Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Deborah Ross of Raleigh, North Carolina, wants to hobble the hinges on the “revolving door” from Congress to lobbying by barring former politicians from taking lobbyist jobs until they’ve been out of office for 10 years.
Ross’ support for making former federal lawmakers wait 10 years to lobby – instead of the two-year ban under current law – is part of an ethics plan her campaign unveiled Monday. Public opinion polls show a tightening race between Ross – who was a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union in North Carolina for five years before she was elected to the legislature – and incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina.
Evidence shows that increased political contributions correspond with more success in landing government contracts. . . . I’ll support proposals that close these loopholes and crack down on pay-to-play schemes for government contractors.
Deborah Ross, candidate for U.S. Senate
Ross says her plan to “clean up politics” includes:
▪ A 10-year “cooling off period” between leaving office and lobbying. The last Democrat to serve as a senator from North Carolina, Kay Hagan, is now a consultant at a D.C. lobbying firm but will not be able to register as a lobbyist until next year.
▪ New federal laws to effectively undo the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which allows companies and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertising to support or oppose candidates.
▪ Banning businesses from writing off city- and county-level lobbying expenses on their tax forms, Such write-offs already are banned for federal lobbying.
▪ A ban on direct campaign donations from business executives and lobbyists who work on federal government contracts and from political action committees that work on behalf of federal contractors.
“Evidence shows that increased political contributions correspond with more success in landing government contracts,” Ross says on her campaign website.
Also on Monday, Ross’ campaign criticized Burr – a two-term senator from Winston-Salem – for his opposition four years ago to a bipartisan bill that would keep politicians and their staffs from profiting from insider trading by virtue of having access to nonpublic information that could affect stock prices and markets. Burr was one of three senators to vote against the bill, which is now law.
Burr didn’t support the legislation – called the STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act – because federal securities laws on the books then and now already prohibit insider trading by anyone, including politicians and aides, his office said Monday.
Burr’s office in D.C. says claims that the senator opposed the 2012 STOCK Act to benefit himself are “bogus”
“Senator Burr agreed with the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service at the time the original STOCK Act was passed – that insider trading was already illegal and redundant laws are one of the many problems coming from Washington,” Burr spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins said in a statement to McClatchy.
Ross’ criticism echoed a story about four years ago by the Huffington Post, which wrote that federal financial disclosures showed Burr had personal investments in alternative fuels while he championed a bill that would give tax credits for vehicles that run on natural gas.
Burr’s campaign did not comment on Ross’ claims Monday, but his Senate office pushed back. Watkins said the bill did not pass and therefore “could not have changed any value of any stock.” Plus, she said, Burr has an adviser who manages his portfolio and the senator does not approve any stock purchases.
The attack on Burr’s ethics record comes as Ross and other down-ballot Democrats face questions about the trustworthiness of their own presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Last week, on the campaign trail in Burr’s hometown, Ross bluntly called Clinton’s handling of sensitive State Department emails on a private home server a “mistake” and a “mess.”
Asked then about news reports that donors to the Clinton Foundation may have been given special access to Clinton and her staff while she served in the Obama administration as secretary of state, Ross avoided the kinds of direct criticisms she’s offered of Clinton’s email handling.
Donors and big companies shouldn’t “get special access and special perks,” Ross said last week without mentioning Clinton before moving on to stress her own record on ethics legislation as a former N.C. state representative from 2003 until 2013.