Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kirsten Gillibrand and Ethics in Congress

It's been a really busy time for me the last few months and I've been remiss in letting folks know about the really fantastic candidate running for office in my congressional district. Her name is Kirsten Gillibrand and she is exactly the kind of Democrat we want to send to Washington.

Two weeks ago Kirsten made a pledge to all the people of New York's 20th Congressional District. This pledge goes far beyond an currently proposed standards or reforms. It is her statement of the kind of congresswoman she will be if elected.

I want to share this with you and then ask for your help in getting Kirsten elected.

"I am gravely concerned by the abuse of power that has taken root in Washington" said Gillibrand. "After months of discussion, Congress has still not acted to pass legislation that will end the culture of corruption. That is wrong –we have had enough of all the special interest deals that are paid for out of the pockets of the taxpayers here at home. I want to repair the damage that has been done to our country, and bring accountability back to our government.

"The ethics scandals raging in Washington have shown all of us what corruption looks like. I want to change all of that. With some common sense actions, we can return to our great tradition of open democratic debate and get our country back on the right track. My ethics I.O.U. outlines what we must do to put an end the pay to play culture in Washington."

"This is my Pledge to the voters of the 20th district: I will be accountable and accessible during my campaign, and when elected to Congress," said Gillibrand.

Ethics IOU
To the Residents of New York's 20th Congressional District:

Like you, I am gravely concerned by the culture of corruption that has taken root among our elected officials. I am troubled by the special interest deals that are paid for out of the pockets of taxpayers here at home. I'm running for Congress to stop the damage that is being done to our country, and bring accountability back to our government.

The good news is that with some common sense actions, we can return to our great tradition of open democratic debate and start to put our country back on the right track.

This IOU outlines the changes we must make. It is my written, signed commitment to you of the kind of representation you can expect from me.

It's Our Understanding:

I WILL WORK TO ESTABLISH A PERMANENT, INDEPENDENT ETHICS COUNCIL: I will support the creation of a non-partisan council that will provide oversight and investigation into the dealings of Members in the House.

I WILL REPORT ALL MEETINGS I HAVE WITH LOBBYISTS: I will disclose any meetings that I have lobbyists and what was discussed.

I WILL NOT HELP MEMBERS CASH IN: No member of Congress that I have served with who becomes a lobbyist will be allowed to lobby me or my staff on any issue after that member has left Congress.

I WILL NOT HELP LOBBYISTS CASH IN: No former member of my staff who becomes a lobbyist will be allowed to lobby me or my staff on any issue after they have left my employment.

I WILL NOT GIVE SPECIAL FAVORS TO FAMILY MEMBERS: No direct relation to me or any member of my staff who is a lobbyist will be allowed to lobby me or my staff.

I WILL NOT HAVE FAMILY MEMBERS ON PAYROLL: No family member of mine or any of my staff members will be on my congressional or campaign payroll. There will be no "slush funds" to pay family members.

I WILL NOT TAKE PRIVATELY FUNDED TRIPS: I will not accept any privately funded trips paid for by lobbyists or lobbyist's charities. If I take a campaign-related trip, the campaign will pay for it. If I take an official trip, my Congressional office will pay for it. If I take a vacation, I will pay for it.

I WILL NOT TAKE LOBBYIST GIFTS: I will not accept gifts from any lobbyist. My staff will not accept such gifts either.

I WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE AND ACCESSIBLE: I will be accessible to everyone regardless of party, location in the district, or position. I will hold monthly open meetings during the campaign and when elected.

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Candidate for Representative to the United States Congress - NY 20

I have had the pleasure of knowing Kirsten for 2 years now. These are not just words. This is the basic sort of sense of right and wrong behavior that she brings to the table.

Following up on this pledge she gave her first "Sunshine" report:

Kirsten's Sunshine Report
Meetings with lobbyists this filing period:
National Organization for Women, 3/9/2006 in Washington, D.C.

Meeting Attendees:
§ Melody Dranch (Not a lobbyist; meeting organizer)
§ Pat Reuss, lobbyist

Subject of the meeting:
To discuss the possibility of an endorsement for Kirsten’s candidacy.

*** Note ***
Two gentlemen claiming to be from the lobbying firm McKinley and Quinn dropped by a reception held for Kirsten on Wednesday, March 9th. They gave no money and had no real conversations with anyone, and McKinley and Quinn have no one by the name "Ray" and "Mike" who work there. Since our guests did not sign in or provide last names we are not able to tell you more about them.

And now the "ask"...

Actually, two asks. You have no doubt heard about Sen. Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund and hopefully about the "Pick a Progressive Patriot" contest he is holding.

Please click the link and vote for Kirsten Gillibrand (click this link to read more about her and the other candidates - they are all good one's).

The Gillibrand for Congress campaign, in the finest Dean tradition, has also started an internet fund raising campaign. Rather than the Dean baseball bat they have decided to go with a March Madness basketball theme. Works for me. I hope it works for you as well.

As you'll see in the link for the 20th CD that I provided at the beginning of all this John Sweeney gets about 40% of his money from PAC's. I haven't done the math but he easily gets more than another 10% from lobbyists. Kirsten's contributions are coming from us, regular people. 97% of her total contributions have come from individuals.

Please consider contributing a few dollars to electing Kirsten Gillibrand. Her opponent is the sort of politician we want gone from Washington and Kirsten is the sort that understands a Representatives job is to represent the people not the corporations and their lobbyists. If you have lots of cash to burn please send it our way this is a very winnable race in a district that is not an easy one for a Democrat. If you only have $10 spare dollars that's ok too. Small contributions from regular everyday American citizens are the best kind.

< Sally Struthers >Won't you please help? Won't you please help poor little ol' me to have a representative that actually represents me?< / Sally Struthers >


Van said...

She sounds wonderful, to bad cloning is illegal.

Where does she stand on Clean Elections?

Clean Elections is the key to a clean legislature.

Anonymous said...

Instead of window-dressing fundamental ethics issues, why not address clean elections? And where does she stand on the war? Jonathon Tasini---a true progressive--- calls the issue of the war a problem for the soul of the party:
"It raises for every member of the Democratic Party the hard question: if our party does not stand in opposition to the war, where is the soul of the party?

"...war is not a clean, sanitized event. It is violent and ugly. ...With the absence of a draft, most Americans do not confront the human cost of the war in their daily lives. We believe the voters must understand the harsh realities of the war--and hold accountable those politicians who support the war."

To date, Gillibrand's campaign is weak on issues and big on platitudes. It supports the war. Why won't Gillibrand call for bringing the troops home now?

nick albaugh