In The News
More than 100 House Democrats urged congressional leaders Wednesday to block a slate of campaign finance riders from an omnibus spending deal.... The lawmakers say they oppose an effort to eliminate spending limits on coordination between political parties and their candidates as well as a measure to repeal or roll back the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits charities from endorsing political candidates. The Democrats also want GOP leadership to scrap restraints on the Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS from working on new rules about political disclosures.... “Each of these changes would have dramatic implications for our nation’s campaign finance system, widening the channels of influence for wealthy and well-connected campaign donors and further exacerbating the flood of undisclosed and unaccountable ‘secret money’ into our political system,” states the letter from Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., and 112 of his colleagues.
If sunshine is the best disinfectant, President Trump must pray for rain.... "It’s President Trump who, in the first 400 days of his Administration, has instituted a culture of secrecy in the Executive Branch and the White House,” said a report issued by Rep. John Sarbanes (Md.), chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force.... Trump’s approach to transparency was defined before he became president. Unlike Obama, Trump ran against transparency by refusing to release his tax returns. That violated decades of custom and tradition that his predecessors, including Obama, followed.
There is a way, albeit imperfect, to better put questions of the public’s will on guns to the test. That is to elect politicians who are free to prioritize the public’s wishes and not those of the tiny percentage who can afford to underwrite their campaigns... Various proposals over the years have called for politicians who limit their fundraising from outside sources to be eligible to receive public campaign funding. These proposals typically require politicians to raise a significant number of small-dollar contributions to prove their viability before qualifying for public money. Some, such as one offered by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., would permit citizens to direct a small amount of their taxes to candidates they support.... A public financing system for presidential elections that was created after Watergate flourished for two decades before rising election costs rendered the system’s formulas obsolete. Such systems also have succeeded in Arizona, Maine and many cities.
Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes recently joined two dozen Democrats in sending a letter asking for a hearing to be held on the need for increased funding for gun violence prevention research.... “Gun violence must be addressed and handled for what it is: a public health crisis,” the letter read. “However, the harmful ‘Dickey Amendment’ and its chilling effect on federally-supported gun violence prevention research has stymied our ability to address gun violence.”
epublicans in Congress are still refusing to get behind any major gun regulations thus far, but Democrats are working to unify their efforts. The opposition party has decided to pull together in support of one highly popular reform -- mandatory background checks on private gun sales -- instead of demanding for a larger package of measures all at once... “It’s easy to be cynical, with all the times that nothing has been done on the issue,” Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told Salon. “But the activism of the students is something that is really different this time.” ... Gun safety advocates may also be helped by the fact that Democratic voters are much more energized than in years past, largely in united opposition to Trump.
With each passing day, it seems, there is a new report of how one Trump appointee or another is disregarding the basic norms and guidelines that have always governed public officials.... The House Democracy Reform Task Force has been tracking these conflicts of interest, ethical abuses and special-interest backroom deals within the Trump White House and throughout his administration. In just 400 days of the Trump Presidency, we’ve found more than 400 ways that the president has flooded the swamp.... To make matters worse, the Republican leadership in Congress is missing in action when it comes to proper oversight of the administration. Our founders envisioned that the Congress would act as a check on the executive branch, not acquiesce in it excesses. It’s time to hold this Congress and this administration accountable for their conduct. Americans deserve a better deal for our democracy.
That’s the view of Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat who has gone PAC-free for seven years and is the lead sponsor of a bill (HR 20) to expand taxpayer matching funds. He says the increase in the pledges shows that the public is forcing action on the issue.... Members of Congress who are well known, with nationwide networks of donors, will have no trouble raising money without corporate PACs. And most challengers to incumbents couldn’t hope to attract significant corporate PAC support anyway.... But rank-and-file members, in both parties, rely on corporate PAC money and will need a new cash flow.... “If you’re going to expect members of Congress to move away from PACs and special interests, given the costs of campaigns these days, you’ve got to offer them somewhere else to go or it’s really unfair,” Sarbanes says. “That’s why my crusade is all about creating a system of small donors and matching public financing for congressional races.”
The EPA’s action was also praised by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, who is co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Task Force in Congress.... “Administrator Pruitt’s reversal on Bay Journal grant funding is a heartening decision for the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed,” Sarbanes said. “Marylanders depend on the Bay Journal for timely and accurate information about the health of our region’s economic driver and environmental treasure, and we’ll always fight to protect the Bay from senseless politicization and partisan attacks.”
Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes knows there isn't much Democrats are able to do regarding President Donald Trump's and his administration's conflicts and ethical snafus.... It's why Sarbanes, as chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, a group of House Democrats seeking to "confront the Trump Administration's conflicts of interest and ethical lapses," has published a list of 100 such conflicts or lapses from the administration every 100 days of its existence.... On Monday, Sarbanes published the fourth edition of his report, which highlighted such possible conflicts as Donald Trump Jr.'s recent trip to India to promote a Trump hotel, the Trump Organization moving forward on a Dominican project, and foreign governments doing favors for Trump businesses.... But that report is peanuts compared to what Democrats would do if they could retake Congress. Sarbanes said Democratic lawmakers would seek to codify ethical norms into law if they are able to regain control of Congress.