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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

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:

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

Congressional Summary:

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

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Mike Rawlings (D,Dallas)
Marty Walsh (D,Boston)

Former Mayors:
Rocky Anderson (I,Salt Lake City)
Tom Barrett (D,Milwaukee,WI)
Mike Bloomberg (I,New York City)
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Tom Menino (D,Boston)
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Page last updated: Jun 20, 2017