Plan to Fix a Broken Washington

Congressman Jared Golden

Since coming to Congress, I’ve worked hard to get things done for working Mainers. We’ve made important progress, but solutions to some of the most pressing issues Mainers face — like lowering prescription drug costs or improving care for veterans — haven’t become law because Washington is broken. This problem is bigger than one person or scandal, it’s
systemic. The influence of corporations, special interests, and their money is everywhere and it’s keeping Congress from getting things done. It’s past time we fixed this.

That’s why I’m proposing a bold new plan to fix a broken Washington by getting dark money out of our politics, making sure our leaders serve the people, and by cracking down on politicians and special interests who break the rules. 

Getting Dark Money out of Politics A set of paper money.

Maine has long been a leader in holding clean elections, but we need Washington to catch up. The Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United ruling in 2010 enabled nearly $1 billion in spending from undisclosed sources, or dark money, to flood our elections. Much of this could come from special interests or foreign actors. That’s why I am introducing the Crack Down on Dark Money Act. In recent elections, mega-donors have abused an obscure type of tax-exempt organization to spend millions on political ads both liberal and conservative in Maine while hiding their identities. My bill would place tough new limits on these organizations’ political spending and reveal their large funders if they spend any amount of money to influence elections.

Additionally, I am cosponsoring the following legislation in Congress to combat dark money in our elections:

  • The DISCLOSE Act, which would require all election ads to name their top funders and force all groups spending money in elections to reveal their high-dollar donors.
  • H.J.Res. 2, a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow reasonable limits on election raising and spending, including different laws for people and corporations.
  • The SHIELD Act, which would close loopholes that enable foreign spending in our elections. This would strengthen the longstanding federal laws against straw and foreign donors, which Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were indicted for conspiring to violate.
  • The Ban Corporate PACs Act, which would stop corporations from funneling money to politicians’ campaigns by abolishing corporate PACs.
  • The Get Foreign Money Out of U.S. Elections Act, which would close a loophole that enables foreign-owned companies to pour cash into U.S. elections. Foreign corporations have spent millions in U.S. elections since Citizens United.

Fighting Corruption in GovernmentA domed building.

The pull of money can also influence executive branch officials and members of Congress once they are in office. That’s why I am also introducing the Stop Foreign Payoffs Act, which would prohibit presidents, vice presidents, cabinet secretaries, and members of Congress, and their immediate families, from earning a salary from or holding an investment in a foreign business as long as the official is in office.

But that’s not enough to combat the corruption that has come to define Washington. That is why I am also cosponsoring the following legislation: 

  • The Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which would prohibit sitting members of Congress from buying or selling individual stocks.
  • The Transparency in Executive Branch Officials’ Finances Act, which would require the president, vice president, and political appointees to disclose their and their families’ foreign financial interests, and bar political appointees from accepting payment from foreign entities.
  • The bipartisan Congressional and Executive Foreign Lobbying Ban Act, which would ban members of Congress, presidential appointees, and senior military officers from ever lobbying for a foreign client.
  • The Lobbyist Loophole Closure Act, which would expand the legal definition of lobbying to include legislative consulting so that former members of Congress can’t engage in “shadow lobbying” immediately after they leave office.
  • H.R. 3122, which would impose a lifetime lobbying ban on former members of Congress.

Strengthening Enforcement of our Election & Ethics Laws A gavel.

Even the strongest laws on the books can’t clean up corruption if they’re not enforced. But Congress has sabotaged and neglected enforcement agencies for years. That’s why I support these measures to strengthen election law and ethics rule enforcement:

  • The bipartisan Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act, which would strengthen the deadlocked FEC by reducing the Commission from six members to five and empowering its general counsel to initiate investigations.
  • The CLEAN Act, which would make the Office of Congressional Ethics permanent, so that it no longer faces the threat of being shut down every two years by the members of Congress it may investigate.

Some of these proposals have already passed the House as part of HR 1, the For the People Act, one of the very first bills I cosponsored and helped pass through the House. HR 1 would implement the most sweeping campaign finance, voting rights, and ethics reforms since Watergate. It also includes an amendment I led that would prevent bad actors from abusing the bill’s clean elections program. I will continue to push for its enactment to strengthen American democracy and return political power to the people.But we can’t stop with HR 1, which is why I’m putting forward my Plan to Fix a Broken Washington. Whether we pass these reforms in the short or long run, I firmly believe that they all could and should become law. I hope you will join me in fighting for this important legislation.