END DonorS' INFLUENCE
Source of Donations for Congressional Campaigns
Politicians often like to tout the number of small donors they have, but the data doesn't back it up. Democrats and Republicans alike get big donations from millionaires and billionaires who simply want to influence policy, regardless of party. All this money in politics has distorted our democracy. While it has become nearly impossible to prove any form of quid pro quo in our current system, most donors simply want Congress to stand by as we face crisis after crisis.
- Corporations want to keep undocumented immigrants in limbo as they pay them unfair wages. So Congress punts on immigration year after year.
- Tax filing companies want Congress to leave our complex tax code in place. Congress punts.
- Pharmaceutical companies are reporting record profits as prescription drug costs skyrocket. Congress punts.
Our representatives happily take donations and bicker about party politics. But this money has had devastating effects on our democracy, turning our representatives into fundraising machines who only seek to enrich themselves and stay in power. Once they're out, they make fortunes peddling their legislative influence.
It's time they got back to working for us.
Learn more about how donors influence Congress: Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig.
VOTE OUT THE Millionaires' Club
In 2016, Americans donated and spent an estimated $6.4 billion on the congressional and presidential elections.
Members of Congress are rich and they've been getting richer. The median net worth of a member of Congress in 2004 was $700,000. By 2014 it was $1.1 million.
If you think that makes them brilliant or smart, it might. But research has shown that our representatives work on behalf of the wealthiest in their districts, not the average citizen.
It's time to take our democracy back and vote in real Americans who know what it means to survive off real wages.
Our representatives fail to realize: they're the problem.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Our current campaign finance system is eating away at American democracy. Big donors spend thousands on campaigns in districts they don't even live in, and every day we slip further into plutocracy.
In Congress, I'll fight to find any and all means to mitigate the flow of money into politics without restricting our First Amendment right to free speech.
Foremost, every effort must be made to end the precedent established by Citizens United v. FEC. I support a constitutional amendment to reverse this decision. But that isn't enough, we need to do more.
Currently, political candidates are banned from accepting campaign contributions from foreigners. I support restrictions on accepting contributions from individuals who don't live in their district. That's why I'm refusing any money that comes from outside of California District 10. Rep. Denham should do the same. His campaign should be funded by his constituents, not millionaires in Florida or billionaires in Colorado.
I support restrictions on campaign expenditures outside of the district for which candidates are running. Campaigning should happen in congressional districts. Our representatives should not be spending money on out-of-state fundraisers taking potential donors to baseball games in Washington, DC, or golfing in Las Vegas. Our representatives should be spending those campaign funds in their districts, helping their district economy, buying from constituent businesses, and hosting events at local venues.
Incumbents have incredible staying power and one reason for that is the amount of money they keep after elections. Right now, Rep. Denham already has $360,000 on hand for his campaign, all leftover from 2016. Rep. Pelosi has $1.8 million on hand for her campaign. That makes it tough for any challenger to fight even the most unpopular politicians. In every election every candidate should be on an even playing field, incumbent or not. In Congress, one of my first bills will be to force campaigns to refund or donate excess funds. And I'll be the first one to live up to this commitment by donating any leftover money from this campaign to charities in our district.
Money Spent on Elections
Disapproval of Congress
Public disapproval of Congress reaches new highs every year. Yet the American people keep voting in the same representatives. It's time to kick them out, change the rules, and restore the Constitution.
Congress needs to be reformed. Right now, our representatives don't represent us and they don't work. Instead, they spend their time fundraising. When they're not fundraising they're in recess. And when they are legislating, they're passing laws written by and for the few.
It's time Congress got back to working for We the People.
Our Founders wanted a deliberative body, a nonpartisan body, a functioning democracy where members come to real solutions that benefit the People.
Working every day, I will confront every member of Congress and force them to face the reality that they need to change. I will fight to...
- Ban fundraising when Congress is in session.
- Right now, members of Congress are banned from soliciting donations on congressional property. So what do they do? They run across the street to the Democratic and Republican phone banks to get in their daily fundraising quotas. This is unacceptable and must end.
- Enforce an eight hour work day.
- If our representatives are going to make a base salary of $174,000, they better work for it. That means eight hours a day phoning constituents, legislating, debating, and deliberating with other members of Congress. At least 8 hours representing us.
- Absolutely none of that time should be for fundraising.
- Force members to work with the other side.
- Gridlock is the number one reason Americans hate Congress, yet they hate the other side just as much. It's time we put our differences aside and reach out. It's time to compromise and get things done.
- Require town halls and constituent engagement.
- Our representatives shouldn't be able to hide from us. They should be forced to confront angry and happy constituents alike.
Members of Congress are directed by their parties to spend at least 4 hours a day begging big donors for money. That's time they could spend listening to you. That's time I will spend listening to you.
Our representatives shouldn't be sitting in Congress, looking for ways to enrich themselves as the American people suffer. Term limits ensure fresh new voices in Congress. They also ensure do-nothings are kicked out.
Our representatives shouldn't be allowed to spend decades in office. Not only do they become detached from their constituents, they become detached from reality.
Our Founding Fathers wanted Congress to be filled with regular people, not career politicians. Real people coming to real solutions. That's why I support a set term limit for members of Congress.
The average tenure for a member of the House is 9 years. Don Young, the only representative for Alaska, has been in Congress since 1973.