Thursday April 07, 2011 | 11:47 AM

Walking out of a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday, actor Alec Baldwin said, good-naturedly, “Tough room,” presumably referring to questions from skeptical reporters.

And for Baldwin and legislative backers of a reprised campaign finance reform proposal, including Rep. Chellie Pingree, it also will be a tough sell.
Pingree, D-1st, is a co-author of a bill re-introduced this week that creates a federal public campaign finance system.
Under the Fair Elections Now Act, whose lead authors are Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., lawmakers could adopt a voluntary approach of raising money that involves accepting no larger than $100 individual contributions and having those contributions matched up to five to one with federal dollars. There is no overall fundraising limit, just the cap on raising money in no larger than $100 increments.
That same bill was introduced by Durbin, Larson and Pingree in 2009, shortly after Pingree arrived in Congress. Pingree, a former national president of the advocacy group Common Cause, says that it would be a similar system to the one in place for Maine state elections.
“The American people deserve a better government than they are getting,” Pingree said.  “It’s time to get corporate money out of politics and put elections back in the hands of ordinary Americans.”
PIngree agreed after the press conference Wednesday that passing this Democratic-authored legislation in a GOP-controlled House is “tougher.” But she said in an interview that the public is very focused on the issue of how much money is spent on elections, so she said it’s an issue worth pushing.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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