CONGRESSMAN JIM HIMES

Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

Himes Cosponsors Legislation to Eliminate Pay to Play in Earmarks

May 12, 2009
Press Release

Washington, DC--- Congressman Jim Himes today cosponsored legislation that would ban lawmakers from taking campaign contributions from executives, board members, and lobbyists of organizations that receive earmark requests from that Member of Congress. This bill would put into law the strict but voluntary policy the Congressman adopted for his own office. This announcement comes the same day the Congressman plans to vote with Republicans for the eighth time to require an investigation into connections between earmarks and campaign contributions made by the PMA lobbying group.

“Appropriation requests fund important projects in communities throughout Connecticut, and we must ensure that funding decisions are based purely on the merit of the projects themselves,” said Congressman Himes. “Accountability and transparency in government spending is crucial to give Americans the confidence that their Representatives are acting exclusively in the interests of the people and communities they represent.”

Currently, there is no rule that prohibits a Member’s campaign from accepting campaign contributions from organizations for which the Member has requested an appropriation.  This practice has the potential to create at least the appearance of impropriety, and at worst, an ethical and legal dilemma.  Worse still, the mixture of earmarks and campaign contributions can erode the people’s confidence in the actions and motivations of their elected representatives.

As part of his efforts toward clean and transparent government, Congressman Himes is also cosponsoring the Fair Elections Now Act, which creates a voluntary public financing alternative to campaign fundraising. By eliminating the need to devote copious amounts of time to campaign fundraising, the legislation allows candidates to focus on representing their constituents. The Act allows candidates to raise an unlimited amount from $100 contributions, establishes a system of matching funds for small contributions, and uses vouchers to fund television advertising.

“It’s time to remove the influence of campaign contributions from decisions about what is best for our country,” said Congressman Himes. “Political viability should be measured by the strength of a candidate’s ideas not by the hours they spend fundraising.”

Click here to read the Congressman’s Appropriations policy.

Click here to watch the Congressman’s floor statement on clean government.