In The News
When Democrats do talk about corruption, it likely won’t be in the form of broad-scale attacks on the Trump administration, but in promising to clean up Washington with good-government reforms…. Dozens of Democratic candidates have sworn off taking money from corporate PACs. And Pelosi has made it a key plank of the Democrats’ “Better Deal” plan, rolling out proposals for automatic voter registration, strengthening ethics laws and overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision with a constitutional amendment. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who helped write the platform, said Democratic candidates are beginning to embrace it. “You get heads nodding, you can feel the sense of frustration and anger and cynicism in the public is broad and deep,” he said. “The broken promise of Trump, that he was going to come to Washington, drain the swamp, clean it up, return power to the people ― he’s reneged on all of them, he’s made the situation worse.” … For Sarbanes, however, the corruption message isn’t about hammering away on individual bad actors like Cohen and Manafort, but about showing how a corrupt system prevents good policy – how pharmaceutical company donations drive up drug prices and why Wall Street lobbies against minimum wage hikes. “This anti-corruption, reform message caffeinates every other message we’re delivering,” he said. “It’s important for people not to get too bogged down in the latest specific scandal. This is like an impressionist painting or something, every breaking development is more paint on this picture of corruption,” Sarbanes said. “If you’re tired of looking at it, you should give Democrats a chance to prove we can do something different.”
Maryland members of a House oversight committee called on the panel’s Republican chairman Wednesday to summon President Donald J. Trump’s former personal lawyer to testify, saying Michael Cohen’s interactions with Trump “warrant robust and credible oversight” by Congress…. Committee member John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat who represents portions of Baltimore City, also urged committee Republicans to endorse seeking information from Cohen. “Maybe things have crossed a threshold now where they realize there is no way to pretend they are doing their job if they don’t have hearings like that,” Sarbanes said in an interview. “Hopefully that will come about. I’m not going to hold my breath.”
There is a long history of midterm elections swinging in part on corruption scandals. Democrats began preparing for a similar campaign messaging effort shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, with weekly staff meetings in Pelosi’s office and an initiative by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) to draft anti-corruption reforms, including new ethics rules and stricter campaign finance disclosure, that the party could pass into law if they win back control of the House. But as Democratic strategists studied the issue, they concluded that it was better to use questions of corruption to “caffeinate” other messages about health care, education and taxes…. Rather than talk about specific corruption in Trump’s orbit, they prefer to talk more broadly about the problem in government. “It’s a much more systemic problem now, and we have developed a much more systemic response to it,” said Sarbanes. “People just want to see that there is that sense of responsibility and accountability to them and their priorities”
Leading Democrats in Congress are seizing on the tidal wave of legal troubles hitting President Trump's allies to cast the Republican Party as deeply corrupt ahead of the fast-approaching midterm elections. Democratic leaders say they plan to make ethics a key pillar of their push to take the House majority this fall, arguing their party will serve as a check on what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls the Trump administration's "brazen corruption, cronyism and incompetence." … "This is a president who promised people that he was going to be their voice, that he was going to return power to the people. But he's gone in the opposite direction," said Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, who was tapped by Pelosi to lead a "democracy reform" task force for House Democrats. "Voters can't keep up with every breaking development and every new scandal that comes across the transom every day," Sarbanes added. "But they do understand that the way this president and his allies in Congress and his buddies like Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins are behaving is disrespecting the average person out there."
From a policy standpoint, Democrats are more serious now, in 2018, than they were in 2006, when they ran on a promise to, wait for it, “drain the swamp” (yes, like so much else in Trump’s rhetorical lexicon, there is a history). Back then, Nancy Pelosi offered a vague promise to “break the link between lobbyists and legislation” on “day one,” which translated into modest and largely ineffective lobbying reform. Today, Democrats are promising a small-donor campaign finance matching system, as the third and most transformative plank of Democrats’ Better Deal for Democracy program, developed by Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes. But if Democrats are going to campaign on anti-corruption, they’d better be serious about following through if/when they get back into power. That’s where things get a little more uncertain…. Rep. Sarbanes is right that the Democrats can’t just casually message on this. They have to commit. As he put it, “This reform message is not something you just wear for the evening, this is something you own.” The road to reform is challenging. But momentum is slowly building. There is now, for the first time in more than a decade, a real chance that good politics and good policy can actually come together in democracy reform. This is significant.
“Congress absolutely can, and should, explore new rules to tighten our securities law and shut down any sort of insider trading, including by members of Congress,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., in a statement to the Washington Examiner.... Sarbanes pointed to a resolution he introduced earlier this year that touted several reforms to campaign finance that include overturning Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that led to the creation of super PACs.
In a ceremony that drew both a Maryland senator and congressman, Col. Erich C. Spragg assumed command of the Fort Meade garrison from Col. Tom Rickard.... Soldiers, family members, colleagues and government officials filled Club Meade on Friday morning to honor both Rickard and Spragg.... Dignitaries included Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, who was the guest speaker, and Rep. John Sarbanes..... Sarbanes also noted the installation’s important role in Maryland and in national security efforts.... “[The change of command] is a really important event for the Fort Meade community and for our state,” Sarbanes said after the ceremony. “[The installation] has become a critical part of the security infrastructure of our nation.”
Congressional Democrats are demanding the White House clarify who is leading veterans policy efforts for the administration after a ProPublica investigation found evidence a trio of executives with personal ties to President Donald Trump have been privately influencing department decisions.... Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., said the confusion was further evidence that the White House needs to make public its visitor logs and membership information for Trump’s private resorts.
Being wealthy enough to pay Mar-a-Lago membership fees doesn’t qualify you to make life or death decisions for the brave men and women who honorably serve our nation.— Rep. John Sarbanes (@RepSarbanes) August 8, 2018
A group of seven Democratic lawmakers from the Washington, D.C., area demanded Wednesday that House leadership add reforms and funding for the city’s public transit service to a pending infrastructure bill to improve federal employees’ commute to work.... In a letter to House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Penn., and ranking member Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., a group of Democrats representing a large number of federal workers in the D.C. region highlighted agencies’ reliance on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs Washington’s Metro system.... Also signing the letter were Reps. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Don Beyer, D-Va., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., John Sarbanes, D-Md., Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.