We must elect leaders with integrity, for whom the public interest is paramount.
Donald Trump has presided over the most corrupt administration in modern history. Trump has abused the presidency to enrich himself spending countless tax dollars at his own properties. Members of his administration have failed to divest themselves from conflicts of interest as promised. Trump has weaponized the Executive Branch against its core mission, including using the U.S. Justice Department to protect the president and his interests, over the American people and the rule of law. And, Trump has welcomed wealthy special interests including the National Rifle Association into the Oval Office and to the highest levels of his administration to develop and guide policy.
The charge facing the president who follows Donald Trump is as big as it is essential: restoring faith in American government. The next president must demonstrate with their actions not empty words that public servants serve all Americans, not themselves or narrow special interests. Public office is not the prize for winning an election, but an imperative to improve the lives of people across the country no matter their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, zip code, or income. The President of the United States has a core responsibility to earn and keep the trust of the American people.
We must elect leaders with integrity, for whom the public interest is paramount. But that's not enough. We also must strengthen our laws to ensure that no future president can ever again use the office for personal gain. The federal government's power must be used to better the country, and not in service of narrow, private interests.
Biden is offering an ambitious proposal to ensure that our government works for the people. Specifically, President Biden will:
Reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics and make it easier for candidates of all backgrounds to run for office;
Return integrity to the U.S. Department of Justice and other Executive Branch decision-making;
Restore ethics in government;
Rein in Executive Branch financial conflicts of interest; and
Hold the lobbied and lobbyists to a higher standard of accountability.
These steps are an essential part of renewing our democracy, and to ensuring that it works for the people and includes everyone.
REDUCE THE CORRUPTING INFLUENCE OF MONEY IN POLITICS
Biden strongly believes that we could improve our politics overnight if we flushed big money from the system and had public financing of our elections. Democracy works best when a big bank account or a large donor list are not prerequisites for office, and elected representatives come from all backgrounds, regardless of resources. But for too long, special interests and corporations have skewed the policy process in their favor with political contributions.
Biden has advocated for public financing of federal campaigns since the very beginning of his Senate career. He first co-sponsored legislation to create a public financing system for House and Senate candidates in 1973. In 1997 and many years afterward, he co-sponsored a constitutional amendment that would have limited contributions as well as corporate and private spending in elections and prevented the damage caused by the Supreme Court in Citizens United.
Biden will reform our campaign finance system so that it amplifies the voices of the public, not the powerful particularly the voices of working Americans. Under his leadership, our system will make sure that the principles of equality, transparency, and publicnot privateinterest drive all government decisions. Toward those ends, Biden will:
Introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections. Biden believes it is long past time to end the influence of private dollars in our federal elections. As president, Biden will fight for a constitutional amendment that will require candidates for federal office to solely fund their campaigns with public dollars, and prevent outside spending from distorting the election process. This amendment will do far more than just overturn Citizens United: it will return our democracy to the people and away from the corporate interests that seek to distort it.
Enact legislation to provide voluntary matching public funds for federal candidates receiving small dollar donations. While we work toward a constitutional amendment, meaningful change can be made by legislation. Biden will propose legislation to provide public matching funds for small dollar donations to all federal candidates. This will especially help first-time candidates access the resources needed to compete, freeing them to focus on interacting with voters, not high-dollar donors.
Keep foreign money out of our elections. Biden will propose a law to strengthen our prohibitions on foreign nationals trying to influence federal, state, or local elections. He will direct a new independent agency, the Commission on Federal Ethics, to assure vigorous and unified enforcement of this and other anti-corruption laws. The Commission will establish robust disclosure requirements, so that any online electioneering communication that originates abroad is identified and flagged.
Restrict SuperPACs. The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United is wrong and should be overturned by a constitutional amendment but we can't wait to limit its pernicious effect. As president, Biden will work to enact legislation ensuring that SuperPACs are wholly independent of campaigns and political parties, from establishment, to fundraising and spending.
Increase transparency of election spending. Our campaign finance law is outdated, and Biden will update it to reflect the modern era. Too often, candidates and their allies now use online platforms like Facebook and Twitter to spread misleading or outright false ads that are micro-targeted to certain populations and unrecognized by the press. Biden will propose legislation codifying what should be a simple tenet of campaign finance law: any group that advocates for or against candidates for federal office in its ads or communications must disclose its contributors. No more hiding behind "dark money" groups to spread lies. This law will require all online ads, how they're targeted, and who paid for them to be posted by the groups to a public database on a new one-stop website, ethics.gov so no one can target voters with misinformation without attracting media or political attention.
End dark money groups. Federal law recognizes "social welfare" groups, also known as 501(c)(4)s, which were intended to advocate for specific causes. But after Citizens United, they've increasingly been used as dark money groups spending hundreds of millions of dollars on federal and state elections without disclosing their donors. Biden will enact legislation to bar 501(c)(4)s from spending in elections the same bar that applies to Section 501(c)(3) charitable groups. He'll also lead reform of the Federal Election Campaign Act, to ensure that any entity of any kind that spends more than $10,000 on federal elections must register with the Commission on Federal Ethics and publicly disclose its donors.
Require real time disclosure. Today, voters have to wait until after an election to fully learn who spent money to influence their decision. Biden will propose legislation to change that, by requiring campaigns and outside entities that run ads within 60 days of an election to disclose any new contributions within 48 hours.
Ban corporate PAC contributions to candidates, and prohibit lobbyist contributions to those who they lobby. Biden will ensure that lobbyists and corporate PACs do not play a role in our elections. Biden's presidential campaign is refusing any funding from lobbyists and corporate PACs. As president, he'll enact legislation to bar lobbyists from making contributions to, and fundraising or bundling for, those who they lobby. This legislation will be designed to ensure that the public knows as much as possible about the political spending of those who seek to influence officeholders and other government officials. Any lobbyist contribution must be disclosed within 24-hours, and any lobbyist-hosted fundraising event must be disclosed before it occurs.
Reform funding for national party conventions. Biden will propose legislation establishing that any political party that receives more than 5% of the national vote should have its national convention publicly financed. Primaries and the conventions that certify their results are good for democracy. Conventions should be, too. They should not be funded by corporate or monies interests.
Close the federal contractor loophole. As president, Biden will close the loophole that currently allows officers and directors of federal contractors to contribute to federal candidates. If you make money from government contracts, you should do so on merit not because of campaign spending.
RETURN INTEGRITY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND OTHER EXECUTIVE BRANCH DECISION-MAKING
The Attorney General and the rest of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) serve and protect the American people, not the private and political interests of the president. The same is true for other Executive Branch agencies. Yet time after time, President Trump has improperly sought to use DOJ to attack his political opponents and to shield him, his family, and his associates from any meaningful oversight or investigation. Trump has asked DOJ to prosecute Democrats and others who disagree with him; he has enlisted DOJ in his effort to keep his tax returns from seeing the light of day; and he has attacked the hard-working career prosecutors and agents who devote their lives to public service.
Trump has weaponized the DOJ against laws enacted by Congress and supported by the public like the Affordable Care Act, which has given more than 20 million Americans access to health insurance that they lacked before. He has similarly used his appointments and executive orders to ask Executive Branch agencies to stray from their mission directing the Department of Health and Human Services to dismantle, rather than enforce, the Affordable Care Act and asking the Environmental Protection Agency to excuse polluters, rather than to ensure clean air and clean water for the American people, as the law requires. It's wrong.
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