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Michael Capuano on Government Reform

Democratic Representative (MA-8)


If meetings are made public, people will not visit Senators

Khazei challenged all of his rivals to list their donors on their campaign Web sites, and divulge all of their meetings--both public and behind closed doors--if elected to the Senate.

Coakley said the campaign information was already on the Federal Election Commission Web site, while Capuano told Khazei he would not post his schedule because many people with personal problems want to meet with him. "If that's what you want to do, I will tell you, you will have a lot of people who will not come to see you," the congressman said.

On a matter of current events, the candidates were asked whether public figures should have an expectation to privacy. Capuano, Pagliuca and Khazei expressly said they personally had nothing to hide; but all said an examination of their lives was fair game. Coakley warned, however, that an excessive focus would deter people from running for political office.

Source: WBZ-TV on 2009 MA Senate Debate , Dec 2, 2009

Authored bill establishing Office of Congressional Ethics

In Nov. 2006, Speaker Pelosi also named Mike to chair her Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement, which was established in January of 2007. In March of 2008, Mike's resolution establishing the Office of Congressional Ethics passed in the House, marking the first time in the history of the House that an independent perspective was brought to ethics matters. The national advocacy group, Common Cause called these efforts "monumentally important" and a "tremendous improvement to the current system".
Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, www.mikecapuano.com, "About" , Oct 1, 2009

Balanced budget, yes; but during deficit, no

Q: Do you support requiring the federal budget to be balanced each year?

A: Yes.

Q: Would you expand?

A: I support the concept of a yearly balanced budget, absent unforeseen circumstances, but President Bush has left a deficit so enormous that the budget cannot be responsibly balanced for a few years.

Source: Congressional Election 2008 Political Courage Test , Nov 1, 2008

Public funding when opponent is self-financed millionaires

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 NO on restricting frivolous lawsuits.

Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004: Amends the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to:
  1. require courts to impose sanctions on attorneys, law firms, or parties who file frivolous lawsuits (currently, sanctions are discretionary);
  2. disallow the withdrawal or correction of pleadings to avoid sanctions;
  3. require courts to award parties prevailing on motions reasonable expenses and attorney's fees, if warranted;
  4. authorize courts to impose sanctions that include reimbursement of a party's reasonable litigation costs in connection with frivolous lawsuits; and
  5. make the discovery phase of litigation subject to sanctions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Lamar Smith [R, TX-21]; Bill H.R.4571 ; vote number 2004-450 on Sep 14, 2004

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

Reject photo ID requirements for voting.

Capuano co-sponsored rejecting photo ID requirements for voting

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Expresses the sense of Congress that:

  1. a requirement that U.S. citizens obtain photo identification cards before being able to vote has not been shown to ensure ballot integrity and places an undue burden on citizens' legitimate voting rights; (
  2. the Department of Justice should challenge any state law that limits a citizen's ability to vote based on discriminatory photo identification requirements; and
  3. any effort to impose national photo identification requirements for voting should be rejected.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: I am submitting a resolution to express the Senate's strong disapproval of recent efforts to disenfranchise Americans. Unfortunately, too many electoral reform efforts seem intent on limiting access to the ballot as opposed to expanding it. In the mid-20th century, the poll tax was the preferred means of disenfranchising large minority populations, specifically African Americans. Today, the poll tax is taking on a new form--a photo identification requirement for voters.

According to the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, such a requirement would "impose an additional expense on the exercise of the franchise, a burden that would fall disproportionately on people who are poorer and urban." Nevertheless, a number of States, including Georgia, have recently passed laws mandating government-issued photo identification for voters at the polls. Nationwide, at least 12% of eligible drivers do not have a driver's license. And Georgia has made it difficult for rural and urban folks to obtain their voter photo identification.

The Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform acknowledges that there is "no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting."

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

Source: Resolution on Voting (S.CON.RES.53) 05-SC53 on Sep 20, 2005

Establish the United States Public Service Academy.

Capuano 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

Ban stock trading based on Congressional insider knowledge.

Capuano co-sponsored STOCK Act

Congressional Summary:Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act): Amends the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit purchase or sale of either securities or commodities by a person in possession of material nonpublic information regarding pending or prospective legislative action.

Bill explanation (ProCon.org, "Insider Trading by Congress", Feb. 3, 2012):

Source: H1148/S1871 11-S1871 on Nov 15, 2011

Require full disclosure of independent campaign expenditures.

Capuano co-sponsored DISCLOSE Act

Congressional Summary:

Wikipedia & OnTheIssue Summary: