March 6, 2019
Democrats flex power by taking aim at money in politics
Matthew Daly, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Flexing their new majority, Democrats are moving to push through the House a comprehensive elections and ethics reform package they say will reduce the role of big money in politics, ensure fair elections and restore ethics and integrity to Washington.
The legislation, called H.R. 1 to signify its importance, would make it easier to register and vote, tighten election security and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
March 6, 2019
Rep. John Sarbanes On HR 1, The House's Sweeping Anti-Corruption Legislation
John Sarbanes, David Keating and Meghna Chakrabarti, WBUR ('ON POINT')
The House votes on a sweeping anti-corruption proposal this week. It could have major implications for campaign finance, voting rights and ethics.
Rep. John Sarbanes, Democratic congressman from Maryland. He’s the lead author of House Resolution 1, and has been spearheading the bill in his chamber.
November 25, 2018
The Democratic majority’s first order of business: Restore democracy
Nancy Pelosi and John Sarbanes, The Washington Post
November 25, 2018
Earlier this month, Americans went to the polls and sent a powerful message: The election not only was a resounding verdict against Republicans’ assault on Americans’ health care and wages, but it also was a vote to rescue our broken democracy.
In the face of a torrent of special-interest dark money, partisan gerrymandering and devious vote-suppression schemes, voters elected a House Democratic majority determined to bring real change to restore our democracy.
During the campaign, Democrats declared unequivocally that we would clean up corruption to make Washington work for the people. We pledged to reduce the role of money in politics, to restore ethics and integrity to government, and to strengthen voting laws.
September 18, 2018
Sarbanes Prepares for Elevated Role as Leading Reformer in Congress
Josh Kurtz, MARYLAND MATTERS
As Democrats push to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November, government ethics and political reform have become an increasingly important part of their message. And that means an elevated role for Maryland Congressman John P. Sarbanes (D).
Sarbanes is House Democrats’ apostle of political reform, the chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force. He’s the architect of the party’s multi-pronged good government agenda. If the Democrats seize the majority, he will play a leading role in shaping the suite of reform bills that Democrats will try to advance through Congress.
“I’m focused on trying to map out what a reform package would look like,” Sarbanes said in a recent interview in the Capitol, a few steps away from the House chamber, where votes were taking place.
In the News: House Democrats’ top priority if they win in November is a sweeping anti-corruption bill
September 11, 2018
House Democrats’ top priority if they win in November is a sweeping anti-corruption bill
Ella Nilsen, Vox
“I’m hoping that it’s the first or second bill this fall. It’s just that important.”
If Democrats win back the House in 2018, a consensus is emerging on what they need to do first: Pass a sweeping anti-corruption bill.
One specific legislative package has emerged, largely crafted and sponsored by the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD). The agenda — recently formalized by a House resolution — is designed to rein in the influence of money and lobbying in Washington, expand voting rights in the United States, and increase public financing of campaigns. Democrats are prepping a final version of a bill to be ready to go if they are in charge by January 2019.
In the News: House Democrat: here are 8 scandals Congress should investigate instead of Twitter bias
September 5, 2018
House Democrat: here are 8 scandals Congress should investigate instead of Twitter bias
Tara Golshan, Vox
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is testifying in Congress. Democrats think it’s a waste of his time.
Congress is wasting Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s time when it should be investigating the Trump administration’s wrongdoing, Maryland Democrat Rep. John Sarbanes told Dorsey at one of his two congressional testimonies Wednesday.
Dorsey spent Wednesday fielding questions in the House about how Twitter’s efforts to combat dangerous information and misinformation shared on the social media platform is actually censoring conservative voices.
August 22, 2018
Trump’s Corrupt Inner Circle Won’t Be Democrats’ New Midterm Focus
Kevin Robillard, The Huffington Post
The party will focus on a culture of corruption, not the Trump administration’s wrongdoing.
The nearly simultaneous, split-screen convictions of President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and one-time campaign chairman on Tuesday seemed designed to give the Democratic Party a powerful message heading into the 2018 elections, the same one Trump successfully deployed in 2016: “Drain the swamp.”
The narrative builds itself: The number of close Trump associates linked to criminal wrongdoing is growing, the first two members of Congress to endorse him are both under indictment, his cabinet has already seen two members resign over corruption allegations and Trump has never separated himself from his businesses, turning Mar-a-Lago into an invitation for bribery. And for armies of armchair campaign strategists, railing against the Trump administration’s corruption is a message Democrats can ride to victory in 2018 and 2020.
August 22, 2018
Trump, Republican corruption issues give Democrats opening for midterm elections
Fredreka Schouten and Eliza Collins, USA Today
WASHINGTON – Leading Democrats in Congress are seizing on the tidal wave of legal troubles hitting President Donald Trump's allies to cast the Republican Party as deeply corrupt ahead of the fast-approaching midterm elections.
Democratic leaders say they plan to make ethics a key pillar of their push to take the House majority this fall, arguing their party will serve as a check on what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls the Trump administration's "brazen corruption, cronyism and incompetence."
Trump and his allies suffered a triple hit Tuesday: The conviction of Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on bank and tax fraud, a guilty plea by his former attorney Michael Cohen that implicated the president in violating campaign-finance laws and the federal indictment of one of Trump's earliest congressional supporters, California Rep. Duncan Hunter. Prosecutors say Hunter and his wife used $250,000 in campaign funds for family vacations, private-school tuition and other personal expenses.
In the News: In fallout from Trump controversies, Republicans warn Democrats will seek his impeachment. Democratic candidates are avoiding the word.
August 22, 2018
In fallout from Trump controversies, Republicans warn Democrats will seek his impeachment. Democratic candidates are avoiding the word.
Michael Scherer, The Washington Post
A day after President Trump’s former lawyer implicated him in directing a crime, Democratic leaders sharpened their election-year attack on the GOP as the party of corruption. But in an effort to keep the electoral focus on bread-and-butter issues, they largely steered clear of any discussion of impeachment.
Party leaders encouraged candidates and elected members to talk instead about demanding protection for the ongoing Justice Department investigations of Trump and his allies, offering a clear sign that they feel confident that grass-roots energy against Trump will show up at the polls without the need for a divisive rallying cry from the stump.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to her caucus members asking them to keep speaking about economic issues, while also urging them to call out what she described as the “cesspool of self-enrichment, secret money and ethical blindness” that exists in Washington under unified Republican rule.
August 14, 2018
Pelosi seizes on anti-corruption message against GOP
Melanie Zanona, The Hill
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is moving full steam ahead on a Democratic strategy to paint the GOP as corrupt ahead of the midterm elections, a case that got new legs after the arrest of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) on insider trading charges last week.
Pelosi has decided to make ethics a core pillar of House Democrats’ push for the majority this fall, seizing on Collins’s arrest in a way she hasn’t done with past GOP scandals involving Trump administration officials.
But with Collins, a sitting member of Congress and Trump's earliest congressional backer, Pelosi believes that Democrats have a ripe opportunity to draw a connection between the president and House Republicans who are on the ballot this November.
September 19, 2016
Restoring Our Republic
John Sarbanes, The Huffington Post
September 14, 2016
The story goes that Benjamin Franklin was approached by Elizabeth Powell as he exited Independence Hall in Philadelphia: “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” The 81-year old Franklin replied, “[A] republic... if you can keep it.”
Keeping our republic has become the passion of millions of Americans who are convinced that their government is broken. They see a Congress captured by special interests and frustratingly unresponsive to the needs of everyday Americans. Whatever else they may disagree about, Democrats, Republicans and Independents have all arrived at the same explanation for the rot in our politics: Big Money.
According to a recent Ipsos poll, 7 in 10 respondents agreed that our democracy is at risk if action is not taken to address the undue influence of money in politics. The same poll found that 8 in 10 respondents view that influence to be worse than at any other time in their lives and an overwhelming 93 percent of respondents felt that elected officials listen more to big-money campaign donors than to regular voters.
August 31, 2016
Our say: VA walks back a bad decision about clinic
Editorial Board, Capital Gazette
August 31, 2016
July 21, 2016
By Sarah Gantz, The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore signed an agreement Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Maryland Clean Energy Center to develop a financing model to make solar energy more accessible to low-income residents.
Existing financing options for installing solar panels require a large up-front investment or high credit ratings, which can be prohibitive for many low-income homeowners. Details of Baltimore's financing model are still to be determined, but city officials said the goal will be to eliminate some of the barriers that prevent low-income residents from making the investment — as much as $15,000 for a typical Baltimore rowhouse.
"We want to prove the clean-energy revolution in our country can be designed to include everyone," said David Foster, a senior adviser at the Energy Department.
The new program eventually could serve as a national model, he said.
Foster was among the officials and lawmakers, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Sarbanes, who announced plans for the program outside a Belair-Edison home selected to receive solar panels as part of another city initiative to install solar panels in low-income areas.
July 7, 2016
June 30, 2016
By Lowell Melser, WBAL
Democratic members of Maryland's congressional delegation gather in an attempt to maintain pressure on the issue of gun safety legislation.
Maryland gun-safety advocates met in Baltimore to support tougher laws connected to gun violence, setting up what could be an interesting debate next week on Capitol Hill.
After last week's sit-in on the House floor, many of Maryland's Democratic members of Congress, along with gun violence prevention advocates and victims of gun violence, made an attempt to keep up the pressure on the issue, addressing a crowd in north Baltimore.
Kate Ranta talked about being stalked by her ex-husband, who shot her and her father.
"My son, who is 7 now, but 4 at the time, stood screaming, 'Don't do it, Daddy, don't shoot Mommy,' witnessing the whole thing. It was luck that no bullets entered his tiny body," Ranta said.
Sheryl Baughman lost her son to suicide. She said she believes that a waiting list for the mentally unstable might have saved him.
"Had they made him wait, maybe whatever circumstances were going on in his life that day could have been different," Baughman said.
Maryland's Democratic political leaders also used the forum to call out Republicans for not working with them on gun legislation, but they had trouble giving reasons why no such legislation passed when Democrats had control over the House and Senate in President Obama's first two years in office.
"I can't answer the question. I was on the intelligence committee, so I wouldn't have dealt with that to begin with, but I know it has always been an issue," said U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-District 2.
Others blamed a supposed stronghold by the National Rifle Association over Congress at the time.
"The tide is turning, and the intimidation factor that operated on all of Congress at one point has begun to shift," said U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, D-District 3.
June 23, 2016
By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun
House Democrats frustrated over the lack of progress on a gun control measure staged a "sit-in" on the floor Wednesday, saying they would refuse to yield unless GOP leaders allow a vote on a "no-fly, no buy" proposal.
The effort comes a week after Democrats launched a filibuster on the Senate floor in order to prompt a vote on similar legislation, which ultimately failed. Democrats have renewed their push for gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando night club shooting.
Led by Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, several dozen lawmakers sat on the floor of the House, which quickly went into recess -- a move that shuts off live coverage of the chamber by CSPAN.
Every Democratic member of Maryland's congressional delegation joined the sit in, including Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
"Congress has a basic duty to protect the American people, and that means putting in place commonsense gun safety laws that could help reduce the frequency and carnage of mass shootings in America," said Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County.
May 20, 2016
Rep. John Sarbanes will serve on a conference committee charged with reconciling the vastly different opioid addiction bills passed by the House and Senate, offering him an opportunity to help address one of Baltimore's most intractable problems.
Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat who represents portions of Baltimore City, was named to the conference committee Tuesday by House leaders. The five-term lawmaker was one of the few Democrats to shepherd a bill through the House last week intended to mitigate a national increase in heroin and prescription drug overdoes.
May 19, 2016
By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun
Members of Baltimore's congressional delegation on Monday touted a package of bills passed recently by the House of Representatives intended to address the national opioid abuse epidemic, but they also pointed to the shortcomings of that legislation -- including a lack of funding.
The House and Senate have both approved bipartisan legislation on heroin and prescription drug abuse, but the packages are substantially different. Both measures, which now must be resolved by a yet-to-be-appointed conference committee, do not include new money to pay for the programs lawmakers envision.
Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County was the original sponsor of one of the House-passed bills. His proposal would encourage and train doctors to prescribe overdose reversal drugs, such as Naloxone, when they prescribe pain medication and other opioids.
May 6, 2016
On Wednesday I had the opportunity to be on WYPR’s Maryland Morning. Click here to hear my interview with Tom Hall.
April 23, 2016
David Ignatius, The Washington Post
It has become a truism that the American political system is suffering from dysfunction. But weirdly, even the insurgent candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, don’t talk much about how they would fix it. This is a populist insurgency without a clear manifesto.
So it’s refreshing to hear Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) present a detailed action plan to try to repair what’s broken. This proposal isn’t a cure-all. It wouldn’t fix the immigration problem or fund Social Security or fight terrorism. But by changing the way we fund elections, this proposal could make it easier to elect the politicians who would make the U.S. government work again for its citizens.
Sarbanes presents his proposal in the current issue of the Harvard Journal on Legislation. It’s a simple idea: Congress should free itself from big-money, special-interest domination by encouraging an alternative system of small contributions that would be matched with public funds. This isn’t a new idea — Teddy Roosevelt proposed a version back in 1907 — but it’s a good one, and a way to start curing what ails us.