Home Virginia Politics The First Issue: Addressing Political Money, Ending Corruption

The First Issue: Addressing Political Money, Ending Corruption

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What issue is your issue? What drives your passion for politics?

I’m a relatively new transplant to the Northern Virginia community, but I understood from the start how fortunate this place is to be filled with such strongly progressive voices. Battling climate change, expanding access to affordable health care, pushing for compassionate immigration reform – the residents of Virginia’s 8th congressional district are guided by staunchly progressive values.

But as Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard often says – while each of these issues is deeply important, they cannot be the first issue. The first issue is tackling the systemic corruption that has engulfed the American political system. Special interests and the power of money in our political system have rewritten the rules.

I have been following the race to succeed Jim Moran with interest. This is a field of remarkably qualified candidates, each ready to profess their progressive credentials. But from the very start, I have been shocked at how rarely political reform issues have been raised.  

Virginia needs to be ground zero of this debate. The values instilled in the 8th district bleed into the perspective of the greater Washington community. On a state-wide level, the desire for real ethics and campaign reform are on the rise. In many respects, this state will come to represent the challenges in framing these issues across the nation leading up to the midterm elections this year.

Let’s stand up and make these reform issues our issues. Let’s actively shape the debate.

At the candidates’ forum this past weekend in Mount Vernon, the money-in-politics question was finally addressed one hour and forty-five minutes into the debate. By and large, the right things were said. Yes, we need to overturn the disastrous Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon. Yes, we need to push for publicly funded elections so candidates can stop spending the majority of their time asking for checks from donors and more time talking to actual constituents. Yes, we need to maintain tight restrictions on contribution limits and controls on outside “dark money” groups. Yes, we need to expand voting rights and make it easier to participate in elections in the 21st Century.

But more than this, we need to make these topics some of the defining issues of the race. Unless a genuine grassroots movement can support real, systemic reform, not a lot is going to change in this particularly ineffective Congress. In whatever small way, I'd like to help make that happen. And I could use your support. Let’s form working groups to help address this issue – the first issue – not just in VA’s 8th district but across the state and region.

Today, the FEC contribution reports will be released. I will be reviewing the disclosures and will search for irregularities between what the candidates say in public verses who they accept money from behind closed doors. I would love your help.

Moving forward, we need to work together to make sure our progressive values are heard loud and clear. Everyone has an important issue – but we must all agree to first and foremost fix the process. Let’s stop this blatant corruption in our political system and again establish a government of, by, and for the people of the United States.

  • check this out:

    Some of the biggest corporate names and philanthropies were represented by U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie before he made his first bid for public office this year, according to a list of 15 clients the Republican pol released Monday.

    The business roster for his now mothballed Ed Gillespie Strategies firm featured some of the most powerful and influential global industries, sectors such as energy, telecommunications, technology, and health care.

    Among them: America’s Natural Gas Alliance, American Petroleum Institute, AT&T, Bank of America, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, The Brunswick Group, DCI Group, Facebook, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USTelecom, Microsoft, RATE Coalition, Republican State Leadership Committee, Univision, and Walgreens.

    My “favorites”: the oil and gas lobbies. Hmmmmm.

  • Dan Sullivan

    So, you’ll have a lot to be passionate about when it comes to ethics and money in politics.

  • Tom

    Is there any clause in the constitution that might make it possible to remove (impeach ?) one or more of the so-called “justices” when they repeatedly and deliberately misinterpret the constitution and completely disregard the validity of existing Federal law ?

    I’ve always believed since I first read the constitution that appointment to the court should not be a lifetime appointment, with no possibility of removal for cause. But even more basically, there should be a specified length of term and a term or time limit at which time a current Justice’s term has ended there should be a requirement for re-appointment hearings in Congress. Even “Virginia’s Way” for state judge appointments is less corrupt.

    Even more basically than what I’ve just said is that no matter who we elect to Congress and no matter what anti-corruption laws may be passed, the Supreme Court with no higher authority to correct (and punish) their deliberate failure to perform their sworn duties they will still continue to make the same pro-corruption rulings until all the current fools die.

    I’d work even harder that I worked for Jim Webb in 2006 for a Congressional candidate who promised to present a bill that if passed would specifically place some limits on the absolute powers of the Supreme Court. But I think even the most minor limits would still require a constitutional amendment which would not ever be confirmed by the states with unlimited money to defeat it in every state.

    So, does that means our only recourse is to elect congressmen who will at least attempt impeachment, even if the court rules it is unconstitutional ?

                       T.C., PWC Dem.

  • That places him second to Don Beyer, at least so far (still haven’t heard from several 8th CD Dem campaigns) in money raised in the 1st quarter of 2014. Levine also shows nearly $300k “cash on hand,” which is an impressive number. Fascinating…

    Mark Levine Releases First Quarter Fundraising Numbers

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    4/15/2014

    ALEXANDRIA- Mark Levine, candidate for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, will report to the Federal Election Commission that his campaign raised $322,808 for the period covering January 1 to March 31. Levine, who entered the race on February 17, will show in his FEC filing that his campaign raised money from 307 individual donors and ended the period with $299,278 cash on hand.

    “This is a people powered campaign,” Mark Levine said. “People from across the district and across the country are excited about my candidacy. Voters want an aggressive progressive voice that will stand up for progressive principles in the House.”

  • Congressional Hopeful Suzanne Patrick Outraises Incumbent Congressman Scott Rigell

    Showing strong momentum in 2014, Suzanne Patrick raised over $177,140 in the first quarter of 2014, outraising the incumbent Scott Rigell by over $18,000.

    “I’m humbled by such a strong showing of support. Clearly, people in Hampton Roads are excited about bringing new leadership to Washington,” said Suzanne Patrick. “Hampton Roads is clearly ready for someone who focuses on growing our economy, strengthening the middle class, and being a bipartisan voice to protect, promote, and represent the core values of this district.”

    But Patrick’s strong financial support demonstrates more than just excitement. With more than 90% of her contributions from individuals and 51% of donations being $100 or less, Patrick’s campaign is rooted in strong grassroots support.  This grassroots strength can be tapped over and over again because the average contribution of $563 is way below the allowable limit, making her campaign financially strong and sustainable. This stands in contrast to Rigell, who relied on Washington PAC money to raise 40% of his cash in Quarter 1.