Yesterday, Issue One’s bipartisan group of more than 100 former members of Congress and governors gathered on Capitol Hill to call for renewed action to enact solutions to money in politics.
The ReFormers Caucus is the largest bipartisan group of former elected officials speaking out for comprehensive campaign finance reform ever assembled. Currently, the ReFormers include former representatives, senators, governors, CIA directors and a vice president, as well as cabinet secretaries and ambassadors spanning the past five administrations.
“The influence of money is destroying us from the inside,” said seven-term congressman and former Ambassador to India Tim Roemer (D-IN). “One of the greatest threats to us internally is the influence of money on our political system.”
The ReFormers will enhance the work already under way across the country to make money in politics a top issue in the 2016 elections. They will pressure candidates, debate moderators and the media to not just decry the problem, but to detail feasible solutions to the American people. The group’s formation elevates the bipartisan credibility of the reform movement and will help create a groundswell that has the weight inside the Beltway and in state capitols to take action. See pictures from the event here!
“We used to have to arrange schedules around senators’ fundraisers and it was considered the exception, but now it’s the rule,” said former Democratic Senate minority leader, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) as he pointed out how money has exacerbated America’s governing crisis. “If we want to continue to lead around the globe, we must fix this. We know we can.”
This new effort comes at a time when election costs continue to skyrocket and public opinion of the current campaign finance system plummets. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 84 percent of Americans, including super majorities of Democrats and Republicans, think money has too much influence over politics; the same poll found 85 percent in favor of fundamentally changing or completely rebuilding the way we finance campaigns.
Former Republican from Maryland, Rep. Connie Morella, pointed out that while nearly all the presidential candidates have decried aspects of the problem, voters want more specifics about how our leaders will truly fix our broken political system. “We ReFormers haven’t come up with one single silver bullet,” she said, “but a range of solutions that will truly address the scourge of money in campaigns.”
The group endorsed
- greater transparency measures, such as an executive order mandating federal contractors reveal their political contributions
- stricter enforcement of laws, including reforming the broken Federal Election Commission
- lobbying and ethics reform that ensures everyone plays by the same common-sense rules and
- giving Congress and state legislatures broader abilities to oversee money flowing through politics.
All of the lawmakers present emphasized the optimism of the moment. Said current Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD), “this group, with the help of Issue One, has an opportunity to bring attention and credibility that I think will be extremely consequential.”
And the ReFormers strong bipartisan credentials were lauded by many, including former Reagan Labor Secretary and Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Senator Bill Brock (R-TN), who said, “Republicans have at least as much to say as any Democrat about reforms to a problem which calls into question the faith the people have in their government. We need groups like this.”
In addition to gathering on the Hill, the ReFormers’ formal call to action to Congress and all state legislators, imploring the country’s lawmakers to “get to work,” was featured in a full page Washington Post ad that can be found here.