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The State of Reform
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Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.

The story behind the indictment of Ohio Speaker Larry Householder is "just another normal tale about the sway cash has over politics in recent decades," writes Jeff Clements.

Bribery — or business as usual in our dysfunctional political system

Clements is the president of American Promise, which advocates for amending the Constitution to allow more federal and state regulation of money in politics. He was previously an assistant Massachusetts attorney general.

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This image of Russian leader Vladimir Putin behind an American flag illustrates the findings of a new report that Russia, China and others are trying to inject foreign funds into U.S. elections.

Report: Foreign powers exploit election law weaknesses to interfere in U.S. elections

A chilling new report outlines how Russia, China and other authoritarian regimes have used weaknesses in campaign finance and financial reporting laws to launch attacks on the political processes in the United States and elsewhere.

The report, released last week by the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, found that authoritarian regimes spent more than $300 million in the past decade on dozens of interference campaigns.

Among the foreign powers' methods of attack: government-funded disinformation; funneling money to campaigns through straw donors, nonprofits and shell companies; and providing in-kind donations to U.S. and other Western politicians.

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Big Picture
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During their own presidential bids, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris emphasized their commitments to different pieces of the fix-the-system wish list.

While ticking the boxes, Democratic ticket hasn’t pushed the reform agenda

Americans are getting their most extensive and unfiltered look this week at the national Democratic ticket, whose election could set in motion the tackling of a democracy reform agenda that's been totally stalled for four years.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the marquee speaker Wednesday at the party's unprecedented virtual convention, have embraced almost all of the most prominent ideas for fixing the country's political system — although with different and complementary areas of focus.

The big question, in the minds of advocates focused on restoring democracy's credibility, is where such proposals would fall on a Biden administration's list of priorities. Except for a recent burst of talk about ensuring a credible and mostly vote-by-mail election, the two candidates have not emphasized improving democratic governance all that much, and the topic received only sporadic mention during the convention's first two nights.

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More than two dozen legislators have already signed on to the donor disclosure measure.

In wake of scandal, bipartisan push in Ohio for money-in-politics transparency

Days after the speaker of the Ohio House was charged with racketeering, colleagues from both parties are lining up to bolster the state's donor disclosure laws.

By Thursday, 22 majority Republicans and five Democrats in the General Assembly had signed on to a measure requiring political advocacy groups to begin naming the original sources of their funds and file disclosure reports with the state.

The bill's prospects are not certain. Still, it's an unusual level of bipartisan collaboration — at either the state or federal level, and especially in an election year — to bolster regulation of campaign finances in hope of controlling the secretive influence of special interests over campaigns and then governing. Good governance groups see mandating this sort of sunshine as essential to the running of a clean democracy.

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