ENDING THE CORRUPTION OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

ABSTRACT: Whatever your politics – Democratic, Republican or independent; conservative, moderate, or progressive – most people are frustrated that issues they believe are important aren’t being addressed by Congress. The fuel that is really driving this paralysis is Big Money in our political campaigns. It is distorting the operation of government and corrupting our democracy. This corruption is the result of concentrated wealth and power in corporations and wealthy individuals who use their money to buy influence over our government and its politics and policies. Many members of the House and Senate spend more time meeting with lobbyists and special interest groups and fundraising for their next campaign than they do on legislation and representing the people who voted to send them to Washington.

The most immediate action we can take is to push for passage of a carefully designed law that reduces and exposes the flow of political money and influence without violating the Supreme Court’s rulings on freedom of speech. The American Anti-Corruption Act (AACA) is a bold, comprehensive law that does this. I urge you to support it by learning more about it (see below for a summary) and becoming a citizen co-sponsor at http://anticorruptionact.org.

FULL POST: Whatever your politics – Democratic, Republican or independent; conservative, moderate, or progressive – most people are frustrated that issues they believe are important aren’t being addressed by Congress. For some it’s fracking or climate change. For others it’s the federal debt, income inequality, gun violence, immigration, health care, regulation of the financial industry (or other corporations), military spending, trade treaties, or something else. Each is an important issue that can evoke strong debate and real passion.

All of these issues deserve a full and open debate, require compromise, and should receive votes on meaningful pieces of legislation. None is receiving it. The system is broken. The pundits and the media say this dysfunction and gridlock in Congress reflect the deep partisan divide in the U.S. However, the fuel that is really driving this paralysis is Big Money in our political campaigns. It is distorting the operation of government and corrupting our democracy.

This corruption is the result of concentrated wealth and power in corporations and wealthy individuals who use their money to buy influence over our government and its politics and policies. We cannot expect action on important issues until we end this corruption, which is deep and pernicious, and threatens the heart of our democratic system. Today, many members of the House and Senate spend more time meeting with lobbyists and special interest groups and fundraising for their next campaign than they do on legislation and representing the people who voted to send them to Washington.

The most immediate action we can take is to push for passage of a carefully designed law that reduces and exposes the flow of political money and influence without violating the Supreme Court’s rulings on freedom of speech. The American Anti-Corruption Act (AACA) is a bold, comprehensive law that does this. The campaign to promote it has been launched nationally by a nonpartisan group, Represent.Us (https://represent.us).

Here is what the American Anti-Corruption Act would do:

1)  Prohibit members of Congress from a) receiving contributions from the interests they oversee, and b) fundraising during congressional working hours;

2)  Build the influence of small contributors by creating a $100 tax rebate that registered voters can use to contribute to federal candidates;

3)  Require candidates to disclose the names of individuals (known as “bundlers”) who gather and package together multiple contributions, thereby presenting large sums of money to candidates;

4)  Limit the amount that lobbyists and their clients can contribute to federal candidates, political parties, and political committees to $500 per year;

5)  Limit political action committees’ contributions and their coordination with political campaigns and parties;

6)  Mandate full, timely reporting of all spending of $10,000 or more on political activities;

7)  Expand the legal definition of a lobbyist so anyone trying to influence our lawmakers has to play by the lobbying rules;

8)  Close the “revolving door” through which former elected officials and their staffs capitalize on their connections and influence in high-paying lobbying jobs when they leave office; and

9)  Strengthen enforcement of campaign finance laws.

I urge you to support the American Anti-Corruption Act by learning more about it and becoming a citizen co-sponsor at http://anticorruptionact.org.

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