McGehee is executive director of Issue One, a cross-partisan political reform group. (It is incubating, but journalistically independent from, The Fulcrum.) She leads its Don't Mess With US project to stop foreign interference in our elections.
The debate around election security has been fierce and full of misinformation in recent days. Now that it's circled all the way back around to the cable news and pundit class, it is time to clear the air around what's quickly devolved into a partisan, points-scoring exercise.
Foreign interference is a national crisis, and stopping foreign interference is about the integrity of our elections, not political wins.
Remember: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and others don't see political party; they see weaknesses and vulnerabilities to exploit and divide our nation. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we need a strong and unified response because they are working to weaken America as we speak. This impacts all of us.
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.
Issue One is the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington. We unite Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system. We believe we are uniquely positioned to seize this historic opportunity and win bold, national political reforms — to strengthen ethics laws, reduce the influence of big money on politics, modernize elections and end the pay-to-play culture in Washington. Our Reformers Caucus of more than 200 Republican and Democratic former members of Congress, Cabinet officials, and governors is the largest bipartisan coalition of its kind ever assembled to advocate for solutions to fix our democracy.
Plenty of the special fundraising committees that members of Congress are supposed to use to help their congressional peers continue to be used instead as slush funds for their own fancy eats and fun in the sun, a new report concludes.
"All Expenses Still Paid" was issued Wednesday by a pair of campaign finance reform advocacy groups, Issue One and the Campaign Legal Center, that have done several previous studies of the behavior of leadership political action committees, which lawmakers establish separately from their re-election organizations with the stated aim of raising money to be donated to the House or Senate campaigns of their political allies. (The Fulcrum is being incubated by Issue One but is journalistically independent.)
But less than half of the money spent by all leadership PACs in recent years has actually gone toward contributions to other candidates and political groups, the groups found. Instead:
- Members used their leadership PACs to spend more than $87,000 in the last three months of 2018 at upscale restaurants near Capitol Hill, including 13 members who spent $16,939 at Charlie Palmer Steak.
- Four members spent a combined $113,000 through leadership PACs last fall at Sea Island, a luxury resort in Georgia, while three others spent almost $73,000 at Kiawah Golf Resort just up the coast in South Carolina.
- Among the members called out in the report were Republican Rep. George Holding of North Carolina, who directed only 18 percent of the $321,000 he spent between January 2017 and December 2018 to other candidates and political groups. Only 32 percent of the spending by the leadership committee of Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York during this same period went to candidates and political groups.
Legislation, introduced in the House in January, would extend to leadership committees the personal use ban that applies to campaign committees. No action has been taken on it.