In The News
Some Democrats are annoyed with the cable news fixation on every twist and turn of the Russia investigation. Others think the party needs more focus on the issue. But Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), the chair of the congressional Democracy Reform Task Force, thinks he’s found a way to thread the needle.... “I mean you can basically say ‘Look, nobody should be interfering with our democracy, with our elections,” Sarbanes said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Monday. “So foreigners shouldn’t be doing it, special interests shouldn’t be doing it, big money shouldn’t be doing it. It belongs to you, the people. It’s your campaign, it’s your politics, it’s your government.” ... Sarbanes, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), unveiled a broad anti-corruption platform on Monday meant to serve as a supplement to the Democrats’ economic messaging in the “Better Deal” platform. Riffing on President Trump’s own successful slogan “drain the swamp,” the platform is intended to fix the campaign finance system, strengthen ethics laws and facilitate better access to the ballot box for every American voter. It harkens back to a successful messaging platform of 2006, a year in which Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate.
Democratic lawmakers unveiled a new reform-minded agenda Monday that’s billed as “a better deal for our democracy.” It builds on the “Better Deal” economic blueprint Democrats introduced last summer.... “We got to do things that make everyday Americans empowered in the democracy so they are calling the shots, not sitting in the bleachers,” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., the chair of the Democratic group that spearheaded the effort, said in an interview.... The plan centers on three broad reforms: improving election security; enforcing lobbying ethics regulations; and changing campaign finance laws to reduce influence from deep-pocketed interest groups and individuals.
Today the Democrats unveiled a new plank in their Better Deal agenda, an anti-corruption platform that both depicts the broken nature of the political system and puts reform at the forefront of any campaign to give regular people a voice in our democracy. It brings together the anti-Trump and populist-economics messages in a way that makes them inextricable. “Creating jobs, raising wages, contributing to people’s quality of life, is an important and powerful message,” said Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD), who chairs the party’s Democracy Reform Task Force and has been highlighting anti-corruption policies since entering office in 2007. “But people are right to say, how can we get an economic agenda that’s good for the country enacted if we don’t fix the institutions?” ... Sarbanes has for years championed the Government By the People Act, which would give all Americans 25 “democracy dollars” for campaign contributions and use federal matching funds to amplify the overall impact. “We should be creating a system that allows the public to be power players, so the $50 and $100 donor is most important in the campaign.”
Democrats are planning to make Washington corruption a central focus of their midterm messaging, reviving a successful theme from when they took control of Congress in 2006.... The anti-corruption push is the second part of Democrats’ “A Better Deal” platform. The first part, released last summer, focused on an economic agenda. The newest part is “A Better Deal for Our Democracy,” which puts forward proposals to increase access to the ballot box, fight special interests and combat big money through campaign finance reform.... Democrats unveiled their agenda Monday during a press conference on Capitol Hill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were joined by other lawmakers who have been working on these issues, including Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
House and Senate Democrats rolled out their campaign platform Monday, taking aim at corruption and pay-to-play politics in Washington under the Trump administration. They’re betting this message will help them win voters in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, when the party hopes to regain control of the House — and maybe even the Senate.... “We make voting in this country more complicated than it needs to be,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, which led the effort to write this agenda, told me.... “Way too many ethics lines are being crossed by the administration,” Sarbanes said. “That’s not an opinion. That’s an observation.” ... To counter it, Democrats plan to hit the campaign trail with policy proposals aimed at tightening lobbying rules.... Among these proposals would be legally requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. That’s a direct reaction to Trump, who has yet to release his financial records, bucking decades of political precedent and breaking his own promises of transparency.... Sarbanes also cited a proposal that would tighten lobbying rules and institute statutes against former lobbyists becoming Cabinet officials in agencies that have purview over industries that previously employed them.... 3) Democrats take a swing at campaign finance reform. This third pillar focuses on transparency in campaign donors. Sarbanes also cited a proposal that would create a 6-1 small-donor match program — a federal public financing system aimed at bolstering donations under $175.... “We will be talking about how the institutions are not as responsive as they need to be,” Sarbanes said. “We will talk about how the Trump administration and the GOP and Republicans in Congress are … aggravating the problem.”
Democrats are going to make prosecuting what they called a "culture of corruption" in President Donald Trump's administration a central theme of this year's midterm elections, the party's congressional leaders signaled Monday.... "The problem is that a lot of people hear that (economic) message, they agree with that message, but they're not convinced that we can actually get it done because they view Washington as captured by special interests," Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., who helped craft the new strategy, told NBC News.... "We realized that every other message we're putting out there needs to be accompanied by a democracy reform agenda," Sarbanes continued. "We think that that caffeinates every other message that we're delivering." ... He added at the news conference: "The people know what happens when a culture of corruption takes hold. Government works for somebody else and not for them."
Democrats are preparing to highlight allegations of corruption surrounding the Trump administration — and a legislative agenda to prevent future abuses — as they continue rolling out their party platform ahead of November’s midterm elections.... The first planks of the “A Better Deal” platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda. Now, with questions about pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats are set to introduce anti-corruption proposals Monday billed as “A Better Deal for Our Democracy.” ... According to a senior Democratic official familiar with the announcement, the new agenda will include proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge. The message: Elect Democrats in November to “clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.” ... The proposals are set to be rolled out Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several other congressional Democrats who have been engaged in anti-corruption issues, including Rep. John Sarbanes (Md.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).
President Donald Trump’s disclosure that he "reimbursed" his attorney Michael Cohen, reportedly for money that went to Trump's alleged former mistress Stormy Daniels, did little to settle questions over the arrangement among ethics watchdogs. The reimbursement to Cohen for "expenses" was listed as a footnote in Trump's required annual financial disclosure, which prompted the Office of Government Ethics to inform Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — an indication that the controversy over the payment to the adult film actress will likely continue. OGE released Trump's disclosure and its letter to Rosenstein on Wednesday.... "The release of President Trump's financial disclosure today raises many more questions than answers," said Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, his party's point person on ethics matters. "The American people deserve to know whether the president is putting his personal financial interests ahead of their interests and whether members of the president's inner circle are trading cash for access and influence with the president's knowledge."