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Testimony of Irvin B. Nathan 6-25-12 Re Campaign Finance Reform

Testimony of Irvin B. Nathan 6-25-12 Re Campaign Finance Reform

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Published by Martin Austermuhle

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Published by: Martin Austermuhle on Jun 25, 2012
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06/25/2012

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StatementofIrvinB.NathanAttorneyGeneralfortheDistrictofColumbiaBeforetheCommitteeonGovernmentOperationsMurielBowser,ChairRegardingBills19-713,19-730,and19-733
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fficeoftheAttorneyGeneralfortheDistrictofColumbiaJune25,2012JohnA.WilsonBuilding1350PennsylvaniaAvenue,NWRoom412Washington,D.C.
 
INTRODUCTIONANDOVERVIEW
Goodafternoon,ChairpersonBowser,andMembersandstaffoftheCommitteeon GovernmentOperations.IamIrvNathan,AttorneyGeneralfortheDistrictofColumbia.On behalfoftheExecutiveBranchoftheDistrict,IampleasedtotestifybeforetheCommitteetodayregardingtheMayor'slegislativeproposalstopreserveandprotecttheintegrityofourelectionsprocess.Amidcriminalconvictionsandallegationsthathaveunderminedpublic confidenceinourelectoralsystemandhaveledsometomakeunwarrantedandunfoundedclaimsthatthemorethan600,000residentsofthisgreatcityareunabletogovernthemselves, theMayorandthisAdministrationbelievelegislativecampaign-financereformshouldbeahighprioritytorestorepublictrustinourelectoralsystem.Severalmonthsago,theMayortaskedmyofficewithreviewingourlawsandcomparingthemwithbestpracticesinStatesandothermajorcitiesthathaverecentlyrevisedtheircampaign-fmancelawsandmakingrecommendationstohim.Thereviewattemptedtobalancetheneedofcandidatestoraisethefundsnecessarytogettheirmessagesoutandfullyinformtheelectoratewiththeneedtoinsurethesameelectoratethattheprocessisfairandopenandthattheresultinggovernmentisfreefromanytaintofeventheappearanceofcorruption.Afterstudyingourrecommendations,theMayorhasauthorizedmetoadvisethisCommitteeofhisproposals. WearenowworkingtoputthemintoacomprehensivedraftoflegislationthatwehopetohavereadyforthisCommittee'sconsiderationbymid-July. OurdraftlegislationwillincorporatesomeelementsofthethreebillsthathavepreviouslybeenproposedonthissubjectthatarecurrentlypendingbeforethisCommittee,but willgowellbeyondthem.Thependingbillsdealwithpay-to-playintheareaofgovernment contracting(Bills19-713and19-733),prohibitallcorporatecontributionstopoliticalcampaigns
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(Bills19-713and19-733),andplacelimitationsonmoneyordersthatareasstrictasthoseplacedoncashcontributions(Bill19-730).SomeoftheprovisionsinthesebillswouldsignificantlyimprovetheDistrict'scampaign-financelawandshouldproperlybepartofcomprehensivelegislativereform.However,twoofthebills(Bills19-713and19-733)alsoraise seriouspolicyandconstitutionalconcerns,whichshouldbeeliminatedintheresultinglegislationwhichemergesfromthisCommittee.Othertopicsneedtobeaddressedaswell.Ourbalancedandcomprehensiveapproachwillrecognize(a)theimportanceoflettingindividuals,includingnon-incumbents,campaigneffectively;(b)thevalueofallowingothers, includingorganizations,toexercisetheirconstitutionalrightstodisseminatetheirviewsonimportantpublicissuesandtosupportfinanciallythecandidatestheyfavor;and(c)theneedto protectagainsttherealityandeventheappearanceofcorruptioninthepoliticalprocess.Thereformsweproposewillensurethatthepublicisinformedaboutthesourcesofallcampaignfunds;furthersecuretheintegrityofthegovernmentcontractingprocess;limittheaccessand influenceoflobbyists;andholdcandidatesandtheircommitteesmoreaccountablefortheircampaignactivities.Wewillalsoaddressstrongerlocalenforcementofourrevisedcampaign reformlaws.Ourproposedreformsaredrawnfromthebestpracticesofotherjurisdictions,andfromacarefulassessmentofthevulnerabilitiesintheDistrict'scurrentcampaign-financelaw.Becausewearepreparingcomprehensivelegislation,weurgetheCounciltoawaitourproposal,rather thanenactingpiecemealmeasures.Ourelectoralprocesswillbenefitsignificantlyfromcampaign-financereform,butthatreformshouldbecomprehensive,fullyvetted,andwell considered.2

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