Carol's Plan to Fix Congress
The Shea-Porter plan is a set of proposals to reform campaign finance laws, shut the revolving door, improve lobbying disclosure, get rid of the perks, and require more disclosure from Members of Congress. It requires Super PACs to disclose their donors, expands the cooling off period for lobbyists, and forces them to report more of their activities. It also improves the disclosure forms Members of Congress must file, narrowing the reporting ranges for assets and stock trades and making the data available in electronically usable format.
Reform Campaign Finance Laws:
There’s too much corporate money in our elections. Anonymous, wealthy donors can give unlimited money to Super PACs. Members of Congress spend way too much time asking people for money instead of doing their jobs.
- Close the Super PAC loophole to make incorporated entities who give money reveal their funding sources so voters know who is trying to influence our elections
- Match small dollar donations so our representatives spend less time fundraising and more time serving you
- Most importantly, we need to get rid of the Citizens United decision that allowed unlimited anonymous spending. We need a Constitutional Amendment that states very clearly that corporations are not people and that Congress and the states have the power to regulate money in federal elections, so we can re-impose reasonable limits on campaign spending
Shut the Revolving Door:
Too many Members of Congress go on to become lobbyists for industries they used to regulate. It’s too easy for Members and staff to “cash-out” when they leave Congress and then lobby their former colleagues. Many former Members avoid registration and cooling off period requirements by taking jobs as “senior advisors”, where they direct lobbying strategy.
- Prohibit all lobbyists from lobbying their Congressional colleagues or former office for at least 2 years. This applies to all former senior Congressional and Administration staff as well
- Close the so called “senior advisors” loophole employed by lobbyists to get around registration requirements
- Take away all special privileges, like access to the House Dining Room, for Members that become lobbyists, for as long as they are lobbyists
Improve Lobbying Disclosure:
Lobbyists have too much power in Washington. Weak disclosure rules put secrecy and profit before transparency or accountability. It’s difficult to know what lobbyists are actually supporting and how they’re influencing legislation.
- Expand the type of information lobbyists are required to disclose
- Narrow lobbying issue codes so that lobbying reports are actually meaningful and we aren’t left to guess where their clients stand
Get Rid of the Perks:
Too many politicians think they are entitled to perks. They are not.
- Reduce the size of all mailers to the size of a USPS standard postcard and limit mailers to one per quarter. Taxpayer resources should be spent on district offices and constituent services, not politics
- Prohibit Members of Congress from purchasing First Class tickets with taxpayer money. I have never charged taxpayers for first class. If Members choose to fly First Class, they should not charge taxpayers for the upgrade
- It’s a lie that Members get free healthcare for life, but we still need a law to make sure they never will be able to
- Block all funding for luxury vehicle leases; we shouldn’t pay for Members of Congress to lease Suburbans and other luxury cars
Require More Disclosure from Members of Congress:
Members of Congress only have to report their assets in broad ranges that make it impossible to actually know how they could profit from their official actions.
- Require Members of Congress to report their assets in $5,000 increments, instead of 10s of thousands
- Require disclosures to be made in electronic format instead of scanned, hand-written (often sideways), PDFs. This will help researchers investigate if Members advance their own interests while taking official actions
- Fix the Stock Act, so that Members have to report financial transactions in $5,000 increments
View the plan here.