When corruption is legal.
Our blog isn't really about politics, because we want to stay positive, but given the local news cycle I wanted to share a bit of old news posted to www.facebook.com/NotMeUsUnited .
"New Jersey is in the midst of a contentious gubernatorial election year with front runners Phil Murphy (D) and Kim Guadagno (R) leading local news cycles. New Jerseyans haven't been happy with any governor in my lifetime from Christine Todd Whitman through, Chris Christie or any of the scandals in between. But regardless of party or who you support, there is no question that our current administration under Christie is the most openly corrupt. If you don't believe me, just ask Exxon.
For Exxon's relatively small donation to the governor's Association ($500,000), Christie's administration made a 9 Billion dollar judgement against the the company go away, settling for only $250M. This is after New Jersey already won its case and the only issue to be decided was the amount in damages.
NJ is in a fiscal crunch and that 9 Billion would've gone a long way in correcting the damage done to NJ Marshlands by the company, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, restoring raided police pension funds or perhaps even lowering New Jersey's crippling property taxes.
But in a system where money talks and people walk, corporations will always win over people. We should all fight for enacting the American Anti Corruption Act."
(Source https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/opinion/gov-christies-bad-deal-with-exxon.html )
The Act works to:
1 STOP POLITICAL BRIBERY
Make it illegal for politicians to take money from lobbyists.
Politicians get extraordinary sums of money in the form of campaign donations from the special interests who lobby them. In return, politicians create laws favorable to these special interests – even when those laws hurt voters.
Under the American Anti-Corruption Act, people who get paid to lobby cannot donate to politicians.
Ban lobbyist bundling. Lobbyists regularly bundle together big contributions from their friends and colleagues and deliver them in one lump sum to politicians. This turns lobbyists into major fundraisers, giving politicians an incentive to keep them happy by working political favors.
The Act prohibits lobbyists from bundling contributions.
Close the revolving door. Lobbyists and special interests routinely offer public officials high-paying lobbying jobs. Politicians and their staff routinely move straight from government to these lucrative lobbying jobs, where they get paid to influence their former colleagues.
The Act stops elected representatives and senior staff from selling off their government power for high-paying lobbying jobs, prohibits them from negotiating jobs while in office, and bars them from paid lobbying activity for several years once they leave.
Prevent politicians from fundraising during working hours. Most federal politicians spend between 3 and 7 hours a day fundraising from big donors instead of working on issues that matter to voters.
Under the Act, politicians are prevented from raising money during the workday, when they should be serving their constituents.
2 END SECRET MONEY
Immediately disclose political money online.
Current disclosure laws are outdated and broken. Many donations are not disclosed for months, and some are never made available electronically, making it difficult for citizens and journalists to follow the money in our political system.
The Anti-Corruption Act ensures that all significant political fundraising and spending is immediately disclosed online and made easily accessible to the public.
Stop donors from hiding behind secret-money groups.
Elections are being flooded with big money funneled through groups with secret donors. These secretive groups spend money directly to influence elections and make unlimited contributions to super PACs, which run ads to elect and defeat candidates.
Under the Act, any organization that spends meaningful funds on political advertisements is required to file a timely online report disclosing its major donors.
3 FIX OUR BROKEN ELECTIONS
Politicians are intentionally drawing the lines around voters in order to guarantee their own re-election and give their political party an unfair advantage.
The Anti-Corruption Act ends gerrymandering by creating independent, fully transparent redistricting commissions that follow strict guidelines to ensure accurate representation for all voters, regardless of political party.
Let all voters participate in open primaries.
By controlling the primaries, the political establishment controls which candidates we can vote on.
The Act makes all candidates for the same office compete in a single, open primary controlled by voters, not the political establishment. This gives voters more control over our elections and more choices at the ballot.
Let voters rank their top candidates, avoid “spoilers.”
Outdated voting systems force voters to choose between the “lesser of two evils” at the ballot box or vote for a “spoiler” candidate.
Under the Act, voters can rank their top candidates, allowing them to support their top choice without fear of inadvertently helping elect the other party’s candidate. If their top choice isn’t going to win, their vote transfers to their second choice, and so on. This makes it easier to elect independent-minded candidates who aren’t beholden to establishment special interests.
Automatic voter registration
Our voter rolls and registration systems are outdated, error-prone, and costly. New and proven systems can save taxpayer money and ensure that all eligible voters are able to participate on Election Day.
The Act automatically registers all interested eligible voters when they interact with government agencies – whether it’s when they go to the DMV, get a hunting license, apply for food assistance, or sign up for the national guard. Voters can always opt-out from being registered. Information is transmitted electronically and securely to a central source maintained by the state.
Vote at home or at the polls
Election Day is a mess. Forcing voters to take time off from work and their families to stand in long lines on a Tuesday is ineffective, insecure, and outdated.
The Act improves voter service by sending ballots to voters at home and allowing them to mail it back on their own timeframe, or drop it off at a professionally-staffed voting center. Voters can still vote in person or receive assistance at a voting center.
Change how elections are funded.
Running a political campaign is expensive, but few Americans can afford to donate to political campaigns. That makes politicians dependent upon – and therefore responsive to – a tiny fraction of special-interest donors.
The Act offers every voter a small credit they can use to make a political donation with no out-of-pocket expense. Candidates and political groups are only eligible to receive these credits if they agree to fund raise solely from small donors. The Act also empowers political action committees that only take donations from small donors, giving everyday people a stronger voice in our elections.
4 ENFORCE THE RULES
Crack down on super PACs.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that super PACs can spend unlimited money influencing elections, so long as they do not coordinate directly with candidate campaigns. Since then, there has been tremendous coordination between campaigns and their super PACs, making a mockery of the “independence” the Supreme Court said must exist.
The American Anti-Corruption Act enforces the Supreme Court’s mandate by fixing the rules aimed at preventing and punishing super PAC coordination.
Eliminate lobbyist loopholes.
The definition of “lobbyist” is weak and outdated. As a result, lobbyists regularly avoid disclosure, and former politicians and their staff can receive big money to influence politicians without formally registering as lobbyists.
The Act prevents lobbyists from skirting the rules by strengthening the definition of lobbying and penalizing lobbyists who fail to register.
The Full text of the Act can be found here: