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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.

Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez still discussing revolving door bill

Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?

To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."

The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.

The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.

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Government Ethics
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GOP Rep. Chris Collins of New York at his August 2018 arraignment on insider trading charges.

Watchdogs want to extend limits on board service by House members

The prohibition on House members serving as directors of outside groups should include nonprofit and private company boards, not only publicly traded enterprises, three prominent watchdog groups say.

The House has barred its members from such corporate boards only since January. The new Democratic majority changed the rules largely in response to the case of Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York, charged a year ago with fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI in an alleged insider stock trading scheme involving Innate Immunotherapeutics, a biotech company where he was a board member. (Collins was re-elected last fall and is set to go on trial in February.)

The rules change resolution also set up a pair of House members to help the Ethics Committee recommend by the end of the year whether members and their aides should also be restricted from holding other outside positions.

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Mayor Pete Buttigieg headlines a list of seven presidential contenders who have pledged to make fixing the political system their first legislative priority if they win the White House.

7 candidates pledge to make democracy reform their first push as president

This story has been revised after additional reporting.

Seven of the 20 presidential candidates debating this week, but only two of the group polling in the top tier, have vowed to make revamping the political system and boosting government ethics their first legislative priority if elected president.

The seven made that commitment by signing the "Reform First" pledge drafted by End Citizens United, an advocacy group that is mainly interested in shrinking big money's sway over campaigns and governing. It announced the signatories on Monday.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is currently third in the average of surveys of Democratic voters, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., who ranks fifth, have signed the pledge. He turns out to be the only candidate who is unambiguously in favor of 17 of the most prominent proposals for fixing the political system, according to a comprehensive review by The Fulcrum of all the candidates' stances. Many of those proposals are the sorts of things End Citizens United wants to see in legislation moving in 2021.

But Warren and her Senate colleague Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who also signed the vow, are only a small notch behind Buttigieg in their fealty to the top items on the democracy reformer agenda. Both back 16 proposals unequivocally and say they're open to remaking the Supreme Court, without being solidly on board any specific plan.

The other signatories are Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas. All of them are polling at an average of 2 percent or less.

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Where the presidential candidates stand on the top issues of democracy reform

This story has been revised after additional reporting.

Steadily if still softly, anxiety about the health of American democracy has become at least a secondary theme in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Proposals for restoring the public's faith in elections, and a sense of fairness in our governing system, have now earned a place on most of the candidates' platforms. And more and more of them have been including calls for democracy reform in their stump speeches.

To be sure, the topic has not come close to the top tier of issues driving the opening stages of the campaign. In the first round of candidate debates last month, for example, the contenders collectively spent less time talking about democracy's ills than eight other issues: health care, President Trump's record, immigration, social policy, economic inequality, gun control, foreign policy and the environment.

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