“Action Alert!” We need a new law that will force politicians to REPRESENT US, not
PLEASE TAKE ACTION HERE:http://act.unitedrepublic.org/event/cosponsor/8184 …
Get Money out of Politics:
Stop lobbyist bribery, End secret money & Empower voters.
Stop politicians from taking bribes
Prohibit members of Congress from soliciting and receiving contributions from entities, special interests, and lobbyists from industries they regulate.
Members of Congress who sit on powerful committees get extraordinary amounts of money from special interests regulated by those committees. Politicians routinely host fundraisers, and invite lobbyists to contribute to their campaigns. The result is a Congress made up of politicians dependent on those special interests to raise the money necessary to win reelection. Politicians are forced to create laws that are favorable to those interests, often at the expense of the public interest.
Limit super PAC contributions and “coordination”
Require SuperPACs to abide by the same contribution limits as other political committees. Toughen rules regarding SuperPACs’ and other groups’ coordination with political campaigns and political parties.
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United and subsequent court cases ruled that SuperPACs have the right to raise and spend unlimited money influencing elections, so long as the SuperPACs do not coordinate with the candidate campaigns. Since Citizens United, we’ve seen tremendous coordination between campaigns and their SuperPACs, making a mockery of the “independence” that the courts thought would exist. SuperPACs have become extensions of the campaigns, and allow mega-donors to exert undue influence on election outcomes.
Prevent job offers as bribes
Close the “revolving door” so that elected representatives and their senior staff can no longer sell off their legislative power in exchange for high-paying jobs when they leave office: seven years for all members of Congress, five years for senior congressional staff. (Currently two years for Senators, one year for Representatives, and one year for senior staff.)
Today, politicians routinely move straight from Congress to lucrative lobbying jobs on K Street, in order to influence their former colleagues and friends. Senior staffers who work for congressmen do the same thing. This corrupts policymaking in two ways: members and their staff anticipate high-paying jobs with lobbying firms, and routinely do favors to their future employers while still in Congress; and once out of congress they enjoy undue access and influence to members of Congress. The biggest spenders hire these influencers, and win policy as a result.
Call all people who lobby, lobbyists
Significantly expand the definition of and register all lobbyists to prevent influencers from skirting the rules.
Today, the definition of who is a lobbyist—and who is not—is weak. The result: members of congress and their staff end up working as “historical advisors” (for all intents and purposes as lobbyists) to skirt the law while receiving big money to influence policy. Lawmakers are not subject to accountability since the public does not know all the people they meet with who try to sway them on policy decisions.
Limit lobbyist donations
Limit the amount that lobbyists and their clients can contribute to federal candidates, political parties, and political committees to $500 per year and limit lobbyist fundraising for political campaigns. Federal contractors are already banned from contributing to campaigns: extend that ban to lobbyists, high-level executives, government relations employees, and PACs of federal government contractors.
Lobbyists currently must abide by the same contribution limits to electoral campaigns as everyone else: $2500 per election. Lobbyists “bundle” these $2500 contributions with other lobbyists, and individuals working for special interests that seek to influence politicians. This adds up to serious money and political favors in return.
End secret money
Mandate full transparency of all political money. Require any organization that spends $10,000 or more on advertisements to elect or defeat federal candidates to file a disclosure report online with the Federal Election Commission within 24 hours. List each of the donors who gave $10,000 or more to the organization to run such ads. This includes all PACs, 501c nonprofits, or other groups that engage in electioneering.
Elections are being flooded with secret money funneled through “501c” organizations that are not required to disclose the names of donors. 501c’s either spend money directly to influence elections, or make unlimited contributions to SuperPACs. This allows secret political donors to flood elections with money and, thus, influence outcomes.
Level the playing field with a small donor tax rebate
Empower voters by creating an annual $100 Tax Rebate that can be used for qualified contributions to one or more federal candidates, political parties, and political committees. In order to be eligible to receive Tax Rebate contributions, candidates, political parties, and political committees must limit the contributions they receive to no more than $500 per contributor per calendar year or contributions from entities that are funded exclusively by Tax Rebates and small-dollar contributions.
Nearly $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections, and the vast majority came from big special interest donors. In 2008, less than 0.1 percent of Americans contributed $2,300 or more. Politicians are dependent on this tiny percentage of the population. To change this, we need to dramatically increase the number of small donors to politics, so that politicians become dependent on everyday Americans and not moneyed interests. That’s how we get politicians who actually fight for the general public.
Require federal candidates to disclose the names of individuals who “bundle” contributions for the member of Congress or candidate, regardless of whether such individuals are registered lobbyists.
Enforce the rules
Strengthen the Federal Election Commission’s independence and strengthen the House and Senate ethics enforcement processes. Provide federal prosecutors the additional tools necessary to combat corruption, and prohibit lobbyists who fail to properly register and disclose their activities from engaging in federal lobbying activities for a period of two years.
Federal agencies routinely fail to enforce the anti-corruption rules that already exist because their leadership are appointed by those they are supposed to regulate. The result is an elections system where even lax rules can be skirted or broken with impunity.
Sounds tough? It is. But this is why it will work
- Reform will only occur at a moment of crisis. We will harness public anger and demand for change.
- We must start with the people, not Congress, and gather an unprecedented coalition.
- We must engage liberals, conservatives and independents. Highly visible spokespeople from all sides will aid us.
- Politicians will only act if forced to by electoral pressure. We will unseat politicians who don’t cooperate.
- The solution must be comprehensive. Incremental reform won’t work: it has to come as a package.
Campaign finance isn’t just about money, or even special interests — it’s about leveling the playing field. It’s about who we are as a people, and what we stand for as a nation. It’s about the quality, credibility and integrity of the issues that get argued, hashed out and decided every single day in Washington and in statehouses – issues like health care, immigration and Social Security that impact millions. It’s about what we can do, as voters, to make sure everybody gets a fair shake. Not just a few, or those with deep pockets. In short, this is about America’s character.
Represent.Us is an unprecedented movement of conservatives and progressives to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act. The Act is comprehensive legislation written by former Federal Elections Commission Chairman Trevor Potter with help from dozens of constitutional attorneys, advocates and academics. It would sever the tie between politicians and special interest lobbyists, without requiring an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Who’s behind the campaign?
Our board of advisors can be found on the Represent.Us website
Our plan to win
- We started with the people, not Congress. Unlike most previous legislative reform efforts, the campaign to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act began by mobilizing a massive national movement. The campaign is enlisting disillusioned members of organizations beaten by K Street: tax reform, energy, environment, healthcare, and economic along with every American who cares about issues that are always beaten by monied interests.
- We are a coalition of liberals, conservatives, and independents. Americans self-identify as roughly one-third liberal, one third moderate, and one third conservative; and nearly all support sweeping reform. Highly visible supporters from the right and the left will inoculate us against the maddeningly effective nonsense of spin doctors who label basic democratic values as radical or un-American.
- Represent.Us will force politicians to act through electoral pressure. We will unseat politicians who fail to co-sponsor the Act in its entirety. Hard-hitting political accountability is the only strategy that will compel our leaders to fundamentally change the system.
- The American Anti-Corruption Act is comprehensive. For decades, legislative efforts have been focused on singular policy reforms. Political money is like water, with the uncanny ability to slip through the cracks. The Act puts sweeping reform agenda into one airtight package.
- Reform will only occur at a moment of crisis. The 2012 election cycle was wrought with the worst political corruption in American history. We are harnessing the outcomes of the crisis – anger and demands for ambitious change – to position a consensus reform solution for legislative action. The American Anti-Corruption Act is the solution.
The Represent.Us timeline
Nov. 2012: Launch the American Anti-Corruption Act and Represent.Us.
Nov. 2012: Call for one million Citizen Co-sponsors.
Late 2013: Introduce the Anti-Corruption Act to Congress and ask every member to co-sponsor it.
Early 2014: Unseat members of Congress who refuse to co-sponsor the Anti-Corruption Act.
Beyond: Throughout history, campaigns that come from the people have been the only way to create real change. When the people lead, the leaders will follow.
How this campaign complements the efforts to amend the constitution
We support those trying to amend the constitution to get money out, and we want them to succeed. We also believe that winning reform is like climbing Mount Everest. If you’re at base camp and you have enough climbers, you should send a few teams up different routes to increase the likelihood of success. That’s what Represent.Us is about… adding another team, and taking a different but complementary path… and rooting for each other along the way. An amendment requires two thirds of the Congress and ratification by three quarters of the state legislatures – a mighty task. Common sense requires other proposals co-exist alongside those efforts.
The Anti-Corruption Act has been crafted for the past year by a top-caliber team of constitutional and campaign finance attorneys. The Act was written by former Federal Elections Commission Chairman Trevor Potter, with help from dozens of constitutional attorneys, advocates and academics. It will sever the tie between politicians and special interest lobbyists — without requiring an amendment to the U.S. constitution. We received feedback from most of the other reform organizations in the field as we focused on taking the best legislative ideas and packing them together into one omnibus bill… and moving it forward as one proposal.
The Anti-Corruption Act is completely transformative, and will end business as usual in Washington. Most importantly, our strategy is in no way competitive with or damaging to constitutional amendment efforts. Those efforts are being led by some of the finest organizations and activists – many of whom have already joined our effort.
The constitutionality of the Anti-Corruption Act
The Anti-Corruption Act has been crafted with a sharp eye toward avoiding provisions that could be overturned – even by the current Supreme Court. According to feedback from a dozen top constitutional lawyers, we have done that. While the Act does not eliminate SuperPAC’s, it does curtail their power while protecting free speech rights. It prevents them from coordinating with candidates; it limits contributions to SuperPACs that do not act truly independent of campaigns, and it limits the ability of secret “501c” nonprofits to funnel money to SuperPACs.
We work with many other reform groups. We all meet on the phone regularly to keep each other abreast of our plans. We spent several months vetting Represent.Us and The American Anti-Corruption Act with nearly every group, and we collaborate with various groups on actions and sign-ons.
For this campaign, we’re making a concerted effort to enlist the active support of groups and constituencies that have not historically been a major part of the reform movement. Our proposal is specially designed to be both hard-hitting and appeal broadly: from Occupy on the left to the Tea Party on the right; Republicans, Democrats and everyone in between.