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Rep. Golden doubles down on campaign finance reform with new legislation

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat representing Maine’s Second Congressional District, in his workplace. (Robin Bravender/ States Newsroom)

U.S. Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine launched six payments this week aimed to extend transparency in and limits on political spending.

Some of the legislation particularly limits elected officers from utilizing their positions for private revenue, together with by completely banning former members of Congress from working as federal lobbyists and prohibiting some federal workplace holders and their shut household from incomes a wage or holding investments in overseas companies whereas in workplace.

Other legislation appears to be like to cut back the affect of mega-donors and overseas actors in American politics, corresponding to by putting stricter limits on darkish cash spending by way of nonprofits.

These newest proposals construct on Golden’s “Government Integrity and Anti-Corruption Plan,” an current bundle of 9 payments with related targets that the consultant has launched or co-sponsored in the course of the 118th Congress, although they’ve but to obtain votes.

Golden’s plan has the help of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, a state nonprofit that works to maintain large cash out of politics. 

“Golden is leading crucial efforts to strengthen our democracy and restore Americans’ faith in our government,” stated the group’s government director Anna Kellar. 

Kellar highlighted two items of legislation particularly that they stated replicate the desire of Maine voters, who overwhelmingly backed in November a ballot initiative to ban overseas spending in elections. 

Last yr, Golden co-sponsored legislation to ban contributions and donations by overseas nationals in American elections, and amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizens United determination, which can be co-sponsored by his fellow Democratic colleague from Maine, Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Overlapping efforts to manage campaign spending

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Campaign Act, the Supreme Court dominated in 2010 that campaign spending can solely be regulated when there’s a threat of “quid pro quo” corruption. Essentially, if there’s a threat somebody might be making a donation to a candidate in change for a favor, solely then can Congress regulate that contribution.

While Golden is backing legislation on the federal degree to get rid of these restrictions on Congress’ capability to restrict campaign spending, Mainers are anticipated to vote on the issue within the upcoming November election. 

On its face, the Maine poll query asks whether or not voters wish to set a $5,000 restrict for giving to teams that spend cash independently to help or defeat candidates for workplace. The ultimate goal, nevertheless, is to get the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that political motion committees ought to be regulated — not by reversing Citizens United however due to an alleged flaw within the decrease courtroom determination that got here a couple of months after. 

In SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the D.C. Circuit Court upheld that contributions to teams making unbiased expenditures can’t corrupt or create the looks of corruption — primarily creating the “super PAC,” which may obtain limitless contributions however can’t contribute on to candidates.

By in search of to restrict contributions, the Maine poll query is anticipated to be challenged in courtroom, if handed. The scholar behind the initiative, Lawrence Lessig, and others argue the courts will discover that enormous contributions to PACs inevitably create a threat of quid professional quo corruption, provided that donors and candidates have the chance to collaborate even when a PAC is unbiased. 

For instance, that is the sample alleged towards New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez.

“Congressman Golden has been leading efforts to end Citizens United and get big money out of politics since he was first elected to office, and this will remain a priority for him,” a spokesperson for Golden advised Maine Morning Star. “While he is unfamiliar with the specific efforts underway at the state level in Maine, he recognizes that overturning this decision is an all-hands-on-deck priority for Mainers.”

Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, a political motion committee working to reverse the excessive courtroom determination, stated Golden’s bundle of payments would put Mainers’ voices entrance and heart in authorities.

“He’s seen, first-hand, how corporate special interests and shadowy mega-donors have silenced the power of working families by spending unfathomable amounts of money to buy access and influence in Washington,” Muller stated. “His comprehensive package of anti-corruption reforms builds on his promise to restore power back to the people.”

Proposed limits on elected officers

In addition to supporting an modification to the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizens United determination, Golden is supportive of one other modification to determine time period limits for Congress. This proposal, launched final yr, would set up a three-term restrict for members of the House and a two-term restrict for senators.

This week, three of the payments Golden launched focus on regulating the actions of present and former elected officers. 

Currently, there’s a one- or two-year ready interval for former members of Congress to work as federal lobbyists. The Lifetime Lobbying Ban Act would repeal and exchange this ready interval with a everlasting ban. Golden tried related proposals in previous congressional sessions, as nicely. 

Separate legislation, the Congressional and Executive Foreign Lobbying Ban, focuses on retired members of Congress, senior government department officers and high-ranking army officers. The ban would prohibit these retired officers from lobbying on behalf of overseas pursuits. 

Another follow Golden intends to forestall is elected officers and their shut relations gathering salaries or holding investments in overseas companies. The Stop Foreign Payoffs Act would particularly ban members of Congress, presidents, vice presidents and Cabinet secretaries, in addition to their shut relations, from these practices for so long as the official is in workplace. 

While members of Congress are in workplace, they’re additionally aware of info that raises the potential for conflicts in inventory buying and selling — a battle each Golden and Pingree wish to tackle. 

Introduced initially of this Congress in 2023, a bill they co-sponsored would solely permit members, their spouses and dependent kids to personal shares whereas the member is in workplace in the event that they place their investments in a professional blind belief, that means in another person’s management, till 180 days after the top of their tenure.

Earlier this session, Golden additionally co-sponsored legislation that will get rid of pension funds for members of Congress convicted of felonies or offenses associated to their work in workplace.

Proposed limits on mega-donors and overseas actors

The different three items of legislation Golden launched this week goal to extend transparency by including necessities for the disclosure of donors. 

Mega-donors are the main focus of the Crack Down on Dark Money Act, which would cut back the cap on political exercise by nonprofits from 50% of all spending to 10%, in addition to require the organizations to reveal all donors of $5,000 or extra in the event that they spend any cash on politics. 

Related, Golden can be supportive of another effort launched throughout this Congress to struggle darkish cash by requiring organizations that spend cash on elections to reveal main donors every election cycle.

Foreign affect in elections in one other challenge Golden intends to struggle with the Fighting Foreign Influence Act launched this week. This act would require tax-exempt organizations to reveal high-dollar presents from overseas governments or political events and require political campaigns to confirm on-line donors have a sound U.S. tackle. It additionally takes goal at overseas lobbying by imposing a lifetime ban on the follow by former presidents, vice presidents and senior army officers.

Golden additionally needs to make donations behind political promoting on-line extra clear with the Consistent Labeling for Political Ads Act. While paid content material on social media is labeled “sponsored” or “promoted,” these labels usually disappear when customers share a put up. The legislation would require social media platforms to make sure these labels stay connected to posts no matter sharing. 

This measure complements another that Golden launched in January, which might forestall overseas nationals, governments and organizations from funding political advertisements on social media and different on-line platforms.

The put up Rep. Golden doubles down on campaign finance reform with new legislation appeared first on Maine Morning Star.

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