The following, from 2021 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, would be a good start at reforming the corrupt, pay-to-play “Virginia Way.” I’d add that we need to professionalize the legislature, by such things as increasing the length of sessions, expanding professional staff, paying legislators a lot more, enacting much stronger ethics rules, etc. As for getting any of this passed, who knows, but to date, bills on these topics seem to die in subcommittee or committee every year.
Jennifer Carroll Foy Releases Sweeping Plan to Fight Corruption in Politics
Elevating the voice of the people, Carroll Foy’s plan includes a ban on corporate contributions and unlimited personal donations, new lobbying restrictions
(Woodbridge, VA) – Today, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy released a comprehensive plan to fight corruption in politics and elevate the voice of the people in politics. For far too long, special interests like Dominion have dominated to buy elections and tune out the voices of everyday Virginia voters. Carroll Foy’s plan focuses on campaign finance reform and lobbying restrictions in order to strengthen democracy.
“When politicians give special interests a seat at the table, they kick the people out of the room,” said Carroll Foy. “Virginia has a well earned reputation for corruption, with two governors facing FBI investigations in the last eight years. It’s far past time to pull back the curtain on behind-the-scenes political dealings with corporations and special interests and close the loopholes that facilitate a rigged system.
“Constituents have a right to know who advises their representatives, and cozy relationships with lobbyists must end. We’ll take action as an administration to stop the undue influence and corruption in our government. In order to serve the people, elected officials need to listen to the people, not special interests.”
Highlights of the plan include:
- Ban political contributions from corporations. Large companies with massive financial resources should not get an elevated seat at the table. Under a Carroll Foy administration, Virginia will follow federal leadership and prohibit corporate donations.
- Limit contributions by individuals, PACs and party committees to candidate committees in Virginia to the federal limit, currently $2,800 per election. Campaign finance limits should preserve the right of individuals to donate to political campaigns, but at levels that don’t allow our legislative process to be purchased by the highest bidders. The Carroll Foy administration will work to impose limits on individual political contributions to candidates with a mechanism to index that limit for inflation in future cycles.
- Ban lobbyists, their immediate family members, and their employers from making political contributions to candidates. This proposal has worked in other states, such as Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
- Restrict legislators or state elected officials from lobbying for five years after leaving office. Currently, Virginia has one of the weaker cooling off periods in the nation, banning elected officials from becoming a registered lobbyist and lobbying their former colleagues for only one year after leaving office. The Carroll Foy administration will fight for a longer cooling off period.
- Require candidates and officeholders to disclose the names and clients of any lobbyist who works on their political campaigns, paid or unpaid, or on transition teams for new officeholders. Each Virginia campaign or transitioning officeholder will be required to publicly disclose any lobbyist who has worked with them in any capacity, as well as that lobbyist’s clients, so that their constituents know who is advising them.
- Enact a tax on excessive corporate lobbying and raise lobbyist registration fees. Use the proceeds to boost the resources of legislative staff to increase the independence of legislators from lobbyists. Many legislative positions are underfunded. When lawmakers cannot rely on policy experts paid by taxpayers to advise them on legislation, that vacuum is too often filled by lobbyists funded by wealthy special interests.
- Update and modernize the statutory definition of a “lobbyist” to include shadow lobbyists, requiring all who are engaged in de facto lobbying work to register as a lobbyist and disclose their activity. Current Virginia law does not effectively capture all de facto lobbying activity, as it does not include individuals who are technically employed for purposes other than lobbying, but may still interact with elected officials in a manner that constitutes de facto lobbying.
Jennifer Carroll Foy has dedicated her life to service. As one of the first women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute, a former foster mom, a magistrate judge, and public defender, Jennifer has embodied the ideals of community, honor and commitment in every facet of her life. During her time in the legislature, Jennifer led the way on the Equal Rights Amendment, proudly supported the successful fight to expand Medicaid to over 500,000 Virginians, and passed a budget that includes a 3% salary increase for teachers. She is a proud mother to twin three year olds, and wife to her husband Jeff, who she met her first week at VMI.