Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

American Anti Corruption Act

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American Anti-Corruption Act

The American Anti-Corruption Act (commonly referred to as the "AACA" or "Anti-Corruption Act") is a piece of model legislation designed to limit the influence of money in American politics by overhauling lobbying, transparency, and campaign finance laws. It was crafted in 2011 "by former Federal Election Commission chairman Trevor Potter in consultation with dozens of strategists, democracy reform leaders and constitutional attorneys from across the political spectrum," and is supported by reform organizations such as Represent.Us, which advocate for the passage of local, state, and federal laws modeled after the AACA. It is designed to limit or outlaw practices perceived to be major contributors to political corruption.

Contents

Its provisions cover three areas:

  • Stop political bribery by overhauling lobbying and ethics laws
  • End secret money by dramatically increasing transparency
  • Give every voter a voice by creating citizen-funded elections
  • The AACA's authors state that its provisions are based on existing laws that have withstood court challenges, and are therefore likely constitutional.

    Authors

    The American Anti-Corruption Act was written "in consultation with political strategists, democracy reform leaders, and constitutional attorneys from across the political spectrum." Co-authors include former Republican FEC commissioner Trevor Potter, Harvard professor and activist Lawrence Lessig, Theodore Roosevelt IV, and Represent.Us director Josh Silver. The Act was unveiled in 2012.

    Laws based on the AACA

    The stated goal of the Anti-Corruption Act is to serve as "model legislation that sets a standard for city, state and federal laws that prevent money from corrupting American government." Organizations such as Represent.Us advocate for state and local laws that reflect the provisions of the AACA, often using the ballot initiative process. Since the provisions of the AACA are likely to be found constitutional, this differs from the approach taken by other electoral reform groups such as Move to Amend, which advocate for a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo.

    Tallahassee Anti-Corruption Act

    In 2014, voters in Tallahassee, Florida approved a city charter amendment modeled after the AACA. The referendum, which passed with 67 percent of the vote, established a city ethics commission, imposed stricter contribution limits on candidates for city office, and created a voluntary rebate system for small political contributions. The initiative passed with the support of a politically diverse coalition of local advocates including the Chair of the Florida Tea Party Network, the former President of the Florida League of Women Voters, and the Chairman of Florida Common Cause.

    Honest Elections Seattle

    In 2015, voters in Seattle, Washington approved Initiative 122, the "Honest Elections Seattle" initiative. Initiative I-122 implemented several reforms including new contribution limits on contractors that lobby the city, revolving door restrictions for city officials, and electronic disclosure requirements. The initiative's backers cite the AACA as "the single most influential model we drew from" when crafting I-122.

    Statewide Anti-Corruption Acts

    Represent.Us, a nonpartisan advocacy organization, has announced plans to pursue two statewide anti-corruption ballot initiatives in 2016, although their target states have yet to be announced.

    Anti-Corruption Resolutions

    Anti-Corruption Resolutions are public mandates calling for Anti-Corruption legislation at the state and federal level. On July 14, 2014, Princeton, NJ, "became the first municipality in the country to adopt an Anti-Corruption Resolution sponsored by Represent.Us". The Princeton resolution mentions six of the eleven provisions in the original AACA draft (see table below).

    Anti-Corruption Resolutions have been passed in the following locales:

  • Princeton, New Jersey
  • Genoa, Illinois
  • Massachusetts State House District 2
  • Massachusetts State Senate District 19
  • Ewing Township, New Jersey
  • DeKalb County, Illinois
  • Winnebago County, Illinois
  • Roanoke, Virginia
  • Survey results

    An opinion poll commissioned by Represent.Us found that 90 percent of respondents support tighter limits on campaign finance, and 97 percent would support stronger anti-corruption measures. "The poll also tested the popularity of some potential reforms, giving respondents a menu of 11 options and asking them to pick three. Forty-seven percent picked barring politicians from taking money from industries they regulate ... . Thirty-seven percent picked dramatically reducing the amount of money lobbyists can give to candidates and parties, while 31% picked putting tough limits on super PACs", according to the MSNBC summary of the survey.

    Comparing anti-corruption measures

    The following table compares the anti-corruption measures adopted by Princeton, NJ, and Tallahassee, mentioned above, with the official text of the American Anti-Corruption Act, 9-point summary, and the three reform areas mentioned above:

    (*) Three areas (see above): Limit bribery (b) and campaign secrecy (s) while empowering voters (v).

    References

    American Anti-Corruption Act Wikipedia


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