Aug. 24, 2018

By Josh Silver
Director, RepresentUs

This week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the “Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act,” a sweeping new law designed to crack down on pay-to-play lobbying and the culture of corruption in Washington.

Unfortunately, the bill has a near-zero chance of passing, but it’s a spark of hope, and an important one. Here's what's in Senator Warren's bill, why it's unlikely to pass, and what voters can do on our own.

A Look at What's in the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act

We just called this a "sweeping new law" – but what, exactly, does that mean? We took a look at the 289-page bill and pulled out some of the major goals of the new law.

Warren’s Anti-Corruption bill aims to:

  • Strengthen Revolving Door Restrictions and Increase Public Integrity by eliminating financial conflicts, banning Members of Congress from trading stocks, padlocking the revolving door between industry and government, and eliminating golden parachutes.
  • Reform Lobbying by boosting transparency of lobbying in Washington, banning former Members of Congress, Presidents, and Agency heads from lobbying government officials for life, and strengthening Congressional independence from lobbyists.
  • Reform the Rulemaking Process by boosting transparency, closing loopholes corporations exploit to block public interest rules, and protecting agencies from corporate capture.
  • Improve Judicial Integrity and Access to Justice by strengthening judicial ethics requirements, boosting transparency of federal courts, defending access to justice.
  • Strengthen Enforcement of anti-corruption and public integrity laws in the executive and judicial branch.
  • Strengthen Government Transparency by requiring elected officials and candidates for federal elected office to disclose more financial and tax information, increasing disclosure of corporate money behind Washington lobbying, and making Congress more transparent.

So What's Wrong? Warren's Anti-Corruption Bill is Unnecessarily Partisan

We congratulate Senator Warren on the step of introducing a federal anti-corruption law. The fact that a prominent Democrat is finally focusing on ‘anti-corruption’ laws shows that politicians know voters are sick of the corrupt status quo; that the anti-corruption movement is winning, and if they want to win too, they’ll need to take action.

But this bill gets something wrong: it's framed as a partisan attack on Republicans, and that's going to make it impossible to pass.

Corruption does not wear a party label. We know it. Voters know it. But both Democratic and Republican leaders have failed to make progress on this issue and both parties are prey to the culture of corruption in Washington — a culture that permeates every legislative decision Congress makes and ensures that Congress works for billionaires and special interests at the expense of the American people.

Across the political spectrum, Americans know that in Washington, money talks and the rest of us pay the price.

We encourage Senator Warren to reach out to her Republican colleagues and the 75% of Americans who identify as moderate or conservative. She should welcome them in passing what we hope will be the first of many sweeping anti-corruption reforms.

Luckily, Federal Bills Aren't Our Only Hope for Passing Anti-Corruption Laws

Corruption is a crisis the American people are ready to tackle, and we’re already doing it. This year alone, conservatives and progressives have united across America to fight for more city and state anti-corruption laws than any time since the Watergate era, and Senator Warren’s bill is proof that Washington is starting to pay attention.

We’re excited to see the anti-corruption movement having an impact in D.C., but too often politicians introduce anti-corruption initiatives only to let them stall in committees or sit at the bottom of the agenda and never see the light of day. It’s not always the bill sponsors’ fault, but it’s the reality.

That’s why RepresentUs members are fixing our corrupt political system themselves. Our movement doesn’t have to wait around for politicians to act. Conservatives, progressives and everyone in between are passing anti-corruption laws around the country, and building a government that works for regular people and their families, not just a handful of special interests and billionaires.