Cory Booker on Government Reform
Even billionaires need transparency in confirmation hearings
Q: Are Senate Democrats going to slow the pace of Trump's Cabinet confirmations?
BOOKER: Just in 2009, [Republican Senate leader] Mitch McConnell was a person saying, "Hey, we should get all the ethics information in before we do the hearings." These
people that Donald Trump has put up as his appointments to his cabinet are not like President Obama's people. These are people who are billionaires and have vast holdings, vast wealth. And the American people have a right to know if they're going to be
entering into those offices with conflicts of interest.
Q: What about Senator McConnell's point that you want to get the national security team up and running?
BOOKER: This is not a lot to ask, that people give transparency. We literally have a law--
the Ethics in Government Act--that puts specific requirements on transparency that are not being supported by Mitch McConnell right now. This is not a Republican or Democrat thing. This is about national security and knowing the conflicts.
Source: CBS Face the Nation 2017 interview by John Dickerson
, Jan 8, 2017
Declined lavish perks as Newark City Councilor
Even though being a council member is a part- time job, the Newark City Council is the highest-paid city council in the state, and the job promises a host of privileges that I felt were wrong. I did not accept many of the lavish perks.
I gave up a city car and refused to use expense accounts for things like personal meals and travel. But doing the right thing in the wrong way is often wrong. I regret the holier- than- thou, sanctimonious posture I sometimes took--the way
I didn't just refuse those things but wielded the decision like a sword of condemnation against some fellow council members.
I'd been elected to get things done, and the biggest issue for my constituents wasn't
City Council compensation of expense accounts--which I didn't have a shot at changing anyway. People hadn't elected me to point out what was wrong with my colleagues. They'd elected me to find ways to work with them and to get something accomplished.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 59-60
, Feb 16, 2016
Seek common ground to achieve transformative change
In my first year in office, I was achieving little of the transformative change I sought. I must have been breaking records in Newark history for being outvoted eight to one. For a guy who talked a lot about change, I went about it in a bone headed way.
I didn't seek common ground with my colleagues; instead I walked in and sought to distinguish myself from them. I wanted to be the reformer, but by separating myself from them I undermined my ability to advance change.
Source: United, by Senator Cory Booker, p. 59
, Feb 16, 2016
Founding principle: make laws open to public debate
I was deeply troubled by recent revelations of the scope of the National Security Agency's domestic data collection. We failed as a nation to thoroughly debate and create public oversight before this highly questionable data collection began.
It is time to bring this program to light and fix that error.
It is a basic principle of our founding that laws be open to public debate and inspection.
We must update the rules that permitted this program to exist and ensure Congress, the courts, and the people have access and oversight. We need to vigorously guard our 4th Amendment privacy protections while still protecting Americans from terrorism.
There are serious questions about whether this program successfully does that, and we cannot ask these questions after the fact again.
Source: 2013-2014 New Jersey Senate campaign web CoryBooker.com
, Nov 3, 2013
Threat to voting rights in America remains very real
As we've seen in the Texas redistricting plan that federal courts last year described as intentionally discriminatory, the threat to voting rights in America remains very real. The Voting Rights Act has been instrumental in the fight against
violations of one of our most precious constitutional rights, and Congress must now act decisively in the wake of the Supreme Court's damaging decision and put in place updated, robust protections that once again give teeth to this vital law.
Source: 2013-2014 New Jersey Senate campaign web CoryBooker.com
, Nov 3, 2013
Campaign PAC money shouldn't speak louder than people
Booker tried to distinguish the differences between Democrats and Republicans: "To me no side has a monopoly on good ideas, but when I look at this [2012 GOP] platform, in many ways it's gotten a lot more extreme than even past Republican platforms and
that's very disturbing to me. But more importantly I want to bring light to that and I want the nation to see, look at the actual policies that each of these parties stand for and decide which you want," Booker said. "Take campaign finance reform--
for crying out loud, I mean this is incredible. This platform says pull back even more of the rules on campaign finance reform, get rid of McCain-Feingold," Booker, a co-chair on the Democratic platform committee, said. "This platform says well, wait
a minute, we're out of control right now with all this super PAC money, we want to find a way to put more fair rules on campaign finance reform so that money doesn't speak louder than people. And so that to me is very dramatic."
Source: Politifact.com FactCheck on 2014 New Jersey Senate race
, Sep 5, 2012
Make it harder for wealthy to influence politicians
Source: 2002 Newark NJ Mayoral campaign website CoryBooker.com
, Feb 7, 2002
- Campaign Finance Reform: Wrote systematic campaign finance reform legislation, making it more difficult for wealthy contractors to influence politicians.
Council Spending Reform: Passed legislation restricting council spending, mandating council expenditures be voted on in public meetings.
- Perk and Pay Raise Reform: Fought to end perks and pay raises for politicians, and voted against all pay raises.
- Turned down municipal car and advocated for others to do the same.
- Eliminated the use of expense accounts for personal meals or travel.
Fought to institute performance-based budgeting, creating more accountable department management.
Matching fund for small donors, with debate requirements.
Booker signed Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act
Congressional Summary:Fair Elections Now Act--Amends 1971 FECA with respect to:
- 500% matching payments to candidates for certain small dollar contributions;
- a public debate requirement;
- establishment of the Fair Elections Fund and of a Fair Elections Oversight Board;
- remission to the Fair Elections Fund of unspent funds after an election civil penalties for violation of contribution and expenditure requirements;
- Requires all designations, statements, and reports required to be filed under FECA to be filed directly with the FEC in electronic form accessible by computers.
Statement of support for corresponding Senate bill: (Sunlight Foundation) Now we bring you the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, a bill that should probably be the least controversial of all. S. 375 would simply require senators and Senate candidates to file their public campaign finance disclosure reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission,
the way House candidates and presidential candidates have been filing for over a decade. A version of the bill has been introduced during every congress starting in 2003 (!) yet it has been blocked repeatedly, a victim of political football.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has introduced the most recent version, which would ensure that paper Senate campaign finance reports are a thing of the past. But even with 50 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill faces an uphill battle. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has repeatedly prevented the bill from coming to the Senate floor. We won't be deterred--as long as McConnell continues to block the bill, we'll continue to highlight that his intransigence results in delayed disclosure of vital, public campaign finance information, not to mention wasting $500,000 in taxpayer money annually. Eventually, we'll win.
Source: S375/H.R.269 14_S375 on Feb 25, 2013
Automatic voter registration for all citizens.
Booker co-sponsored H.R.12 & S.1088
- Require each state to make available official public websites for online voter registration.
- Authorizes automated voter registration and establishes same day registration, and voter registration of individuals under 18 years of age.
- Declares that the right to vote shall not be denied because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (BrennanCenter.org): Too many Americans go to vote on Election Day only to find their names are not on the voter rolls--often, wrongly deleted. The US is on the verge of a new paradigm for registering voters: automatic, permanent registration of eligible voters, which would add up to 50 million eligible voters to the rolls.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Gov. Christie's veto message on the "Democracy Act", Nov. 2015): Christie called a provision establishing automatic voter registration that requires
New Jerseyan to opt out a "government-knows-best, backwards approach that would inconvenience citizens and waste government resources for no justifiable reason." Automatic voter registration would have added 1.6 million people to the state's voter rolls.
Source: Voter Empowerment Act 15-S1088 on Mar 19, 2015
- TN-8: I have voted in every election federal, state or local that I chose to. If people want to vote there is nothing but laziness preventing them from doing so today! Regarding photo ID's you have one to drive, buy alcohol, and go to the doctor.
- AL-2: This bill is so general that anyone that is alive, has lived, or will live in this century will be able to vote as well as non-Americans, pets, people without voting rights, and some people multiple times.
- TN-3: This bill will surely bring about fixed voting in favor of the one who can cheat the most. How about having a voter photo card and a test to see if they are capable of voting and not just voting for whoever promises them more free stuff.
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Other big-city mayors on Government Reform:
Cory Booker on other issues:
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee)
Bill de Blasio (D,NYC)
Rahm Emanuel (D,Chicago)
Bob Filner (D,San Diego)
Steven Fulop (D,Jersey City)
Eric Garcetti (D,Los Angeles)
Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
Cory Booker (D,Newark,NJ)
Jerry Brown (D,Oakland,CA)
Julian Castro (D,San Antonio,TX)
Rudy Giuliani (R,New York City)
Phil Gordon (D,Phoenix)
Tom Menino (D,Boston)
Dennis Kucinch (D,Cleveland,OH)
Michael Nutter (D,Philadelphia)
Sarah Palin (R,Wasilla,AK)
Annise Parker (D,Houston)
Jerry Sanders (R,San Diego)
Antonio Villaraigosa (D,Los Angeles)
Page last updated: Jan 22, 2018