Clean Campaigns, Clean Government

 

Washington is broken. The way we select our representatives, the way we fund our campaigns, and the way we write our laws are all flawed. The system is rigged to do one thing: makes sure that results never improve for working families. Big corporations, corporate lobbyists, and yes, even foreign governments are trying to buy and sell our elections and our lawmakers. We need a change. That's why I'm proposing a sweeping reform agenda aimed at taking corporate money out of our campaigns, making the federal government more transparent, and keeping our elected officials honest and working for us.

 

Leading By Example

There are a lot of ideas out there about how to expand accountability in our government, reform campaigns, and ultimately Washington. A lot of them require Congress to act, the same Congress that lacks accountability now. So I say: why wait? There are many things that we can do now, in this campaign, to show that we’re serious about cleaning up Washington.  

 

 

That’s why I pledge to do the following throughout this election:

  • Pledge to you, right now, that I am in this race only to represent the families in this district. I will never take a job as a lobbyist and will support reforms to prevent any Member from ever doing so.

  • Publicize all open meetings as a member of Congress.  Engaging constituents means making sure they know where to find you.

  • Pledge to hold at least one town hall-style event per month that is open to the public, with a robust question and answer period.

  • Voluntarily implement the principles of the Honest Ads Act by making all of my social media ads identifiable and publicly available.

  • Make all publicly available campaign donor information available in the transparency portal on my website.

  • Refuse my pay during any government shutdown.

 

Reforming Campaigns

 

Prevent foreign interference in online election advertising

 

Campaign finance law has not kept up with modern campaigns. Dark money, shadowy billionaires, and foreign interference are all threats to our modern democracy. And all of these threats are more pronounced with the rise of social media advertising. That’s why I support legislation like the bipartisan Honest Ads Act that will require the same disclosure requirements for social media ads as we require for traditional media, because the only way that we can run honest campaigns in this country is to know who is paying for them.

 

Overturn Citizens United

 

The Citizens United decision completely changed elections in the United States, by allowing unlimited and dark money spending. Money in politics was always a problem, but now it is worse than ever before. I support the Democracy for All Amendment to end the influence of corporate money in politics. We need this constitutional amendment to allow Congress to take money out of politics.  Corporations and special interests are not people and their oversized influence on the way our government works needs to end now.

 

Require dark money groups to disclose their donors

 

Thanks to politicians and the courts, special interest groups can spend unlimited amounts of untraceable money to elect people who will tip the rules in their favor once in office. The voices of the people are lost in favor of the voices of the few and the powerful. It is a big part of what is wrong in Washington. We need to get anonymous dark money out of politics. That’s why I support the DISCLOSE Act. Total transparency starts with requiring everyone who spends money in a campaign to say where that money came from.

 

Use Minnesota’s ingenuity to spur grassroots fundraising

 

Minnesota has a long tradition of citizen involvement in our elections. It keeps us honest and it keeps things fair. We need more of those Minnesota ideas in Washington. The state’s Political Contribution Refund program allows any Minnesota voter to receive a $50 refund each year for contributions made to state candidates or parties. We need a federal equivalent to the program to amplify the voices of grassroots voters and take power away from corporations and lobbyists. Let’s level the playing field in federal elections.

 

 

Make companies disclose political activities

 

We live in an information age. Any investor can get real time information about the companies they invest in at the touch of a button. So, why not allow investors and voters alike to see timely information on the political activities of those investments? I support legislation that will require publicly traded companies to disclose all of their political activities with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This extra layer of disclosure allows investors, professionals, and concerned citizens to quickly see if the companies they invest in or patronize match their values and it gives voters a one stop shop to find out which companies might be invested in their elected representatives.

 

 

Reforming Congress

 

Require public disclosure of “informal” earmarks

 

Congress moved to ban earmarks in 2011, claiming it would reduce pork projects like the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. Unfortunately, the ban has done just the opposite. Politicians in Washington cynically just call these special requests anything other than an ‘earmark’ now. There’s no disclosure, no discussion, and no possibility for public scrutiny. The whole secret process that Congress set up for themselves undermines merit-based decisions about which priorities to fund. This needs to end. I support legislation that will require all agencies to disclose the contact they have with Congressional offices about funding specific projects. We need to know what our representatives are doing and how they’re spending our money.

 

Close the revolving door for good

 

Too many people in Washington look at public service as a way of getting rich. Elected officials and their staff move back and forth between government and big-money jobs with lobby firms on K Street with very little regulation and oversight. We have to stop the revolving door of members of Congress selling their influence to the highest bidder in the private sector and offices hiring lobbyists to write our laws for us. That’s why I will vote to:

  • Enact a lifetime ban on Members becoming lobbyists.

  • Ban lobbyists, for six years, from joining Congressional staffs or committee staffs that they lobbied.

  • Require lobby firms to report any non-lobbyist members of their staff that are former members of Congress or senior Congressional staff and describe their duties at the firm.

  • Improve the disclosure website, so it’s easier for the public to see who lobbies.

 

Stop Congress from getting rich off investments not available to the public

 

No aspect of public service should ever be used to enrich an elected official. Members of Congress are already prohibited from using insider information to buy and sell publicly traded stocks. We’ve seen members get rich in recent years on private investment opportunities that were only offered to them because of the huge influence they had over the industries they were investing in. This has to stop. That’s why I support the End Congressional Stock Market Abuse Act. Congress can’t be permitted to make private investments in businesses that they vote to support.

 

No Budget, No Pay

 

If Congress doesn’t do its job, they shouldn’t get paid for it. It’s that simple. That’s why I support the No Budget, No Pay Act.

 

Reforming Government

 

Require presidential candidates to disclose tax returns

 

Until 2016, for nearly 50 years, presidential candidates had released their tax returns to the public, as a matter of convention. When we elect a president, we are handing that person the keys to our economy, the ability to take us to war, and the largest platform in the free world. Voters deserve every possible opportunity to scrutinize the motivations and the conflicts of interest of those that seek the highest office in the country. That’s why I support legislation that will require presidential candidates to release their federal tax returns before they are permitted to appear on a ballot.

 

Require government agencies to post all publicly available information online

 

Voters have a right to know what their elected representatives are doing. Our government operates on the assumption that all information is public unless there’s a compelling interest in keeping it private. Why then is it so hard to access that information? Every federal agency should be required to proactively share all public information in an easily accessible format. That’s why I support the Public Online Information Act. It will create an advisory committee to modernize our open information system and apply modern data processing methods to government records. We are living in an information age and there’s no excuse for government not to use every modern tool available to share that information with the public.

 

Improve the response to FOIA requests

 

The number of Freedom of Information Act requests has increased sharply in recent years. This is a good thing. Citizens are taking an interest in their government and they are entitled to answers to the questions they ask. The federal government responds substantively to nearly half a million FOIA requests a year. And if someone took the time to ask the question, there’s certainly someone else that would like to see the answer. That’s why I will vote for legislation that will provide additional funding for information offices to help respond to the increased volume of requests and improve the online portal where responses are posted. We can make both existing FOIA responses easier to access, as well as make it easier to request and receive information from federal agencies. We all have a right to know what our government is doing and we need to make it easier to exercise that right.

 

Crack down on revolving-door lobbying from executive branch employees

 

Recent administrations have attempted to restrict the lobbying activities of employees leaving executive branch jobs. But it’s nearly impossible to enforce any regulations without the weight of federal law behind them. Congress should act to create a cooling off period for the most senior executive branch employees seeking to lobby the agencies that previously employed them. Rising to the top of the heap at the Department of Energy should not be a golden ticket to turn around and sell that influence to the oil company that will pay the most.

 

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