Senator Warren Introduces Anti-Corruption Legislation

Senator Elizabeth A. Warren unveiled a wide-ranging bill that seeks to “eliminate the influence of money in our federal government.”

The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act would, among other things:

  • ban “Members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, federal judges, and other senior government officials from owning and trading individual stocks”;
  • institute a lifetime ban on former Member of Congress, Presidents and agency heads from lobbying;
  • require conflicts of interest disclosures in rulemaking comments and studies;
  • prevent certain individuals from the private sector from taking certain government positions, including, in some cases, running for office;
  • livestream audio of federal appellate courts and promote diversity on the federal bench;
  • create a new, independent anti-corruption agency to enforce federal ethics laws; and
  • increase financial and tax information disclosures for elected officials and candidates for federal office.

Lofchie Comment: One effect of Senator Warren’s proposed prohibitions is that the government would be peopled by career government employees or academics. The unspoken theory behind this is that work for a private enterprise is corrupt, yet work for the government itself or in academics is not. This is a false premise. It is commonplace that those in government seek to use their power to bolster their ambitions of running for higher office. Their political or personal ambition does not disqualify them from office, nor should it disqualify them from having a voice. Likewise, those with experience working in private industry often have a good deal to contribute to the government, perhaps more in some cases than those who have worked only in government or academics.

Senator Warren’s bill would ban any individual who had worked for a company that had received any contract from a government agency for working for that agency for the next four years. She would also ban any senior officer of a company that has been the subject of any enforcement action (without regard to its severity) from serving in Congress (shouldn’t voters in each State get to decide whom they wish to elect?) or working in the Executive branch.

These and her other legislative proposals are, of course, political positioning ahead of a possible run for higher office. But they add to her record of discouraging the private sector from commenting on rules that concern them and discouraging those with industry experience from joining the government. See, e.g., Senator Warren Asks CFTC to Withdraw EEMAC Report on Position Limits; Senator Warren Questions ”Good Intentions” behind Study Challenging DOL’s Fiduciary Proposal; Senator Warren’s Study Finds “Dangerous Problem” with Non-Cash Compensations in Annuity Sales.

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