Democrat — MO 2nd District

My 15-Point Plan

Talk is cheap. So it’s not enough when candidates speak in generalities about reform but stay away from specifics. We need to address campaign finance reform, election reform, and ethics reform. I have a 15-point plan that tackles all three that I will initiate in my first 100 days in office:

Campaign Finance Reform (click here for more) 

  1. Introduce legislation returning campaign contribution levels to FECA limits in 1974. This is necessary in order to bring the ceiling for individual contributions down to levels that are more reasonable. The limits now exclude the average citizen from full participation. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill as possible in both the House and the Senate.
  2. Introduce legislation banning campaign donations from registered lobbyists. Special interests already have armies of lobbyists that regularly descend on Congress. They should not also be allowed to buy preferential treatment. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill as possible in both the House and the Senate.
  3. Introduce legislation creating the “Independent Select Committee on Campaign Finance Reform.” The corruption that occurs when we allow big money to flood our campaigns cannot be ignored. It demands a committee – separate from a standing committee – that focuses solely on this single subject. This legislation will provide details regarding the committee’s makeup and its responsibilities. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in the House as possible. Time will also be spent working with Senators to determine if there is interest in possibly making this a “joint” congressional committee (made up of members of both the House and the Senate). The committee will study – but will not be limited in studying – the following:
    • Publicly funded federal elections. This committee’s job will be to look into how a publicly funded campaign system on the federal system could operate.  This would greatly expand the efforts already introduced in the “Government By the People Act.
    • Greatly Improving disclosure requirements. This committee’s job will be to look into how we can strengthen the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in order for it to do a better job in fully disclosing where campaign money is coming from and where it is going. This information needs to be easily and readily available to all Americans and not buried in an overwhelmed – and at times neglected – federal bureaucracy.
    • Eliminating loopholes and “dark money.”  This committee will look into how we can close the loopholes that allow “dark money” contributions to bypass public disclosure.
  1. Propose a Joint Resolution Amending the Constitution to allow Campaign Finance Restrictions. The Supreme Court has recently struck down a series of campaign finance restrictions. To restore sanity and honor into our campaigns, Congress and state governments need the power to level the campaign playing field.

Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.

This amendment to the U.S. Constitution (first proposed by former Justice John Paul Stevens) would do just that. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors as possible in both the House and the Senate.

Election Reform (Click here for more)

  1. Propose a Joint Resolution Amending the Constitution to ban political gerrymandering. Political gerrymandering allows politicians to choose their voters – and not the other way around! This is a corruption that creates a Congress unrepresentative of the people.

Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historic boundaries or demographic changes.  The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.

This amendment to the U.S. Constitution (first proposed by former Justice John Paul Stevens) would ban the practice across the nation. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors as possible in both the House and the Senate.

  1. Propose Legislation Requiring Paper Ballots. A foreign power interfered with the 2016 American elections. This is a fact. And it is a national tragedy! To restore security and integrity to our electoral process, we need to make sure that American elections are “hack-proof.” This cannot simply be left to individual states. It needs to be national policy. This legislation will require all American elections to provide either voter-marked paper ballots, or a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) for every vote cast. Care will be taken to find as many co-sponsors as possible in both the House and the Senate.
  2. Introduce legislation creating the “Independent Select Committee on Electoral Reform.” There are too many problems with our electoral system to be left to a standing committee in Congress. This committee’s exclusive focus will be on ways we can improve the electoral process. This legislation will provide details regarding the committee’s makeup and its responsibilities. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill as possible in both the House and the Senate. Time will also be spent working with Senators to determine if there is interest in possibly making this a “joint” congressional committee (made up of members of both the House and the Senate). The committee will study – but not be limited in studying – the following:
    • How to fix the way we draw political boundaries. This committee’s job will be to investigate the different ways legislative boundaries can be created in a fair and non-partisan way free of political gerrymandering.
    • How to improve voter turnout. This committee’s job will be to build on Jason Kander’s “Let America Vote” effort and to investigate the different ways that we can improve turnout. This includes:
      • Making voter registration easier and/or automatic.
      • Making the act of voting more convenient (changing the days that elections are held, making election day a holiday, allowing early voting, etc.)
      • Improving voter-education efforts.
    • Greatly strengthening the powers and capabilities of the Federal Election Commission. This committee’s job will be to revitalize the FEC by reorganizing its place in the bureaucracy and giving it the tools to effectively enforce federal election law.
    • Greatly improving the integrity of American elections.  This committee’s job will be to treat the recent attempts at election tampering as a major national security concern and to propose ways to restore the public’s faith in the process. This must include – but not be limited to – legislation requiring all ballots in American elections to include a paper backup (voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT).
    • Improving the prospects of 3rdparty and independent candidates. Many Americans don’t participate in politics because they find choosing between the “lesser of two evils” distasteful. Many more people would participate in politics if they had more options. It’s unfair that the system is sometimes perceived as “rigged” by the two major political parties. Independents and 3rd party candidates deserve more respect. This committee’s job should include looking into areas where we can change the law to make it more fair for candidates that wish to run as something other than a Democrat or Republican. This could include looking into things like “proportional representation”“instant runoff voting”, and “ranked choice voting.”
    • Address concerns regarding the Electoral College. Twice in the last 17 years the winner of the popular vote count has not won in the electoral college. This “quirk” is the result of our antiquated way of electing Presidents. Moreover, the electoral college system forces campaigns to concentrate on just a handful of “swing” states at the expense of the others. This is wrong and has become a growing concern among an increasing number of Americans. This committee will look into what can be done. Our best hope might lie with an effort known as the National Popular Vote. Failing that, this committee should look into amending the Constitution to eliminate the electoral college once and for all.

Ethics Reform (Click here for more)

  1. Introduce the “Full Lobbyist Disclosure Act.” Right now, legislators are under no obligation to disclose with whom they meet or associate. Lobbyists have free reign. This lack of transparency is a serious problem. This bill will require all members of Congress to publicly list their daily meetings, contacts, and appointments. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors of this bill as possible in both the House and the Senate. Short of this becoming federal law, this proposal will also be made to the House Committee on Ethics in order for it to be added to the official congressional “code of conduct.”
  2. Introduce legislation banning all lobbyist gift-giving. Current regulations on lobbyist gift-giving (read: bribery) do not go far enough. We need a complete ban on all gift-giving from special interest representatives (lobbyists, consultants, trolls) to members of Congress, their staff, and their immediate family members. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and the Senate. Short of this becoming federal law, this proposal will also be made to the House Committee on Ethics in order for it to be added to the official congressional “code of conduct.”
  3. Introduce legislation to end the “revolving door.” Offering members of Congress a lucrative job after their tenure is just a perverted extension of lobbyist gift-giving. And it is a corruption that cannot be tolerated. This bill will bar members of Congress from ever working as a lobbyist or consultant for any interest that lobbies Congress. Bans of 5-years and 10-years will be placed on family members and staffers, respectively. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and Senate. Short of becoming federal law, this proposal will also be made to the House Committee on Ethics in order for it to be added to the official congressional “code of conduct.”
  4. Propose an amendment to the Congressional Code of Conduct barring fundraising in DC during session. Members of Congress are barred from fundraising in their Capitol offices. That’s great. But most still spend an outrageous amount of time fundraising and they do this in party offices just off of Capitol Hill. The amount of time members spend “dialing for dollars” is outrageous. Every minute they spend fundraising is a minute they shirk their duty to the American people. All members of Congress should be prohibited from fundraising outside their home districts while Congress is in session. If Congress is in session, that means important work needs to be done. If important work needs to be done in Washington D.C., they should not have time for fundraising.
  5. Introduce legislation requiring blind trusts for all federal elected office holders. The Trump presidency has clearly demonstrated that it’s disastrous to allow unchecked financial conflicts of interest. This bill will require all presidents and members of Congress to place all of their financial holdings in independent blind trusts for the duration of their tenures. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and Senate.
  6. Introduce legislation requiring public disclosure of federal/state tax returns for all federal candidates. Tax returns (federal, state, and Russian) provide the public a basic level of transparency into the financial dealings of their representatives. Requiring them by law should be obvious. This bill requires the timely public disclosure of the last five years of returns for all candidates to elected federal office. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and the Senate. Short of becoming federal law, a similar proposal (only dealing with elected members of Congress) will be made to the House Committee on Ethics in order for it to be added to the official congressional “code of conduct.”
  7. Introduce legislation to greatly expand the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics. Members from both parties tried to quietly gut the power of this non-partisan office in 2017. Nice try. Congress clearly cannot police itself and the public needs to be regularly informed of congressional misbehaviors. This bill will greatly strengthen the powers of this office by, among other things, finally giving it the subpoena and investigative powers it deserves. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and the Senate.
  8. Introduce legislation creating the “National Commission on Government Ethics.” The House and Senate already have committees on ethics. They have proven to be woefully ineffective. This legislation will create what the nation needs: an independent body of people OUTSIDE of elected office to propose bold ethical reforms to the federal government. This legislation will provide details regarding the committee’s makeup and its responsibilities. Effort will be made to find as many co-sponsors for this bill in both the House and the Senate.
End Corruption. Demand reform.
Paid for by John Messmer for Congress.