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Clean Up Washington
Voters First Pledge 2008
Put Voters First at the 2008 Conventions
More than ever, our elections are about which candidate can raise the most money from corporate interests. Under this flawed arrangement, candidates find themselves beholden to special interests, and those without access to wealthy donors cannot afford to run for public office. It's time to change the system. It's time to bring full public financing to our elections. You can help reform the system by supporting the Fair Elections Now Act.
Tell the Senate to Go Digital
The current system for senators to submit campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission is a maze of back-and-forth between agencies that requires printing and re-typing the same information repeatedly. The result is an annual $250,000.00 bill to taxpayers and the delayed release of information to the public. Take action!
Lobbyists Playing Bigger Role in Presidential Fundraising
The number of lobbyists raising money for the 2008 presidential candidates already has eclipsed the total for the entire 2004 campaign. A new Public Citizen study shows that so far, candidates still in the race have recruited 142 federal lobbyists to raise money for their campaigns, compared to 136 lobbyist fundraisers in 2004. It underscores the need to update the presidential public financing system so that presidential candidates wont rely on influence peddlers to fuel their campaigns.
Dinner and a Movie
Despite the new ban on gifts from lobbyists and lobbying organizations, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continues to use “Dinner and a Movie” to woo lawmakers. Public Citizen sent comments to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the U.S. Senate Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct highlighting the violation, and a follow-up letter after the OGE responded.
House Ethics Committee Parties On
The House ethics committee continues to live up to its reputation of favoring lobbyist access over ethics. Their new rule gives the green light to large lobbyist soirees at the national party conventions this year. This flies in the face of the new lobbying reform law. Take action!
White House: NOT for Sale - The highest office in America should not be for sale. Yet, the presidential candidates are collecting truck loads of cash from bundlers and big donors. The "Presidential Funding Act of 2007" would fix this by modernizing the presidential public funding system. Take action!
The FEC Has Closed Its Doors
The Bush Administration has shut down the FEC with its insistence on the confirmation of Hans von Spakovsky as commissioner on the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Now the agency has no quorum. While campaign contribution information is still being processed, no opinions are being issued, no violations are being corrected, and no further presidential public funds will be distributed. Public Citizen calls for an up-or-down vote on all nominees, so that the FEC can reopen its doors and regulate campaigns fairly.
Executive Branch Ethics
While much attention has been paid to the issue of ethics within the legislative branch, the executive branch also requires close scrutiny. Currently, the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) does not have sufficient oversight or enforcement power to effectively police the executive branch. The Executive Branch Reform Act of 2007 will make the OGE a genuine watchdog over governmental ethics.
In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL), the Supreme Court struck a strong blow to the ban on corporate money paying for election advertising, ruling that an exemption must be made for “genuine issue ads.” Fortunately, the FEC has upheld the ban, though the definition of “genuine issue ads” was widened. Voters should be aware that far more sham issues ads paid for by corporate interests are likely to overwhelm the airwaves this year.
Lots of Lobbyists Fundraising for 2008 - With more than a year left until the 2008 election, the presidential candidates already have been raking in bundles of cash from at least 92 registered federal lobbyists. If this pace continues, contributions collected by lobbyist-fundraisers could mushroom in the coming months. Find out whose got lobbyist bundlers in our blog post and get all the details in our new report.
No Office of Public Integrity?
Public Citizen is very disappointed in the weak proposal set forth by the Democratic Members of the House Ethics Task Force for the Office of Congressional Ethics. Instead of an independent entity to help ensure that the new House rules are properly enforced, the proposed Office only has the power to recommend investigations to the House Ethics Committee, and cannot even issue subpoenas. It is not too late to address these weaknesses, and we urge House Speaker Pelosi and the House Rules Committee to fix these problems.
White House For Sale - Check out the our Web site, www.WhiteHouseForSale.org , rebuilt for the 2008 presidential season. It allows you to follow the money trail of campaign bundlers (people who funnel money to candidates) as they collect thousands, and sometimes even millions of dollars. Listen to the press conference [mp3].
Victory! Congress Delivers on Lobbying and Ethics Reform - Both the House and the Senate passed ethics reform legislation with veto-proof majorities. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (S. 1) was signed into law on 9/14/07. Learn more about how the new law is working. Read our statement on the passage of S. 1.
The Solution to Corruption - We're moving towards breaking free with Fair Elections in Congress. Read our new report: "Breaking Free with Fair Elections" [pdf]. For just a fraction of one percent of the annual budget, public funding of elections would eliminate the money race for candidates and costly paybacks to industry contributors - a huge break for the American taxpayer. TAKE ACTION by co-sponsoring the bill, or visit our Fair Elections page to learn more.
Because Public Citizen does not accept funds from corporations, professional associations or government agencies, we can remain independent and follow the truth wherever it may lead. But that means we depend on the generosity of concerned citizens like you for the resources to fight on behalf of the public interest. If you would like to help us in our fight, click here.
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