Campaign Finance Reform and Elections
In Citizens United, the Supreme Court made it much easier for unrestricted spending on elections by corporations; during the 2016 election cycle, a total of $6.4 billion was spent on campaigns. I oppose the flawed Citizens United ruling because it gives an unfair financial advantage to large corporations during our elections. I am devoted to working towards an election system that is open and fair for all Americans.
That system must be by Americans and for Americans, free of interference from foreign adversaries who would seek to influence our elections for their own gain.
What I am Doing for You
I’m an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1, the For the People Act. This bill makes it easier, not harder, to vote by implementing automatic voter registration, requiring early voting and vote by mail, committing Congress to reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act, and ensuring the integrity of our elections by modernizing and strengthening our voting systems and ending partisan redistricting. The bill curbs big money’s influence by requiring all political organizations to disclose large donors, updating political advertisement laws for the digital age, establishing a public matching system for citizen-owned elections, and revamping the Federal Election Commission to ensure there’s a cop on the campaign finance beat. And H.R. 1 takes real action to “drain the swamp” by extending conflict-of-interest laws to the President and Vice President and requiring the release of their tax returns, closing loopholes that let former members of Congress avoid cooling-off periods for lobbying, breaking the revolving door between industry and the federal government, and establishing a code of conduct for the Supreme Court.
In the 115th Congress:
I introduced H.R. 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, to create a 12-member, bipartisan, independent commission empowered to interview witnesses, obtain documents, issue subpoenas, and receive public testimony to examine attempts by the Russian government or others to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or undermine trust in last year’s U.S. elections. The commission would examine any similar efforts by any other foreign governments or entities and would issue a final report with recommendations to Congress and the President within 18 months of enactment. This bill is cosponsored by all Democratic House members and by two Republicans. In May 2017, I launched a discharge petition to try to overrule the Speaker and bring this bill to a House Floor vote. (I also introduced this bill as H.R. 6447 at the end of the 114th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 6046, the Duty to Report Act, to require federal candidates, their families, and their campaigns to inform the FBI of any efforts by a foreign power to provide dirt on the candidate's opponent. For years, America has helped protect against terrorist attacks by telling Americans, “If you see something, say something.” The same should go for protecting our elections against foreign interference. Read my op-ed on this bill in The Atlantic.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.J.Res. 31, proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would overturn Citizens United and allow limits on corporate political spending to get big money out of politics. (I cosponsored similar proposed amendments as H.J.Res.22 and H.J.Res.36 in the 114th Congress.)
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act of 2017, which would institute elections reforms with the intention of increasing small contributions and reducing the influence of Super PACs. It would empower citizens and engage them in the political process by providing a $25 My Voice Tax Credit for campaign contributions, and make everyday Americans just as powerful as big donors with a six-to-one match from the Freedom From Influence Fund, giving candidates the incentive to seek out small donors. (I also cosponsored this as H.R. 20 in the 114th Congress and as H.R. 20 in the 113th Congress.)
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1134, the Disclosure of Information on Spending on Campaigns Leads to Open and Secure Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, which would increase disclosure by corporations of political spending to shareholders, require them to “stand by their ads,” and improve public reporting. (I also cosponsored this as H.R. 430 in the 114th Congress and as H.R. 148 in the 113th Congress.)
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 12, the Voter Empowerment Act, which would modernize our antiquated voter registration system and ensure equal access to voting for all Americans. (I also cosponsored this as H.R. 12 in the 114th Congress and as H.R. 12 in the 113th Congress.)
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 2978, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2017. This bill would reduce voting discrimination by modernizing the Voting Rights Act's preclearance formula to cover states and localities with a pattern of discrimination; requiring jurisdictions to publicly disclose all voting changes that occur 180 days before an election, to ensure that last-minute voting changes do not adversely affect voters; expanding the Attorney General’s authority to send federal observers to any jurisdiction where it is believed there is a substantial risk of discrimination at the polls on election day or during an early voting period; and improving the voting rights for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. (I also cosponsored this as H.R. 2867 in the 114th Congress.)
I'm a cosponsor of H.R. 3239, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill would ensure the Voting Rights Act applies equally to every state with a documented history of discrimination; subjects states to preclearance if they have committed five voting violations in the last 15 years; provides greater transparency in elections so that voters are made aware of any changes to polling times, dates, locations, and protocols; and allows for preliminary relief to be obtained more readily, given that voting rights cannot often be vindicated after an election is already over. (I also cosponsored this as H.R. 885 in the 114th Congress and as H.R. 3899 in the 113th Congress.)
I'm a cosponsor of H.R. 711, the John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act, which would help end gerrymandering in congressional elections by requiring state legislatures to appoint independent commissions to redraw congressional district boundaries. (I also cosponsored this as H.R. 219 in the 114th Congress and as H.R. 278 in the 113th Congress.)
In the 114th Congress:
In February 2016, as chair of Future Forum, I hosted a Special Order Hour on the House Floor to discuss money in politics and voting rights as a pressing concern to the millennial generation:
More on Campaign Finance Reform and Elections
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), a member of the Committee on the Judiciary and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, introduced the Corporate Duty to Report Act of 2019, which would require companies to disclose to the government when a foreign person, country, or organization attempts to subvert our election once again with political ads.
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Duty to Report Act – legislation to help protect our elections from foreign interference by requiring federal campaign officials to notify law enforcement if offered assistance by agents of another government.