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tv   House Oversight Reform Committee on HR 1 Legislation  CSPAN  March 4, 2019 9:02pm-12:34am EST

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registration. meetsuse rules committee to set the guidelines tomorrow evening. we have live coverage at 5:00 p.m. eastern. hr one moves to the house for wednesday. lawmakers will debate the measure over the next couple of days with an expected boat -- expected vote friday morning. they held a three and a half hour nearing -- meeting on the measure.
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>> the committee will come to order without objection to the player recess at any time. forll now recognize myself an opening statement. today, we are holding a hearing , the fourth of people
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act. myone, introduced by colleague, john surveys, a senior member. wean's our veins, not only for his vision, but also his tenacity and -- his hisblood tears blood, sweat and tears over this. it is one of the boldest actions to be considered. this will clean up corruption in government, fight secret money and politics and make it easier for american citizens across this great crunchy -- great country to vote. believe we should do everything in our power to make easier for american
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citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, not making it harder. we should be making it more convenient, not less. we should be encouraging more people to cast their votes, not fewer. we should be promoting early , votingabsentee voting by mail and other ways to help citizens cast their ballots, not rolling back these very important programs. unfortunately, some people disagree, including most republicans. they think we should make it harder to vote. they think we should make it more difficult by cutting back on early voting, eliminating polling places and taking other steps to reduce the number of especiallydo vote,
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troubling in some cases, they have engaged in illegal efforts to suppress the vote that target minority communities. for example, north carolina through legislative lines in the fourth district and the court found the long -- lines were drawn with almost surgical precision to suppress the vote. -- eligible voters off the rolls and caused widespread problems, particularly in areas with minority populations. kansas moved to the outskirts of only polling and place for 27,000 residents, most of whom were minorities. there is something wrong with that picture.
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hr one would address many of these problems. the bill would institute procedures to automatically register eligible voters and put in place protections to keep rolls. the correct voter it would expand early voting and and maintainng enough polling sites so everyone can easily cast their ballots. itch mcconnell has described as a power grab by democrats. he is right about one thing. it is a power grab, but it is not by democrats. whos by american citizens voted for reforms in the last election and sent a clear message that they want to
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exercise their constitutional right without interference. today, our hearing will focus on the part of hr one that is within our jurisdiction, which puts in place strong reforms for the executive branch for stop -- executive branch. for example, title eight includes ethics reform. officials from fromting payments private-sector employers in exchange for their government service. garywould have prevented cohen from receiving more than $100 million of accelerated payments from goldman sachs while leading the trump administration's efforts to slash corporate taxes. title eight also includes
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another bill i introduced, the transition team improvement act. requireislation would transition teams to have ethic plans in place and make those plans publicly available. title eight would also prohibit senior federal employees that affect the financial interests perspective employers. they could obtain waivers for this requirement, but those waivers would have to be made public. it would also make clear that congress expects the president ,o divest in business holdings just as every single president since jimmy carter has done and place them in an independent trust. both experts want president
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trump to do this years ago, but he refused. they warned that every decision he made could be questioned and the american people would rightly wonder whether he was serving the nation or his own financial interests. unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened over the past two years. the american people gave restore a mandate to democracy and cleanup the government. they went greater transparency. hr one makes good on that promise. it is a broad step towards restoring a government that works for the people. that gives me great honor to recognize the author of the bill .
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mr. sarbanes. mr. sarbanes: thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate you having this hearing on h.r. 1. also want to salute some of the new members on the dais here because they came with this message pinned to their chest. americans from across the political spectrum want a democracy that works for themmers a democracy where big money doesn't dominate, the political debate where access to the ballot boxes are ensured to all citizens and where public servants work for the public interest. like any system, our republic
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requires regular maintenance. without it the gears grind down, the operating systems fail, and the people's democratic will is ultimately compromised. this is what's happened to our democratic institutions over the past few decades. we have failed to beat back the new inventive ways that moneyes that found to corrupt our politics. we have failed to modernize our election system, and we have failed to implement meaningful ethics rules. no wonder the public's faith in elected representatives is flagging, why confidence in our democratic constitutions is near historic lows and why cynicism is so high. h.r. 1, the for the people act, is about giving the americans their republic back, unrigging the rules of american democracy by fighting back against big money in politics, ensuring all americans can vote and ending partisan gerrymandering and enacting tough new anti-corruption measures. today's hearing, mr. chairman, will be an opportunity to examine the imperative for and the design of anti-corruption measures that are included in h.r. 1, and i very much look forward to that discussion. mr. chairman, h.r. 1 will give
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americans their power back in our democracy. the power of the ballot box, the power of political voice, and the power of accountable representative democracy. put plainly, these reforms are not partisan. they're patriotic. we can and must do better to work together to repair our democratic institutions. many of the provisions in here actually incorporate bills that have had bipartisan support in years' past. i hope my colleagues on the other side of the dais will join us in the effort to strengthen our democracy. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. mr. cummings: i yield to the distinguished member, mr. lynch, one minute.
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mr. lynch: thank you very much, mr. chairman. my legislation that is incorporated in this bill, my bill h.r. 391, is the white house ethics transparency act which would simply require the trump administration and future administrations to automatically disclosetics waivers that they issued to executive branch officials. these waivers allow former lobbyists, consultants who previously worked for the private sector and present a significant conflict of interest with their positions in the sdemreck tiff branch to nevertheless participate in matters in which their prior employers or clients have a stake and pursuant to the bill, disclose uste must be submitted to the independent office of government ethics within 30 days
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and o.g.e. websites. mr. shaub is well aware of this. one of our witnesses. early on the white house just refused to say whether and when they had given waivers to various lobbyists to go work in his administration. so the inclusion of this section of the bill will prevent that from happening in the future. yield back the balance of my time. mr. cummings: i yield the final two minutes to mr. raskin of maryland. mr. raskin: with your leadership, with the robust new majority in the house of representatives, it's a new day in washington. a great republican president, abraham lincoln, spoke of government of the people, by the people, for the people and that's always been the tantalizing dream of america. it's our role as congress to guarantee that we are a government of the people, but today the executive branch is drowning in big money corruption, self-dealing and lawlessness. they said they were going to drain the swamp, mr. chairman. they moved into the swamp. they built a hotel on it and they started renting out rooms to foreign princes and kings and
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governments. it is our job to restore government by the people in america which is why i'm thrilled to introduce the executive branch comprehensive enforcement act with senator blumenthal on the senate side. it would give subpoena power to the office of government ethics. it will allow formal proceedings take place there. it makes clear it extends to all white house personnel as well as executive branch agencies. it authorizes the office of government ethics to order corrective actions like divestiture, blind trust, recusal and have appropriate administrative penalties if they trample our laws. it protects the independence of the office of government ethics by providing the director can be removed only for cause. so it strengthens the independence of the office of government ethics to make sure we can ferret out the corruption that's now pervasive in the trump administration. i yield back, mr. chairman. mr. cummings: thank you very much. i now yield to the distinguished
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gentleman from ohio, the ranking member of our full committee, mr. jordan. mr. jordan: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank our witnesses, as well, for being here. normally when you start a new congress, the majority gives the designation of h.r. 1 to its key priority. last congress h.r. 1 was the most significant tax reform, tax cut package in a generation, returned millions of dollars to americans, simplified our tax code, and was one of the key reasons, i think, we've seen five million new jobs added to our economy in the last couple years. that bill, the tax cuts and jobs act, was bold, realistic, and it was signed into law just over a year ago. i think it's also helped create the lowest unemployment in 50 years, an economy that's moving in exactly the direction we want. this congress, the democrats' h.r. 1 is the so-called for the people act. more accurate title would be for the people who want democrats to win elections from now on. it includes a laundry list of proposals designed to benefit the majority by tilting the playing field in their favor. it's not a stretch to label many of these proposals radical. you can laugh, but it's true. h.r. 1 would steer potentially billions of dollars to political allies in the name of campaign finance empowerment, restriction americans' right to free speech and exact political retribution
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on the president of the united states. unfortunately, this is not all surprising. this is the latest on a series of attacks to stifle a free range of ideas. 2013, we learned that the i.r.s. targeted conservatives for their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle. systematically for sustained period of time, they went after people for their conservative beliefs. plan in place, targeted people, they did it. the gross abuse of power would have continued if not for the efforts of this committee. 2014, the obama administration doubled down and attempted to use the i.r.s. rulemaking process to gut the ability of social welfare organizations to participate in public debate. congress has so far prevented this regulation from going into effect but h.r. 1 would change that. furthermore, this bill would roll back another critical victory for free speech secured last summer. following this effort by this committee and others, the i.r.s. changed its policy as it relates to schedule b information. schedule b contains personal information like names,
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addresses, and the amounts donated to nonprofit entities. even though this information is supposed to remain private under current law, states and federal governments have leaked these personal details in the past. in changing its policy, the i.r.s. noted there had been at least 14 breaches resulting in the unauthorized disclosure of schedule b information just since 2010. the result was everyday americans receiving death threats and main containing white powder all because -- all because someone disagreed with what they believed and who they gave their hard-earned money to. the reason that the protection of schedule b information is important has nothing to do with the vast conspiracies on the right or the left. the so-called dark money issue. rather, it dates back to the supreme court's 1958 decision. critical decision. the naacp vs. alabama, which formerly recognized the freedom of association and prevented the naacp from being compelled to turn over information about its members. look, i haven't even got to all the other problems with that bill.
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this bill, mandatory -- talk about violation of the 10th amendment and our federal systems. mandatory early voting by mail, felons can vote. how about public financing of campaigns? the taxpayers have to pay for the politics agencies campaigns. taxpayers have to pay for the same politicians who created the swamp, who are in the swamp so they can get re-elected. this is what this legislation does. there's much that can be done to improve the functioning of transparency and effectiveness in the federal government. however, this 571-page bill reads more like a wish list for the democratic party than an honest attempt at reform. i fear this legislation is a sign our friends in the majority want to play games, engage in
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political theater, rather than use this time to work constructively to find solutions for hardworking americans that sent us here. mr. chairman, i would like to yield -- i think we have a few more minutes left. i want to first yield to the gentleman, if i could, from tennessee, mr. green, two minutes. mr. green: thank you, mr. chairman. h.r. 1 should be called fill the swamp act. it seems every year that passes more and more power is shifted away from the people and into the hands of wealthy elites in weafrpblt these politicians and bureaucrats can't help themselves from micromanaging more and more of our everyday lives. from roads and bridges, firearms, relationships with our doctors, even our toilets, these freedom and federalism-hating politicians can't seem to help themselves. and now, now they want to decide how we can run our elections in tennessee. you want to tell tennessee to
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enact same-day voter registration with no time for verification? you want to tell tennessee we can't require i.d.'s to be shown at the polls? increasing the likelihood of voter fraud? you want to tell tennessee that some unaccountable commission gets to draw our districts? you want to tell tennessee it has to subsidize far-left-leaning candidates in other states with our taxpayer dollars? how dare you. how dare you tell tennessee what we can do with our elections. this bill is wrong. it is a power grab. politicians -- politicians that want to give the federal government more power. does the majority party care about voter fraud? well, then let's allow states to have voter identification laws. does the democrats suddenly care about foreign interference in our elections?
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why are they allowing illegal immigrants to vote? the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. the fact remains there is no constitutional authority for the federal government to come down and seize control of elections in tennessee. the constitution creates a federalist system with power dispurse disbursed amongst the people. i will keep my oath to uphold the constitution, and my promise to tennesseans to drain the swamp. thank you. i yield back. mr. jordan: mr. chairman, i'd like to recognize the gentleman from texas for two minutes. >> thank you to the distinguished ranking member. i'd like to co-sponsor the remarks from my friend from tennessee. i wholeheartedly endorse all what he said as well as what mr. jordan just said. one question i'd be asking as we look into all of this -- why are we so divided as a nation? i say in part because we try to govern from washington 320, 330 million people with solutions here from the swamp in direct contradiction to the very
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republic our founders gave us looking ahead at knowing what it would look like if we tried to do that. mr. roy: we are a republic. we are a republic for a reason. we have a structure of government for a reason. that structure of government serves to preserve our inalienable god-given rights. that structure of government has served well-to-do those things. and that structure of government recognizes the importance of states in the decisionmaking process across the vast majority of the issues we're supposed to deal with. when we take our eye off the ball of the core constitutional functions we don't end up well. we end up with $1 trillion deficit pile up on $20 trillion of national debt. yes, both parties are a part of that problem.
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we end up immersed in foreign wars that continue, as the president pointed out last night. we end up with spiraling health care costs because the president immersed itself into washington instead of allowing the people and markets and states to function. now, we want to extend into every aspect of every issue of voting, issues that are supposed to be left to the states so people in the states can decide who they want to send to washington, whether they are in the senate or in the congress. we will undermine the very structure and core of this government further if we pursue this path down h.r. 1. thank you. mr. jordan: mr. chairman, for our remaining two minutes, i'd like to recognize the gentleman from georgia. >> i thank the ranking member. i join with my colleagues in just being extremely alarmed by h.r. 1 and 600 pages, almost every page has issues of great concerns.
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just one small part of that, the chairman mentioned a while ago the automatic voter registration. mr. hice: it forces states to automatically register people which may sound good on the surface but what it will do is open the floodgates for fraudulent voting by illegal individuals in this country. and here's how. here's what happens. these illegals who come into this country use government services and programs and under h.r. 1, the information collected by these services and programs would automatically be transferred to election officials for registration. and there's only one safeguard in h.r. 1 and that is for the illegal alien to publicly declare they're here illegally and they're not eligible to vote. how can we really expect that to happen? it's not going to happen, for them to draw attention to themselves and identify themselves as being here illegally and therefore
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ineligible to vote. so simultaneously, when an illegal alien fails to decline, fails to recognize they're here illegally and they're ineligible to vote, despite the ineligibility, they cannot be prosecuted. so this bill is just going to make it extremely difficult to maintain accurate voting records. it's going to open the floodgates for fraud. so what we basically have here is a proposal that will lead to more illegal aliens registering to vote, making it virtually impossible to prosecute them and making it difficult for states to clean up their voter lists.
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in process, what happens to the american voter, it waters down the power of their vote by allowing illegals to do so. it makes those who are eligible, their votes, to have less impact. so i'm very concerned. i thank the gentleman and i yield back. mr. jordan: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. cummings: thank you. i want to thank all of our members for your statements. and now all members will have 10 legislative days in which to submit opening statements for the record. ladies and gentlemen, today we welcome five distinguished witnesses to our committee. mr. walter shaub is the former director of the office of government ethics and now serves as a senior advisor to citizens for responsibility in ethics in washington. mrs. karen hobert flynn is the president of common cause, a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to
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upholding the core values of american democracy. mr. rudy mehrbani is the former director of the office of presidential personnel and now serves as a senior counsel at the brennan center for justice. mr. scott amey is the general counsel for the project on government oversight and finally, mr. bradley smith is the chairman of the institute for free speech. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses who appear before our committee must do so under oath. i now ask each of you to stand and raise your right hand to take the oath.
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do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? everybody has answered yes. let the record reflect that. i will now recognize each witness to present the testimony i want to remind the witnesses we have your written testimony before us so you don't have to read it all. we have it. and i ask you since we have five witnesses and a lot of members to ask questions, that you obey the lights. you will get a warning light and then once it is red please stop and let us move on to the next witness.
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>> thank you chairman cummings and the committee for asking the project on governmental oversight to testify. i am the general counsel from a nonpartisan independent watchdog that exposes ways, corruption, and abusive power. one, which we support, is an opportunity to make good on the bipartisan work this committee has performed and reforming the ethics system with all of the emerging challenges and then to improve the office of government ethics, expand restrictions to senior-level officials, title eight and hr one is a step forward improving consistency in enforcement but more importantly to reduce improper influence , over government decisions , missions, programs, and spending that are often contrary to the public interest. groups have assembled over a decade to correct the revolving door and cozy relationships that
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revolved in unlevel playing field. we have reported on this. the 2018 report shows that lobbying was the occupation of -- lobbying was the occupation leftoice when people public office. door onthe revolving the department of defense, questions about having a personal or private interest and gaining an unfair competitive advantage, all of which is to the detriment of the public. hr one would close the gap with that conflict of interest standards especially the , provisions in title eight. we support those provisions related the office of government independent, slowing
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--gram amber currrent program and procurement codify , the presidential ethics pledges. this came to light during the obama administration when wall street executives expanding cooling off periods coming and leaving the government to increase transparency. with the limited time i will briefly highlight the top three. the office should become an first, independent agency with new authorities to ensure consistent enforcement all government wide. when appropriate, approval over resolutions, and any work usual -- any recusal or waivers from the ethics rules. increase transparency to give investigative power and the authority to issue legal remedies when ethics violations are found. we support those provisions for removal for the director. those calls would preserve the
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and helpindependence with continuity after turnovers within the administration. we have heard stories of pressure coming from the top as agency ethics officials and that must end. second, admitting the integrity act is essential. we need to strike the provision allowing former officials to work for companies that contracted with her oversaw, so long as they go to a different part of the company. we cannot risk officials to leverage their relationship with the company for future employment, calling into question the decisions made while they were in government. additionally, those officials should not be allowed to access former colleagues, creating an unfair competitive advantage. a senior air force official left the government to take the position with the boeing missiles position. prior to leaving government service she played a role with contract to of a boeing for refueling tankers, and she stated she agreed to the higher price even as she agreed
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it was not appropriate as a parting gift with boeing. it also allowed her to keep a job with the boeing company. she pled guilty to a separate ethics violation. these violations were not exposed by officials. it was senator mccain who found them while investigating the tanker deal and became concerned with the plaintiff revolving door concerns. then, hr one will codify the pledge made by president since 1993, making it law. laws only ethics exists at the whim of each president. that would add continuity and prevent the pledge from being revoked on the president last day in office, as was the case with president clinton. in 1965, president johnson issued the executive order stating every citizen is entitled to complete confidence in the integrity of his or her government.
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that order is the foundation for our ethics system today. our support of title eight in the improvements i am detailed today are realistic and necessary to prevent conflicts of interest. hr one is a step forward reducing improper influence over and the bad deals that harm the our government and the bad deals that harm the public. thank you for inviting me to testify. i look forward to answering questions from the committee and working with the entire committee to further explore how federal ethics and conflict of interest can be improved. >> thank you. >> thank you chairman cummings and ranking member jordan and members of the committee for holding this hearing. i would also like to think the congressman for leadership championship -- championing restoring people's trust in our government. one final note of thanks to speaker pelosi for her commitment to make this the first order of business in the new congress.
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i am president of common cause a , national nonpartisan organization with 1.2 million supporters. for nearly 50 years we have worked to strengthen the people's voice in their democracy. i'm here to testify in support of the people act. first, americans have not been waiting for washington to fix what ails him in our democracy. we have been working at the state and local level the path pro-democracy reforms. this is the second consecutive election cycle where voters have passed 95% of the democracy reforms on the ballot. in red and blue and purple 2018, states passed democracy reform with strong support from republicans, independent, and democratic voters, including voting rights restoration in florida, same-day registration in maryland independent commissions,ng automatic photo registration in
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nevada and michigan, an independent ethics commission in new mexico, and anticorruption package in missouri. also these kinds of reforms embodied in nature one, campaign finance disclosure, ethics, and others others also , passed with bipartisan support in state legislatures. those embodied in hr one are not lofty, untested ideas. most are pragmatic solutions already working in the city or state somewhere in the country. the solutions are proven to work, and in many cases, save taxpayers money. the timing of this legislation has never been more important as americans grow more frustrated and cynical about our state of politics. while every presidential administration has in our nations history, had various other vocal challenges we have , never seen so many corruption scandals or appalling lack for ethics rules that should govern the executive branch than with this administration. we have a series of reports that details dozens of challenges and
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conflicts that have plagued this administration in the last two years. the american people want transparency, honesty, and accountability from elected representatives. they do not want their elected leaders to use public office for private gain to enrich their businesses, their wealthy donors, their family, or themselves. we believe tough ethics laws like those that we are talking about today will strengthen the government office of ethics, with independent oversight tools, prevent the assault on our values and self-government. my written testimony outlines our support for all the measures before the committee today, and i will add two more comments. one is i would agree with chairman cummings that we should make election day holiday. we have found as we do election protection, nonpartisan election protection across the country,
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that with aging infrastructure in machines malfunctioning and a , peoplepoll workers have long lines up to four hours. many working americans cannot afford to take four hours off of their day in order to vote. making it a holiday would be a huge difference. in addition we strongly support pinnacle --cts in and clinical fundraising act because americans deserve to , know if people are nominated to serve in the executive branch have raised money to benefit from special interest from those industries their spouse to regulate. there are currently no requirements from presidential appointees to disclose if they have solicited funds or contributed funds for political businessto associations. we think this loophole should be closed. we don't work on these issues just to look good but we pass reform so the government can be more responsive to the needs of
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everyday americans. you will hear some who benefit from the current system use tired arguments saying the current system works fine. the american people do not believe the current system is just fine. you'll also hear people talking about the to justify first amendment billionaires, corporations and special interest spending millions of dollars on politics while our children, families, schools, and communities and environment suffer. polls show people want bold ethics reforms, to clean up the system, and get people more votes in our democracy. we look forward to working with this committee. we believe this is a strong package. there are always elements that could be strengthened. we look forward to the questions ahead. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> thank you chairman cummings and ranking member jordan and for the opportunity to testify the committee in support of house resolution one. the brennan center enthusiastically supports hr one
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. it would be historic legislation , it addresses long-standing problems with our system of self-government -- long lines, vast sums of dark money, harmful rules and practices that make it harder for many, especially voters of color, to cast a ballot. the ongoing challenges of gerrymandering, in adequate election administration, and at risk technology. it addresses these issues with ground breaking reforms proven to work. automatic voter registration , small donor matching, redistricting commissions, early voting. it is fitting this is the very first produced in the congress today. i will focus on title eight ethics reform for the federal officers and employees. the response of the guard rails over a number of years are a strong first step to restore accountable and ethical government. we have long assumed all presidential administrations would follow long-standing
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ethics practices and ideals not required by law. for example, following precedent over the last 40 some years to publicly release tax returns and voluntary comply with conflict of interest laws that apply to other executive branch employees by divesting from potentially conflicting assets to keep them in a blind trust. striving to avoid the appearance of improper undue influence in -- in the formation of policy. striving to fully enforce ethics laws. firstly, these commonsense practices the presidents for both parties on for decades can no longer be taken for granted. this means new laws are needed to compel a commitment for ethics and ensure cabability. as i detail in my written testimony, when presidents and agency has do not lead on ethical issues, it can result in ethical lapses. of other laws like
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appropriations laws, and violations of revolving door prohibitions. this results in an incredible waste of taxpayer resources and seriously harms public trust and faith in government. from my experience in government presidential leadership filters , down throughout the administration. when i ran the presidential personnel office, we followed certain practices not just because of my office's commitment, but because president obama demanded we have the ethical personnel process . that meant we work collaboratively with the office of government ethics and strengthened lobbying restrictions even it was not required by law. some have said more rules would deter talented individuals from serving in government, but many of the rules have long been voluntary followed by administrations. some administrations went further and supplemented those rules. what was the result?
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a historic number of americans expressing interest to serve in an administration. arguably the most diverse administration in history and appointees who on average served in their positions longer than their predecessor. strong ethics laws insured to -- laws, in short, help recruitment. a recent poll shows only one third of americans trust americans -- trust government to do what is right. more than three quarters of voters ranked corruption in government as the top issue in the 2018 election with almost one third calling it the most important issue. at the same time, we know americans are yearning for solutions to these problems and real action on the solutions. this congress was elected with highest voterr -- turnout in a midterm since 1914. many of you pledge to reform democracy. across the country, measures
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were passed by large bipartisan margins for reform. voters spoke really -- clearly, the best way to respond to attacks on democracy is to strengthen it, which is what hr one does. we urge you to pass it. thank you i look forward to , answering your questions. >> chairman and ranking member and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to talk about the ethics reforms in hr one. i served in office of government ethics as director before that and as a career official and in my 14 years i have been intimately involved in protecting the principle that public service is a public trust . based on this experience i know how urgently we need reform. that's why i support hr one. -- the executive branch focuses on prevention oge -- prevention.
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oge has no real enforcement. limitations prevent any effective use of this authority. oge can ask for investigations and request copies of records but has no power to do anything if the requests are ignored. lacking enforcement tools it relies on the director's ability to persuade or shame officials into doing the right thing. this was never ideal but it works fairly well for four decades. during my time in government presidents bush and obama were reliable supporters of oge, and show government ethics is not a partisan issue. we now find ourselves in an ethics crisis. the trigger was president trumps refusal to divest his conflicting financial interest. this radical departure leaves the public was no way of knowing how personal interest are affecting public policy. what we do know only raises questions.
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for example, questions surround president trump's response when individuals associated with the saudi government murdered "washington post" journalist who was a resident of my home state. we can only wonder if his business interests influenced his decision. certain russian businesses or his decision with the silicon giant why did they scrap the plan to move headquarters? because president trump didn't want a competitor so close to his hotel? these are a few examples. the heads of six agencies have stepped down under a cloud of ethics issues. at least seven appointees have resigned under an investigation or security clearance concerns. the office of special counsel has found nine appointees violated the hatch act and dozens of pending ethics
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related investigations. hr one kicks off what i hope will be a waiver of reform. just on theot current crisis but issues that predate the administration. for example, it addresses big payouts to incoming officials. these golden parachutes raise concerns about and appointees loyalty to her former employer. when a former secretary-treasurer terry tesh former treasury secretary left wall street to join the state department he received a large bonus. agreement let him keep it specifically because he was a high-level government job . i'm glad to see a provision in hr one addressing this issue the -- issue. the written testimony offers suggestion to strengthen it further it would also make it more independent. oge's director should be allowed to communicate directly with congress and removable for cause
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rather than depending on other agencies to conduct meaningful in greece by issuing subpoenas. hr one will increase the transparency of waivers which can undermine the ethics program is granted him properly. the public needs to know about waivers. exposedeaving oge, i questionable practices to do with undated and retroactive waivers, some of which seemed designed to paper over ethics violations. i close by emphasizing that what is at stake is the integrity of government. the supreme court knows that a conflict of interest is an evil that endangers the very fabric of a democratic society. the court explained democracy is effective only if people have faith in those who govern. we need ethics reform before the public trust in government to shatter beyond repair. i urge you to pass hr one. thank you again for inviting me and i am happy to answer any questions the committee may have today.
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>> thank you, members of the committee. the institute for free speech has been producing analysis of many policies and some are available here today. i want to focus briefly on two aspects of this bill of that particular expertise and ask the author of the leading academic analysis with that current coordination rules. with the sec has a bipartisan agency at the insistence of the representatives and democratic senator cranston who warned we must not allow it to the chemical for harassment for future imperial presidents who seek to repeat the abuses of watergate. it would replace the current with aber partisan fec five manner -- member panel.
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the fec is in the plan now, but it is understood the commissioner who is a former , head of senate lead and also represented in election matters all the democrats he peered under hr one,-- bernie sanders could be , appointed as an independent. any president could find could reflect his party's views on the commission. further hr one gives powers to , the chairman. the chair would have the sole power to determine agency budget, subpoena witnesses, compel testimony and reports and appoint the staff director who oversees, among other things, the audit division. this is a prescription for partisan control and abuse. i assume the majority knows that
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and this is why this provision of the bill, unlike the others, does not take effect until 2021. the majority has no intention of allowing president trump to appoint all five commissioners, including the powerful chair. the claims made that up our sin -- the partisan controlled commission is necessary to restore integrity to enforcement is backwards. the only reason the fec has any credibility is the bipartisan makeup. under title vi they will appoint all five members including the chair, which has the power to write and rewrite numerals with an eye toward the 2022 midterms, and the following residential elections. some of you may consider this a feature rather than a bug, but be careful what you wish for. you did not think trump would win in 2016, either. also, sponsors and drafters are being intentionally disingenuous or they do not understand what
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has been put into their own legislation. nothing in some title -- subtitle b limits the reach of super pac's. it applies to planned parenthood and right to life, the naacp, and the aclu, the national federation of independent business and to the brady campaign for gun safety. it even applies to individual citizens who seek to participate in public discussion. nothing limits it to super pacs. the definitions of coordination extends to the loss treatment of coordinated spending as a conservation to a candidate and current contribution or appeared subtitle b has the effect actually banning speech that was legal even before the supreme supreme court decision before citizens united and buckley v valeo.
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this goes backwards to outlaw speech that was always legal and american history even before the citizens united decision. as the full text of my remarks expressing greater details, but in a nutshell, the should be theed the new alien of alien and sedition acts. is one ofight, this the least tom cole provisions of the bill, but that's not to say it is not like some of the other provisions, overkill. it's interesting to me it does not include people who have previously lobbied for cities and counties and local government units. it would normally be the case extensively lobby in congress and therapy a check for conflict of interest. bill the assumption of the seems to me that anybody with a plastic spirits in the private sector is somehow dangerous and should have a legal conflict of even takeefore they
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office. i think that's overkill and inappropriate. thank you for your time. i'm free to answer any questions. cummings: thank you to all of our witnesses. thank you for staying under the time limit. i yield to the distinguished lady from michigan. >> thank you to the chairman for the incredible leadership on this issue. i think for the people, hr one is important in restoring public trust, and to this institution. i know i am a freshman. i think a lot of people know i really truly believe in the rule of law and in trying to restore to the core center of getting people to understand that this body here works for them. as a new member, i see no white a lot of my residence are taken aback by this process and not feeling like it belongs to them. through the chair we all know , this is a critical issue. i think both republicans and
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democrats alike see this as a critical issue taking corruption out of government. so for me, as you said, about strengthening this, but more importantly, in the first two years in office, i think the president made 281 visits to properties he still profits from. more than 150 political meetings -- political committees have spent nearly $5 million at trump businesses since he became president. at least 13 special interest groups have lobbied the white time house at the same they did business with the trump organization. i could go on or submit this to record, but one of the things as a brand-new member, i cannot believe this is not illegal already, that this is not something we push up against and say enough. because as we step into here, we work for the people. we have to check our businesses, our personal and professional conflicts. any lawyer across the country will tell you, it is dangerous to allow any sort of conflict to
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exist were trying to serve others, especially in a public position like this. i have seen modern presidents, both parties, before this present, address the conflict of interest by adhering to ethical norms and traditions that resulted in failed financial interests, divesting in foreign and domestic investments. i am taken back by the fact that we still have to currently now fight for something that is so critically important in restoring public trust, that now we are setting a precedent that it is ok for president not to divest, that it is ok that i have gary cohen, president trump's director of national economic council, received more than $100 million in payments from goldman sachs before he came in to work for trump, from the president -- i am sorry, chairman.
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i was talking to my good mentioned from ohio, the original agent one tax break, who worked on that. because back home in the district, they call that a payout. they really do. they know who is behind the scenes running that and pushing that forward. my question to you is, how should we move? because the should have, could have, that doesn't go far enough to make people think this is their house and this congress belongs to them. right now, all they see is people at the top who make millions of dollars, completely disconnected with the american people, and i can tell you, every single day from underemployment poverty in my district, we feel like here we don't have a voice. with that, i would love to hear how do you think we can really strengthen this? and where the dangerous precedent is? more and more we're seeing people, former ceos and others, interested in becoming president. >> i applaud the bill for
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including a statement from congress that the president should divest peered i think that takes a step toward reestablishing the norm and would've been helpful to me as director of oge to point to that. i personally would like it to see -- would like to see it go further. required investiture. we have a situation that were people who see the influence the government can funnel backs of cash to the president through his various properties. you have government contractors, charities, businesses, associations, politicians, politicalparties, groups, using his facilities and bsying absolutely tops -- go of cash for the privilege of hobnobbing with the president. unfortunately the president has done nothing to discourage this . he did not even try to mitigate it.
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there seems to be an embrace and encouragement. that interested parties have to engage in this to be on an even footing with competitors. chairman. had fiventlelady seconds, but go ahead. >> the constituent you spoke about, you know in 2017, saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 to reserve rooms at trump owned hotels? that to me makes me pause about your constituent being killed by the government. >> i do know that. >> mr. chairman i would point witnesshe chairman, the may want to clarify his remarks when he is saying gobs of cash. i don't know that he has any proof, and since he is under oath, i don't know that he would want to make that type of
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statement. >> i will allow the gentleman to clarify. >> representative, what i mean is that people are paying money to the trump organization to use his facilities and the direct beneficiary of that money is president trump because he is , the beneficiary of the trust that holds that. so the money is flowing to the president and the steps he is taking the step back from that have had absolutely zero affect in any way to diminish the financial interest and money that comes through. so i do indeed mean this is a funnel for money. mean cash.not >> i don't mean they are directly handing it to him. >> the gentleman has to find it. thank you. now we will hear from mister kozar. >> thank you very much. theel like i am living in twilight zone.
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first -- benghazi the iris , targeting, the intimidation of the press the masking of , american citizens come out of control doj. really? really? i will start with you. hr one expands the definition of foreign nationals would that the -- >> how does one intend to do this? one of the things to keep in mind is that most regulations that would be imposed would be killed by american citizens. the respiratory majority of people that have to comply will be american citizens. when we engage in this type of thinking, we need to be careful that we are not giving of our own rights. we fought the cold war without
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getting rid of our own rights, and now the fact that the soviet union is somehow going to destroy america and we should rush to throw away hard-won protections, i think mr. dortmund talked about them -- mr. jordan talked about them. we need to be careful. i think for an engagement poses a different issue, but kind of a scattershot approach that mainly hits american citizens is unwise. >> i agree with you. let's taylor that aspect. do you think amending the campaign act of 1971 to require what is already required of american citizens, the disclosure of the credit verification value and a legal billing address for all loan contributions would ensure credit cards or registered to someone who actually lives in the united states? go, mosting you could campaigns for years to this: turley, and it became something of an issue because the obama campaign did not, was put checks in place on credit cards, in particular prepaid credit cards.
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that could be done by regulation through the fec or statute, if they were desired to do that, to enjoy the credit cards were tied to u.s. individual and not handed out. >> these are two great ideas, a cvb and billing address, making sure someone is living in the country, when you agree? peoplent to note that don't have to live in the country. there are citizens abroad. >> i understand that. this is a means of calibration to stop the illegal contributions. >> it would be a safeguard. one that most campaigns have followed and i think could be enacted either by regulation or statute. last administration, we sell multiple examples of average american citizens being targeted for political beliefs. the irs and fbi targeting political opponents. with that in mind, hr one would create a partisan fec, you
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address that, they could use the power of the federal government to chill speech. what do you think this will -- what effect do you think this will have on free discourse? >> i call it the new alien sedition. one of the things that has been at thee at the fec and states and so on is use of the complaint process as political weapons. it doesn't matter if you prove a violation, use of the start the investigation process. responding to an fec investigation can be very costly, the investigation is intrusive, they can go into your strategies and tactics, to tie up campaign time, that press and so on. often it was said the punishment is the process rather than any fine at the end, because you quite likely did nothing wrong. very definitely there can be a chilling effect here. that chilling effect is most pronounced on small grassroots campaigns that don't have the lobbyists and lawyers who know
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these complex regulations and can deal with them easily. youwo quick questions, can explain what ethics reform, fec restructuring, and a new federal holiday have in common? >> [laughter] with the they all deal federal government. this is a grab bag. i would suggest that the best thing the majority can do is to divide the bill into component parts so they can be focused on one at a time. many of them are only in the most fake sense related. >> one last question. why do you think my good friend from maryland chose to combine such different topics into one bill? >> i think that would probably be a question better directed to your good friend from maryland. >> i think the gentleman and i yield back. >> yield to the distinguished lady from new york. youhank you, and i thank for your selfless, devoted work
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over many years. aboutd like to ask you, presidential contracts, the ability of the president, vice president to compete for properties that other federal employees and members of congress are barred by law, from entering into contracts or leases. i want to speak to the presidential conflicts of interest act, which is part of intro one that would put the restriction on the president and vice president in entering into any contracts, which happens to be the standards for members of congress and federal employees. would you agree with the intent proposal on's presidential conflict of interest? >> yes. obviously you're talking with the general services agencies lease with president trump and the trump hotel in washington,
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d.c. there is a provision in the lease that is up for debate. obviously the gsa and legal counsel have different feelings than a lot of people on the side of the table had about the interpretation of the lease provision. why hr oneblem and of this provision is necessary, it was in about 1994 that the requisition regulations stripped the provision called the officials not benefit provision. it was in one of the acquisition reform bills, federal acquisition reform act or services acquisition reform act, that provision was stripped out. i think it is important to put back, and you raise a good point, that provision mentioned numbers of congress at that time , and that has continued for members of congress but has not affected other people in the executive branch. i do think it is necessary. colleaguesof my know, in 2017, members of this committee, the democrats,
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literally sued for information about the lease and contract hotel, the president's the washington, d.c. hotel, and the lease with the old office building. -- told beena been by the general accounting services, the general services administration, that we were not entitled to exercise our oversight responsibilities of reviewing this lease. they barred us from getting this information. we are literally still in court trying to obtain this. many of us feel this is a glaring conflict of interest. why shouldn't the oversight committee have access to leases and contracts that we want to question, even if it includes the president of the united states? in this case of the trump international hotel, the president is both the landlord and the tenant.
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gsa,timately also oversees the agency that was responsible for enforcing this lease, this contract. or the american people be certain gsa is really acting impartially in carrying out the law when they are really interpreting what their supervisor says? >> when you have someone who is landlord, tenant, judge, jury, and appointed head of the general services administration, at that point it is amid a conflict of interest. there were also concerns because the trump children were involved in the negotiation of that lease. -- actually outraised outraged that gsa has not turned over the information of congress. that's where government ethics matters, that we should be seeing as much information about that to remove the appearance of
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a conflict of interest but also to ensure there is not an actual conflict of entrance -- cognitive interest to be resolved. >> the lease on the old post office building, it explicitly prohibited and elected official from being a party, but gsa failed to enforce it. i would say there were definitely be an impact. there could be a definite conflict of interest that could have a freezing effect on competition. how many people want to compete against the president of the united states for a lease or contract? wouldn't you agree that would be a chilling effect on any competition? walloping the effectiveness going forward? >> i would agree with that, congresswoman. as you know, the inspector general of the general services administration recently released a report that was critical of
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gsa analysis of the validity of this lease for improperly omitting constitutional issues from their analysis. to me, that raises the question of whether there was improper theuence or at least specter of self-dealing to the public that greatly undermines public trust is also one of the reasons why, i should say, that the national task force for democracy and rule of law, which is the brennan center initiative that includes some of your former colleagues in a bipartisan group of former republicans and democrats, they have proposed extending the existing prohibition and the conflicts of interest law to the president and vice president to avoid specific instances like this. >> that's what intro one will do and i strongly urge its passing. i feel the back. -- i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank all of you. testimony.
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i guess you are in favor of matching dollars, using taxpayer dollars to match small donations as outlined in hr one, correct? >> the brennan center does support the proposal in hr one modeled after an existing proposal that has existed for years in new york, which multiple -- >> yes or no? >> yes. >> here is the interesting fact that i just find fascinating. one, wouldbill, hr actually use taxpayer dollars to reelect the freedom caucus chairman. under their bill, i would get almost $4 million of taxpayer say, i, and i would don't see any of my constituents and the audience here, i can't imagine they would be happy with taxpayer dollars being used to reelect a freedom caucus chairman. do you not see a problem when we use taxpayer dollars to reelect
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individual members of congress? may, -- >> would you support me financially? >> i would support the spending equivalent hr one would require, which i think is one dollar per citizen every year over 10 years. a matching we have done the math, it is $3.8 million i would get because i am one of the top 10 in terms of small dollar donations in congress. i would get $3.8 million under this bill for reelection. i cannot find anyone who holds government accountable that with think that would be a wise use of taxpayer dollars. would you? campaigns, they need to be funded from somewhere. >> i agree, but not my taxpayer dollars, should not be going to it, sir. let me come to you. one'su in support of hr
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investigative mandate for og? -- oge? you were in the job. >> i have said publicly i prefer to see inspector general of has global authority over every agency that does not happen -- does not have an inspector general. and have supplemental ethics authority. that's a proposal i have submitted to the former chairman and current chairman. i do support the current bill because i don't think it -- >> it has investigative authority. i have gone through it. let me tell you why i am concerned. you came before my committee and you gave sworn testimony. >> yes i did. >> the opposite of hr one. now you are here today and espousing its merits and i can't find why all of a sudden you have a newfound interest to have investigative authority if it were not directed at the current president of united states.
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>> i have two statements about that. don't think it creates the kind of investigative authority that an inspector general does. i don't think all investigative authority is created equally. >> i agree with that. >> but it does create some. in my views on that have changed. >> with this president? >> this proposal would not apply only to this present, but the next president. >> this is not my first rodeo or yours either. extremely hypocritical that you would come here today, having sworn under oath that this was not the way to go when there was a different president in the white house, and here today, and followed it up with a letter. we have numerous quotes from you over and over again which would undermine hr one, and yet here you are today supporting that. how do you have this evolution in such a short peering of time? -- short period of time?
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>> first of all, i was telling the truth then and i'm telling the truth now. that speaker about that. i disagreed with investigative authority back then. i have sat there with -- sat here for two years -- >> so you are wrong back then? let me quote you. >> i recall. >> let me quote you. i said, you do not want the authority to be able to investigate it? no, i don't think so. i said, you don't want it? well, i don't think we should have it. what i want one way or another is not relevant, it would not be the right thing. all of a sudden today, you are having an epiphany? >> it is not all of a sudden after all. it is after watching for two years somebody proved to me that the executive branch ethics program was much weaker and more fragile than i ever thought it was. friendly, i was naive. president caned a
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come in and refuse to eliminate conflicts of interest, have appointees completely disinterested in government with allnd cap, respect, a congress refused to exercise oversight in that respect. in the absence of any other avenue, i do now believe that the office of government ethics is going to have to fill the gap. >> that was precisely the point i made in 2015 and you disagreed with me then. i yield back. >> i will just say you were right. [laughter] >> thank you very much. >> we can agree on that. >> thank you very much. we will now hear from ms. norton. >> thank you very much, unrelated to my question, i want to thank you for the findings on d.c.e regarding the
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statehood act. these findings simply speak for themselves. the people i represent pay the highest taxes per capita in the united states. vote onld have no final the house floor. i'm grateful to have a vote on this committee. cummings,u, chairman to agreeing to hold a hearing on this bill. about parts of hr one ago to transparency. my first question to flynn, but i will also like to hear mr. smith on this question. secretary of education betsy devos and her family have donated millions of dollars to organizations to lobby for education policy.
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do either of you think that the public has a right to know if the secretary has donated ,ubstantially to organizations her background in donating, that could now influence her policies as secretary? first ms. flynn and then i would like to hear mr. smith on this question. >> thank you. education secretary betsy devos and her family have given large sums of money to influence politics at all levels of government. including pressing for school voucher programs, something she is clearly very supportive of. according to the center for responsive politics, devos and her family have donated over $20 million to republican candidates, pacs and super pacs. much of that has been focused on education.
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to me, i think it is important when the senate is looking at the nomination, when the american people are paying attention, it is an important part of the equation that helps shed light both on issues she cares about and also her investment in that. she gave an interview in roll "decidede she said she to stop taking offense at the suggestion we are buying influence. now essentially concede the point." she wrote that the expects of things in return, to foster government philosophy and respect for traditional values. i think it is important for the nomination process to have a full or picture of where their fundraising and political spending is going. >> mr. smith, how could that do any harm? how could it do anything but good, the more information we
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have? >> i have to say, i am shocked to discover that the republican ofointee to secretary education is a republican who is donated to republican causes and that her viewpoints -- for the you be shocked public to know about that background as she takes office? >> i agree that is something that certainly senators could ask during the confirmation process. i find it hard to believe that there is an ethical conflict in somebody -- >> reclaiming my time. i am not implying an ethical conflicts. i questions about transparency are sadly going to that. let it all hang out and let everybody make their own judgment. let the committee make its own judgment, make it public make its own judgment. questionsa number of about your personal life i would be interested in but i won't ask them today. is, it is not her
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personal life i am asking about, mr. smith. what we are asking about is her donations of money -- >> these are not -- >> donations of money that in on a trustreflect she has now been given as part of her enforcement activities. let it all about hang out in my personal life, whatabout the relevance to is she is enforcing. she is enforcing education policy. she has had a known not only position but given millions of dollars in ways that may conflict with parts of that policy. as i indicated when i opened this line of questioning, it's only about transparency. let me go on to ask about the conflicts of political fundraising. i am a cosponsor of that. it is also in hr one.
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andimply requires national -- it simply requires -- thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield to ranking member jordan. >> professor smith, does hr one require states to offer early voting? >> yes. >> does it require states to offer no excuse absentee voting? >> yes. >> does it require paid leave for federal workers to be poll workers? >> yes. >> does it require released felons to vote? >> i believe it does. >> does it require taxpayers to fund campaigns? >> definitely. >> does hr one require taxpayers to pay for the campaigns of candidates they oppose? >> yes, for example, if i were to contribute $10 to the reelection campaign of the theident, the folks on
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other side of the aisle would contribute six dollars or something like that. >> does it require states to have same-day registration for voters? >> i believe it does. >> doesn't require automatic photo registration? >> i believe that is correct. >> does it encourage states to preregister 16-year-olds? >> that i don't know. >> it does. does hr one require election day to be a federal holiday if you work for the federal government? >> yes. >> doesn't require the outing of donors, direct violation of freedom of association? you give to a campaign, a through the disclosure, you are outed. >> many provisions require outing of donors. fec part ofake the the process? >> i believe it does. it is supposed to be balance.
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that would work. that's what the majority intends for a to b and 2021. some thing like that. require -- does hr one limit free speech? >> i believe it does in significant ways, as i pointed out. it was not limited even before some of the supreme court provisions that it purports to want to return. >> let me take a whack at a summary here. hr one requires taxpayers to pay for holiday on election day for government workers. it requires taxpayers to pay for six days of paid leave for government workers who want to be poll workers. it requires taxpayers to pay for politicians's campaigns, and if those same taxpayers give to
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c4, theyanization, some can be outed under hr one so that the left or anyone could harass them and their family? >> yes. >> such a deal for the taxpayer. >> i will leave that judgment to you folks. >> this is where hr one census. -- sends us. this is what we are close to it and will keep fighting it. anything missing in my summary? anything you would like to add? >> [laughter] i thinkonly add that the disclosure provisions are often worse than people think because they are defining political activity things that have never been defined as political before. you run the risk of regulations g thewing -- swallowin entire discourse the public engages. they are often hidden through the complex relationship.
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one example would be if an organization, for example, were to hire somebody who previously had been an intern, unpaid intern for a member of congress. that organization would be prohibited from making any communications deemed to promote , attack, that candidate. that can be from praising the candidate, criticizing a congressman. >> that would put the whole consultant business out of business. >> inputs out of business all of the interest groups and civic groups people belong to. i appreciate it, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> i'm going to yield myself a few minutes. things ms. hobart and
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mr. nick romney -- one of the things that mrs. hobart and mr. mehrbani, give me chills when i read it, was the 2016 opinion of the fourth circuit court of appeals. you know, we are sitting around here acting like not it's an unalienable right to be able to vote and it's something to be said it's chilling. we can argue back and forth all we want and they talked about the legislature down there in north carolina. this is a quote from the fourth circuit, these are federal judges. they said before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use by race of a
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number of voting practices. upon receipt of the race data, the general assembly enacted legislation that restricted, unalienable rights, that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected african-americans. they went on to say, this is the fourth circuit, i didn't say this, the federal court said it. set in response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the state offered only meager justifications.
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although the new provisions target -- this is what the court said. although the new provisions target african-americans with almost surgical precision. they constitute inept remedies for the problems assertively justifying them and in fact impose cures for problems that did not even exist. they went on to say, thus, the asserted justifications cannot and do not fulfill the state's true motivation, end of quote. the reason why that quote means
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so much to me is that one year ago today on my mother's dying bed, 92 years old, former sharecropper, her last words were do not let them take our votes away from us. they had seen people harmed, beaten, trying to vote. talk about unalienable rights. voting is crucial. i don't give a damn how you look at it. there are efforts to stop people from voting. that's not right. this is not russia. this is the united states of america. and i will fight until the death to make sure every citizen, whether they are green party, whether they are freedom party, whether they are democrat, whether they are republican, whoever has a right to vote. because it is the essence of our democracy. and we could play around and act like -- guess what? i want to be clear that when they look back on this moment 200 years from now, that there are those who -- of us who stood
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up and they'll be able to say they stood up and said we will defend, they defended the right to vote. because you know what the problem is? for so many people the rights are pulled away from them and then they have to put them in law to get them back. what does that mean? they cannot progress rapidly. they cannot progress with the rest of society and all they are trying to do is trying to control their own destiny. i'd like to just hear your comments, mrs. hobert, and mr. -- and mr. mehrbani, on the fourth circuit's opinion. mrs. flynn: we have seen since
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2010, a number of states move efforts to shut down opportunities for people to vote. we have seen proof of citizenship laws, photo i.d. we have seen early voting days repealed. we have seen states that have election day registration repealed. all in efforts to make it difficult for people to vote. a lot of this is focused on so-called in person voter fraud, which there is a .0003% chance that that happened. it is a very rare thing. so, what we have is all these measures that are trying to tap down on something that isn't happening out there, and the end result is, we see many people purged from voter rolls and other things with the thought they are going to be addressing something that isn't happening. very frequently. and so, that is a real
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challenge and one that we have seen in states across the country and the reforms in h.r. 1 to put in place early voting, to deal with voting machines so they are working and functioning, add poll workers where we have a real shortage of poll workers so people aren't standing in line and leaving, all these things are put in place to help create opportunities for people to vote. election day registration is a perfect antidote to a purge so that you can show up on election day, if you see that there is a problem, you can register to vote and vote on that day. that's why it's so important to be looking at these reforms. mr. cummings: mr. mehrbani. mr. mehrbani: the one thing i want to add is that these reforms not just make it easier for people to vote and proven to increase turnout and participation, they actually increases the accuracy of the rolls, so what we're hearing as reasons not to adopt things like automatic voter registration,
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same-day voter registration. as was said earlier, these are reforms that already exist in states across the country and the brennan center has studied the implementation of them and they have shown to increase the accuracy of the poll and even decrease -- and even decrease existing errors in the system. i want to say, mr. chairman, i appreciate you telling that personal story and impact it had on me personally and i'm sure on everyone who was listening. mr. cummings: mr. hice. mr. hice: i thank the chairman. i would just -- mr. chairman -- all of us want integrity at the voting booth, but if you are somehow implying that only republicans have been engaged in voter fraud, i challenge that and take great offense at t we saw in texas tens of thousands of illegal aliens voting. this is an issue that goes far and wide and is not one side of the aisle, sir. i would like that to stand corrected. this bill does not -- mr. cummings: would the gentleman yield.
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i'll give you a second back. nobody said that. i didn't say that. i quoted the court. and i did not just blame republicans or anybody. all i know -- i was trying to make it clear that it has been made far difficult for people who look like me to be able to vote. period. and we all need to be addressing that. that's what i was trying to say. mr. hice: reclaiming my time. mr. cummings: if you took it any other way, i did not intend it that way. mr. hice: it was certainly implied that way. i accept what you just said. right intention -- my contention across the board, however, h.r. 1 does not address this problem. it makes the potential for voter fraud even a greater possibility. this is not a solution to the problem that all of us in this room are concerned about. mr. smith, i'd like to go to you.
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should taxpayers be required to pay for political speech? mr. smith: i think there are a couple of points. one is a sort of a moral point that was raised earlier by mr. meadows and mr. jordan. there is something sort of deeply wrong about forcing people to fund the political campaigns of candidates they greatly abhor, but there is also practical problem here. mr. hice: yes or no. mr. smith: i think clearly not. there are practical problems as well. mr. hice: absolutely. maybe we'll have time to get into that. they should not be required to pay for political speech. i'm assuming you would also agree they should not be required to pay for political speech they disagree with. mr. smith: in particular, yes. mr. hice: our colleagues on the other side pointed to the so-called success in expanding public funding in election in places like arizona, maine, new york. so far as you are aware these programs been successful? mr. smith: no. typically the measure they use
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for that how many candidates take the money. they are saying if the government offers you free money and take it the program was , successful. in terms of quality governance, all the claims do not come true. they elect more minorities, not the case. elect more women, that's not been the case. you don't see much difference in the makeup of legislatures. i certainly don't think people look at new york city and say, wow, now that they have had this matching program. they are well governed. better governed than the past. mr. hice: these programs have been successful in preventing corruption? mr. smith: i don't see any way they -- they are often an avenue for corruption because you have things that were previously private money. candidate wants to waste money, he can do it. now it's public money. it creates greater scandal. mr. hice: do these programs limit the special interest groups. mr. smith: not at all.
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particularly with these matching fund things, groups that are well organized to go out and solicit large amounts of small contributions can do that. they also invite fraud in the sense that in the past a person might contribute to $250,000 or $500,000. now he tries to get a bunch of other people to contribute an amount below the matching amount and give them money to make the contributions. then you up the matches. it is an invitation to corruption. mr. hice: you touched on this a while ago. i would like for to you go further. what would this program do to public discourse and free speech? mr. smith: public financing programs. i think are not helpful for free speech in part because they tend to be avenues for corruption in many ways. we also find there are studies that show that the small donors that are often solicit for these things tend to be more partisan donors than more institutional people so that they tend to it , meet further polarization of
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the system. mr. hice: one last question. going back it was interesting to me when you mentioned the five member versus six member on the f.e.c. could you elaborate on that why six members in your opinion is the appropriate way to go as opposed to five? mr. smith: it's a unique commission it regulates elections who is going to win those offices or can have that effect. it's always required four votes on a six member commission. you had to have some measure of bipartisanship. once you got to five member commission, you lose that requirement of bipartisanship. furthermore, it will totally go away because the chair will have this tremendous authority on his own, even if all the other commissioners oppose him, to subpoena people and launch investigations. mr. hice: thank you very much. i yield back. mr. cummings: mr. raskin of maryland for five minutes. mr. raskin: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to first start by applauding the sentiments you just expressed. there's been a profound struggle for the right to vote in american history. we began with the vast majority
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of people in our country not having the right to vote, but through political struggle and constitutional change we have enlarged the electorate to include african-americans and to include women, to include 18-year-olds. we have dismantled the property and wealth qualification. at every turn, there have been forces of conservatism and reaction that have tried to stop the changes. often times claiming fraud. often times claiming that the people newly enfranchised weren't really truly deserving voters. we're seeing the same historical process re-enacted right now. that's the first part of the issue. once we get people elected to office, there is the problem of the agency of people who go into government. the founders of the constitution wrote in article 1, section 9, the emoluments clause to make sure the president and other federal officials would not be on the take from foreign powers, kings, princes, and governments. accept no money at all.
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no payments come in the offices, no titles, no emoluments yet , with that signal, originally breach, that original sin this administration basically opened the floodgates on corruption in washington and then appointed a fox to preside over every hen house in washington. every regulatory agency taken over by a regulated industry. we need to protect the right to vote against these constant efforts to take people's right to vote away. we need to make sure that people come to work in washington are actually serving the american people. that's what part of this legislation is all about. it's about strengthening the office of government ethics. and it includes the executive branch, comprehensive ethics enforcement act which i'm proud
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to introduce on the house side, along with senator blumenthal on the senate side. one of the things it would do is provide the director of criminal ethics with the same authority inspectors general have to subpoena documents. i'm wondering how would this help the work of the o.g.e. director? can you give us some examples of what that might mean. mr. amey: specifically, that's one of the problems. o.g.e. currently has some authorities, very limited authorities to conduct investigations. hold a hearing and ask government officials to come in and testify. but that needs to be strengthened. we have found that o.g.e. is really a paper tiger. without this authority, it's very difficult. the ethics system is based on self-policing. from day one. it's up to a government official to come to an ethics officers and disclose certain things. it's during the confirmation process, up to them to go to
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o.g.e. and make certain disclosures. an disclosures. that's where at least allowing o.g.e. to subpoena and hold the proper investigation with the proper information in front of them will instill the fact that we're trying to get to the conflicts of interest and whatever waivers or exemptions apply to make it more transparent so we're aware of those conflicts and can handle them in due course. mr. raskin: thank you very much. mr. shaub, you testified before this committee in 2015 while you were the director of office of government ethics, during that hearing mr. chaffetz, then the chairman of the committee, was frustrated with some of your testimony because the o.g.e. was not doing its own investigations. and he thought it was toothless. he said, i quote, i'm just suggesting you are just shuffling paperwork. you are taking everything at face value and reprinting and put it on a shelf. what good are you? why should we have you if you don't review them and hold people accountable. h.r. 1 would give o.g.e. precisely the authority to do meaningful investigations that chairman chaffetz and our
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counterparts on the other side of the aisle were commanding then, isn't that right? mr. shaub: i tried to explain that as a practical matter despite the appearance that might look like investigative authority anti-current version of the ethics and government act, o.g.e. was powerless to conduct any investigation. this bill would change that. mr. raskin: would you give us a sense of culture of corruption and lawlessness that permeates in washington. most people would be astounded go people come to washington, go to a agency not to pursue the common good but other agendas. can you suggest from your wide experience what those other agendas might be? mr. shaub: i think one of the concerns we look at is the types of loyalties that they have. and the goal of any ethics program should be to ensure that
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the loyalty of the government officials is only to the people they serve. and not to companies for which they previously lobbied or previously served as a high-level executive or anything like that. >> the one problem we have seen with the ethics system is even if you look at o.g.e.'s prosecution surveys or go back through the public integrity section at the department of justice, most of it is blow lowe hanging fruit. most of it is low level people that are handling the contract or doing something. as you go up the chain of command, the ethics laws kind of dwindle off. i truly believe it's kind of a catch me if you can system. mr. raskin: i yield back, mr. chairman. thank you very much. >> thank you. chairman cummings, i don't want
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to make it harder for people to vote. i just want to make sure that elections are fair and that evenly eligible voters vote. i'm from rural kentucky. many elections, this election cycle, were decided by 10 votes or less. but i have a huge problem with the proposal for same day voter registration. what i witnessed in california this past federal election cycle with questionable ballot harvesting, gave me grave concerns about the integrity of our elections and who is actually casting votes in some state that has this type of version of election reform. i want to ask my first question to mr. smith and touch upon what congressman highs mentioned. this proposal, one of the things it does, it removes the standard of the chairman and vice chairman being from separate parties.
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in kentucky we have a board of elections and it's split down the middle. mr. comer: half republican, half democrat. how might consolidating power in the hands of a single party and a chairman of a single party undermine the legitimacy of the federal election commission? mr. smith: as i mentioned earlier, historically it's required bipartisanship. there has to be some degree from buy-in from one commissioner who has identified with the other side of the aisle. and that disappears here. in theory independent commissioner doesn't need to be truly independent. it's worse than that because if the president simply doesn't fill certain positions, then a three-member quorum, which could be two members of one party and one independent or something, could be free to launch whatever investigations it chose, pass the regulations.
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the regulations you pass can be terribly biased in favor of one party or the other. but also the enforcement process, priorities you choose, how you choose to go after people, whether you choose to pursue certain folks can be damaging. as i pointed out oftentimes the punishment is in the process itself. you get bad press. your resources become tied up. this can be on charges that are very poe beau gus that have almost no real foundation in fact. partisan f.e.c. is a very dangerous potential weapon. and it's worth noting that groups, from time to time, the f.e.c. will get criticized, republicans will say something like this is a biased agency.
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and the very first response that always comes out of the mouth of people like some of the organizations represented down the table here is, requires some degree of bipartisanship. they themselves know that's really the only thing that gives the agency its legitimacy is that bipartisan makeup. mr. comer: follow up on that. this proposal, h.r. 1, also allows the general counsel to initiate an investigation without bipartisan support. and issue subpoenas on his own authority. does the bill provide sufficient checks on the general counsel to make sure this significant authority is not abused? mr. smith: i don't think -- there is the possibility for the commission to override the general counsel's actions, but if the commission doesn't act, doesn't have time to act for some reason another, can't muster a quorum, the general counsel can simply plow ahead. it allows the commissioners themselves to dodge any responsibility. they can simply not vote and let the general counsel's recommendation to move forward. note that first general counsel will be appointed by the chair with concurrence of two of the commissioners. those will all be people appointed by this first president who makes that appointment. once he's in, can he stay in indefinitely unless you can muster a majority of vote. mr. comer: the asserted purpose of h.r. 1 is to increase transparency in the electoral process.
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i think we would all support that. but in what way does creating a secretive taxpayer funded blue ribbon panel to lobby the president about whom to appoint to the f.e.c. increase transparency. mr. smith: fascinating part of the bill. one part of the bill requires the creation of this blue ribbon panel that's supposed to make recommendations to the president as to whom he ought to appoint to the f.e.c. it's not clear what the purpose of the panel is since they don't have binding authority. it is interesting the first thing the bill does is take this body out of the requirements of the federal advisory committee act, which exists precisely to make sure it operates transparently, and allow it is to operate in secret. mr. comer: i yield back. mr. cummings: thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for your comments earlier, clear reminder for all of us here as to what our obligations are to all americans. it in 2010, citizens united was settled by the supreme court. in that decision the majority made it very clear that they did not think that decision would have virtually any impact on dark, soft money coming into the election process.
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the reality is in that same year there was approximately $140 million of dark money that came into the election process. yet in 2016, it was $1.6 billion. $1.6 billion. mr. rouda: all because the supreme court decision basically said corporations are people, too. it i don't know about you, but personally i have never held hands with a corporation. i never date add corporation. i never made out with a corporation. and i'm pretty sure no one else in this room has, either. we know that dark money leads to undue influence at best and at worst, outright corruption. at the end of the constitutional convention in 1787 in philadelphia and independence hall, 11 years after the declaration of independence was adopted by our founders,
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benjamin frankly was exiting the building, and a citizen came up to him and asked him, mr. franklin, what kind of government do we have? and he answered and said, a republic, if you can keep it. let that be a reminder to all of us as we contemplate the amount of dark money and soft money coming into our government and the ethics that can be corrupted by it, that this is something that our founders never envisioned. now more than ever we do need to restore decency, transparency, and responsibility by introducing ethics reforms for the president, vice president, and all federal officers and employees. this administration has had at best a very awkward relationship with ethics and integrity. we must make sure the president and family members do not use the presidency to enrich themselves at the expense of the american people.
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i know every single one of my colleagues here didn't come to congress to get rich. they came here because they believe in america. in putting service above self and country over party. we can do that by passing commonsense reforms to our political system. let's work together to reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen our rules for public servants. with that i'd like to ask mr. shaub, does current law prohibit all federal employees from taking official actions to benefit their own financial interests? and if so, what gray area still exists that need to be addressed? mr. shaub: i think the biggest gap it doesn't cover the president or vice president. it's important to remember that that exemption was not supposed to be some kind of perk of high office.
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but rather a recognition that a president can't really recuse, not participate, in urgent matters of state, which is why divestiture was always the practice, until now. i think there are other conflicts of interest in the form of these golden parachutes where people are not sufficiently kept out of matters affecting those companies that give them big payouts and i think that there is an oversight problem that's become apparent that there just is a limited ability to be able to get into the matter and find the information because o.g.e. doesn't have the authority to do it. i think this bill addresses that. >> yes, please? >> i want to point out that there are some constitutional those havesome of been handled and i think the revision that talks about this and that the rules don't apply, but you should act if they do 71974, but shet
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said the rules don't apply and the exemptions when they don't apply should be common and transparent so that we can ,ollow that and be aware of it this is not a partisan issue. this has come out with the department of justice has said for 34 years. thank you very much, i yield back. >> you are next. >> thank you. there's no doubt that congress is broken. the past sixubt months come up my thoughts are confirmed. power has led to more corruption -- i'ming the greatest
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also puzzled by the kind of thinking that we don't trust government, so let's give them more power. i think the founders understood a federalisting government. youlieve i counted 28 times mentioned the words unconstitutional. could you speak to some of your concerns in reference to the constitution? >> sure, i will focus on the speech part. is it the things it does was regular -- it would regulate termh that uses the opposes a candidate. that term is extremely vague. if the union were to take out an ad that federal employees would have to be laid, tell president
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trump to reopen the government, is that attacking the president or not question mark you have to have a clear standard so people can know when they have to start reporting to the federal government on their ability to finance ads, so that is one thing. another example would be the to coronarys directivity's even if they are not coordinated with their candidates. i use an example earlier that you had in her turn go off and work for a citizens group and they had concerns about the bill and they would be prohibited and becausesing they are a corporation, they cannot do corporate expenditures at all.
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at that point, the aclu had to be quiet on any legislation. supreme court said you cannot presume coronation. people have to engage before you can tell them that you can limit their political speech, said those would be two quick into the teeth of constitutional law. >> this bill also purports to limit influence in elections. how this speak to speaks to illegal immigrants voting is our election? >> i'm not prepared.
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illegal immigrants are not allowed to vote in u.s. reallyns we have not commented on the voting rights of the bill. one thing that is overlooked is not that illegal immigrants might vote, i think the more concern is that they inflate the confesses numbers that they tend to sell. thattially, it is a way you kind of boost democratic representation because nonvoters are included in the population. that might not be a wrong thing, but that is the effect. >> can you speak to any provisions that might secure the vote for citizens? follow.ot sure i
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>> i don't think there are any that take that approach and indeed, the extent people are worried about that, the bill probably has provisions that cut the other direction. >> could you address that minority groups would have their vote count more or less should illegal immigrants be allowed to vote. >> i'm not sure it would change for if it have an impact on the electorate and i would have an impact on who winds elections at some point. >> thank you. is ms. wasserman schultz. the current process is very
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broad. i think you referenced that in your opening marks. there is no transparency and a risk of compromising national security. we have faxed year that the trump administration requested -- that gave him access to classified information he should not have had. reporttory to not business meetings should raise red flags and a couple weeks ago, we learned that there was a rejecting of applications because of his meetings. he could be subject to undue influence. now, we know those same specialists were overruled by fact,supervisor and in mr. klein overruled 30 such
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clearances which is unprecedented. apparently, there had only been one other prior ruling in the history of that process. for the record, the committee might recall, i proposed to to revoke mr.2017 kushner security clearance because he repeatedly by the rules and did not report meetings that he had because he forgot about them. i don't know about you, but i generally maneuver -- remember the foreign contact meetings. them anddon't forget repeatedly have to amend applications, so it is strange that he did not remember. we cannot have the fox watching the henhouse. this bill at least takes a step toward transparency. be sure that these
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rulings are not allowed and what stepdo you think need to be taken to make sure that people in the white house and the executive branch do not have security clearances when they should not question mark >> i think turning first to your comments about the transition team, i think it is important that this bill addresses the teams.of the transition people who are getting access to information. in terms of the security clearance process, i don't have specific recommendations on that. is not my specialty. it is important, however, to de-politicize it as much as possible. i also think in this case, we have a problem where you have an
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individual who repeatedly admitted -- amended his security clearance form. i have never seen so many amendments for a financial disclosure that he had to make and i think this is the kind of thing that we ordinarily, petitioned just potentially would be a termination or revocation of a security .learance having i may just stay, worked on hundreds of these, not once do i recall overruling the decisions of a career professional and i think making sure that process is led by career professionals is one way to prevent that from occurring, especially those nominated for current senate positions and
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ensuring their background investigations are fully completed before those folks are nominated and considered by the senate. if i can ask you since you have experience in reviewing the security clearances, do not -- any of of the being overruled? >> i don't recall any of them being overruled. >> so what if they cannot have a security clearance what is the risk of doing that? and with those different factors of conducting a background investigation and what factors should be considered derogatory to put an individual at risk.
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or in other ways put national , security at risk. professionals to for many years. >> so, it is your opinion it is jeopardized? >> yes. >> thank you. >> and my question is for mister smith to know the only country without voter registration? -- do you know the only state in the country without voter registration? >> no. >> i will give everybody a lesson. it is north dakota. >> that was my guess. >> one of the things i think that we run into with the federal one-size-fits-all legislation is the negative
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despairs of pact. it would have on certain rule states that do things in a unique way which we are very proud of. north dakota is the only state in the country without voter registration. we have an incredibly robust rural voting program, counties that vote exclusively by mail and have developed these with input from our citizens and electorate and county officials and dealing with those issues. we currently have no excuse absentee voting. we allow felons to vote immediately upon release from prison. poll workers are almost exclusively volunteers across the state. we are incredibly proud of that. it is somewhat uniquely in that we have also went to a lot of
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different issues and then to interact completely with the resources available to them with mandatory 15 day registrations what if you are exclusively vote by mail county? >> what do you mean? that is a long period to vote. >> so, in some counties we go shorter and in some cases, we go earlier than 15 days. we set things up differently. our early voting is that one or two locations. >> as i understand it, the bill would have all to have early voting opportunities. through significant
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affidavit reforms in the state and have dealt with these issues on the county and local and state level and with student ids or creative mechanisms in just two things that way and with the volunteer voting and there has never been any mechanism to check in absentee ballot to whatever district it would be to allow that affidavit process to come back into place this is important to the voters of north dakota since as early as august .he absentee vote this would require ballots to be postmarked after election day, correct? >> that is my understanding. process as early as august and as i said, no
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excuse absentee ballots. we require that they are election. before the thery to make sure that election is over after election day. i'm not in the business of telling people and company have to do their voting laws, but that is something that is not appropriate here. bes would require ballots to postmarked up until election day ? >> correct. >> so when we are implementing walls, i think we run into serious concerns about rogue districts who deal with these issues. right now, we have a bill moving in place where county auditors are dealing with voting precincts in particular counties
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and it is a very unique north dakota problem. everybody heren to remember that those issues and the challenges are better suited to be dealt with by the people closest to the communities in dealing with the issues we face. when we deal with the laws at , we have unique challenges in north to go to that other people don't. >> there are no federal elections, there are state elections for federal law. when the step in that system, the people. this is why it is in the bill,
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because the public is tired of feeling like their elections, their system, their democracy is owned by special interests, wall street, oil and gas industry, super pac's, lobbyists, everybody but them. this is a power move. they want to own their democracy all across the country as you pointed out, citizens are stepping up and taking that where they are the rightful owners of their own democracy. and they can get that back i think you said, for one dollar per year. to rentar per year democracy back from the people who have taken it hostage so you can call the shots. i would love for congressman meadows to step into that system.
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i would like every member. it is a voluntary system, you don't have to do it, but i would like every system. it is owned by the people. people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of a system somebody else. with a system that is run by somebody else may be get to the other points that i have in my time of. to make people feel more empowered so why are we looking on these things together? this is why we are doing this. somebody said why are we hooking all these things together? voting, ethics, campaign-finance because the people have told us
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if you just do one and don't do the others, we are still frozen out and the system is still rigged. that doesn't solve the problem . if you fix the ethics part it is still owned by the big money and special interest to underwrite the campaign than we are still left out and the system is still rigged we have to do all of these things together to reset the democracy in a place the democracy where it respects the average citizen out there. right now sitting in their kitchen looking at the tv screen talking about billionaires and super pax who are making decisions inside conference rooms and all they say with the noses pressed against the window to have no impact that is why you put these together. -- we have no impact. that is why we are linking all these things together, to reset
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the table so that the special interests are not calling the shots. is voter fraud the problem? mr. smith would have you think so. voter fraud is not the problem. we know the statistics. voter suppression is the problem. the obstacle course that is set up to make this so difficult to register and get to the polls. it demoralizes them and they stay home. it's not worth it. we have to fix that as congressman cummings said. that is the baseline. the most powerful form of protest and engagement an american citizen has is the but too many, people into many parts of this country still cannot get to the ballot box.
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it's about coronation. we can have sensible coordination rules for the super pacs are not coordinating with candidates to violate campaign contribution limits and so forth. we could do that and protect free speech while actually giving more speech back to people who are denied that right now. that is not a problem. we are not outing donors so they are targeted to make it donors who give $10000 who right now are hidden behind the russian doll structure were you cannot see who it is. who is behind the curtain? who puts all this money into campaigns? the public wants to know that.
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it is reasonable let them see what's happening to their own democracy and give them their power back. that is hr one. for the people. i yield back my time. >> because mister saar being specifically referenced something that i said this. i have not addressed voter fraud that is not what it does. i just want to make that clear. >> thank you, mr. smith. >> i will start with mister smith since he is warmed up. hr one is a big bill it takes a lot of time to go through it and then to understand how this bill should they be able to read and understand? we mac and with you put to gather a 570 page on this glenn -- 570 page on this. >> could drafting solve that problem?
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>> we and with that component parts some are worth keeping and some are not but there is some that you are >> i think that splitting the bill of would be allowed to be considered and some parts are worth keeping and some parts are not. when you have a section titled super pac coordination that applies to every citizen of the united states there seems to be a drafting problem. >> just a general question, i cannot tell you through your special interest in every election i cannot tell you how many times i am told you cannot do this or that but if there is a study that shows if you look at journalism, communication, 20 democrats on the tenure-track position and as people form their press release or their
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statement not to get in trouble with the media. do you have any suggestions what we can do or is this something we always have to deal with which is 95 percent of the professors of journalism for the people who determine what is reported are democratic in nature? would you agree it's hard to have fair elections as long as that happens? is there anything we can do about it? the media has a tremendous amount of influence in elections and they are
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largely unregulated. i'm not sure you can increase that influence by limiting what groups or citizens can say or do. i would say is the current system perfect in which people are willing to participate. it is not perfect but it's , better than the alternatives and that's true here as well as a bias need and then from time to time and then to do the best that we can so i don't think we have much to show for the next four years very heavy regulation. >> i agree the government will be weighing in on what people can say or what kinds of people are hired with a simple majority and then working for public universities i just wonder if there is the unfairness out of their with your opponent from the mainstream media. and just wonder if a
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lot of people feel there is unfairness that you have to , nocome your opponents known suggestions. don't always ask why were talk about this. the last administration, we had a situation in which the secretary of state's husband was paid half a million dollars on a speech and russia i don't know if she herself had accepted $500,000, but do you think we should begin to regulate the size of the checks people are getting from spouses of relative figures? -- relevant figures?
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would that people -- without cause people to have more confidence with what goes on? it has to be the devil in the details but i will , say that too often the response has been to put limits on the american people rather than say maybe the limit should be on those that are serving the government, including the families. >> ok. thank you very much. >> next up, the gentle lady from california. >> this is a great segue as just suggested maybe the families of government have some restriction on their income and i would like to draw attention to mr. shop -0- mr. shaub who has been
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a great service to our country and to all of you for the presentations today, but last i know, a ivanka trump was the daughter of the president has businesses she was granted a full trademark in china after her father was elected and she became a member of the administration. these were granted during a period of economic tension with the united states and china and coincided with the administration lifting a ban on us sales of technology to -- zte,firm cte which violated us sanctions with illegal sales to iran. what are the risks of these conflicts of interest? >> that is the divided loyalty they should be confident their leaders in washington are serving their best interest and not their own personal financial interest. the situation got worse when he had passed interpretation of the
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nepotism law that over 50 years at least four pieces of guidance had told presidents they could not do that and the consequence has been she has been allowed by the white house to retain the types of assets even this white house is not allowing others that her husband to retain. >> so, strengthening the anti-nepotism law would be a key component if we try to clean up the mess in the white house right now? >> i absolutely think so. flynn, i serve on the intelligence committee and i am deeply troubled that what appears to be russian engagement through the 5o1c4's through the country whether the nra or other nonprofits that are created for the express purpose here in the united states to lobby on behalf
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of russia as related to the magnitsky act. right now, there is no limitation on how much money can be contributed by a foreign government entity to a 5o1c for? is that correct? >> correct. >> and there is no disclosure required as well? ?s that correct >> that's correct. >> in your estimation is it , prudent to limit the amount of contributions one could make and also that that is subject to disclosure. >> i think it would be very important. there are limits and bands for national giving many of campaign contributions and we should look at those limits and certainly disclosure for contributions to federal 5o1c4.
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>> there are four cabinet officials in this investigation, humancretary of humana -- , and otherservices who have all resigned amidst evidence for extravagant and unnecessary travel expenses and i would like to ask if you can speak to the impact these resignations have had on the executive branch agencies and how we can relieve ourselves of the abuse that some of these secretaries of various cabinet posts are engaged in. >> thank you. i'm going to refer back to something that i think multiple members of the panel said earlier, which is that leadership on ethics issues sets
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the tone from our experience for the rest of the staff on an agency and that leadership should be coming from the white there have been multiple practices spanning multiple decades by republican and democratic administrations that have done just that to make sure that they are avoiding even the perception of a conflict of interest or using their position for private gain. that is a bedrock principle in our democracy. enshrinesh.r. 1, many of these practices into law and would serve as a good first step towards preventing some of what we have seen over the past couple of years. >> thank you. i now recognize mr. higgins from louisiana. mr. higgins: thank you. in the spirit of bipartisanship, let me say that h.r. 1 should be
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divided into its component parts because perhaps it could be argued there is some worthwhile legislation written in here. as a totality of, on circumstances, this is wrong. this bill is exactly reflective of why arour founding fathers debated after the revolutionary war, prior to the formation of our federalist society and central government, it passionately debated whether or not this thing could even work if we can have a federalist society and the union of states with a strong central government and still maintain individual rights and freedoms. my colleague across the aisle mentioned russia. russia has been mentioned several times today. this bill resembles russian government policy. most of us have taken an oath before we begin congressmen and
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congresswomen. i took oaths as a soldier, deputy. you panelists are courageous to come before this committee where many very serious decisions will be made. debates shall be engaged. does our first amendment protect freedom of speech? >> that goes without saying. 1. higgins: does h.r. abridges the freedom of speech? >> yes. mr. higgins: absolutely.
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it gives almost total partisan political control over freedom of speech and a representative government where this has been paid for in the blood of the past. are we worth to be the americans that occupied this body? our founders intended to be an expiration date of our first amendment rights? of course not. that expiration date will come if h.r. 1 passes. mr. smith, i would like to ask according to the tone my colleagues have expressed here, americans watching this would think they stand for the abolishment of big money in political campaigns. according to my research, the association of trial lawyers gave democrat candidates in 2018 $2.2 million, while they gave republican candidates about
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$130,000. this is not a bill of the people, by the people and for the people. it is a bill of trial lawyers for trial lawyers and by trial lawyers. it greatly restricts the freedoms of speech of americans assembled, nonprofit organizations or individual citizens. it hide behind titles that are misleading in an area as we know that many americans have the right to vote don't get past headlines. i'd like to specifically ask in my time remaining, mr. smith, for you to address -- explained to was all what coordinated spenders are. i have read your testimony. incorporating nonprofits to find coordinated speakers would be banned from spending money on speech. tos is directly contrary
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judicial decisions passed. please, 40 seconds, to america what that is. >> in my prepared remarks, i have a number of examples. most groups that people belong to -- the aclu, nra, right to life, naacp -- are incorporated. if corporations cannot make any coordinated expenditures because they are treated as contributions. just to give some examples, if they never were to purchase a ticket to a fundraiser to one of these organizations for $100, $150, and five these later, then never declared his candidacy for the senate that organization cannot make any expenditures. not only directly advocating, but even talking about the candidate in ways that might be deemed -- >> in my remaining five seconds, with his have a chilling effect on the freedom of speech on americans assembled from sea to shining sea? >> absolutely.
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>> i yield back. >> thank you for taking your allotted time. i now recognize myself for five minutes. this is a fascinating conversation. i want to thank mr. sarbanes for his leadership on this. i have seen them in action across the country talking to both parties. what this really is about is power. ms. hobert-flynn, when john gardner started organization, a republican who served in the democratic administration, it was about power then, it is about power now. we have grown. clearly, there is growing research that says congress does not reflect the average person and reflects more people who contribute and have influence on both sides. from my opinion and many others, that has been treated significantly to our income inequality and lack of opportunity, particularly for younger people. could you address the historical
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perspective from common cause and john gardner's admonition, holding power accountable overtime? >> thank you. here is whatlenge we are talking about is the ability of wealthy interests to speak louder than the rest of the american people. that's what we object to. what we are doing is not actually putting in place anything that violates anyone's freedom of speech. we are talking about simple things like disclosure. a voluntary system of small donor reform. candidates do not have to participate. the fact is how this will be funded depends on the system. connecticut, they used unclaimed assets to fund the public financing system. the difference is people who are not wealthy and connected to special interests could run for
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office. they have a competitive chance. they don't have to be connected to wealthy interests. once elected, they are free to surveys on what their constituents want and they don't have wealthy interests coming up and saying this is what i need you to do. i need this tax break for something else. what you see in those kinds of systems is that people govern differently. i saw a palpable difference with lobbyist who are treated by freshman who ran under the program, they treated them -- you could tell me information but you have no control, no monetary control. they can enact what is best interest of their citizens. those are the kinds of things we need to look at. a comprehensive approach also deals with ethics. you may have this system set up that people can choose to run in or not. they are the end, taking money through the back door and gifts and money that
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goes to their businesses, they still could have corruption problems. you need to look more broadly at these issues. you also need not only to lift the voice of small donors, but lift the voice of all americans so that they can vote and have a voice in their democracy. so, that is why you see these voting measures that are so incredibly important to make it easier. actually, it ends up saving money when you move to online voter registration. there are checks in place so you are not capturing illegal immigrants in voting. chance want to see is a agencies andendent the federal elections commission is one that is flawed that has not worked. you have a republican block enforcement of the law. we need agencies that enforce the law with integrity. you can things have like
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blue-ribbon commissions like we talked about. there are other models to look at. wisconsin, with the government accountability board, and connecticut with bipartisan an independent involved. it is a holistic approach to try to ensure that people's voices are heard. >> i'm constantly reminded as a former history major the history around us when teddy roosevelt talked about the great wealth and influence in trust in the congress and what that led to his the inequality that we now arrival at this point in time. haub, can you elaborate on the positive aspects of making your former position to directly respond to reports from congress. some trouble we have had with o.e.g., getting written responses that both republicans and democrats have been troubled by. two sisterg.'s
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agencies can communicate directly with congress but o.e.g. has to go through the political approval process which means they don't have the ability to alert congress of problems or give them answers to the information they are seeking. generalseen inspectors and the other agencies i mentioned use this ability to great effect to protect the government's integrity. >> thank you. i yield the remainder of my time . our next speaker is mr. gibbs from texas. ohio. >> texas is a great state though. >> it is hard to miss. as is ohio. >> first of all, i want to say in ohio, i think the process is moving pretty good. i know ms. flynn talked about long lines. a number of years ago, we passed some legislation, absentee ballot voting. we get 30 days before the
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election. a lot of people are doing that. we don't have lines anymore. we don't need a federal law day to go vote. you have 30 days to go vote. if you can't vote 30 days by mail or absentee, that raises interesting questions about your voting ability. also in ohio, the secretary of state, the practice has been to send out two or three weeks before absentee ballots be mailed out to every registered voter in ohio. hey, if you want to let us know, here's an application for absentee ballot. pretty simple. smith, i have some questions here. it is my understanding that this three-judgezes a panel in the u.s. district court . congressional districts?
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>> i believe that is correct. that is outside the area i am most focused on. >> ok. it is just bizarre that we have federalism and states rights that we would have a three-judge panel in washington, d.c. a one-size-fits-all for all the 50 states. also, as we have had this discussion that authorizes federal employees to pull workers and pay them, we don't need that in ohio. we have a good bipartisan system. every county board has two republicans and two democrats. it is 50-50, bipartisan. when they count the ballots, it is all bipartisan. that is probably why you have not heard a lot of problems in ohio, like other states. it is also interesting what we saw with the irs targeting conservative groups. mr. smith, do you think this bill would open up a can of worms to get more empowerment to
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bureaucrats in washington, d.c. where we could see abuse of that type nature? >> we often say the p urpose of the disclosure is for the people to monitor the government. it is not for the government to monitor their people. it opens up the possibility of that sort of retaliation. alternatively, the online harassment that private individuals can engage in. long way of saying yes. waslso, when the bill talked up, the 6:1 payment of federal taxpayer dollars. if you have a $200 contribution, you get $1200 of taxpayer dollars. i don't see how that is a good thing. where does it say i can be a i don't want my money going to my opponent. my tax dollars.
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a big fundamental problem with that. i have major concerns and i think that opens up a can of worms. it is really a huge problem. an attack on political action committees, pac's. maybe you were the best want to answer this. where do political action committees get their money? >> they get their money from individuals, traditional pac's. super pac's can take money from corporations and unions, but they are not able to contribute directly to candidates. >> i appreciate that. good point. it comes from businesses in my district, a lot of it. it comes from associations. everybody has somebody lobbying for them in d.c. if you are a member of a retirement association, any organization, you have a lobbyist here. >> if i could interrupt, it
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actually comes from the involuntary contributions from the employees of those businesses and trade associations. >> that is right. unlike another entity on the labor side where it is not voluntary. that is important. people voluntarily support the company they work for. they could be members of a farm organization, advocating for and support that. if they do not support that, they would not give money because it is voluntary. if you take political action, you don't get that 6:1 match. it is definitely a partisan bill and targeted for their partisan activities. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes ms. ocasio-cortez for five minutes. >> thank you. letplay a game's. let's play lightning round game.
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i'm going to be the bad guy, which i am sure half of the room would agree with anyway. i want to get away with as much bad things as possible. ideally to enrich myself an advance my interest, even if that means putting my interests ahead of the american people. hobert-flynn -- i have enlisted all of you as my co-conspirators. you will help me legally get away with all of this. so, i want to run. if i want to run a campaign that is entirely funded by corporate political action committees, is there anything that legally prevents me from doing that? >> no. >> ok, so there is nothing stopping me from being entirely funded by corporate pac's, say from the fossil fuel industry, health care industry, big pharma. entirely 100% lobbyist pac
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funded. let's say i'm a really bad guy and let's say i have some skeletons in my closet that any to cover up so i can get elected. mr. smith, is a true that you wrote this article, this opinion piece for the washington post entitled "these payments were women were unseemly, that does not mean it is illegal." >> i cannot see that these but i wrote a piece under that headline. >> i can do all sorts of terrible things that is totally legal right now for me to pay people off. and that is considered speech. that money is considered speech. i use my special interest dark money funded campaign to pay off folks any to pay off and get elected. now, i'm elected. i have the power to draft, lobby and shape the laws that govern the united states of america. that it was. -- fabulous. >> now is thernow, is there anyd
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limit that i have in terms of what legislation i'm allowed to touch? are there any limits on the laws i can write or influence, interesty based on the funds i accepted to finance my campaign to get me elected? >> there is no limit. >> i can be totally funded by oil and gas, big pharma, come in, write big pharma laws and there is no limits to that whatsoever. now, mr. mehrbani. the last thing i want to do is get rich with as little work possible. that's really what i am trying to do as a bad guy. is there anything preventing me from holding stocks, say, in an oil or gas company and then writing laws to deregulate the industry and cause -- could potentially caused the stock's value to store and
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accrue a lot of money? >> you could do that. >> i could do that now the way the current laws are set up. yes? >> yes. >> great. ok, so, my last question is -- one of my last question is is it possible that any element of this story applies to our current government and current public servants right now? >> yes. >> yes. >> so, we have a system that is fundamentally broken. we have these influences existing in this body, which means these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now. would you say that is correct? >> yes. one lastght, so, thing. relation ton congressional oversight that we
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have, the limits that are placed on me as a congresswoman compared to the executive branch and compared to the president of the united states, would you say that congress has the same sort of standard of accountability? is there more teeth in that regulation in congress on the president, or is it about even? >> in terms of laws that apply to the president, there is almost no laws at all that apply to the president. >> i am being held and every person in this body is being held to a higher ethical standards and the president of the united states. >> that is right, because there are some ethics committee rules. >> it is already super legal as we have seen for me to be a pretty bad guy. it is even easier for the president to be one, i would assume. >> that is right. >> thank you very much. chairman.ou,
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mr. smith, i wonder if you would have any comments on the questioning by my colleague from new york. you seem to have a few notes. anything you want to say after that discussion? >> i would say there are a couple of things that would not be, that could apply here. that are something that could not apply. the whole point of the article she held up was you cannot use your campaign funds to make those kind of payments. that would be illegal personal use. campaign funds are not dark money. they are totally disclosed. they are not dark money. it is worth noting that earlier, dark money constituted $1.7 billion. i believe that figure is incorrect by a factor of about 500%. dark money constitutes about 2% to 4% in total spending of u.s. elections and has always been involved in u.s. elections. i did kind of chuckled at the question. is it possible that these
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influences, this money is influencing the question here? that is something you have to ask yourself if you are being influenced. if you are, you my question yourself. if you are not, you my question this hearing. >> a couple of questions about super pac's, as they are often referred to. are federal candidates allowed to coordinate directly with a super pac and/or have anything to do with its formation? >> no, they are not at the current time. >> with respect to super pac's, is this a partisan problem or both parties have super pac's funding elections and funding candidacies? >> both do, i believe. i believe historically, they have waned more republican. in the last election cycle, they have leaned more democratic. >> so if we deploy the famous let me google that for you and we got this to come up and say a bunch of headlines say democrat super pac spending $3 million in new jersey, super pac money
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dominated in colorado, and democrats control the cash race. nearly went through and through and through, we would see this not a particularly partisan question or problem. is that right? >> i think that is right. >> when we think about what we are dealing with with respect to campaign finance, are you familiar with -- >> in the sense of outing people online. >> are you familiar with a twitter account named every trump donor, which tweeted out the names of everyone who treated as little as $200 to the president's campaign? my point being in the question for you is when we talk about campaign disclosures, are we aware of the negative impact that you have on forcing american citizens to exercising their free speech to have that information be disclosed? whether that is good policy or not might be debatable, but are
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there negative consequences with respect to free speech? >> there are and there are definitely studies that have shown that disclosure tends to decrease participation. that does not mean -- we have to be careful in how broad that disclosure becomes. >> thank you. correctly did i hear earlier in one of your exchanges with one of my colleagues here that you consider proof of citizenship as one of the barriers to voting or one of the obstacles for people to be able to vote? proof of citizenship? is that one of the ones you outlined? >> yes. it is used at many polling places that people just a test to that, to have to come up with the paperwork as a burden for many americans. >> as well as federal id, early voting changes, restricting
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early voting from being longer to shorter, and election day to registration. the reason i ask is when we look at obstacles to voting, we know the voting rights act was a paramount piece of legislation. we also know that the voting rights act ran into constitutional problems in shelby county v. holder for good reason. if you look at what the majority rep, the voting rights act deployed extraordinary measures to address the next ordinary problem in the face of constitutionally protected rights to vote. it was necessary for particular regions of the country. now justiceis thomas writing in a concurrent. today, the nation has changed. they are no longer characterized voting in the covered jurisdiction. mr. smith, are you aware that in this legislation, there is an attempt to bring section five back with respect to preclearance and yo can you
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comment on that and what that might mean? >> i just know that yes, it is true. i think the supreme court's concern was the formula applied from data from 1964 any to be updated to reflect modern realities. >> that is correct. thank you. >> congresswoman presley of massachusetts. recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. this has been a very interesting hearing. charges of radicalism, motives of of partisanship, but never outrage about partisan gerrymandering which has benefited your party for decades. that is really convenient and rich and hypocritical. h.r. 1 has described as a wish
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list by the democrats. well, you got us a wish list for an inclusive, expanded democracy and electorate. power grab. you got us again, guilty. when you have to grab the power back to the people this group policy that you are perpetuating the disenfranchisement and marginalization of the people and disproportionately people of color and disproportionately black people. representative john lewis reminds us if your vote did not matter, they would not work so hard to take it from you. this is the house of representatives. we are sent here as representatives of our districts and a greater democracy. at the core of democracy and the root word of "demos" is to engage more voices and to
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empower them in this democracy. i'm really at a loss for words. i am embarrassed and hurt by the dog whistles, by the vitriol and venom in this space, and the smugness. it is stunning and unconscionable. disappointment and outrage about a federal holiday for election day. early voting and mail-in voting. the rights of formerly incarcerated restored. according to the sentencing project, 6.1 million americans have lost their right to vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws. laws that disproportionately impact communities of color. ms. flynn, the united states ranks 26th among the lowest of all established democracies around the world in voter turnout. certainly blelies
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characterizations of american exceptionalism. can you speak to the passage of h.r. 1 and the establishment of a federal voting holiday, how this would help to broaden turnout particularly for voters who have historically been disenfranchised? can you also speak to how many developed countries follow this practice and how it has impacted their turnout? >> yes, i apologize. i do not have information but i will share it with the committee about other countries. i will say that a federal holiday can make a huge difference for many americans who cannot afford to take a day off from work to get to the polls or as we have seen in many other voting rights groups election protection during the election season. we saw long lines in states across the country. we had machines that were breaking down or switching votes. we had machines that did not
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work so people had long lines. people cannot afford, many people cannot afford to wait in line for 3, 4, 5 hours at a polling place. many have to get back to work. a federal holiday would make a big difference. >> mr. amey, we have spoken a great deal about lobbying corruption. of the like to speak about the corruption of contractors. in your testimony, he described the crisis of the revolving door where officials commonly enter could you jobs with the contractor they were charged with overseeing on the behalf of taxpayers. your organization issued a a report where a former official for ice, less than three month after leaving government service, she was hired by ice's single largest prison and attention center which brought in more than $27 million in the last year alone. she even served as an expert witness for a lawsuit that
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alleged violation of minimum wage laws and other inhumane treatment of immigrants. in your expert opinion, is it ethical for a senior government contracting office to work for the very entity she was overseeing months before? >> the quick answer is no. the law has cooling off. periods. or youryear, two year permanent ban. h.r. 1 would move those two two o two years. what is the appropriate time to cool off to make sure your contacts are not there? when president trump was a candidate, he talked about boeing at the time and went on record saying people who give contracts should never be able to work for that defense contractor. this is a bipartisan issue. this is something we can resolve. we just need some tweaking of
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those to improve them and allow people to cool off and not be able to provide a competitive advantage to their new employer or favor them as they are in office and walking out the door. >> so, you do believe extending this cooling off period and strengthening these prohibitions would protect the integrity of the process? >> 100%. one of the nice things about hr..r. 1, there is an extension of a cooling off period for people coming into government service. this would move it to two, which is a better place to be. >> one final question. how might these cozy relationships between government officials and corporate leaders boost profits for these prison and detention centers? >> they go with a lot of information when they go over to the private sector. it also allows them to get back into their former office and within their former agency.
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access is everything in this town. if you your phone calls answered, emails read, meetings -- that can not only with members of congress but agency heads, that can determine who gets contracts. we need to make sure that we and appearances of conflict of interest we can. >> thank you so much. i yield back. >> sorry, my first time up here. i would like to recognize mrs. miller from west virginia for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chairman. to all of you, thank you so much for being here today. mr. smith, in your testimony, you discussed the language utilized by groups that mention either federal candidates or elected officials which promotes, attacks, supports or otherwise known as
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it is my understanding that h.r. 1 uses this highly subjective qualifier as a standard for all communications. with that in mind, given the broad use of paso in h.r. 1, what kind of chilling effect do you believe this will have on free speech in our country? >> i think it will have a substantial chilling effect and that is why i think the supreme court in a number of opinion stating back to almost half a century has said the standards used to regulate speech have to be clear and closely tied to elections that this vague standard does not work. for a long time, they used the standard of expressed advocacy. later, the court expended that to anything that was susceptible to no other reasonable meaning than a request to vote for a candidate. even then, only if it aired within 60 days of an election. i think this broad standard is
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almost certainly unconstitutional. preciselynstitutional because it kills so much speech that goes outside of efforts to elect candidates. >> that pretty much leaves into my second question which was what impact with the passage of this legislation have on those groups that are not political, but may put out policy oriented communication? >> it would be very serious. i have given a number of examples. i should say i should add to this that the bill includes personal liability for officers and directors of some of these organizations. you almost have to be crazy to let your organization get anywhere close to this promote, support a, attack and oppose standard. a government union might take out an ad three weeks from now saying don't let president trump -- we should not have to pay since he lost his wallet in
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mexico. is that an attack on president trump? that is the kind of thing folks would not know and make people very hesitant to run that kind of ad. >> it is a personal risk as well. >> yes. plus, it would be a risk to the tax status of some of the organizations involved. these organizations may have some kind of tax status. they would have to be very careful because if they engage in speech that is not defined as 3olitical speech, 501(c) organizations would lose their tax-exempt status. that is another reason why they would be clear of commenting. >> i yield back my time. gentlewoman yield? >> yes, i yield. >> i think the chairman. d -- ms.o commen
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flynn, i want to come to you. you are a nonpartisan group? >> yes, it is. >> mr. shaub, you are representing crew? >> yes. >> so, is there anything to be learned by your board members and who they contribute to? because you say you are nonpartisan, yet if i look at all of your board and who they contribute to, i think the lone donation to a republican was $250 to john mccain. yet, hundreds of thousand dollars from your board members to all kinds of democrat operatives and causes across the way. so, is there anything to be drawn from your board supporting those causes to suggest that you are partisan or not? >> no. >> i'm confuse the lid of it.
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if we can't draw that conclusion, then how in the world can we draw a conclusion about other related entities in the government based on their association or lack thereof of any individuals? >> entities in the government? >> you are making all kinds of with thens chairwoman's permission -- let me finish the one question very quickly . in that, your board is inherently left-leaning based on their political contributions. you are saying that has no input or direction on what you organization stands for. is that your sworn testimony? >> it is a nonpartisan group, yes. >> i yield back. >> recognized for five minutes. >> i want to thank john sarbanes and chairman cummings for their
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leadership. mr. smith, you are a student of history, i can tell. you want to read you a quote and see if you can guess which president said this. it is well to provide the corporations shall not contribute to presidential or national campaigns. for the more to provide the expenditures. however, no such law would hamper an unscrupulous man of means to buying his way into office. there is a very radical measure which would, i believe, work a substantial improvement in our system of conducting a campaign. although, i'm well aware it will take some time for people to familiarize themselves with such a proposal. the need for collecting large campaign funds would vanish if congress provided an appropriation for the proper and legitimate expenses of campaigns. campaigns was a paraphrase but that is the point. you know who said that?
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>> i believe it is teddy roosevelt. >> it is. you disagree with teddy roosevelt? >> yes, i do. >> you disagree with the establishment of public funding for presidential campaigns? >> i do think that has been ineffective. i also disagree with ben tillman who sponsored the original tillman act. >> did president reagan participate under the presidential funding campaign? >> yes, he did. >> would you say there were some strong conservatives elected under the presidential funding campaign? >> yes. >> i was struck by your statement that the subsidy would most likely drive donors away from moderating forces exerted by parties. is it your view -- it is a legitimate view, it is a debate in democracy. my view is the american people are really smart, great. is it your view that the donors, which are 5%, have republican
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functions to moderate the view of the american public? >> my view is the public is very smart too, which is why i trust them at the ballot box to make good decisions. >> you don't say the voters will have a moderating force, you are saying the donors. what particular attributes you give these donors -- there were some founders that believe there should be a checked on the popular will. it would be an honest view if people gave $2700, if your view they are smarter and better and the need to have a check on americans. my view is that americans are very smart and i trust them more. >> i would not necessarily like words but in my not. i did not say that. there is empirical evidence that shows small donors tend to be more polarized than large donors. if you want to ignore the facts, you are free to do that. that is not mean the voters are stupid.
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the voters a very smart. >> why do you think we need donors to have an influence? you are basically saying that 5% of the country, we can agree, have these donors. you are saying they have a force for good in this democracy. >> i don't think we need them to play that role. on the other hand, the idea that we are going to benefit simply trying to do a 6:1 match for small donors will not have the results people will think it will have. >> i'm tried to understand your view, because i think this is what drives a lot of the view. that are fundamentally people who believe that 5% of donors have some influence in our democracy. what does that mean? >> that is not my view. my view is it is a generally a matter of bad policy and tremendous risk and violation of first amendment to limit people's ability to speak out, to contribute to candidates. >> do you think theodore roosevelt was violating the first amendment as well?
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>> i think he was incorrect. >> forget the first amendment argument. i want to understand the polarization argument. why is it you are saying 95% of the country needs to be moderated? >> i don't think that. what i think and what the empirical evidence shows that small donors, still a small percentage of the total country, tend to be more polarizing in their views and in their donations than others. >> if you have public financing, you would not have donors. your only concern about the first amendment, but you think these large donors have a positive influence? >> i don't think they are playing a particularly positive influence. in some cases, they are. i don't think as a group they are playing a positive or negative role. just like small donors are not uniformly playing a positive or negative role. i don't think every member of this committee is uniformly positive or negative. we play individual roles.
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>> mr. jordan from ohio. >> thank you. mr, shaub, how long were you at o.e.g.? >> short of 14 years. >> how long were you director? >> director, 4.5. >> when did that end? >> july 2070. >> end of the trump administration -- seven months. tell me how things work at o.e.g. you provide counsel and advice to folks in the executive branch of government on ethical concerns they may have. do they come to you, you go to them? >> it typically works, you are talking about the prevention mechanism. it typically works that the official initiates the interaction and comes seeking guidance for something they want to do. or to find out if they need to do something. the only other way one comes in
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voluntary is through the financial disclosure system where they are required to file these reports. o.e.g. reviews them. >> how does it work with the president of the united states? to his lawyers come to you? >> they came to us. we have been working with them -- i am not sure when he first became a candidate. >> his lawyers reached out to you at some point when he was candidate and continue to reach out when he was president-elect and when he was president. >> that is right. >> all three stages. on november 30, 2016, you did a series of tweets about your interactions with the president's legal team. is that accurate? i got them right here, i will read them. a characterization about their what? >> interactions with o.e.g. >> i believe they were about the
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vestige or. >> did you send them out on your official account? >> my official account? no, the office of ethics. >> did you ever tweet out anything dealing with anyone else who sought your counsel and advice? >> we only have the account for three years. i don't think we did. >> the only guy you tweeted about who you have been dealing with was the president-elect of the united states of america, right? >> yes. >> you said things like this. "we told your counsel we would sing your praises if you divested. we meant it." you are tweeting out for the whole world private conversations you had with someone who sought your advice, their legal counsel. as we discussed with your o.e.g. applauds the total divesture decision, mocking the president-elect.
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>> no, we were not mocking. >> why did you put it in parentheses? >> because it was, i think, a quote. >> and you said you have never done this before? never tweeted out about anyone else in the executive branch who sought your advice and counsel, and how they could deal with ethical issues? this was the only individual you tweeted out about? >> i think it is a mischaracterization to describe it as confidential advice. o.e.g.'s advice -- >> i did not say anything about confidential. all i said was this the only guy you tweet about? >> i thought you said confidential. >> i did not. you only twittered about the president-elect and no one else. >> right. >> do you find that unusual? >> i find everything about the past two and a half years unusual. >> no, no. do youve saying is -- think it was a professional decision that the guide that is the head of the office of government ethics, you are going
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to get information to the public only about one individual and you have never done it in your 14 years at o.g.e. and four years as director? >> you said disclose information. i did not share information. 1983 is when -- >> what were you trying to convey in these tweets? >> that the president should divest. >> couldn't you just tell his lawyers? >> we -- [laughter] we did tell his lawyers. >> why did you tweet about it? >> we reached a dead end and i was not convinced our communications were reaching him. >> you were talking to his lawyers. his lawyers reached out to you first. you communicated to him advice of what you think they need to do, yet you tweet about it? >> we were trying to match him -- nudge him. he just issued a statement -- you have the phrase and i don't
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want to say it wrong. >> o.g.e. applauds the decision, bravo. >> he said something like completely separate or completely resolve conflicts of interest. i don't want to claim i remember the quote exactly. what we were trying to do, we had two choices -- interpret ort as unclear or doubt him give him the benefit of the doubt. we made the decision to choose to take him at his exact little words. >> you make a decision to tweet out conversations you had with the president-elect's council when they were seeking advice and guidance from you and you have never, ever done that before. >> thank you, mr. jordan. i recognize myself for five minutes and i would like to yield two minutes. >> thank you. it is wonderful seeing you up there. i appreciate this. at this very moment, i'm thinking about my teenage son,
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talking about tweets right now, and he would say seriously? i want to talk about something incredible serious which is the law of the land, the united states constitution. we all have a duty to uphold it. we are here to serve the american people, not this president. we serve them before anyone. i just know since the ethics in government act of 1978 was passed, president of both parties have established blind trusts or limited their holdings to the treasury. all of their assets because of conflicts of interest. you just talked about divestment. this is an incredibly important clause that really protects the american people, the matter who is there, republican, democrat -- it does not matter. because it is really important to take that influence out, because everyone knows being president is a temporary gig. what happens afterwards, right, you have someone who is still running the trump organization, many of them in the cabin right
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now, and serving out of the white house. i am really asking for all of you to please, even if it is just a few seconds, to talk about the clause and why it is there and why it is important to reiterate this because even beyond h.r. 1, this is current law now. we are not upholding that law. we are not taking our oath that we just took five weeks ago seriously when we say this. i will tell you, i don't care if it was a democrat, i don't care. this is important to me that someone is making decisions based on the american people and not the best interests of a profit line or best interest of the company which they will go back after leaving the white house. it is so incredibly important that we uphold the clause. i would like for you all to speak about that. >> the founders of our republic created a foundational document, the united states constitution. we have heard a lot today about the importance of that
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constitution. the only conflict of interest provision that they felt they needed to include in that foundational document worthy two a monument clauses. frankly, i wish they had done a lot more. those are the two they give us and those are the two they felt were preeminently needed to be in there. >> one brief second. >> i was going to say that i think the clause stands for the principle against self-dealing and using a public position to benefit yourself individually. i think you can draw connections from the ethics in government act and other laws that have been passed in a bipartisan basis directly into the clause and other constitutional provisions. it is something we think about often. >> reclaiming my time. i just want to finish this by saying i ran for congress and i
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know many of my colleagues did because i believe our political system was broken, in large part, due to a complete lack of trust by our citizens in our government and our democracy. that restoring that trust has to be our top priority. i have a question for all of you and i want to make sure that mr. smith answers this. do you believe that increased transparency will help restore that trust? me,f you want to start with i would not agree with that as a blanket assertion. i think there are cases where it does, in our case in where it does not. >> can you give me one example where transparency would not restore trust? >> i think the base of this very organization are held in private, where you can stick oppositions give-and-take,, without having every conversation made public. i think, for example, people contribute small amounts to grassroots organizations, the public does not need to know that. the harm outweighs the benefits
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-- the threats to people and withdrawing from participation. >> i'm not suggesting that people need to hear every conversation. i'm saying the general mechanisms of transparency that we are asking for in this bill. >> that transparency is bad, i have outlined that. >> the you believe transparency helps restore faith in democracy? >> i think it is the most important tool to ensure the american people that leaders are acting in their interest. >> to you all a great? -- do you all agree? >> ye s. >> both in ethics measures and campaign reform measures as well. >> mr. smith, do you believe at least that making it easier to vote would restore trust in our democracy? >> i think generally, you don't want obstacles placed in the way of voting, but i don't think everything to make it easier to vote. i would not favor having early voting began a year before the election. some things, yes. >> what about making it a national holiday?
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>> i don't think -- i don't think that is a real problem where it has been shown to increase turnout or make it easier. >> i would say for working-class people who don't get paid time off, it would make it harder to drive. >> it may, but i don't think the empirical data shows it has an effect. >> i would like to say that the former general counsel and acting director of the office of government ethics, john fox, sent a letter to the committee in support of h.r. 1. indivisible has also written statements of support which i am adding to the record. >> madam chair. >> i want to go back to the transparency. big yes. it is not only for the american people but it is congress. earlier today, i think it was congresswoman maloney, she said that documents were not turned over to congress. we found in ethics waiver that goes back to 2003.
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it was an ethics waiver for someone over at hhs that was working on the medicare or medicaid part b portion of the health care bill. there was a gentleman that received a waiver. it was a general waiver. that is why putting waivers out and making publicly available are important. this congress voted on that bill and supported it. that gentleman refused to let a member of his staff turnover information to members of congress. guess what? within days, he went and worked for a lobbying shop and went to work for a company, a firm that represented drug companies. so, it is important for the american public, but it is also important for the senate and the house of representatives to also have faith in the government and in what information they are getting from government employees. >> thank you. >> madam chair, i ask unanimous consent that the record reflect that the president of united states has consistently
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throughout his tenure donated his presidential salary back to federal agencies, as recent as this last quarter. as much of this discussion is by hisis private benefit position. i want the record to reflect the actually donates back his salary to federal agencies. i asked unanimous consent. >> if there is no objection, so ordered. up would like to close by thanking all of our witnesses again for participating today. it was hell to hear the expertise of our witnesses and why -- helpful to view the expertise of our witnesses. h.r. 1 is a set of reforms we desperately need. speaking as a recent citizen, i strongly stand in support of this and was running on these issues before this was coming in the form of a package. i know that is the case for many of my colleagues as well. the committee would make the
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executive branch more transparent. iron tall numbers of the committee in working with us to move this forward. with that, thie committee stands adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019]
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[chatter] >> the c-span bus recently traveled to texas, asking what does it mean to be american? americaneve being an means you can be anyone and anything. you can express yourself and you have the freedom to embrace your culture and show off your culture. america truly is a melting pot. ,> we are part of the community
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it is nice to share values. respect for one another, freedoms we share. lucky, education is amazing. for exchange students come here because we are fortunate. health care, we are fortunate people. americanself, being an is being a free person, but as far as being an american citizen, i would say a connected part in trying to better your country and not think of it -- always go on a mission to make it better. >> voices from the road on c-span. here is some of our live
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coverage tuesday. at 10:00 a.m. on c-span, the centers for disease control and prevention reporting 150 people nationwide infected with measles. the senate health committee holds a hearing on preventable diseases. the house will debate several bills including one directing the veterans administration to carry out a private program to provide undergraduate students experience with the v.a. in the morning on c-span2, amy klobuchar talks about competition and corporate monopolies. later, the senate returns to debate on president trump's executive and judicial nominees. on c-span3, the senate armed services committee reviews the trump administration budget request for the defense headingnt with generals the european command and transportation command. in the afternoon, the house rules committee meets to set the
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guidelines for debate on hr1 . that measure is set for wednesday floor debate. >> former colorado governor john hickenlooper is a candidate in the 2020 residential race. he made the official announcement today on youtube. >> no one can predict what happens after you become governor. rain, and the worst thing in a hundred years, >> a mass shooting in a movie theater for the heart out of our community. familiesise colorado we will rebuild communities better than before. and that thoughts and prayers would never again be sufficient.


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