Sen. Warren Re-Introduces the Anti-Corruption & Public Integrity Act
This article features Government Accountability Project and was originally published here.
WASHINGTON DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) this week reintroduced the Anti-Corruption & Public Integrity Act, bicameral legislation to fundamentally change the way Washington does business and restore the American public’s faith in democracy, which has been at “historic lows” for over a decade.
Today, only 20% of Americans trust the government “to do the right thing.”
Originally introduced in 2018 as the most ambitious anti-corruption legislation since Watergate, the Anti-Corruption & Public Integrity Act of 2020 includes additional reforms to the country’s campaign finance laws.
The bill also includes new provisions to ban members of Congress from serving on corporate boards, to establish new ethics accountability for Supreme Court justices, and to overhaul the nation’s campaign finance laws. The legislation also strengthens provisions to ban members of Congress, federal judges, and other senior federal officials from owning or trading individual stock.
“After nearly four years of the most corrupt president in American history and with U.S. senators brazenly trading stocks to profit off a raging pandemic, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is more urgent than ever in order to rein in corruption, strengthen ethics, end lobbying as we know it, improve the integrity of our judiciary, reform campaign finance laws and finally ensure that we put people over profits and communities over corporations,” said Senator Warren and Congresswoman Jayapal. “The Anti-Corruption & Public Integrity Act is about making government work for everyone — not just the rich and powerful — and restoring Americans’ faith in government.”
Senator Warren and Congresswoman Jayapal’s legislation contains seven big ideas:
- Lock the Revolving Door and Increase Public Integrity by eliminating both the appearance and the potential for financial conflicts of interest; banning members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, federal judges, and other senior government officials from owning and trading individual stock or serving on corporate boards; locking the government-to-lobbying revolving door; and eliminating “golden parachutes.”
- End Lobbying as We Know It by exposing influence-peddling in Washington; banning foreign lobbying; banning lobbyists from donating to candidates and members of Congress; strengthening congressional independence from lobbyists; and instituting a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members of Congress, Presidents, and agency heads.
- End Corporate Capture of Public Interest Rules by requiring disclosure of funding or editorial conflicts of interest in rulemaking comments and studies; closing loopholes corporations exploit to tilt the rules in their favor and against the public interest; protecting agencies from corporate capture; establishing a new Office of the Public Advocate to advocate for the public interest in the rulemaking process; and giving agencies the tools to implement strong rules that protect the public.
- Improve Judicial Integrity and Defend Access to Justice for All Americans by strengthening ethics requirements for judges and requiring the Supreme Court follow the ethics rules for all other federal judges; enhancing accountability for judges who engage in misconduct; boosting the transparency of federal courts through live streaming audio of federal appellate court proceedings and providing the public access to case information free of charge; reducing barriers that prevent Americans from having their day in court; and encouraging diversity on the federal bench.
- Strengthen Enforcement of Ethics Rules by creating a new, independent anti-corruption agency dedicated to enforcing federal ethics laws and by expanding an independent and empowered Congressional ethics office insulated from Congressional politics.
- Boost Transparency in Government and Fix Federal Open Records Laws by requiring elected officials and candidates for federal office to disclose more financial and tax information; increasing disclosure of corporate money behind Washington lobbying; closing loopholes in federal open records laws; making federal contractors — including private prisons and immigration detention centers — comply with federal open records laws; and making Congress more transparent.
- Reform the Country’s Campaign Finance Laws to Get Big Money out of Politics by ending the corrupt system of money for influence; disrupting the system of dark money for influence that allows the wealthy, well-connected, and foreign actors to tilt the political process in their favor; empowering ordinary people through a small-dollar public financing system that gives candidates an incentive to spend more time courting working people, rather than just big donors; and reforming the Federal Election Commission, so that it can actually enforce election laws.
The Anti-Corruption & Public Integrity Act of 2020 has been endorsed by 20/20 Vision, AFL-CIO, AFGE AFSCM, American Family Voices, American Federation of Teachers, American Oversight, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, Campaign for Accountability, Campaign Legal Center, Care for Crash Victims, Center for Common Ground, Center for Emergent Diplomacy, Center for Progressive Reform, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, Consumer Action, Daily Kos, Demand Progress Action, Democracy 21, Dr. James A. Thurber, Empire State Consumer Project, Inc., End Citizens United, Endangered Species Coalition, Families USA, Franciscan Action Network, Global Witness, Government Accountability Project, Government Information Watch, Greenpeace, League of Women Voters of the United States, MoveOn, National Center for Health Research, Newground Social Investment, Open the Government, Orion Partners, People Demanding Action, People for the American Way, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Revolving Door Project, SAFER — A Committee of Economists and other Experts for Stable, Accountable, Fair and Efficient Financial Reform, Service Employees International Union, Sunlight Foundation, and Transparency International U.S. Office.
“The imperative to repair our democracy is not merely a reaction to the last four years. It is the product of a decades-long corrosion of the guardrails of our democracy, and also of the systematic exclusion of many voices that has plagued our democracy since its founding. We must be guided by the core principle that government exists to serve all of the people, not just the wealthy and powerful. The Anti Corruption Act of 2020 is ambitious, but ambition is necessary if we are to move towards a more perfect union,” said Jennifer Ahearn, Policy Director, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is vitally important legislation that will prevent corporate capture of our government and ensure our officials are working in the public interest. We applaud Sen. Warren for her unyielding commitment to ending corruption and creating a system that works for all of us,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund.
“The Project On Government Oversight is proud to endorse the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act. Accurately named, this legislation would dramatically improve some of the greatest systemic weaknesses in our laws and enforcement structures that allow corruption – both illegal and legal – to pervert the powers of government against the people. We applaud Senator Warren’s and Representative Jayapal’s commitment to addressing these critical issues,” said Liz Hempowicz, Director of Public Policy at Project on Government Oversight.
“Public Citizen applauds Senator Warren for reintroducing the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act. This necessary legislation takes on the influence-peddling industry and works to clean up corruption. At a time when American trust in government is at an all-time low this bill provides a clear vision for reining in out-of-control lobbying and fixing government so it works for the people, said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President, Public Citizen.
Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth said, in a statement of support: “When thinking about ways to rectify the ethical failures we’ve seen in Washington the last few years, too often the judiciary is left out of the equation, even with federal judges attending untold junkets, ruling on cases despite conflicts of interest and in some instances retiring to avoid punishment for misconduct. Sen. Warren’s proposal would fix each of these aforementioned gaps in judicial accountability and more, and I thank her for her strong advocacy to improve integrity in all three branches – not just the first two.”