Government Integrity Reform Agenda for 111th Congress

Government Integrity Reform Agenda for 111th Congress

WASHINGTON - The following statement was issued by the Brennan
Center for Justice,
the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy
21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG. Read
the groups' government integrity reform agenda for the 111th Congress
here
.

Our organizations worked hard to pass the landmark ethics and
lobbying reforms that were enacted in the 110th Congress. At the time,
we said that our next major battle would be to reform the way federal
campaigns are financed.

A central theme of the 2008 presidential race was the need to fix
Washington. President-elect Obama, for
example, said during the campaign, "to fix health care we have to fix
Washington."

In order to fix Washington, the fundamental problems
caused by the undue influence of contributions over government decisions
must be effectively addressed. While other issues on our reform agenda
are important, the way Washington works is not going to
change until we fundamentally change the nation's campaign finance
laws.

In
order to accomplish this goal, the overriding priority on our reform
agenda for the 111th Congress is to repair the presidential public
financing system and to create a new public financing system for
congressional races.

The key role that influence-money played in creating the national
financial crisis provides just one more example of the enormous costs to
citizens and taxpayers that come from federal candidates being dependent
on special interest groups, lobbyists, bundlers and large contributions
for their campaign funds.

It is widely acknowledged that the absence of effective regulation
and oversight played a major role in the massive financial crisis that
has occurred. Campaign contributions to federal officeholders from the
financial sector played a major role in thwarting such effective
regulation and oversight.

It is no coincidence that during the past decade, the financial
sector contributed $1.5 billion to federal candidates and their parties,
according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with 56 percent of the
funds going to Republicans and 44 of the funds going to Democrats - a
bipartisan approach to influence-seeking.

Our organizations call on President-elect Obama and members of
Congress to take action to fundamentally reform the nation's
campaign finance laws.

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