Phil Hauck's TEC Blog

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chautauqua: An Election Spending Proposal

Kitty and I had a chance to spend several days at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State several weeks ago.  It's an intellectual/spiritual/arts paradise.  If you've never heard of it, go to
Among the speakers we absorbed, in a week whose theme was "Markets, Morals and the Social Contract," was former Federal Elections Commission chairman Trevor Potter, a Republican who is furious at the amounts of dollars spent on elections and to "influence" (read 'buy') our federal legislators.
(We also heard a number of other speakers, some one this topic, some not ... and my notes from them are in the next Post.  We also heard symphony concerts, recitals, rehearsals, and much more.)
Ultimately, he pointed us to nine efforts he feels we should take to control this influence that are constitutional ... pushing back against the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.  They are detailed below, and in writeups about the Anti-Corruption Act that he and others are co-sponsoring.  The idea is that no legislator will sponsor these changes unless WE, the electorate, demand it.  It starts with us.  (  To access his organization:
Among the points in his presentation:
•  Only 1/3 of 1% of the electorate (not the population) contribute at least $200 to candidates in the election cycle.  Of these, only 600 give 90% of the dollars raised ... which totaled almost $7 billion in 2012.
•  On an average day, a Congressperson allocates FOUR of the 10-hour days to fund-raising contacting.  
•  New Committee Chairs saw a 74% increase to their campaign funds from industry PACs.

The Nine Efforts of the Anti-Corruption Act proposal:
1.  Stop Politicians From Taking Bribes.
•  Prohibit members of Congress fromsoliciting and receiving contributions from any industry or entity they regulate, including those industries' lobbyists.  Prohibit all fundraising during Congressional working hours.   Statistics indicate a new Committee chair immediately gets a 74% increase on average in contributions from those impacted by the Committee.

2.  Limit SuperPac Contributions and "Coordination".
•  Require SuperPacs to abide by the same contribution limits as other political committees.   Right now, they can spent unlimited money influencing elections as long as there is not direct coordination with a candidate's campaign.

3.  Prevent Job Offers As Bribes.
•  Close the "revolving door" where elected representatives and their staff sell their legislative power in exchange for high-paying jobs when they leave office.  Create a "cooling off" period on private employment that will last 6 years for all Congress members and all senior staff (currently 2 years for Senators, 1 year for House members and senior staff).

4.  Call All People Who Lobby, Lobbyists.
•  Significantly expand the definition of and register all lobbyists to preventinfluencers from skirting the rules.  Today's definition of who must register as a lobbyist is weak.

5.  Limit Lobbyist donations.
•  Limit the amount that lobbyists and their clients can contribute to $500 per year.  Federal contractors are already banned from contributing to campaigns.  There are numerous other ways they get around the rules, too.

6.  End Secret Money.
•  Mandate full transparency.  Require any organization that spends $10,000 or more on advertisements to elect or defeat federal candidates to file a disclosure report within 24 hours.  Elections are being flooded with secret money funneled through "501c" organizations that aren't required to disclose donors' names, and contribute to the SuperPacs.

7.  Empower All Voters With A Tax Rebate.
•  Create a $100 Tax Rebate for qualified contributions to federal candidates, political parties and political committees.  This will flood elections with small-donor contributions.  Politicians depend on less than 0.1% of the population for their funding.

8.  Disclose "Bundling".
•  Require federal candidates to disclose the names of individuals who "bundle" contributions for the specific candidate.

9.  Enforce The Rules.
•  Federal agencies routinely fail to enforce the anti-corruptions rules that already exist because their leadership are appointed by those they are supposed to regulate.

1 comment:

  1. Phil, Amen!! Term limits would be helpful too... The problem is obvious though. These changes will only happen if Congress passes the legislation that limits their power, money and long term prospects... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave