U.S. Rep. Castor: First bill of new Congress is sweeping package of Anti-Corruption and Fair Elections Reforms


Date: Jan. 7, 2019
Location: Washington, DC

Today, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) outlined the bold set of reforms under the For the People Act that will put power back in the hands of Floridians and the American people by ending the dominance of big money in politics; making it easier, not harder, to vote; and ensuring that politicians actually serve the public interest.

"The For the People Act represents the most important ethics reform in a generation. Following the chaos and corruption that has dominated Florida elections, especially last year and Washington under Republican leadership, the first order of business for me and my colleagues in the new majority is to make critical reforms to fight back against special interests and restore responsible governance that reflects the priorities of my neighbors -- middle-class, hardworking families," U.S. Rep. Castor said.

"Floridians know all too well how meaningful these reforms are. This past November, my neighbors stood up to restore the voice and power of over 1 million Floridians when we overwhelmingly voted to adopt Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution," U.S. Rep. Castor continued. "This broke the cycle of systemic discrimination that barred nonviolent ex-felons who have paid their debt to society from exercising their right to vote. H.R. 1 continues the effort to ensure Americans' voices are heard on a national level. In addition, the 2018 midterm elections in Florida will go down as one of the most expensive in history -- the U.S. Senate race as THE most expensive ever -- and clouded by dark money. This poses a serious threat to our democracy. H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money, as well as levels the political playing field for everyday Americans and ensures there are cops on the campaign finance beat."

H.R. 1 makes critical reforms across three key areas:

1) Voting Rights

Improve Access -- H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at key institutional barriers to voting, such as burdensome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. H.R. 1 creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail and early voting and modernizes the U.S. voting system.
Promote Integrity -- H.R. 1 fights back against Republicans' assault on voting rights by committing Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act; prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere; and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. H.R. 1 also ends partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.
Ensure Security -- H.R. 1 ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill enhances federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, and increases oversight over election vendors.
2) Campaign Finance

Guarantee Disclosure -- H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring any organization involved in political activity to disclose its large donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called "social welfare" organizations.
Empower Citizens -- H.R. 1 levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, empowering individuals with a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests' stranglehold on politics and enable Congress to advance an agenda that serves the American people.
Strengthen Oversight -- H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat that will enforce the laws already on the books. H.R. 1 tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission to break the gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms. It also repeals U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.
3) Ethics and Accountability

Fortify Ethics Law -- H.R. 1 breaks the influence economy in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slowing the revolving door, preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement -- H.R. 1 gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, closing registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents, ensuring watchdogs have sufficient resources to enforce the law and creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.
U.S. Rep. Castor serves on the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee and as chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. She focuses on issues important to middle-class families and lifting communities across the country, such as higher-wage jobs, economy, investments in research and infrastructure, environment, quality and affordable healthcare coverage, and consumer protection.