Congress Must Drain the Swamp, Not Clog the Drain

Press Release from People for the American Way
Media Contact — Laura Epstein

[Washington, D.C., Nov. 29] Congress must take the shackles off of federal agencies trying to drain the Washington swamp and fix government, nine newly elected members of Congress told their future colleagues in a letter (PDF) circulated yesterday. The letter singles out two campaign finance rules proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the IRS, which were blocked by policy riders attached to the 2016 omnibus package. Measures that clog the drain instead of draining the swamp should be excluded from 2017 funding legislation, the future lawmakers said.

The SEC rule would require publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders. The SEC has received more than 1.2 million comments from investors and the public expressing support for the proposed disclosure rule, the most in the agency’s history. The IRS rule would provide clearer guidance for nonprofit organizations about what constitutes political activity. In many cases, non-profits have become conduits for vast and untraceable sums for the purpose of influencing elections.

“Unaccountable, secret money in elections has not only undermined people’s faith in our democracy, it has prevented our nation’s highest legislative body from fully addressing some of the most critical issues facing the country,” the letter reads. “The American people have a right to know who is working to influence our elections, and in our campaign platforms we pledged to do our part to increase transparency and level the democratic playing field. In two short months we will be sworn in to serve the American people alongside you. We hope to find bipartisan common ground on this issue that is central to the integrity of our democracy.”

The signatories include U.S. Reps. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.). The overwhelming majority of Americans across the political spectrum believe that there is too much outside money in politics. That’s why dozens of groups are calling on Congress to remove measures held over from previous years that, in effect, clog the drain instead of draining the swamp.Φ

Laura Epstein is one of the media contacts for People for the American Way.

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