In January of 2007, Unity08 CEO Douglas L. Bailey posed for a video camera in front of the Capitol Building and rolled out a Clean Money Pledge. Bailey challenged members of the public to sign on to a statement in which they committed to the following verbatim text:
I will only vote for a presidential candidate who has raised more than half of his/her funds through small contributions of $250 or less.
Bailey simultaneously described why he thought the Clean Money Pledge was appropriate “for all candidates to follow”:
Clean Money Pledge is an effort to — by Unity08 and its supporters to encourage the candidates for President to do what we will do, which is to fund — to do what Unity08 will do. And that is to fund its entire efforts ultimately with contributions well over 50 percent of the funds raised would be in contributions of $250 or less. We think that’s an appropriate effort, given the capacities of the Internet, for all candidates to follow. And so we’ve encouraged them to do it.
Douglas Bailey even sent letters to all the presidential candidates on December 25 2006, demanding that they meet his Clean Money standard:
Unity08 sent a letter the week of December 25 to every possible or likely presidential candidate informing them of this new campaign and asking them to commit now to adopting this self-imposed limit and generate more than half of their total contributions in small, $250 increments or less.
An Alexa internet cache of the unity08.com website from January 18, 2007 reveals the text of Douglas L. Bailey’s letter to all the presidential candidates:
Unity08 has asked the presidential contenders to answer our call and go on the record with a commitment that the majority of their campaign funds will come from small contributions. The letter we are sending to all possible presidential candidates is provided below.
AND we’ll keep you, the press and the public updated on who’s taken the pledge and who hasn’t.
Unity08 Clean Money Pledge Letter to Prospective 2008 Presidential Candidates
The letter below was sent during the week of December 25th to potential democratic and republican presidential candidates. We have posted the letter we sent to Sen. Hillary Clinton as an example.
Dear Senator Clinton:
This will notify you in advance that Unity08 is encouraging voters to sign online the â€œClean Money Pledgeâ€ which reads as follows:
“Change in Washington starts at the top. I will only vote for a presidential candidate who has raised at least half of his/her funds through small contributions of $250 or less. I am sick and tired of power in Washington built on lobbying money and special interests.”
The great success of those presidential campaigns which relied on online fundraising in the 2000 and 2004 contests â€“ and the continuing growth in the use of the internet for financial transactions from banking to shopping â€“ is convincing evidence of the feasibility of this approach. Please be assured that we will notify all who sign the pledge of any decision by 2008 candidates to adopt this self-imposed limit â€“ and, should the campaigns wish, where the pledge signers may make online contributions to them.
Unity08 believes strongly that it will take presidential leadership to restore public confidence in the ethics of Washington, and the place to start is the campaign. When TIME makes the American online users their person of the year, it is obvious they have the power to start a transformation of American politics in an hour of great national need.
We have set the level at contributions not to exceed $250 because that ensures that each such contribution can be matched by federal funds for campaigns that have met the defined legal threshold.
More details about Unity08â€™s Clean Money Pledge can be found at www.unity08.com. We welcome any thoughts or feedback you may have. Happy New Year!
Barack Obama raised 47% of his campaign funds in the 4th Quarter of 2007 from donations of $200 or less, and a quick review on my part of 4th quarter 2007 donations to Obama at levels from $201-$250 suggests that an additional 3.7% ($780,000 or so) of his 4th quarter money came from this group. That puts Barack Obama at more than 50% of total contributions coming from donations of $250 or less.
Bailey said would publicly recognize presidential candidates who met his Clean Money standard. Well, Obama just met that standard. Has Bailey made public note of it? No, just as Bailey made no note of the fact that Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel also satisfied the Clean Money Pledge. Instead, Bailey has surfaced to complain to the New York Daily News that it will be hard for him to get his campaign for billionaire Michael Bloomberg off the ground because Barack Obama is black.