Issue One

Issue One is an American nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce the role of money in politics.[4][5] It aims to increase public awareness of what it views as problems within the present campaign finance system, and to reduce the influence of money in politics through enactment of campaign finance reform.

Issue One
FormationSeptember 2014[1]
HeadquartersWashington, DC
  • United States
100+ [2]
Executive Director
Nick Penniman[3]
AffiliationsCampaign Legal Center


Issue One was formed through the merger of two campaign finance reform organizations: Americans for Campaign Reform and Fund for the Republic.[1]

Americans for Campaign ReformEdit

Americans for Campaign Reform (ACR) was a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization formed in 2003 by John Rauh, with Dan Weeks, and later Barbara Lawton, serving as president and CEO. The Board of Directors was composed of two Democratic senators and two Republican senators. The ACR described itself as: "a bipartisan community of citizens who believe passionately that public funding of federal elections is the single most critical long-term public policy issue our nation faces. What's at stake are nothing less than the health of our democracy, the quality of our leadership, and our government's ability to tackle the serious problems that affect us all: health care, energy policy, education, the environment and the economy." Their primary purpose was to enact public funding of all federal elections; supporting legislation that promoted small donor participation in elections and provided increased public funds for qualified candidate to run competitive races. ACR emphasized that the longstanding limits on the size of contributions imposed by national, state and local legislation were important to encouraging ordinary citizens to participate in the electoral process.[6][7]

Fund for the RepublicEdit

Fund for the Republic (FFR) was a group formed in late 2012 with the goal of removing the influence of big money in American politics.[8] In 2013, Fund for the Republic co-hosted an event with Democracy Alliance in which it pitched 110 donors on investing in a $40 million plan to combat dark money in American politics. Donors to the Fund for the Republic included Democracy Alliance members Jonathan Soros and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.[8][9] That same year, FFR's affiliated (c)(4) announced plans to fund groups working to defeat politicians who oppose campaign finance reform, while supporting groups backing finance reform politicians.[10]


The group's stated mission is "reducing the influence of money in politics and putting everyday Americans back in control of our democracy."[11]

Issue One's Executive Director is Nick Penniman. The organization's advisory board is chaired by former U.S. Senators Alan Simpson (R-WY), Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE). The advisory board includes over 40 members, including Charles Fried, Wesley Clark and Doris Kearns Goodwin.[12] Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), counsel to the presidential campaigns of George H. W. Bush and John McCain, and vocal critic of unlimited corporate spending and dark money in politics, is a senior advisor.[13]


Issue One attempts to change the current U.S. campaign finance system on several fronts. Its activities are designed to generate awareness and a sense of urgency around the issue, to invest through grants in the most promising solutions, to reduce the role of money in politics and minimize the time public officials spend raising campaign money.[14][15]

ReFormers CaucusEdit

In 2015, Issue One launched its ReFormers Caucus,[2][16] a "group of former members of Congress, Cabinet officials and governors from both parties committed to restoring trust in our democratic institutions" which, as of January 2019, had more than 200 members. Members of the ReFormers Caucus include former Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Vice President Walter Mondale. The bipartisan co-chairs of the ReFormers Caucus are former Ambassador to India and Indiana Representative Tim Roemer (D) and former Tennessee Representative Zach Wamp (R).

The ReFormers Caucus has proposed increasing civic participation, passing laws that define and regulate the role of money in federal elections and "boosting small donations to campaigns, finding ways to restrict political contributions from lobbyists and unmasking secret contributions made to tax-exempt groups that are active in politics."[2][16]

Blueprints for DemocracyEdit

In 2015, Issue One joined with the Campaign Legal Center to publish Blueprints for Democracy,[17] a report providing an overview of how campaign finance reforms have been implemented across the country, and recommending best practices for legislators and advocates attempting to enact change in their local communities.[18]

Trump AdministrationEdit

National Public Radio listed Issue One as one of the most active groups in an informal "resistance network" scrutinizing issues involving the Trump administration's ethics and transparency. Specifically, the group has called for more power for the United States Office of Government Ethics.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "About Us" (PDF). Issue One. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Former lawmakers join campaign-finance fight Archived 2016-05-04 at the Wayback Machine; USA Today; Fredreka Schouten; October 28, 2015
  3. ^ Overby, Peter. "'Citizens United' Critics Fight Money With Money". WBUR. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  4. ^ Nocera, Joe (November 10, 2014). "Big money corrodes U.S. politics". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  5. ^ Schesol, Jeff (January 19, 2015). "Will the Roberts Court Strike Down Another Campaign-Finance Law?". New Yorker. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  6. ^ McCutcheon v. FEC - ACR Amicus brief; FEC; July 24, 2013
  7. ^ Americans for Campaign Reform; ACR Reform; May, 2014
  8. ^ a b Vogel, Kenneth (February 11, 2014). "Fighting big donors with big dollars". Politico. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Grants - Issue One". William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  10. ^ Kroll, Andy (September 27, 2013). "Liberal Group to Fight Dark Money…by Raising $40 Million of It". Mother Jones. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Our Mission". Issue One. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  12. ^ Advisory board; Issue One; April 2016
  13. ^ Here’s what I learned when I helped Stephen Colbert set up his Super PAC; Washington Post; January 21, 2015
  14. ^ Former Sen. Alan Simpson: Restore the Balance of Money in Politics; Time; December 15, 2015
  15. ^ Issue One solutions; Issue One; April 30, 2016
  16. ^ a b "ReFormers Caucus | Issue One". Issue One. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  17. ^ "Blueprints for Democracy: Actionable Reforms to Solve Our Governing Crisis". Campaign Legal Center. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  18. ^ Mic. "There's a Better Way to Fight Money in Politics — But No Candidate Is Talking About It". Mic. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  19. ^ Overby, Peter (April 25, 2017). "In Trump's First 100 Days, A Resistance Network Digs In". National Public Radio. Retrieved 30 March 2018.

External linksEdit