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Patrick Kennedy on Government Reform

Democratic Representative (RI-1)


Voted NO on restricting independent grassroots political committees.

A "527 organization" is a political committee which spends money raised independently of any candidate's campaign committee, in support or opposition of a candidate or in support or opposition of an issue. Well-known examples include MoveOn.org (anti-Bush) and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (anti-Kerry). Voting YES would regulate 527s as normal political committees, which would greatly restrict their funding, and hence would shift power to candidate committees and party committees. The bill's opponents say:
  • This legislation singles out 527 organizations in an effort to undermine their fundraising and is a direct assault on free speech.
  • This bill would obstruct the efforts of grassroots organizations while doing nothing to address the culture of corruption in Congress.
  • H.R. 513 is an unbalanced measure that favors corporate trade associations over independent advocates. Corporate interests could continue spending unlimited and undisclosed dollars for political purposes while independent organizations would be subject to contribution limits and source restrictions.
  • H.R. 513 also removes all limits on national and state party spending for Congressional candidates in primary or general elections--an unmasked attack on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and clear evidence that the true intention in advancing H.R. 513 is not reform, but partisan advantage in political fundraising.
    Reference: Federal Election Campaign Act amendment "527 Reform Act"; Bill H.R.513 ; vote number 2006-088 on Apr 5, 2006

    Voted NO on prohibiting lawsuits about obesity against food providers.

    The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act ("The Cheesburger Bill") would prevent civil liability actions against food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers, sellers, and trade associations for claims relating to a person's weight gain, obesity, or any health condition associated with weight gain or obesity. A YES vote would:
    Reference: The Cheesburger Bill; Bill HR 554 ; vote number 2005-533 on Oct 19, 2005

    Voted NO on limiting attorney's fees in class action lawsuits.

    Class Action Fairness Act of 2005: Amends the Federal judicial code to specify the calculation of contingent and other attorney's fees in proposed class action settlements that provide for the award of coupons to class members. Allows class members to refuse compliance with settlement agreements or consent decrees absent notice. Prohibits a Federal district court from approving:
    1. a proposed coupon settlement absent a finding that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate;
    2. a proposed settlement involving payments to class counsel that would result in a net monetary loss to class members, absent a finding that the loss is substantially outweighed by nonmonetary benefits; or
    3. a proposed settlement that provides greater sums to some class members solely because they are closer geographically to the court.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA]; Bill S.5 ; vote number 2005-038 on Feb 17, 2005

    Voted YES on campaign finance reform banning soft-money contributions.

    Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Overhaul: Vote to pass a bill that would ban soft money contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT, and Meehan D-MA; Bill HR 2356 ; vote number 2002-34 on Feb 14, 2002

    Voted NO on banning soft money donations to national political parties.

    Support a ban on soft money donations to national political parties but allow up to $10,000 in soft-money donations to state and local parties for voter registration and get-out-the vote activity.
    Bill HR 2356 ; vote number 2001-228 on Jul 12, 2001

    Voted YES on banning soft money and issue ads.

    Campaign Finance Reform Act to ban "soft money" and impose restrictions on issue advocacy campaigning.
    Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT; Bill HR 417 ; vote number 1999-422 on Sep 14, 1999

    Criminalize false or deceptive info about elections.

    Kennedy co-sponsored criminalizing false or deceptive info about elections

    OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Amends federal criminal law to prohibit any person from knowingly deceiving any other person regarding:

    1. the time, place, or manner of conducting any federal election; or
    2. the qualifications for or restrictions on voter eligibility for any such election.
    Creates a private right of action for any person aggrieved by a violation of such prohibition. Prescribes a criminal penalty for such deceptive acts.

    SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: Voter participation is fundamental to our democracy, and we must do all we can to encourage those who can to vote. I also hope voters go to the polls with accurate information about what is on the ballot, where they are supposed to vote, and what our Nation's voting laws are.

    It might surprise some of you to know, but even in this awesome age of technological advancement and easy access to information, there are folks who will stop at nothing to try to deceive people and keep them away from the polls. These deceptive practices all too often target and exploit vulnerable populations, like minorities, the disabled, or the poor.

    Deceptive practices often rely on a few tried and true tricks. Voters are often warned that an unpaid parking ticket will lead to their arrest or that folks with family members who have been convicted of a crime are ineligible to vote. Of course, these warnings have no basis in fact, and they are made with one goal and one goal only: to keep Americans away from the polls.

    The bill I am introducing today provides the clear statutory language and authority needed to get allegations of deceptive practices investigated. It establishes harsh penalties for those found to have perpetrated them. Deceptive practices and voter intimidation are real problems and demand real solutions like those offered in my bill.

    LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Rules and Administration; never came to a vote.

    Source: Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (S.1975/H.R.4463) 05-S1975 on Nov 8, 2005

    Establish the United States Public Service Academy.

    Kennedy co-sponsored establishing the United States Public Service Academy

    Introductory statement by Sponsor:

    Sen. CLINTON: I rise today to introduce legislation that will create an undergraduate institution designed to cultivate a generation of young leaders dedicated to public service. The US Public Service Academy Act (The PSA Act) will form a national academy to serve as an extraordinary example of effective, national public education.

    The tragic events of September 11 and the devastation of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita underscore how much our Nation depends on strong public institutions and competent civilian leadership at all levels of society. Congress must take a step forward to ensure competent civilian leadership and improve our Nation's ability to respond to future emergencies and to confront daily challenges.

    This legislation will create the US Public Service Academy to groom future public servants and build a corps of capable civilian leaders. Modeled after the military service academies, this academy will provide a four-year, federally-subsidized college education for more than 5,000 students a year in exchange for a five year commitment to public service.

    The PSA Act will meet critical national needs as the baby-boomer generation approaches retirement. Already, studies show looming shortages in the Federal civil service, public education, law enforcement, the non-profit sector and other essential areas.

    Unfortunately our young people are priced out of public service careers all too often. By providing a service-oriented education at no cost to the student, the PSA Act will tap into the strong desire to serve that already exists among college students while erasing the burden of enormous college debt.

    The establishment of a United States Public Service Academy is an innovative way to strengthen and protect America by creating a corps of well-trained, highly-qualified civilian leaders. I am hopeful that my Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle will join me today.

    Source: United States Public Service Academy Act (S.960 & HR.1671) 07-HR1671 on Mar 23, 2007

    2010 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Government Reform: Patrick Kennedy on other issues:
    RI Gubernatorial:
    Lincoln Chafee
    RI Senatorial:
    Jack Reed
    Sheldon Whitehouse

    Dem. Freshmen
    in 112th Congress:

    AL-7:Terri Sewell
    CA-33:Karen Bass
    DE-0:John Carney
    FL-17:Frederica Wilson
    HI-1:Colleen Hanabusa
    LA-2:Cedric Richmond
    MA-10:Bill Keating
    MI-13:Hansen Clarke
    RI-1:David Cicilline
    GOP Freshmen
    in 112th Congress:

    AL-2:Martha Roby
    AL-5:Mo Brooks
    AZ-1:Paul Gosar
    AZ-3:Ben Quayle
    AZ-5:David Schweikert
    AR-1:Rick Crawford
    AR-2:Tim Griffin
    AR-3:Steve Womack
    CA-19:Jeff Denham
    CO-3:Scott Tipton
    CO-4:Cory Gardner
    FL-12:Dennis Ross
    FL-2:Steve Southerland
    FL-21:Mario Diaz-Balart
    FL-22:Allen West
    FL-24:Sandy Adams
    FL-25:David Rivera
    FL-5:Rich Nugent
    FL-8:Dan Webster
    GA-2:Mike Keown
    GA-7:Rob Woodall
    GA-8:Austin Scott
    ID-1:Raul Labrador
    IL-8:Joe Walsh
    IL-10:Bob Dold
    IL-11:Adam Kinzinger
    IL-14:Randy Hultgren
    IL-17:Bobby Schilling
    IL-8:Joe Walsh
    IN-3:Marlin Stutzman
    IN-4:Todd Rokita
    IN-8:Larry Bucshon
    IN-9:Todd Young
    KS-1:Tim Huelskamp
    KS-3:Kevin Yoder
    KS-5:Mike Pompeo
    LA-3:Jeff Landry
    MD-1:Andy Harris
    MI-1:Dan Benishek
    MI-2:Bill Huizenga
    MI-3:Justin Amash
    MI-7:Tim Walberg
    MN-8:Chip Cravaack
    MO-4:Vicky Hartzler
    MO-7:Billy Long
    MS-1:Alan Nunnelee
    MS-4:Steven Palazzo
    GOP Freshmen
    in 111th Congress:

    NC-2:Renee Ellmers
    ND-0:Rick Berg
    NH-2:Charlie Bass
    NH-1:Frank Guinta
    NJ-3:Jon Runyan
    NM-2:Steve Pearce
    NV-3:Joe Heck
    NY-13:Michael Grimm
    NY-19:Nan Hayworth
    NY-20:Chris Gibson
    NY-24:Richard Hanna
    NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle
    NY-29:Tom Reed
    OH-1:Steve Chabot
    OH-15:Steve Stivers
    OH-16:Jim Renacci
    OH-18:Bob Gibbs
    OH-6:Bill Johnson
    OK-5:James Lankford
    PA-10:Tom Marino
    PA-11:Lou Barletta
    PA-3:Mike Kelly
    PA-7:Patrick Meehan
    PA-8:Mike Fitzpatrick
    SC-1:Tim Scott
    SC-3:Jeff Duncan
    SC-4:Trey Gowdy
    SC-5:Mick Mulvaney
    SD-0:Kristi Noem
    TN-3:Chuck Fleischmann
    TN-4:Scott DesJarlais
    TN-6:Diane Black
    TN-8:Stephen Fincher
    TX-17:Bill Flores
    TX-23:Quico Canseco
    TX-27:Blake Farenthold
    VA-2:Scott Rigell
    VA-5:Robert Hurt
    VA-9:Morgan Griffith
    WA-3:Jaime Herrera
    WI-7:Sean Duffy
    WI-8:Reid Ribble
    WV-1:David McKinley
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    Page last updated: Mar 10, 2011