This Won’t Pass–But It Should

In addition to her Corporate Accountability measure, discussed yesterday, Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced an “anti-corruption” bill, based on the highly dubious theory that We the People are capable of learning from our mistakes.

Nothing about Warren’s Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act should trigger Congressional outrage, but I predict that the blowback will be fierce; the Act’s assault on money in politics is pretty much guaranteed to enrage the plutocrats who are used to buying Congressional votes for their policy preferences.

As Vox describes it,

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) envisions a United States government in which presidential and vice presidential candidates must — by law — disclose eight years’ worth of tax returns and place any assets that could present a conflict of interest into a blind trust to be sold off (neither of which President Donald Trump has done).

Those two provisions are just the beginning.

Her proposed fix envisions a Washington where the president, vice president, Cabinet members, and congressional lawmakers have a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists, and other federal workers have restrictions — albeit less severe — on entering lobbying firms. The act would also bar federal judges from owning individual stocks or accepting gifts or payments that could potentially influence the outcome of their rulings.

And in Warren’s plan — laid out in a new bill called the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act— this would all be overseen by a new US Office of Public Integrity, which would go after violators and usher in a new era of ethics law enforcement.

The idea is to “isolate and quarantine the ability of big money to infect the decisions made every day by every branch of our government,” she said in a speech on Tuesday. That means all three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

The bill is designed to completely overhaul a system that has benefited politicians in both political parties. No more revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street, no more hiding tax returns, no more benefitting from inside information affecting stock ownership… Here are some of the key provisions:

  • lifetime ban on lobbying for presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges, and Cabinet secretaries.
  • Multi-year lobbying bans for federal employees (both Congressional staffers and employees of federal agencies). The span of time would be at least two years, and six years for corporate lobbyists.
  • Requiring the president and vice president to place assets that could present a conflict of interest —including real estate—in a blind trust and sell them off.
  • Requiring the IRS to release eight years’ worth of tax returns for all presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as requiring them to release tax returns during each year in office. The IRS would also have to release two years’ worth of tax returns for members of Congress, and require them to release tax returns for each lawmaker’s year in office.
  • Banning members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, White House staff, senior congressional staff, and other officials from owning individual stocks while in office.
  • Changing the rulemaking process of federal agencies to severely restrict the ability of corporations or industry to delay or influence rulemaking.
  • Creating a new independent US Office of Public Integrity, which would enforce the nation’s ethics laws, and investigate any potential violations. The office would also try to strengthen open records laws, making records more easily accessible to the public and the press.

The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act can be viewed as a companion, of sorts, to Warren’s  Accountable Capitalism Act, described in more detail in yesterday’s post.

Elizabeth Warren is often labeled “left-wing,” a description that says more about how tribal our politics has become than it does about her policy proposals. (Efforts to protect consumers from predatory business practices and the American public from corruption are neither Left or Right–unless you categorize upholding the rule of law as “Left.”)

Each of these measures goes to the heart of the problem being addressed; neither “nibbles” around the edges of systems that have outlived whatever utility they may once have had. Their virtue is that they “blow up” and replace systems that have become corrupted.

That virtue, of course, is also their fatal flaw, and why neither is likely to pass.


  1. Well, since it is the corrupt politicians themselves who must write and pass such a law, it is just a pipe dream from an idealist with true, patriotic intent. In other words, she will be ignored by her colleagues and all Republicans.

    Republicans have been mostly been responsible for building this morass of corruption and third-world institutions that perpetuate their hold on power. The welfare of the American people? Not so much.

    Nice try, Senator, but you just introduced the end game. The bloody battles to get ANY of this into law will be long and will probably extend past our lives’ ends.

  2. Perhaps Senator Warren’s submission of such bills are coming at the wrong time; like all else in this life “timing is sometimes everything”. The current Congress is supported by its own “Sugar Daddy”, Citizens United; as long as they are in control they are smart enough not to cut their own throats. Seating Kavannaugh on SCOTUS appears to be a foregone conclusion, again, “timing is sometimes everything”; his chances of being seated MIGHT be lessened if Democrats take some currently Republican occupied Congressional seats. But…and that is a big but…not until after January 1, 2019 when they would be inaugurated and have a voice in Congressional votes and on appropriate Senate and House committees. So Republicans know the “time is right” to push forward with Kavannaugh’s lifetime appointment to SCOTUS. No Democrat will never “have the ear” of this current president; they aren’t even invited to attend his secret meetings behind locked Oval Office doors.

    “The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act can be viewed as a companion, of sorts, to Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act, described in more detail in yesterday’s post.”

    As well as questionable timing; Senator Warren’s submitted bills contain terms which are verboten in the current corrupt Trump administration and Congress…”Integrity” and “Accountable”. These terms are not accepted as being “politically correct” at this time.

  3. It is good to see these goals for a better government spelled out in such detail. Pointing the direction that the country should take however, is far different from traveling down that road. The roadblocks and mountains in the way seem insurmountable. It isn’t just the ideology of half the country that keeps us immobilized; it is that most of the power and money is in the hands of that ideological group.

    While I do not see light at the end of the tunnel, I urge all to charge ahead into that dark tunnel and devote their civic lives to saving the idea and ideals of our country.

  4. Senator Warren is probably one of the brightest elected officials in Washington. Her proposals to save capitalism from itself are noble but are probably part of a much larger strategy to get other politicians on record about her proposal.

    If you’re an elected official serving the public, how could you possibly be against her plan???

    As an elected official working for the people, you should immediately add your name to any bill that controls corruption.

    But, but, our elected officials don’t serve the people. The corruption allows them to get rich quickly.

    Why would they not want to be millionaires?

    And yes, upholding the laws of the land is a “left-wing” position. But it’s closer to Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialism where the government is true of the people to benefit the masses vs a select few as mentioned yesterday by ML.

    From a corruption standpoint, the point is most corrupt on the far right and then lightens up as you move to the left. The DNC as a ‘center’ organization is controlled by large corporations.

    Warren needs to take her bill to the DNC and get them to endorse it. Choke, choke!

    All Democratic officials should sign this bill but I can guarantee they won’t. Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire??

    I believe this is a sound strategy primarily to point out who is against it which can be used later against those people by progressive challengers who will endorse it.

    One last comment about our Corporatocracy; the basic premise behind a market-driven economy is “rational agents.” Both buyer and seller must be rational and on the same level. That hasn’t been the case since the formation of our government. Once again, Einstein made reference to this in the 50’s. It’s much worse today because our Fourth Branch of Government is a sham.

  5. My hope is that within a few decades this all will be the accepted way of doing things. Our grandchildren and their children will look at today’s corruption and wonder how we ever saw ourselves as moral, how anyone could have rejected Elizabeth Warren’s proposals. It is a thin hope. That’s why I spend as much time as I can with my grandchildren,

  6. The trouble with many of the contributors on this site is that they harbor the insane idea that you can fight corruption by following those who are LESS CORRUPT. If you want to clean-up corruption you better start from a place that is not corrupt. Has anyone ever heard of a CLEAN-UP campaign led by the LESS CORRUPT.

    Pardon my ETHICS, but I know from experience what I’m talking about. As a U. S. Treasury Department attorney, I led the Political Corruption Task Force against illegal political contributions which concentrated on the State of Louisiana, and as a State Attorney in Jacksonville, I led the White Collar Crime Task Force which concentrated on illegal activities in Duval County, Florida.

    If you want to fight the massive corruption of the Trump Administration and those BEHIND IT, you have to at least start from being CLEAN.

    Elizabeth Warren is our only chance for change. I would strongly suggest following Theresa’s lead as there is no other choice than to——“charge ahead into that dark tunnel and devote their civic lives to saving the idea and ideals of our country.”

  7. Pass? The legislation won’t even get a hearing in committee.

    Sadly, I predict that Democrats will not seize the opportunity to use this legislation in their campaigns this fall. It ought to be easy. Congress has all the esteem of a cockroach, and Democrats could say, “We know you’re tired of how Congress behaves. We hear you, and we think America deserves a better Congress. We’re backing this legislation even when it may not be in our self-interest because it’s in your interest.” They could pound on the Republicans for nit-picking flaws in the legislation rather than championing the ideas behind it. They could pound on the Republicans for not supporting the legislation.

    But all of that would, you know, require a spine.

  8. Speaking of corruption…. Have you seen where a PAC has submitted a FOI request to the Trump administration for the complete security clearance application of a Democratic woman running for Congress in Virginia? Un-redacted. COMPLETE PERSONAL HISTORY! And the Trump administration GRANTED that request. It is, of course, completely illegal to do that, but what do the Trump-ites care about legal? Just win, baby, even if cheating is required.

  9. It has been said that virtue is its own reward, so perhaps the Senator’s proposals are giving her that warm, fuzzy feeling we all love. That would be a good thing, because these bills certainly won’t pass in this Congress or the next. We should all pray that she sees them passed in her lifetime.


  10. Marv is, of course, absolutely right in his comments. The effort to push back the corruption that permeates our gov’t in every level needs to start now. How our continued penchant for turning a blind eye to what we see and read about all the time, and also grumble about, has to stop period. A lot of what used to be done in back rooms and other hiding places is totally out in the open today for us to see and yet, again, we don’t really pay much attention to it as if it’s unnecessary consequence of governance. It is not and we as citizens need a hold our lawmakers to the various standards that Sheila outlined in her piece. For us to have continued trust in our governmental institutions, particularly given the stress that is currently on them because of the knucklehead we have in the White House and his corrupt Cabinet there’s no time to waste. It has to start now and while Senator Warren’s efforts may be easily seen as being idealistic idealism is always been a part of the American national character.

    We need to rediscover that and seized this meandering that we’re doing where we’re throwing stones at corrupt politicians and other governmental officials when we could be doing so much more. We have to remember that this is OUR government!

  11. Years ago my father told me why he was a Democrat. He said, “All politicians steal. The Democrats steal from the rich and the Republicans from the poor. Remember son, you ain’t rich.”

    While this is a bit more complicated nowadays as the Democrats have drifted right since he died and have begun to pilfer more and more from the poor and middle class, there is still reason to choose D’s over R’s. What is the reason? While it is true Democrats have strayed, the Republicans have become more and more rapacious and there is no end whatsoever to their greed. What is more, there never will be.

    Liz and Bernie are the lights at the end of the tunnel. Theresa is right, we cannot see them clearly yet, but they are there.

    Teddy Rooseveldt once said (I do not claim to quote him perfectly as this is from memory) “Supposed you are stranded on an island and you want to build a boat. It would be nice if you had all the tools to make the job easy, but you don’t. You have to use whatever you have.”

    That is the situation we face. The Dems aren’t perfect. We need to change them. We won’t be able to do it from the outside. We have to get inside the organization by elected good candidates–and if we can’t find the exact person we need–elect the one nominated and change them if they don’t respond to our needs.

    Vote blue. Begin the change!

  12. Tom,

    Doesn’t the following sound too familiar? It’s just a different place and a different period of maturation:

    “The easy victories of National Socialism, which has never had to face any powerful opposition, have not only given it a feeling of irresistible strength but prevented its strength from being effectively tested.” p. 116

    “The weakness of the whole German system, which no one capable of judgment can deny, render the future entirely uncertain. The nation itself bears the plainest marks of its injuries. This nation, driven,hunted, hopeless, obeying only impulses from without, continually shaken out of its composure, robbed of it self-reliance, in constant anxiety, losing spirit, losing elasticity, but excited into hysterical outbreaks, has become a SICK NATION, MENTALLY UNBALANCED AND NEUROTIC. Such a nation is not in condition to face a new war. Its features betray panic and a DANGEROUS READINESS FOR HATRED. National Socialist propaganda has aroused and excited it destructive natural forces. The political role of the masses may have been reduced to insignificance, but as a natural force they remain formidable and untamed. National Socialism has destroyed the inhibitions that lay between their desires and destructive outbreaks. The diminishing suggestive influence of propaganda must lead one day to violent mass action, to slave revolts directed against all social order.” pp. 116-17

    “Above all, National Socialism has not welded State and nation into a new social order. It is precisely in this OMISSION that it betrays the absence of doctrine in its revolution, its NIHILISTIC character. It fulfilLs neither the principle of the participation of ALL in spirit nor that of national integration. A remodeling on a vast scale has begun in Germany, and the result is difficult to foretell. The OLD is gone beyond the possibility of recall. The conservative elements have delivered themselves up to destruction, and so have destroyed their right of existence in their present shape. The German revolution has opened the door to a complete reconstruction of the social order.” p. 117

    “The Revolution of Nihilism: Warning to the West” by Hermann Rauschning (Alliance Book Corporation, New York, 1939).

    As you have so well stated: “The effort to push back the corruption that permeates our gov’t in every level needs to start now. How our continued penchant for turning a blind eye to what we see and read about all the time, and also grumble about, has to stop period.”


  13. Too bad Elizabeth Warren appears to have no interest in running for President. I suspect the the Corporate Democratic Party would fight against her tooth and nail.
    Just two weeks before New Yorkers head to the polls to decide who will be their state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon offered an ambitious alternative to the toxic status quo entrenched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who she characterized during Wednesday night’s highly anticipated debate as emblematic of the kind of “corrupt corporate Democrat” who has prevented the party from achieving necessary objectives like criminal justice reform and Medicare for All.

    “We already have a corrupt corporate Republican in the White House,” Nixon said at the start of the hour-long debate, which was the first and likely only time Cuomo and Nixon will share a stage before next month’s election. “We don’t need a corrupt corporate Democrat in Albany as his main opposition.”

    Bolstering Nixon’s claim that Cuomo is subservient to the interests of corporate donors, Capital & Main reported just hours before Wednesday’s night’s debate aired that Cuomo halted an investigation into the Manhattan district attorney’s decision not to prosecute Hollywood producer and accused serial abuser Harvey Weinstein on sexual assault charges, just as the firm of Weinstein’s lawyer gave Cuomo’s campaign $25,000.

    From Glenn Greenwald >> Andrew Cuomo is a pure, walking embodiment of everything rotted & wrong with the Democratic Party. And yet, in a blue state, and with a progressive challenger who’d be the first female & LGBT Governor, the entire Dem establishment – from Hillary to Biden – is united behind him.

  14. Monotonous,

    It look like to me, Elizabeth Warren is posturing herself to run for President, somewhere between Bernie and Hillary. I bet she can pull it off and will be the Democratic Party nominee for President in 2000.

    Vote Blue!

  15. If the NRA will endorse Senator Warren’s bill, the bill will have an excellent chance of passing. But not in my lifetime.

  16. There are bright beacons of shining lights in the Democratic Party like Elizabeth Warren and then there is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the clique of Corporate Democrats.
    Sparking More Calls for His Ouster, ‘Utterly Useless’ Chuck Schumer Cuts Deal With McConnell to Fast-Track 7 Trump Judges.

    In addition to openly refusing to pressure his caucus to unite against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is also helping his Republican counterpart ram through Trump’s far-right lower court nominees at a torrid pace.

    Sparking immediate outrage from progressives, Schumer cut a deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday that allowed the GOP to fast-track votes on seven of Trump’s federal court nominees in exchange for… well, it’s not exactly clear what he received in return, outside of getting to go home for a few days.

    Just hours after the deal was reported, all seven judges were confirmed, with the help of some Democrats. Because these judges—selected with the help of the right-wing Federalist Society—are relatively young, they are now in a position to shape American law for decades to come, threatening the planet, workers, and women’s reproductive rights.

    The Senate took six recorded votes on Trump’s nominees today. Only senators to vote NO six times: Booker, Brown, Durbin, Gillibrand, Markey, Menendez, Merkley, Sanders, Schatz, Udall, Warren.

    Senators who voted YES six times: Donnelly, Hassan, McCaskill, Tester.

    Adam Jentleson, public affairs director for Democracy Forward, argued in a lengthy Twitter thread late Tuesday that ultimately Democrats’ refusal to use all the procedural tools at their disposal to block Trump’s right-wing court picks is due to a complete lack of political will at the top of the party.

    “This comes down to leadership. Senate Democratic leaders could take a stand and station one senator on the floor at all times to object, forcing McConnell to jump through interminable hurdles and produce 51 votes—twice—for each nominee, likely resulting in fewer lifetime Trump judges,” Jentleson noted.
    The statement above that “to block Trump’s right-wing court picks is due to a complete lack of political will at the top of the party”, is so true. The Reactionary Right Wing Republican Party will unite and fight to the bitter end, using every trick in the book. The Corporate Democrats toss their weapons away and run, run, run from the political battlefield. Cowardice in the face of the enemy.

    Once again Joe Donnelly, (Republicrat from Indiana), votes FOR President Agent Orange’s and Pastor Pence’s federal court nominees.

    The Corporate Democrats have chosen not to run on issues, but like to project – the Vote Blue Crap as a cure all to President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence. When Corporate Democratic Party has a chance to actually oppose President Agent Orange, they lose any semblance of backbone and crawl away.

  17. Try not to forget:

    “I skate to where the puck is gonna be, not where it has been.”
    ~Wayne Gretzky, famous ex-National Hockey League player

    The last time I checked, ice skating was still very popular in Massachusetts.

  18. I imagine her proposed legislation will hit the floor with the biggest and loudest ‘thud’ to ever occur on Capital Hill.

    I really hope Warren considers running for President in 2020. She would have an excellent chance of being elected.

  19. Sen. Warren like Sen. Sanders; is indefatigable. I am ashamed of the way representatives and fellow Senators have treated her. Those people do not represent the United States I was taught we should be, not one! Ruffians and scoundrels that need a good kick in the ass from the People – but then they run and insulate themselves from the very people they represent! – It better change such that we deal with the corruption and treason soon, because it is going to change one way or the other and none of us are going to like it if we just stood by and did not speak to it! that is my feeling on the matter – Sen. Warren is an honorable person – and damn the treasonous trump loving lot.

  20. Some days it’s not clear what people here expect of what has become our only political party. There are days when people say that they are a do nothing lot. When they do something the tune changes to it will never pass or the country is doomed, nothing can save it, and it’s foolish to try.

    To me Elizabeth Warren is a bright beacon of hope and there are others. There are people in Congress who are still willing to fight tooth and nail for the liberal democracy that our founders fought for also.

    It’s up to us to support them just as tenaciously as their efforts are to support us. It’s up to us to applaud their efforts and recognize their courage. It’s up to us to elect only people who will also support such efforts.

    This may not yet be a shooting war (there are so many shootings going on it’s hard to tell what they’re about) but it’s a war which will determine our future nevertheless.

    Wars have to celebrate courage and honor hope and whenever such is displayed cheering should be our response not grumbling.

    We need to be so much better people in our moral judgement that those whose daily dose of entertainment fills them with anger and hate and fear.

  21. i like liz, and read a few pieces on this very bill,, its out there,and probably wont get much traction,but,,,,,if staged in increments,over a few years,it may fly, be aware, when the anti gun bills come around,they load them up so much,they never pass, again,games in congress. money isnt people,its bribbery,and graft. get the lobbist off the property,run a background on them,and have it available to the public,for every measure they seek to forward.. like the clinton help,seems they had no dedication,as many of them were working with the right,to make the reforms trump is pushing..seems its money in their pockets over our democracy..kick em off the property..
    new idea,,
    lets make America,America again!

  22. As I have written elsewhere, Warren is my current choice for president and is running for president as surely as are Booker, Hillary, Harris, Bernie, Warner, Biden and others. Her bill, as I wrote yesterday, will not pass but is valuable nonetheless because it sets standards which, if her bill is ever passed and followed and enforced without fear or favor by an apolitical agency, will finally and actually drain the swamp, not only for today, but for tomorrow in ending the revolving door between government service and, for instance, Lockheed, Northrop, Boeing, among other evils.

    As for where we start, and as some have suggested, that only the pure may dictate policy, we are human and imperfect and that criticism is a phony frame. We start from where we are and who we are to arise from the slime and corruption of the swamp, a swamp greatly enhanced with our election of a psychopathic and clearly ill executive who blathers almost entirely for the purposes of diverting our attention from reality to his Otherworld of narcissism and alternative reality via claims made or denied that are false on their face.

    I think Warren’s offering may someday be law, but don’t hold your breath. The libertarian Kochs and Mercers have the wherewithal and congressional connections to keep the swamp full of choices for the rich and few if any for the rest of us. How to end such congressional bribes masquerading as “campaign contributions” under Citizens United and, I hope, thereafter legislate public financing of elections? Here’s how we do it > We recharge our democracy and drain the swamp by electing different people to the Congress this November 6 who reject Koch/Mercer funding in an election that could hardly be more critical to a continuation of our democracy, our most important asset held in common and without which we are just another banana republic, so let’s vote as though our democracy depended upon it – because it does.

  23. This is a wasted effort. The CFPB was a good idea too. But it seemed to mobilize the right which saw it as another bureaucracy creating rules outside congressional purview.

    It’s impossible to legislate integrity. People are either principled or they’re not. Principled people know what is acceptable and what is not and they are not constantly testing the limits of the law. I think releasing tax returns is a reasonable start and could have wide support. The rest should be accomplished by asking candidates for office or federal employment to take a pledge to stay out of lobbying for whatever seems like an appropriate number of years. And let the news media keep track of how well those pledges are kept.

    We also have problems where close relatives are lobbyists. Should we restrict that too. I don’t know just how far we can go to prevent the spread of undue influence. I would like to require that all meetings with lobbyists be treated like open meetings, recorded, and subject to FOIA. Any private meetings with lobbyists would be illegal. I’d also like to require that equal time be given to citizens and groups with no lobbyist affiliation. I don’t know that any of this can be done either.

    Not all lobbyists are bad and it’s not necessarily bad if someone leaves office and uses his/her experience as a lobbyist. Lobbyists also work for a lot of different groups – not just greedy corporations. So let’s focus on shining a light on the process of lobbying and not focus all of our energy on restricting it.

  24. Really like Senator Warren; she is one of our brightest in Congress. I do not want her to run for President; she is much more valuable in the Senate.
    I agree with the majority of her bill but unless it is done in small segments, I don’t think it will get very far in Congress.

Comments are closed.