Political donations and influence peddling by lobbyists and special interests are a big business and chief contributors to political corruption. Over $100,000 for each candidate for a local city council race, over $35 MILLION for our last group of state senators, almost $9 MILLION in the Feinstein/Emken race, and almost $1 BILLION spent by each of our last two Presidential candidates.
Insider view: Jack Abramoff on how to buy influence in Concgress
We are spending more and more on elections, and more and more of our elected officials’ time is going to raising money for their next election instead of going towards actually doing the job they were elected to do. A recent slide show given to freshmen in Congress suggests 5-7 hours of their day should be spent for fundraising!
But all of that is given freely, with no strings attached, right? No special appointments, no sweetheart deals. And well, if it does happen, it is just SOP. There isn’t really anything WRONG with that, is there? That was an actual defense: O’Brien & Mass Probation dept. Like the old saying goes: If you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention.
“Pay to play” and “pay for representation” has become the norm, and is even used as a legal defense. Constant revolving doors of lobbying, being elected, being appointed, and back to working for the companies you helped for 6 and 7 figure salaries.
It is time for a change.
Many organizations complain about this corruption, but one organization I have been helping with, Represent.Us (also Facebook), is actually pushing forward a plan to change this – The American Anti-Corruption Act (AACA).
You may have seen the latest campaign Honest Gil. It has gotten TONS of coverage. The premise? What if a politician actually said what they do? If you want to laugh (and probably cry at the same time) definitely check it out.
Some say the system is broken. I would say more out of tune, and the mechanic in me says that anything can be fixed, which is why I am helping this group, and running for office. You can help too. Sign up and follow the group. Sign on as a cosponsor for the AACA. Better yet, help locally. I was working with them to get Congressman Miller to sign on and try to push this through congress. You can too – well, at least try to get his replacement to push this. (Great campaign question!) Contact Michael Cannon to get involved in District 11’s push.
We don’t just want this at the federal level, so there are also efforts to get this passed at the city, county, and state levels as well. I know I support it at all levels, will you?
You can read the entirety at the above links, but the Act has 9 basic, common sense goals to return the power to ALL of us and give all of us an equal voice. Painfully simple but very painful to big money and bought politicians. It is time we demand that our system quits letting the big money interests yelling over us and drown we the people out of our own government, and this a huge step in that direction.
1) Stop politicians from taking bribes: Prohibit members of Congress from soliciting and receiving contributions from any industry or entity they regulate, including those industries’ lobbyists. Prohibit all fundraising during Congressional working hours.
2) Limit SuperPAC 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.
3) Prevent job offers as bribes: Close the “revolving door” where elected representatives and senior staff sell off their legislative power for high-paying jobs. Stop them from negotiating jobs while in office and, once they leave, bar them from all lobbying activity for 5 years.
4) Call all people who lobby, lobbyists: Significantly expand the definition of and register all lobbyists to prevent influencers from skirting the rules.
5) 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.
6) 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.
7) Empower all voters with a tax rebate: Build up the influence of voters by creating a biennial $100 Tax Rebate that they can use to make qualified contributions to federal candidates, political parties, and political committees. Flood elections with small-donor contributions that will offset the huge spenders. Candidates and political groups will only be eligible for these funds if they agree to a set of contribution limits: they will only accept money from small donors (giving $500 or less a year), other groups abiding by the limits, and the Tax Rebates themselves.
8) Disclose “bundling”: Require federal candidates to disclose the names of individuals who “bundle” contributions for a member of Congress or candidate, regardless of whether such individuals are registered lobbyists.
9) 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.
WE can fix this, but we all have to get involved and demand change, or make the changes through our votes.