How Do We Remove Corruption From Our Political System?
In this proposal, we intend to revamp the means by which campaign funds are collected and spent. We intend to define clearly who can donate money, how much they can donate, who can spend it and for what purposes. (Specifically, we are talking about those running for President, the Senate and the House of Representatives. There is no reason, however, why it or something similar should not become the norm in all elections at all levels.) In addition, once elected, they will be unable to receive anything of value from any source other than from their government salaries and funds earmarked for the operation of their office. We also intend to eliminate money spent on behalf of someone running for office other than that coming from campaign donations. Finally, we intend to make it impossible for a politician to make an immediate transition to the lobbying ranks and begin attempting to influence their former colleagues almost immediately upon leaving office. The details of our proposal follow.
I. Collecting money in order to run for office
- Only individuals of voting age who are citizens of the United States are permitted to contribute money to political candidates. Further, no more than $500 may be contributed by an individual per candidate per election cycle. An election cycle begins when a person declares him- or herself to be a candidate and ends when an official (president, senator, representative) is elected. The candidate him- or herself is subject to the same cap.
- A candidate may only collect money from American citizens who live within the jurisdiction he or she aspires to represent.
- No non-monetary donations of any kind may be made to any candidate. This includes but is not limited to travel, lodging, supplies, etc. Individuals may volunteer unlimited amounts of their own time.
- No individual may receive or spend any money for the purpose of obtaining office prior to becoming an officially acknowledged candidate. Further, no other individual may receive or spend money in an endeavor to aid someone else prior to that person becoming an officially acknowledged candidate. At that point the candidate may receive the capped amount from individuals only. An individual becomes officially acknowledged as a candidate when he or she proclaims and announces that fact.
II. Disposal of unused campaign funds
- The money donated can be spent on the primary and election campaigns, nothing else. Money not spent does not belong to the candidate. Any remaining funds at the end of each election cycle must be distributed to certified charities active in the candidate’s jurisdiction and those charities must not have any relationships with the candidate which can cause any conflicts of interest. The choice of charities must be made known and be readily available to the public before fundraising by the candidate begins.
- The only money that can be spent in a candidate’s quest to win a primary or general election are the campaign funds collected by the candidate as previously described. The only exception to this involves money spent by volunteers as described in item 1. above under ‘Collecting Money in Order to Run for Office.’
III. Spending money in operating the office once elected
- Funds necessary to operate the office will come from government sources only. No non-government sources may pay for any activity performed by an elected official or his or her office and staff.
- No office holder may receive funds for entertainment, travel, ghostwriting position papers, books, speeches, etc., from any outside source. The group writing proposed legislation will consist only of legislators and their staffs. Any individual or group can submit proposals for legislation. The proposal’s content must be written in a way that the American public can understand.
IV. Earning money while in office
- The office holder shall not earn any money other than his or her government salary. The only exception is that received from savings and investments. (Investments must comply with existing law.) Examples of sources of income not permitted include but are not limited to speeches, books, articles, personal appearances, consulting, paid vacations, trips, dinners, physical gifts of any amount, etc.
- The office holder shall not receive any gifts from any source during his or her term. Officeholders may not have their expenses paid for trips of any sort. This includes trips to give speeches, visit a company, an individual or anything else. In short, if something is worth doing by an officeholder or his or her staff, then the government must pay for it.
V. Upon leaving office
Elected officials may not accept any position outside government in which they can influence government decisions for a period of three years. If the most remote possibility exists that government decisions may be influenced, then the three-year waiting period applies.
VI. Role of and Funding for Political Parties
Political parties at all levels – national, state, county and city or town, etc. – are Special Interest Groups. They are, however, different from others in that their objectives are political, i.e., their main reason for existence is to elect their members to office. Political parties provide a useful setting for like-minded people and they should be able to do some things that other Special Interest Groups cannot. Political parties are subject to the same rules as other Special Interest Groups except they may do the following:
- Write platform, mission, position and issue papers in any form including multimedia and make them available to their candidates
- Develop strategies
- Organize and run conventions
- Recruit candidates
- Create ads and other promotional material and make them available to candidates. They can not, however, pay the cost associated with running the ads or the cost involved with use of any other promotional material by the campaign
- Funding for political parties may come only from individuals who are citizens of the United States and live within the geographical area of the organization to which they donated the funds. Individuals may contribute up to $400 per year per level (national, state, county and city or town, etc.). The money may be divided among more than one party. An individual is limited to a maximum of $1600 per year.
- No non-monetary donations of any kind may be made to any party. This includes but is not limited to travel, lodging, supplies, etc.
- Money received from individuals and not spent during the year may be carried over to the next year
Summarizing the key points, only individuals living within the candidates’ jurisdiction may contribute up to a capped amount. Nobody else. Those prohibited from making campaign contributions include among others corporations, trade and labor associations and Special Interest Groups of all kinds including those espousing, say, ethnic, nationalist and social causes. Finally, it precludes political parties from contributing any money to campaigns.