Broken system favoring political games must be fixed

July 4, 2017
Contributed Columns

When I was elected to represent Arizona’s 1st Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, I made a commitment to my constituents to fight for accountability and transparency in Washington.

This is an issue on which both Republicans and Democrats can agree. It is incumbent upon our elected officials to act to restore faith in our government and tackle the important issues impacting our communities. If we do not take a stand and fix a broken system that favors political games over productive governing, we are only standing in the way of progress that benefits our country.

Ethics reform

I have made ethics a priority in my first months in Congress. My first bill, the Clean Legislating and Ethical Accountability Now (CLEAN) Act, would strengthen the Office of Congressional Ethics and give it the tools and resources it needs to properly review allegations of ethics violations by members of Congress and their staff. Recent efforts to weaken the independent watchdog group highlight the need to do all we can to protect it. To be a member of the United States Congress is an honor and privilege for every single legislator in this body, and we serve at the pleasure of our constituents. This is not a position that should allow anyone to hold themselves to a different standard than the American people.

Reducing perks

The American people know they must go to work and do their job if they expect to receive a paycheck. Congress should be no different. In addition to doing all I can to promote higher ethical standards in Congress, I introduced two pieces of legislation that eliminate taxpayer-funded congressional perks and holds legislators accountable if they cannot do the job they were elected to do.

The No Ongoing Perks Enrichment (NOPE) Act bans first-class flights for members of Congress, freezes salaries at their current level, and increases the lobbying ban for former members of Congress to five years, and my Government Shutdown Accountability and Economic Report Act of 2017 withholds Congressional salaries during a government shutdown.

Dark money

Congress should only be accountable to the American people; not special interests and corporations. These powerful groups are hiding their political identities by donating to tax-exempt groups engaged in electioneering. This dark money pervades our political system through corporate and nonprofit entities and is used on both ends of the political spectrum.

The American people deserve a clear view of who is attempting to influence our political system. Transparency allows voters to make an informed choice at the ballot box and elect leaders who speak for them. Congress must reform our campaign finance laws and stem the ever-increasing amounts of money pouring into our elections.

At every level, the American people should know what their government is doing for them and who is working on policies that will impact their lives. We have waited too long to pass comprehensive tax reform that helps struggling families, enact laws that encourage business growth and economic development in our rural communities, and invest in our infrastructure. These legislative priorities are critical to our country, but we cannot forget our commitment to accountability and transparency.

I am calling on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to join me in holding ourselves to the highest standards and work for the American people.