In a major policy announcement yesterday, Elissa Slotkin, candidate for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, announced her plan to unrig the system in Washington. In an event with End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller, Slotkin discussed the need for accountability and transparency in Congress.
“Wherever I travel in the district, people across the political spectrum feel that politicians have become bought and sold by special interests, and that our Congressmen and Congresswomen are no longer accountable to the people they are supposed to be serving,” Slotkin stated.
“Americans know that too often, Washington is rigged and Congress is working for special interests instead of the people. Elissa is a dedicated public servant running to change that,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “Elissa is already showing leadership by rejecting corporate PAC money. The plan she announced today will bring more disclosure and accountability to Washington through meaningful reforms. And she’ll continue to set an example by running one of the most transparent Congressional offices in the country.”
Slotkin, who announced in January that she is not accepting contributions from corporate PACs, is running an grassroots campaign built on more than 5,000 donors from Michigan, a sharp contrast to the incumbent she is running to challenge, Rep. Mike Bishop, who relies on large donors and corporate PACs.
I believe that in order for our democratic system to work as intended, the average person must have faith in their government. Citizens must believe that our system is working to represent them, and that it is capable of advancing issues like healthcare access, lowering prescription drug costs and improving infrastructure. Unfortunately, the role of unlimited money in politics and the lack of government accountability has led many to question the intentions of our elected officials and lose faith in our system. Wherever I travel in the district, people across the political spectrum feel that politicians have become bought and sold by special interests, and that our Congressmen and Congresswomen are no longer accountable to the people they are supposed to be serving. I believe it is critical that we improve government accountability and enact campaign finance reform in order to start renewing faith in our democratic system.
In order to do that, I believe it is critical that candidates and Members of Congress hold themselves to a higher standard than is currently required in law — and commit to specific reforms to ensure that people, not just special interests, have a voice in our politics. These topics are a passion project for me and, if elected, I will make accessibility and transparency a top priority.
But I’m not waiting for the election to act: In January 2018, I announced that I will not accept any contributions from corporate PACs in my campaign. We have been running a grassroots campaign, thanks to thousands of individual donors — including more than 5,000 donors here in Michigan. And I am proud to say that over the course of our campaign, 90% of our contributions come directly from individuals, and 75% of our donations are under $100.
Thinking ahead, I will commit to the following accountability measures if elected:
Transparency on my public schedule: Each week, I will release a public schedule of how I am spending my time, and who I am meeting with in my Congressional office.
Hold regular town halls and coffees: I will hold one town hall per quarter, and regular constituent coffees for people to speak to me about their concerns and what they think I should be doing.
Create “District Advisory Boards”: I will stand up a list of boards, made of residents of the 8th district and subject matter experts on high priority issues, such as healthcare. These groups will report on top priorities, collect input, and make recommendations before major votes.
Relying on individual members of Congress to voluntarily change their behavior is not enough. Laws and regulations must be changed to ensure that big corporations, and loud special interests, cannot drown out the voices of everyday Americans. If elected, I will fight to reduce the corrosive influence of money in politics and protect our democracy from foreign influence:
Demand transparency on social media ads: Right now, unlike TV ads, ads on Facebook and other social media sites are not required to include information on who paid for them. In this day and age, there’s no reason that digital ads shouldn’t be held to the same standard as TV ads. While some platforms have voluntarily adopted this standard, Congress should enact a law requiring an equal standard between TV and digital advertisements. This will also help to ensure that no foreign entity is running secret ads.
Strengthen disclosure of outside political spending: I will push for any organization involved in elections to disclose their donors. While normal people have to disclose donations directly to a candidate, there is no such transparency on people donating to certain types of nonprofit organizations that can play a major role in our elections. If people are going to donate huge sums of money to influence elections, we have the right to know who is donating, and this will also play a key role in helping to fight off foreign influence in our elections.
Support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United: The 2010 Supreme Court decision and others helped flood our elections with unlimited money, without appropriate requirements for disclosure. A Constitutional amendment would allow Congress to do its job and pass laws regulating spending in our elections.