In The News

October 13, 2019

The indictment of Giuliani’s associates is well worth reading as a road map to how the system can be gamed. It illustrates, said veteran campaign reformer Fred Wertheimer, how Citizens United “created a clear path for unlimited amounts of foreign money to enter our political system.” ... The indictment, said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the lead sponsor of H.R. 1, the comprehensive reform bill approved this year by the House, “is a glimpse into the broad culture of corruption and ethical blindness that has infected our politics, particularly in the area of campaign finance.” His use of the word “culture” is important. Legal limits on unsavory practices outlaw socially destructive actions but also signal what kinds of public behavior are morally unacceptable. Bad laws encourage bad habits.  “People cross these lines with impunity,” Sarbanes told me, “and if they can’t even see the lines, they start thinking they can get away with anything.” Which brings it all back to a man whose words and actions suggest he really does believe he can get away with anything. It is a supreme irony that Trump triumphed by exploiting public disaffection with a political system so many Americans see as infested with sleaze and controlled by forces operating entirely for their own benefit. Rather than being the cure for such maladies, he is their apotheosis, the culmination of all that has gone wrong in our politics. The task of the impeachment inquiry is to use his Ukrainian misadventure to bring home the breadth of the president’s venality and self-dealing. The goal should be not only to rid the country of a dangerous leader but also to show how desperately our system needs repair.

October 11, 2019

The House will vote on legislation later this month aimed at limiting foreign interference in U.S. elections after a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee this week called on Congress to take action on the issue. The move by House Democrats is likely to place additional pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whom Democrats have targeted on election security.  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced the House will take up legislation that would require campaigns to report “illicit offers” of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  The legislation, known as the SHIELD Act and just introduced this week, also includes language designed to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same sponsor disclosure rules as ads on television and radio broadcasts.... The House Administration Committee is scheduled to mark up the SHIELD Act next week prior to the full House taking it up, with committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) among the bill’s key sponsors.  Other sponsors include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force.  

October 8, 2019

A group of House Democrats led by Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) on Tuesday introduced new legislation aimed at combating foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. The SHIELD Act would require campaigns to report “illicit offers” of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and also take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio.... The bill is also sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) ... Sarbanes, the primary sponsor of the For the People Act and the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, warned in a statement on Tuesday that “foreign adversaries attacked our elections in 2016 and they’re coming for us again in 2020.” Sarbanes urged action to pass both the SHIELD Act and the other House-passed measures, noting that “Senate Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must take up these critical national security bills as soon as possible. There’s no time to waste.”

October 2, 2019


September 27, 2019


September 27, 2019

As House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry based largely on possible campaign finance violations against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats sought a fresh spotlight for their stalled political money, ethics and elections overhaul measure. The House passed the bill by a vote of 234-193 along party lines on March 8, 200 days ago, the California Democrat noted. “We sent this legislation over to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and it’s been sitting there in his grim reaper role,” Pelosi said at a Friday news conference flanked by several House Democratic freshmen who ran on many of the proposals included in the measure. “We’re saying to him, ‘You may think this is dead over there, grim reaper' — what a nice thing to say about yourself — but it is alive and well in the public.” House Democrats’ mega overhaul bill seeks to remake the nation’s voting, campaign finance and ethics laws and to shore up security at ballot boxes. That’s an especially urgent matter, Democrats argue, with the 2020 elections about a year away. The measure’s lead sponsor, Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland, acknowledged that the Senate was unlikely to take up the bill under McConnell's leadership, and he said it would remain a signature proposal for his party’s congressional and presidential candidates in the 2020 campaigns.

September 26, 2019

Baltimore will receive $9.7 million to address lead-based paint in low-income households from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes announced the funding Thursday, which will be awarded through HUD and will work to eliminate lead-based paint hazards in low-income private housing…. $9.1 million of the funds were awarded through HUD’s Lead Based Paint Hazard Control and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant programs to identify and eliminate the hazards in low and very low-income private housing where children six years and under live. HUD explained Baltimore was in part awarded the funding because it is a jurisdiction that has a higher number of pre-1940 rental housing and higher rates of childhood lead poisoning cases. $600,000 of the funds were given through HUD’s Healthy Homes grant program- to address housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion.

September 26, 2019


It’s been quite a week in the nation’s capital, even by standards of the chaotic Trump Administration. On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would begin an impeachment inquiry. On Wednesday, the White House released what they described as an “unclassified memorandum” that summarizes a call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine on July 25, 2019. The memorandum was prepared by note takers who were listening to the call in the White House Situation room. And this morning, just before acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified in open session to the House Intelligence Committee, the Whistle Blower report that set an impeachment inquiry in motion was released. Admiral Maguire began his testimony shortly after 9:00 this morning. That testimony will continue in closed session later today. Tom talks about all of this today with Congressman John Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s 3rd District. He also serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is chaired by his fellow Maryland Congressman, Elijah Cummings.

September 24, 2019

A growing number of Maryland lawmakers are coming out in support of official impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Tuesday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an official impeachment inquiry into the president, CBS News reported.... Maryland Democratic Congressman John Sarbanes Tuesday called reports that President Donald Trump spoke with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky seeking dirt about Joe Biden “impeachable conduct,” as the president vowed on Twitter earlier in the day he would release a full transcript of the call. In a statement, Sarbanes called the reports “a blatant abuse of power” and called for a full investigation. “By any measure, this is impeachable conduct on the part of the President. Every House committee of relevant jurisdiction must move aggressively to gather the underlying evidence and press forward with our efforts to hold President Trump accountable,” Sarbanes wrote.

September 24, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday afternoon that federal lawmakers will begin an impeachment investigation into Republican President Donald Trump over allegations he misused his office to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate the family of Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The Trump administration is withholding from Congress a whistleblower complaint at least partly related to that matter.... Sarbanes, a Towson Democrat and a member of the House Oversight Committee, tweeted Tuesday that the president engaged in impeachable conduct. “Trump’s attempt to pressure a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election is a blatant abuse of power. His actions constitute a direct attack on our democracy and signify an unprecedented new level of corruption and lawlessness in the White House,” Sarbanes said in a statement. “By any measure, this is impeachable conduct on the part of the president. Every House committee of relevant jurisdiction must move aggressively to gather the underlying evidence and press forward with our efforts to hold President Trump accountable.”