18:25 GMT26 January 2020
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    Late last week, a bipartisan group of over one hundred retired high-profile politicians gathered on Capitol Hill to call for an ambitious campaign finance reform agenda. The only problem, according to The Intercept, is that the politicians are hesitant to change the system which got them elected until after they've actually left office.

    On Thursday, a group of 108 political heavyweights from the so-called ReFormers Caucus, a project created by the nonprofit group Issue One, aimed at reducing the role of money in US politics, gathered in Washington to call for campaign finance reform.

    The bipartisan group of former senators, representatives, governors, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors and even a vice president (Walter Mondale) endorses greater transparency for political contributions, calls for stricter enforcement of campaign finance laws, including a reform of the "broken" Federal Election Commission, and calls for reforms on lobbying and ethics rules aimed at reining in excesses and ensuring that everyone 'plays by the same rules'.

    With spending on election campaigns soaring, particularly following the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision to allow unlimited campaign contributions and spending by corporations and wealthy individuals, the ReFormers Caucus complains that politicians now have to spend hundreds of hours calling donors, taking away from their ability to actually do the work they were elected to do. Furthermore, the rules of the game are said to have effectively prevented many otherwise good candidates from running.

    "We used to have to arrange schedules around senators' fundraisers and it was considered the exception, but now it's the rule," former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said, speaking at the event, adding that today, "one of the hardest things to do is to recruit a candidate and tell them one of the biggest challenges you're going to have to face is to sit in that little room day after day dialing for dollars."

    Former Democratic Congressman Tim Roemer went further, suggesting that "the influence of money is destroying us from the inside," noting that "the influence of money on our political system" is one of "the greatest threats to us internally."

    Noting that the group's reform agenda is similar to that advocated by other proponents of campaign finance reform, who launched a similar campaign this summer, The Intercept's Jon Schwarz explained that the key difference seems to be that the ReFormers Caucus plan "does not call for a national public system of national matching funds."

    Unfortunately, Schwarz noted that while the ReFormers Caucus's "success…in signing up members suggests that many politicians do in fact recognize how big money thwarts democracy, as well as how the pursuit of it is personally degrading for them…until they leave office" they seem "loathe to change the system that put them in power in the first place."


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