U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) is championing a package of legislation with the goal of restoring public confidence in government and reducing the influence of secret corporate money in our elections, including his legislation, H.R. 3491, which would prohibit former members of Congress from engaging in "lobbying contacts."
"This legislation is based upon a simple idea: that serving in Congress is an honor and a privilege, and members should not be permitted to take advantage of that service by lobbying the federal government when they leave office," Cicilline said of H.R. 3491. "This is an effort to ensure that members of Congress do not use their public service for personal gain, and this permanent ban will help to restore the public's confidence in Congress."
Under current law, United States Senators are precluded from lobbying Members of Congress for two years after leaving office, while members of the U.S. House of Representatives are prohibited from the same activity for a period of just one year after leaving office. Congressman Cicilline's bill would greatly expand the scope of current law -- instituting a lifetime ban on former Members of Congress, both Senators and Representatives, from engaging in lobbying contacts with covered executive branch officials, or any Member, officer, or employee of either House of Congress. If enacted, the penalties for violations under Cicilline's legislation would remain the same as current law, which exacts a fine of up to $50,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than one year.
Cicilline has also co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment, H.J.RES. 78, that would reverse the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The 2010 landmark decision held that unlimited corporate spending in elections was permitted and has opened the floodgates to previously restricted corporate spending in political campaigns.
In addition, Cicilline has co-sponsored the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK), H.R.1148, intended to stop members of Congress from benefiting from insider knowledge of stocks. This legislation prohibits members of Congress and employees of Congress, as well as the executive branch, from buying and selling securities, commodity futures, or swaps based on inside knowledge.
"With nearly 14 million unemployed Americans, an unsustainable level of government debt, and the urgent need to rebuild our economy from its worst downturn in generations -- the focus of the 112th Congress should be putting people back to work and stabilizing our economic condition," Cicilline said. "Congress is not producing results for the American people and we need to fix what is broken in Washington and demonstrate to the American people -- the same men and women whose trust and confidence in this body continues to erode -- that we are also serious about reforming this institution and producing real results for American families."