Democratic candidate for Washington’s Third Congressional District Carolyn Long is showing would-be voters how she would plan on tackling apparent corruption in federal politics, introducing an anti-corruption plan last week outlining what she sees as issues in the U.S. government.
Long, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, introduced her plan Sept. 23, the second policy plan she has introduced ahead of the November election. The plan has two major parts: addressing the influence of corporate funding in elections, and tackling the “revolving door” of those in politics moving to lobbying for interest groups and vice-versa.
For corporate funding, Long’s plan would lead to a ban on corporate political action committees (PACs) from contributing to political candidates. The plan also calls for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United, eliminating so-called “Super PACs” which have fewer limits on contributions than regular PACs do.
Long’s plan also calls for the passing of the DISCLOSE Act, legislation introduced into Congress last year intended to identify so-called “dark money” contributions where the source of funding isn’t readily identifiable. It also handles potential foreign influence in elections, banning contributions from groups with certain thresholds of foreign investment.
Part of the plan includes a lifetime ban on members of Congress from lobbying, with Long stating in the plan that she would “never become a registered lobbyist. Period.” It also would require a four-year “cooling off” period for government jobs, both for those entering government service and those leaving to work elsewhere.
Long, a political science professor at Washington State University Vancouver, said she has been thinking about the increased role of corporate money in politics for decades. In the plan she points to the 2018 election cycle where she says $1.5 billion was raised and $800 million was spent by Super PACs that year alone.
Long said the increasing corporate involvement comes with a decrease in trust of government by citizens, giving her a reason to address the issue in a plan ahead of the election.
“One of the things I hear consistently from younger Americans is that they don’t trust political institutions and they don’t trust politicians,” Long said, adding that her 25 years of political science teaching gives her a window on the sentiments those individuals have. She added through her campaigns, both in 2018 in her first attempt to unseat Herrera Beutler, and this year, she’s heard from “thousands” of would-be constituents who find corporate influence a major issue facing the government.
“It’s something that’s standing in the way of them … seeing that we’ve got a functioning democracy,” Long remarked about corporate influence, “and when you hear that so often, you have to address it.”
Long said her plan would also address transparency issues on the funding of political ad campaigns, which she says often have dark money backers behind them. It would allow voters to critically examine the messaging and who was trying to get the message across, giving them another “tool” in deciding how they will vote in elections.
Long also pointed to parts of her plan that would empower the Office of Congressional Ethics and add a nonpartisan member to the Federal Ethics Commission (FEC) among other fixes to the commission, which she said was currently “broken.”
Earlier in the month, Long released a plan focused on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing issues such as healthcare, rural broadband and support for small businesses among other components. She connected both policies, saying that the reason some of the issues faced in the recovery plan exist are due to the role of corporate influence in politics.
Long believes addressing corporate involvement in politics is a nonpartisan issue since politicians on both sides receive funding from the sources her plan would eliminate or make more transparent. She has stressed that her campaign has not taken any corporate PAC money in both electoral cycles.
Long felt that her plan would work toward constituents having a greater control, and therefore trust, in their candidates, which was an issue not exclusive to one side of the aisle or the other.
“When you run for office, you should be beholden to people in your district, not beholden by outside influences,” Long said