that we could do with that money. Besides buying negative ads and telling somebody how bad the other person is, right? So how that money is largely spent. But it also looks at what donors and the packs and corporations what they're investing it. As I said earlier, this is an investment for them and they want a return on their investment and the return of the investments. Not being a nice person or saying hi. They want access, They want you to listen. They want to be able to influence what you're voting for and how you're voting, and they want your attention. And so when you are doing that and you're having to raise all this money, then you are not paying attention to what's happening. Discretion was not of time in the day to what the people want, what they need, what their ideas aren't stuff, so it's way past time, and I think people would. It would really cut down on the cynicism off the people who feel like my vote doesn't matter. You know, it doesn't want my one vote or my 25 bucks. It doesn't matter, and it should, and it can.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 16:58
So there's a few pieces that we've talked about, that we kind of surfaced as to how this would change the way democracy looks, you mentioned. It changes even the landscape of what kinds of candidates can run. When you have a reform system you just mentioned, it changes the way voters might think of their own agency as a donor. As someone who can put their money behind. Are there other ways in which reforming kind of money in politics the way that you envision it, changes democracy for the better?
Betsy Sweet: 17:27
Yeah, I think it changes most fundamentally, changes the locus of power. Let's look at this most recent example, right? If you look at the first bill that came out to deal with the pandemic, right, it was written largely by lobbyists, and if we look at who we're trying to help, right, it's still based on this trickle down theory. You know that will help the big corporations, and then they'll go help the people, you know. And even though that theory has been, you know you can have whatever economic theory that you want. We know that where the help is needed is people who can't get food, people who are losing their jobs, people who can't get health care. You know, that's where that has to enter. But there's nobody except for our legislators who are at the tables with that perspective. And so really, and I remember listening to somebody on on some news program and that the Democrats got the first version of that bill from the lobbyists, and so again, it's so incredibly corrupt, and I think we have the opportunity and the responsibility, and, you know, it sounds like a slogan, but it's really true. We have to take back our democracy because if we looked at the last presidential election, right, 55 million people voted for Clinton. 53 million for Trump and 100 and 10 million people didn't vote and people say, Oh, well, they're bad people. They don't care about democracy. I don't think that's true. I think 100 and 10 billion people didn't vote because they didn't believe that their vote made a difference. And they see what's happening in Washington. They're disgusted with what's happening in Washington and not based on the person's ideology or even, I mean them serve their some of that for sure. But the fact that they don't give as much care to what we need as they do to the people who are funding them. I think people know that and feeling so it's like, Why bother? I mean, I see this a lot in young people. I get the old Betsy, you know, I would do this, but it's really Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, and I know it doesn't really matter, and I would argue that it does matter. But I understand that kind of cynicism and that belief, and I think the root of that is money.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 19:28
Well, let's come back to your current race. You been mentioned it a moment ago, and it's certainly a race that has a lot of national attention. And as you pointed out at levels that air obscene, I think was your word and is a fair one, I think, in terms of the level of investment. Another one of your words into this race or that least projected. Can you tell us a little bit more about, I mean just very specifically because it is such a well, it's brace that people are so concerned about this cycle. Where's all this money coming from? You said, You know, they expect a return on that investment. What is the expected return on that investment?
Betsy Sweet: 20:03
Yeah, I mean, I think that you think it's operating at a lot of little. So I'm currently a Democratic primary and there are three people in the primary right now, and one person is not raising any money at all. And then I am raising money through small donors and through people that I know and people in Maine who are invested in this and then on the other candidate is one that is getting millions and millions and millions of dollars from special interest packs, democratic establishment. I want to give them credit where credit is due. They want to win this race, they want to win this race, and that's what they're trying to do. So I get that. I don't think that the playbook they're using is one that's gonna win in Maine, you know. So they've used that. They've spent over $7 million already in this primary. We spent about 200,000 which is still a lot of money. But that's $7 million has been used largely to be on TV, to run negative ads and to raise more money. So the amount of money that they raised to raise more money is just It's obscene. And so it's very difficult to do on my end. I mean, I'm so proud that 97% of our donors or $100 unless and so that's awesome, and that's the way I want it to be. But as my father used to say about picking wild strawberries that are very teeny, takes a lot of those to make a dozen. So it's a very It's a challenging piece of what we're doing, but I think that we have this opportunity to show Maine and the country that it can be done differently. You know that it doesn't have to be the same, you know, because it's also I think, into another problem is it doesn't stop once you get elected when you go to any training that's done by anybody in Washington about wanting to be a U. S. Congress person or U. S. Senator, the first thing they tell you is if you want to do this, you have got to be prepared to spend 6 to 7 hours her day, on the phone every day that you're elected raising money. So it's no wonder we can't figure out how to do health care. We can't figure out how together, right, cause all the policy makers are spending their time on the phone with people have invested interest, and then they're going to their events and their fancy parties and all that kind of stuff. That's what's actually happening, and I know that we know that. But it's so normalized that we don't think about what the huge impact of that is, especially on what's happening in terms of what's not happening in terms of policy development in this country. So I think that again for us, I'm not lie. It's very challenging to be outspent about 10 to 1. I don't think it's impossible. You know, Maine is a very small number of people, you know, I run already statewide. So we have a large base of people who are very loyal, who believe in the change that we're looking for and we can't do that kitchen table, the kitchen table conversation Weaken. Do town halls where people get to comment. Shake your head not during the virus, but shake your hand and say hi and see and ask questions and you get to be completely transparent and you get to hear their ideas and base your answers on what is correct and where the lines of main values and your own values and not what some thunder wants you to say, because that's what you get. You said, Don't say that. That's a lot of what consultants do in Washington. Don't say that. Don't say it that way because, you know, we got a lot of funders. We're gonna help you out, you know, and and they don't want you to talk about pharmaceuticals in that way, or they don't want you to talk about gun safety in that way. So don't talk about that. It's not about what main people want you to talk about, so I think again, I think it's very insidious. How do you
Andrew Blumenfeld: 23:26
actually sort of for yourself in your own campaign where you have to raise money. There isn't public financing that you can use in the federal race, and yet you have set for yourself internal boundaries and limits, right? You're going to stick to certain principles about money. You will take money you won't take. Can you talk about what are those boundaries? I know for one that you've been public about, is that no corporate PAC money? And we've heard that from candidates in the past. Are there other limitations even as you think? And as you're talking about during our conversation today, you know, if you see spend an hour on the phone, say, with someone who lives in Maine and they give you $25 at the end of that conversation where you spend an hour on the phone with them and they live in Maine and they give you $2500 is the demarcation line about whether or not that's corrupting or not corrupting thehe mount whether or not that person lives in your state or district. If they are a registered lobbyist oven organization, if they are connected with a corporation like what air? The litmus test that you set internally for yourself about okay, that's corrupting money. That's not corrupting money.
Betsy Sweet: 24:26
That's a great question. So there's the obvious ones, and there's a corporate Pac money. There's federal lobbyists. There's people from the fossil fuel industry. Some of the things that I think our pharmaceutical, you know, big pharma, pharmaceutical people. You know, again, anybody who I believe is trying to gain influence sees this as an investment in something other than what's best for the people of Maine is really my demarcation line, you know. And so they're people who give to me who I'm sure work for a pharmaceutical company. But they're not the CEO of the pharmaceutical company. They're not the political director of the VP, you know, they're people who are just making a living. And so for me, that's one of the demarcations. But you know, I want to talk about the corporate Pac money thing because it's really a loophole and it's great. So one thing that's great and everyone should feel good about it, especially the people listen to this podcast because we have created enough of a stink about money and politics that now it's politically popular to say I'm against corporate PAC money. So if you said Yeah, I'm thinking corporate back money and I'm proud of it, then that has a political impact and usually a negative one. So people and say, I'm against corporate PAC money. But if you say you're against corporate PAC money and then you go thio Houston and have a fundraiser with 20 corporate oil executives and they each give you an individual check or was what happens in my race or my opponent. So someone gives to a leadership PAC in Washington and corporations give to them, and then they give to the candidate will. Then you, technically, that you're not taking corporate Pac money. But as I said in an interview here in Maine, that got a lot of play. If you put a pair of jeans in the wash as soon as they come out, there's still a pair of jeans, you know, I think we have to pay attention to. And also I think I'm a little bit skeptical of people who say I'm against corporate PAC money on the day that they file for a federal office. But the day before they filed, they were taking plenty of corporate money. And so for me again, it's one of things I say when I go around is this has been a lifelong 30 year thing that I've been doing. So so I think we really have the test candidates enough to say and ask him deep enough questions to say So what do you mean you're not taking corporate Pac Man? And what do you mean, Like, how many billionaires are giving you money? How many millionaires are giving you money? And I think those things are all important demarcations for me as we look around, because I do think it changes you. You know, I've talked to so many candidates, and when you spend your time on the phone trying to raise money from very wealthy people, you can't help but have a change who you are and what you are. You know how you're spending your time and quite earnestly, this is what I never want to have happen to me. So if you've given me $1000 somebody else has given me nothing or giving me $5 if I have 10 minutes to make a phone call. Human Nature says, I'm gonna call you not because you might have a better idea, but because that's just human nature and that thing that we have to eliminate because that's how people get influence intentionally or unintentionally. That's what happens. And I think so. Some of the things that you know some of the things that I think are happening are pretty corrupting in their intention, and some are just corrupting as a byproduct.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 27:38
Sure. So is it
Betsy Sweet: 27:39
Andrew Blumenfeld: 27:40
say, though, that short of public financing, it would be difficult to imagine a system that adequately address this problem? Because so much of it does come down to intention cause I like the example you gave even about the person who works for a pharmaceutical company, because I think sometimes this conversation does happen to abstract Li like Oh, someone has in their resume that they worked for a pharmaceutical company. And so they are evil about, even frankly, Oh, this person is a wealthy person, and so they are instinctively We think they're bad. Someone could have a close personal friend from childhood who, it turned out later built this great company and now is really wealthy and then shipped in the max that they're allowed to because they're jazzed about them just the same way your friend from high school may, even if that friend is not that wealthy at this point. And I think the pharmaceutical example you gave this is another one. Someone just making a living at a company. They're not doing something on behalf of an industry. So I think I guess I say all that because I've always, as I've wrestled with this thought that a lot of it, as it sounds like you do, comes down to intention. Are you making an investment for an R A y for some particular interest or for the general interest? And so is it fair to say that short of a system that publicly financed Allah, the system that you helped generate in Maine, it's hard to imagine exactly what structures you would put in to get at the intention of donations. You really just need to find a way to tiu supplant those donations entirely with some sort of public system. Or am I Am I making it to black and white of an option here?
Betsy Sweet: 29:01
No, I mean I think that it's hard to find the gray and so I think you're right and I think a couple of things one is I do think that working at it from the other side of how much campaigns cost to run is a natural way to cut down on that, you know? So if we saw the cost of a race, you know, we have this incredible funding arms race, if you will. It's just keeps escalating and escalating, escalating until because it will be only the purview of billionaires who can do it Because, yeah, I mean, even if you saw what happened in the in the presidential race, you know, billionaires get in and just didn't work. Thank God, I mean and nothing good to say about those people. But just if you think you could just walk in and buy it outright, But I think again it's the gray is hard. So I think working on that end of what class is one way to address it on the other end. I do think that part of the conversation has to be a deeper dive into candidates and sort of what their history has been. I mean, longevity again. In my own case, I'm older. So, you know, like I I had to have decades of experience working on this issue. And so I would think that if you, for example, new me and you knew my history and you saw that Joe Smith, who was I went to high school with was, Ah, you know, mid level manager in a pharmaceutical company gave me 100 bucks. You wouldn't be like, Oh, she's beholden to the political companies. But that takes a fair degree of time and work on your part. And of course, the opponents are gonna jump on this. She said he's not taking money from a pharmaceutical company, but she's, you know, she took $250 from this guy, and so that is a hard conversation because I wanted then say, Oh, my God, that was my nephew. You know, that's where he worked. But then it sounds like you're like neener neener, you know, and then because my nephew, who works for a pharmaceutical company, gave me $250 that gives license to the corporate pack for the pharmaceuticals. It's all the same. It's all painted with a brush. I don't think that's right, but it is a difficult way to do it, and I do think we have to get to public financing. I mean, I've said over and over again, I think it would be awesome. Toa have a certain set amount of money, her person per race, and then part of what we see is how they spend that money. They spend that money on negative ads. Do they spend that money on? You know, whatever. I also think we have to figure out a way to rein in independent expenditures. You know, the 501 c four people who do things on your behalf that you're not. You can't control what they say. You can't do that, but they have a huge amount. And that's where a lot of that corporate money that you know doesn't come directly to the I don't take corporate Pac money. Candidate goes to a five, a onesie for an independent that you know they know is gonna do the dirty work for them again. That's something that creates cynicism, and it makes people cynical about our democracy.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 31:43
Well, before we wrap, I'm just curious if there's any other things that you think our listeners should know about your race. I've said it a couple times, and I think it's bears repeating. It's just such an important race. You called out that it will be part of the equation or not of the Democrats taking back the Senate. So before I let you go, I'm just curious if there's anything else that you think spokes should know about the race than about your campaign.
Betsy Sweet: 32:06
Great, Andrew. Thank you. Yes. So I think, Well, I think the other way that we change this is by winning, right? So I think when we have somebody who runs like that, I don't know. The mayor of Chicago, the new mayor of Chicago, right? She was outspent 20 to 1, and she won because she was knocking on doors. She got people to help her. You know, she did the kind of organizing that we've been talking about. And so I think that part of what gives this fuel is like, Oh, well, even Alexandria Cortez, you know, like her opponent had millions of dollars in the bank still unspent because he thought she wasn't serious because she hadn't raised any money I think that if we can insist through letters to the editor through supporting campaigns like mine insists that people say that the only bell, whether someone's a viable candidate or not, is how much money they've raised. You know, we need to start demanding that our press be more inventive than that, that our political commentators be more inventive than that. So that's one and then I think, you know, and I would love it. People can help us, especially now in the time of Cove in 19. Everything we're doing now has to be digital, so you can make calls to help. Candidates like me and others from anywhere you are will set you right up. You can send letters, people. Everybody knows somebody and made so you can send letters to your friends or your old camp counselor, whoever in Maine to encourage them to take a look at us. You can go to Betsy sweet dot com and help us out in any way that you think you can sew against. It could be organizing. It could be with a small donation. It could be any way that you could help us out, because I think when we win and we win against the moneyed machine, it sends a message. It obviously get someone there who's gonna fight for this. And this is my top priority when I get there. Because I might issue top rarity of health care is never gonna happen unless we take care of this one. And so people could help that way. So I just think it's really important to get the word out to help where you can again. We have texting. You could do. We have letter writing You could do, you know all of that. But I think by helping candidates like me and others and me to win, that is the other way. We move this issue forward, and the other thing about this is that when we first came up with the idea of a public financing system match with small dollar donors, every single person that we talked to in the establishment told us it was impossible. It was impossible to design. It was impossible to pass that legislators would never pass it and the voters would never approve it, and we proved all of them well so
Andrew Blumenfeld: 34:35
and remind us what percentage of main candidates are running as clean elections candidates.
Betsy Sweet: 34:39
62% of our candidates run. It's clean elections, you know. So it's changed the composition of who we are and who our legislators made up of. So it is very possible we can do this. Not only can we do it, I think we have to do it if we're gonna save our democracy.
Andrew Blumenfeld: 34:54
One of my favorite sayings is that the actual proves the possible and I think sometimes, especially in D. C. But just generally in political wisdom, it's not always so imaginative. So you need Thio, actually, just show what's possible by doing it. So I think you make a really good point. You know, the more people who win by approaching the issue of money in imaginative ways, the more it demonstrates the capacity of that toe work. Well, thank you so much for all the work that you've done on this issue. Thank you so much for being so generous with your time today. And best of luck to you.
Betsy Sweet: 35:28
Yes, and best of luck to you. I'm so thrilled you started this podcast and I will listen to you all the time now
Andrew Blumenfeld: 35:33
because again It is one of my passions. Stay up to date with the latest fundraising trends, forecasts and advice by going to the call time. Aye, aye. Blawg at www dot call time dot Ay, ay And follow us on Twitter at call time. Aye, aye.