Adviser to lobbying firms, but not interested in lobbying
[After leaving the Senate], Begich became president and CEO of the Foundation for Hospice and Homecare. And last month, he signed as a strategic policy adviser to a law and lobbying firm, working mainly on energy and natural resource issues.
Republicans privately scoffed at Begich for joining a lobby giant, Begich said he's not registering as a lobbyist. Big firms, he said, were courting him after his election loss with lucrative offers. "I don't want to lobby, & I'm not interested in that."
Source: Politico.com coverage of 2016 Alaska Senate race
, May 6, 2015
Active trader on the stock market, despite proposed ban
Earlier this year, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that for the first time, most members of Congress were millionaires, with 268 of the 534 members enjoying that status. They also reported that for 2012, Begich had assets worth between
$1.7 million and $4.2 million. The center calculated Begich's average net worth at $1.4 million in 2012, ranking him 58th in the Senate.
Begich, who owns commercial properties in Alaska and Nevada, has been called an active trader on the stock market.
He's still buying and selling individual stocks--according to his personal disclosure forms--a practice also carried out by other Congressmen, but one that some lawmakers have tried to stamp out.
In January, for example, Begich reported selling between
$1,000 and $15,000 worth of securities in Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, a company whose stock price has more than doubled in the past year. His disclosure reports list 45 transactions in 2012 for buying and selling stocks.
The only way to restore Alaskans trust in their elected leaders is for them to earn it. As Anchorage mayor, Mark Begich brought greater openness to city government, putting more information on the Internet, increasing citizen participation and
oversight, and making his financial statements public. Mark Begich will take to Washington the same high ethical standards he has lived by as mayor. His personal finances, daily schedule, and any family lobbying connections will be an open book.
Senators and senior senatorial staff should disclose all income and assets, down to the dollar for themselves, their spouses and dependent children. Financial disclosures should be promptly posted on the
Internet in a searchable, sortable database, and remain public record permanently. The 30-day grace period should be eliminated and a much higher penalty should be imposed.
Senate lobbying disclosures should include family ties
Lobbyists should have to report on their disclosure form the senators or committees they are lobbying, specific provisions or projects within legislation they are lobbying for, which, if any, senators or senior staff they are related to, and what
provisions or projects they secured. In addition, senators should have to disclose on their website whether any of their family members are registered lobbyists and link to Senate lobbying disclosures for those family members.
Campaign transparency with sortable online database
Although presidential and House candidates are required to file their campaign finance reports electronically, senate candidates are not. The result--Senate filings are posted later and are not in a format that can be easily searched. The solution is to
require electronic filing by Senate candidates and senators, just the same as presidential and House candidates. The FEC should be directed to make this information available in a searchable, sortable online database so the public can easily access it.
No secret meetings; full appointment disclosure for Senators
Alaskans rightly feel detached from the business of the Senate. It’s hard to track who our senators are meeting with and why. There is no requirement that senators disclose who they are meeting with or what they are talking about behind closed doors.
Senators’ office appointment calendars should be posted on the Internet so the public can see exactly who their elected officials are listening to and working with.
Over the last ten years, Senators have received eight pay raises and yet have only increased minimum wage one time. No pay raises for senators unless working Alaskans get a pay raise too. Senators should have to vote on each and every pay raise,
out in the open and on its own. They shouldn’t be hidden in a larger bill. Any Senate pay raise should be brought to the Senate floor as a stand-alone bill, and there must first be a vote to raise the minimum wage.
No revolving door for former senate staff to lobby
Recent reforms restricted former senior staff from lobbying the Senate for one year. This still allows staff to lobby their former senator after a year. Even after this waiting period, former staff can still have an inside track to their former senator
and senator’s staff, often on issues that may not be in line with the best interests of the senator’s constituents. All senate staff, no matter what level of seniority, should be prohibited from lobbying their former employer permanently.
No campaign fundraising through private foundations
Senators have found ways around campaign finance restrictions by establishing private foundations that can accept lobbyist money. The lobbyists still curry favor with senators by making large donations to their foundations. Senators may not have a
controlling interest in any private foundation and may only fundraise for a foundation or non-profit organization if it is first approved by the Senate Ethics Committee and the foundation or non-profit has specified what the money raised will be used for
The Anchorage city ethics board is composed of citizens. The Senate needs a similar independent authority with the power to investigate ethics complaints filed by other Senators & the public. Members of the Office of Public Integrity would be prohibited
from political involvement with members of Congress. The board would have its own independent staff, subpoena power, and decide its own rules of procedure. Issues should come to the Senate only for final action when the board has completed its work.
Congressional Summary:Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for:
representation allowances for the Majority and Minority Leaders;
salaries of specified officers, employees, and committees (including the Committee on Appropriations);
agency contributions for employee benefits;
inquiries and investigations;
the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control;
the Offices of the Secretary and of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate;
the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
official mail costs.
Amends the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act of 1968 to increase by $50,000 the gross compensation paid all employees in the office of a Senator. Increases by $96,000 per year the aggregate amount authorized for the offices of the Majority and Minority Whip.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of
Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.
Reference: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act;
; vote number 2009-S217
on Jul 6, 2009
Voted YES on providing a US House seat for the District of Columbia.
The District of Columbia shall be considered a Congressional district for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.
DC shall not be considered a State for purposes of representation in the US Senate.
Reapportionment [census-based House seats] shall apply with respect to DC in the same manner as it applies to a State, except that DC may not receive more than one Member.
Effective with the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives shall be composed of 437 Members, including the Member representing DC.
The State of Utah is entitled to one additional Representative pursuant to this reapportionment.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): I am cosponsoring the legislation to provide a House seat for DC and an additional House seat for Utah. Representation and suffrage are so central to the American system of self-government that
America's founders warned that limiting suffrage would risk another revolution and could prevent ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1820 that Congress' legislative authority over DC allows taxation of DC. Do opponents of giving DC a House seat believe that DC is suitable for taxation but not for representation?
Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I make a constitutional point of order against this bill on the grounds that it violates article I, section 2, of the Constitution. I appreciate the frustration felt by the residents of DC at the absence of a vote in Congress. According to many experts, DC is not a State, so therefore is not entitled to that representation. Also, one has to raise the obvious question: If DC is entitled to a Representative, why isn't Puerto Rico, which would probably entail 9 or 10 Members of Congress? [With regards to the seat for Utah], this is obviously partisan horse-trading.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
; vote number 2009-S073
on Feb 26, 2009
Require full disclosure of independent campaign expenditures.
Begich co-sponsored DISCLOSE Act
Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act of 2012 or DISCLOSE Act:
Amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) to add to the definition of "independent expenditure" an expenditure by a person that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, or takes a position on a candidates, qualifications, or fitness for office.
Expands the period during which certain communications are treated as electioneering communications.
Prescribes disclosure requirements for corporations, labor organizations, and certain other entities, including a political committee with an account established for the purpose of accepting donations or contributions that do not comply with the contribution limits or source prohibitions under FECA (but only with respect to such accounts).
Repeals the prohibition against political contributions by individuals age 17 or younger.
Wikipedia & OnTheIssue Summary:
On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ruled that prohibiting corporations and unions from making independent expenditures in political campaigns was unconstitutional. This ruling is frequently described as permitting corporations and unions to donate to political campaigns, but these claims are incorrect. The ruling did remove the previous ban on corporations and organizations using their funds for direct advocacy, including endorsing for or against specific candidates, actions that were previously prohibited.
The result of Citizens United was that "Super PACs" spent millions on TV ads in the 2012 election, advocating both issues and candidates. The DISCLOSE Act attempts to reduce the negative effect of Citizens United by requiring disclosure of independent expenditures made by advocacy groups.
Matching fund for small donors, with debate requirements.
Begich 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.
Begich signed Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act
A bill to prevent Members of Congress from receiving any automatic pay adjustment in 2010.
For purposes of the provision of law amended by section 704(a)(2)(B) of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 (5 U.S.C. 5318 note), no adjustment under section 5303 of title 5, United States Code, shall be considered to have taken effect in fiscal year 2010 in the rates of pay under the General Schedule.