There is a widespread problem of potential government contractors attempting to “buy” lucrative government contracts through campaign donations known as “pay-to-play.” Public Citizen has advocated for state and federal legislation to curtail pay-to-play abuses. Only a few states, however, have implemented some form of pay-to-play restriction, though the ranks appear to be growing in light of new contracting scandals. View our chart of state pay-to-play restrictions (PDF).
Stop Insider Trading in Washington!
The Securities Exchange Commission has no authority to stop members of Congress, their staff and federal employees from using non-public information to make insider trades on the stock market. Public Citizen is calling on Congress to eliminate this accountability loophole. Read more about our campaign to end insider trading in Washington and see our letter in support of a bill to ban it. You can also help us convince congress to pass the “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge” Act. Read our latest letter and statement against Congressional insider trading.
Public Citizen Calls on Transportation Secretary LaHood to Allow States to End “Pay-to-Play” in Government Contracts
Public Citizen sent a second letter urging Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to end the Federal Highway Administration’s practice of withholding highway funds from states that attempt to curb corruption by enacting “pay-to-play” reforms. We are calling on LaHood to rescind the previous administration’s policy and allow states to ban the practice of exchanging cash for contracts. Read the press release here.
How to Change Washington
A central theme of the 2008 presidential race was the need to fix Washington. President Obama, for example, said during the campaign, “to fix health care we have to fix Washington.” In order to change politics as usual, the fundamental problems caused by the undue influence of contributions on 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 reform the nation’s campaign finance laws. Read our coalition statement to learn more.
Take Action for Fair Elections!
More than ever, our elections are about which candidate can raise the most money from corporate interests. Under this flawed arrangement, candidates find themselves beholden to special interests, and those without access to wealthy donors cannot afford to run for public office. It’s time to change the system. It’s time to bring full public financing to our elections. You can help reform the system by supporting the Fair Elections Now Act.
Voters First Pledge
Congressional candidates should sign the Voters First Pledge to make elections fair by creating an alternative to the money chase in congressional elections. You can learn more about the pledge and take action today!
Tell the Senate to Go Digital
The current system for senators to submit campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission is a maze of back-and-forth between agencies that requires printing and re-typing the same information repeatedly. The result is an annual $250,000 bill to taxpayers and the delayed release of information to the public. Take action!
Sham Issue Ads
In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL), the Supreme Court struck a strong blow to the ban on corporate money paying for election advertising, ruling that an exemption must be made for “genuine issue ads.” Fortunately, the FEC has upheld the ban, though the definition of “genuine issue ads” was widened. Voters should be aware that far more sham issues ads paid for by corporate interests are likely to overwhelm the airwaves now.