Openness and transparency are key components of our democracy and economy.
I have heard from many southern Minnesotans concerned with the effects of polarization and partisanship on Congress' ability to solve the serious problems we face as a nation. Irresponsible mudslinging provides no benefit to the American people and sheds negative light on the entire institution. Many of these unwarranted accusations or attacks are not based in truth and result in the political gridlock that represents the worst of Washington.
As your Member of Congress, it is my duty to listen to your viewpoints which provide me with the necessary guidance in order to best represent your interests. The problems that we face involve a variety opinion and do not have easy answers. In order to solve these problems, Members of Congress need to set aside partisan politics and find common ground.
I have a tremendous amount of faith that Members on both sides of the aisle can come together to find solutions to the problems that currently challenge our country. I have already successfully taken steps to work with the other side of the aisle, and have achieved bipartisan solutions that help the American people. I will continue to seek out common ground and rise above the partisan fray to deliver solutions for the American people.
The right of free speech and association undoubtedly lies at the foundation of America’s vibrant democracy. Our Constitution has afforded individuals from varied walks of life an opportunity to take part in all facets of the political process, from voting to running for office, to freely sharing opinions and views with friends, neighbors, and the country at large.
In the past, campaign finance law prohibited corporations, labor unions, and tax-exempt groups from using funds to call for the election or defeat of federal political candidates. In addition, these groups were prohibited from using funds for electioneering communications—broadcast, cable, or satellite communication referring to a clearly identified federal candidate—within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election.
On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, striking down several long-standing provisions of campaign finance laws and allowing corporations to use unlimited amounts of secret money in an attempt to influence elections.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to unrestricted special interest money in American elections—permitting corporations to spend unlimited funds in an attempt to influence your vote and opening the door for the emergence of Super PACs. In the last two years, Super PACs have raised about $181 million— with approximately half of it coming from fewer than 200 super-rich people and about 20% from corporations.
While it’s important that our justice system rigorously protect the right to free speech, I strongly disagree with the Court’s decision that allows wealthy corporations and unions to have a larger voice than the average person. I will continue the fight to ensure our political system is fair and just, and to make clear that corporations are not people.
One of the first things I did as a Member of Congress to improve openness and transparency was to post my appropriations requests on my website. This way folks could see the projects I was requesting money for and why I felt they were important to southern Minnesota. I also pushed for reform to require all Members of Congress to post this information on their website and I am proud to say that this was required for all Fiscal Year 2010 requests. Specific appropriations requests are no longer allowed. For more information about the appropriations requests I have submitted in the past, please click here.
When I first came to Congress, I was astounded and outraged to learn there were no clear laws prohibiting Members of Congress from using non-public information gleaned through their jobs to profit on Wall Street. It isn’t right that Members of Congress and their staff were not always held to the same standards as everyone else. Public service is a privilege and the American people deserve better from their elected officials. That is why I championed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which was signed into law on April 4, 2012.
The STOCK Act explicitly prohibits Members of Congress and their staff from buying or selling securities, swaps, or commodity futures based on congressional and executive branch nonpublic information.
It also increases transparency by requiring elected officials to file financial disclosure forms in a more timely fashion. You can access these financial disclosure forms by clicking here.
After years of fighting for this commonsense and important reform, I’m pleased that it is now the law of the land. I believe the STOCK Act is a good first step towards restoring the American people’s faith in government and the work of democracy, but the fight does not end here. I will continue to make government reform central in my mission.
I believe the time is now for all Americans to come together and participate in finding common sense solutions to the challenges we face. Many of the projects I work on here in Congress have been brought to my attention by southern Minnesotans. For this reason, it is important to me to hear from you. I want to hear your ideas and opinions about restoring faith in government.
E-mail me and send me your ideas for reforming the way Washington works.
More on Government Reform
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) released the following statement as Senate Republicans begin to move forward with scheduled confirmation hearings for Cabinet nominees, some of which have not completed the ethics review process:
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, Representative Tim Walz released the following statement after House Republicans dropped their misguided effort to gut the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics:
[MANKATO, MN] – Yesterday, Representative Tim Walz (MN-01) sent a letter to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings requesting the Committee pay close attention to President-elect Trump’s compliance with the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act upon inauguration.
Mankato, MN [6/29/15] – Today, Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) released the following statement after the Supreme Court announced its decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission:
Bill Would Ensure Political Intelligence Professionals Are Held to Same Standard as Lobbyists, Includes Media Exemption
GAO Agrees: Transparency Measures Would Assist Insider Trading Investigations
Washington, DC [1/17/14] – Today, Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) released the following statement after President Obama announced new measures to increase the balance between national security and personal privacy.
Washington, DC [12/12/13] – Today, Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) voted in favor of the bipartisan budget agreement that, while far from perfect, will ensure we avoid another reckless government shutdown and give small businesses and local communities the certainty they need to grow and prosper. He released the following statement.
Washington, DC [10/16/13] – Today, Representative Tim Walz (D-Minn.) released the following statement after voting in favor of a bipartisan deal to reopen the entire government and avoid a catastrophic default.