In The News
"To be very candid, I think that in some ways, the Trump way of viewing the world, i.e., having no regard for ethical boundaries, made the prospect of serving in his administration very appealing to Scott Pruitt and people like him," said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland.... “You can look at almost any agency in the Trump administration. They lock the doors. They pull down the shades," Sarbanes continued. "And then they invite in the very industries that they’re supposed to regulate and have them clean out of the shelves of the regulations that are supposed to protect the American people and basically have their way with that particular agency." ... Democrats in both the House and the Senate have responded by pushing for legislation that would prevent a number of the current abuses. Sarbanes is leading an effort to pass a resolution calling for extensive reforms, including passing laws that would prevent government officials from going straight into lobbying -- and would also prevent lobbyists from going straight into government.
The Trump Organization, already hamstrung by self-imposed restrictions and costly legal bills, could face new headaches if Democrats take control of either the House or Senate this fall and demand the company divulge closely guarded information, including reports on profits and operations.... The President has an "ethical blind spot," said Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, who chairs a Democratic "task force" billed as an effort to blunt the power of special interests and combat "corruption" in the administration.
As Democrats push to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November, government ethics and political reform have become an increasingly important part of their message. And that means an elevated role for Maryland Congressman John P. Sarbanes (D).... Sarbanes is House Democrats’ apostle of political reform, the chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force. He’s the architect of the party’s multi-pronged good government agenda. If the Democrats seize the majority, he will play a leading role in shaping the suite of reform bills that Democrats will try to advance through Congress.... Sarbanes sees corruption in Washington, D.C., as the leading culprit of citizen dismay and disengagement in the political process. It’s hard for voters to have any faith in their leaders, he says, when oil and gas companies, the pharmaceutical industry, corporate polluters and the financial giants are perceived as having so much sway on Capitol Hill.
If they win a majority in the House, Democrats should quickly hold a vote on a wide-ranging package of government reforms, the No. 2 Democratic leader in the chamber said in a policy address Wednesday.... The ethics focus from Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) comes as Democrats begin to seize on a spate of Trump administration scandals and the recent federal indictments of two sitting Republican House members less than two months before the midterm elections.... Hoyer also endorsed a system of public campaign financing for Congress, akin to the current system in presidential races — specifically a proposal drafted by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.).
If Democrats win the House majority, Steny Hoyer believes their economic agenda will do better if they first pass a government overhaul package to help restore Americans’ continuously eroding trust in government.... Fellow Maryland Democrat John Sarbanes, who chairs House Democrats’ Democracy Reform Task Force, will also speak at the event and introduce Hoyer.... Sarbanes said his task force set out with two goals heading into the 2018 cycle: to call out the lack of transparency and accountability of President Donald Trump, his administration and his GOP allies in Congress, and “to give Americans a reason for hope” by showing Democrats have a plan to clean up government.... “If you don’t fix that as kind of a foundational effort and initiative, they’re going to be very skeptical that you can do any of the other stuff,” he said.... The Democracy Reform Task Force has been focused on developing fixes that fall into three buckets: voting rights and voter empowerment, ethics and accountability, and campaign finance.... Like Hoyer, Sarbanes said passing a legislative package addressing those issues should be Democrats’ first order of business in the new Congress. Doing so would demonstrate that Democrats can deliver on their policy promises to make health care more affordable, lower prescription drug prices, boost wages, reinvigorate manufacturing and clean up the environment, he said.... “I call that caffeinating every other message we have,” Sarbanes said.
In the wake of Rep. Chris Collins’s indictment for insider trading, House lawmakers are trying to push through a rule change that would prevent similar misconduct. Ethics watchdogs support the bill, which closes a gaping hole in House protocol—but they hope that Democrats will go even further if they retake the House in November.... Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, who leads his caucus’s Democracy Reform Task Force, said that if Democrats get the gavel back in November, they’ll push to pass an ethics package “in the first 100 days.” By mid-August, more than 160 House Democrats had signed onto Sarbanes’s “by the people” government reform resolution. It’s not clear how the Rice-Reed bill might get rolled into larger reforms if it fails to gain steam before the midterms. But Sarbanes said he would consider legislation that goes even further than the proposal. “The basic theme of the reform package that we have developed is broad enough to encompass those kinds of changes. … I think we have to go much bigger than that. I think that the public, frankly, has an appetite right now for significant, bold change that is not nibbling around the margins, is not just closing a loophole here or closing a loophole there.”
If Democrats win back the House in 2018, a consensus is emerging on what they need to do first: Pass a sweeping anti-corruption bill.... One specific legislative package has emerged, largely crafted and sponsored by the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD). The agenda — recently formalized by a House resolution — is designed to rein in the influence of money and lobbying in Washington, expand voting rights in the United States, and increase public financing of campaigns. Democrats are prepping a final version of a bill to be ready to go if they are in charge by January 2019.... The anti-corruption reform effort is nothing new for Sarbanes, who stopped accepting PAC money seven years ago and once joined a frigid walk in zero-degree weather across part of New Hampshire to commemorate Doris “Granny D” Haddock, the late activist who trekked across the entire nation for campaign finance reform.... House Democrats’ reform agenda is broad: cracking down on lobbying, and expanding voting rights across the nation. Among the more dramatic reforms Sarbanes would like to implement is a proposal for public financing of campaigns. Under Sarbanes’ vision, the federal government would provide a voluntary 6-1 match for every small donation to candidates who have agreed to forgo PAC money.
September is “National Recovery Month,” and Maryland communities are raising awareness of services available to help kick opioid addiction across the state.... Baltimore Congressman John Sarbanes joined the group in promoting recovery month.... “It’s good to see people stepping up at the community-level trying to make a difference to combat this crisis,” Sarbanes told WJZ.
Congress is wasting Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s time when it should be investigating the Trump administration’s wrongdoing, Maryland Democrat Rep. John Sarbanes told Dorsey at one of his two congressional testimonies Wednesday.... “Unfortunately, the Republican majority has decided to pursue the trumped up notion that there is a special conservative bias in the way Twitter operates,” Sarbanes told Dorsey. “What worries me is that this is a campaign by the GOP to work the refs, complaining about a non-existent bias and force an overcorrection which then can result in some actual bias going in the other direction.” ... So in response, Sarbanes disregarded the premise of the hearing altogether, and instead read off a list of things the Republican-led Congress should be investigating and isn’t. Conveniently for Sarbanes, his speech also fit perfectly into Democrats’ 2018 message to voters: that the Republican party is corrupt.
Democratic members of the House representing districts in and around Washington, D.C., wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership Sept. 5, urging them to counteract the president’s intent to freeze federal pay for 2019... Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer of Virginia; Steny Hoyer, John Sarbanes John Delaney, Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin of Maryland; and Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C. called for an end to the “vilification” and “ongoing assault” on federal employees.... “It is beyond cynical that the president would cite serious economic and fiscal concerns to justify his decision to cancel a pay adjustment for middle class workers while he tweets constantly about economic gains and touts a tax bill that exploded the deficit by $1.5 trillion,” the congressmen wrote.