May 1st, 2016

Guests: Florida Congressman & U.S. Senate Candidate David Jolly and State Senator Brad Hoylman 

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Congressman David Jolly

Full interview

Jolly on the amount of time members of Congress spend dialing for dollars and how he’s trying to do away with that practice with the STOP Act:

DJ: “We all know about the amount of money in politics, but I focused in on the amount of time it takes to raise that money. I’m a new member of Congress. I had never run for anything before. You get to Washington and you learn that both parties, both sides of the aisle, their first expectation of you is to raise money.

On the Democratic side, we have a model schedule to suggest that a member should spend 4 to 5 hours a day focused on fundraising. On the Republican side, we have materials that give you instructions on how to procure $30,000 contributions from a single individual. But, look, we’ve got folks from both sides of the aisle, all across the country who are good people and they ran to try and change things. They ran to try to represent their communities. I’m trying to give them some breathing room to do that.

So I introduced the STOP Act. It’s very simple. It’s four pages. It says no member of the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate or the Vice President or President may directly solicit a campaign contribution. It is focused on getting members of Congress back to work. That prohibition currently exists in many state legislatures around the country, where state legislators are prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions when they’re in session. And in 30 states, it applies to judges who sit on the ballot. They are directly prohibited from soliciting a contribution. I’m taking that model and trying to apply it to members of Congress.”

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Jolly responds to criticism of the Stop Act that it only has a small number of co-sponsors and that it has no chance of passing:

DJ: “So first, we have 6 or 7 more [co-sponsors] than I thought I’d get when I first [introduced it]… With the help of the American people, we’ll get a lot more. People are scared to death of their own re-election and they know they have to raise so much money to get re-elected, so they’re scared to step out on this.

But listen, with all due respect to [Congressman] Steve [Isreal], I am sick and tired of retiring members of Congress lamenting how much time they spent raising money but admitting they did nothing to fix it. Why is it only retiring members who are willing to talk about it? The cynic in me would say that they can sell you a book for 30 bucks, admitting everything they didn’t do to fix it while they were there.

Trent Lott and Tom Daschle teamed up to write a book, lamenting the amount of time they spent raising money. A Republican who recently retired from the House called fundraising the main business. Steve Israel waits until after his retirement to write for the New York Times an op-ed. Well, I want to do something about it while we’re here. And the reason I agreed to sit down with 60 Minutes is because I think that the American people see this scandal and this disgrace, that Congress is cheating taxpayers by only working part-time, but still getting paid $174,000 a year.

They are shaking down the American people for money instead of focusing in on solving tax reform, a balanced budget, national security, immigration reform, border security. Look at all the issues that aren’t getting done. It’s because members of Congress are spending more time raising money than doing their job. So I appreciate Steve’s admission, but I’m not going to take any moral lessons from somebody who waited until they were one foot out the door to admit what they had done wrong.”

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Jolly on why we should adopt the British model regarding the regulation of political TV ads, a point Bill Samuels has repeatedly made of Effective Radio:

DJ: “When I first ran for Congress two years ago, it was in a special election, in a nationally watched election that ultimately became, by some calculations, the most expensive race in Congressional history; nearly 14 million dollars in a little over 10 weeks in a single county in Florida. And the bulk of that went to television.

So what is the British model? The British model still lets people contribute money. It still protects speech, but they take out the largest cost-driver of campaigns by prohibiting political ads on television. So what I have begun to talk about and socialize is the idea of using not the Federal Elections Commission regulations, but use the Federal Communications Commission regulations and duly regulate political ads on TV just like they regulate other forms of speech on TV.

And here’s a notion for you, one that would take all the money out, but guess what? Taxpayers, federally, contribute $420 million dollars plus to public television. What if we had candidate hours made available to legitimate candidates beginning 45 days out or 60 days out or 90 days out where voters who wanted the truth from candidates and the ability to hear from candidates would have a destination to have that? So let’s take these 28 second hit ads that the American people are sick and tired of [and] let’s get them off TV. That would take out a lot of the cost-drivers out of current campaigns.”

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Jolly advocates for open primaries, a position that Bill Samuels has also been advocating:

DJ: “Let’s open primaries in the states that have closed primaries. We’ve got a third of the voters who are disenfranchised from participating in primaries. And at the end of the day, the only function of a closed primary is to push Republicans further to the right and Democrats further to the left.”

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Jolly, a former lobbyist, talks about the “revolving door” between Capitol Hill and K Street, and what should be done to reform the system, including a lifetime ban on members of Congress lobbying after they leave office:

DJ: “There is a ‘cooling off’ period. Personally, I think for members of Congress, there should be a lifetime ban. Once you hold the office, I think there’s enough respect due the office that members of Congress really shouldn’t engage in lobbying once they leave.

If the current [revolving door] ban is being violated, one of the things we can do is up the enforcement, both at [the] Department of Justice, but also, in some ways, look at the way the FEC is constructed. You know, there’s bipartisan legislation to change the way the FEC governs itself because right now it is set up to make sure there’s a tie vote. So there’s no enforcement action that ever goes forward.

I would say that, you know, it is easy to give lobbying a bad name. Trust me, my opponents like to remind you that at one point I was a registered federal lobbyist. I stand by it. I talk about the work I did for surviving parents who lost kids to sexual predators and what we did to get the U.S. Marshall Service more money. I talk about medical research initiatives that we championed and got funding for on the Hill, technologies to detect IEDs and protect soldiers.

But regardless of your thoughts, I don’t need to convince you to change your mind on lobbying today. Regardless of your thoughts, I’d ask you to consider this: Who holds the public trust? The public trust is held by the member of Congress and the senator. And I think wherever they get their information should be unimpeded if it comes from a constituent, if it comes from a lobbyist, whomever it comes from. But the violation of the public trust occurs when a member of Congress allows themselves to be unduly influenced by somebody who is contributing to their campaign. And that is a very legitimate issue. That is what should be governed and what should be enforced against because if money is suffocating the voice of the people, then that should be criminal.”

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Jolly on his reservations about Donald Trump and who he is going to support in the 2016 general election for President:

DJ: “I’m going to tell you something you rarely hear an elected official say: I don’t know. I truly don’t know and here’s why: If you’re asking me in April my position on Donald Trump in November, I don’t know what Donald Trump will be standing for in November and so I’m certainly not going to take a position 5 or 6 months out.

You know, when Donald Trump made his call to ban all Muslims, I went to the House floor and called on him to drop out of the race. I have strong reservations about some of Donald Trump’s solutions for the security issues we face as a country and those are real reservations. I will tell you I also have strong disagreements with Secretary Clinton over her view of foreign policy.

So I think, like a lot of Americans, we are going to have to begin to spend the summer studying the candidates and decide who is best for the future of the country. I’m a Republican and I hope we can find a conservative leader that can alter some of the course that our current president has taken us. But whether or not Donald Trump is that person, I am in no way prepared to make that decision.”

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State Senator Brad Hoylman

Full interview

Holyman on his child sex abuse bill and why it hasn’t passed yet:

BH: “It is shocking that New York is one of only a handful of states where, essentially, if you don’t file a claim if you’ve been assaulted as a child by the age of 23, then you really have no recourse in either civil or criminal court. So that leaves you outside of the courthouse and it also leaves perpetrators to remain in contact with kids. New York really has to update its statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and I’m really proud to work with the Assemblywoman [Margaret Markey] who has been a champion of this for years.

The reason it hasn’t moved forward—well, I think clearly there are some institutional forces at work that see removing the statute of limitations as a threat. Clearly, some churches, some private educational institutions have been shown to have opposed efforts by survivors to have these cases reopened. It’s a sad reality but we are making progress.”

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Holyman on how any ethics reform legislation will pass this session in Albany:

BH: “Well, you know, I look at the issue Morgan [Pehme] just raised about the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and what a terrific job the New York Daily News has done in raising the consciousness of the public. I think something similar has to happen with ethics reform. I’m hopeful that some of the tabloids will harken on that issue and point out in a similar campaign that they’ve done on everything ranging from horse carriages to the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse that Albany needs to act and it needs to act now. I think that would be more than appropriate. It’s past overdue that Albany gets its act together and restores confidence in the voters, the people who send us up here. We have a couple of months to get that done. If we don’t, there’s going to be hell to pay in November, in my humble opinion. I think the voters are fed up. We have seen a watershed moment, not just in New York but across the country voters are sick and tired of business as usual and I think they’re going to respond accordingly. So it really is in our best interests as elected officials.”

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Holyman on how Todd Kaminsky’s recent special election victory is going to affect the balance of power in the State Senate:

BH: “I think legislation is going to be on a knife’s edge. Even with the Republicans having 32, say, one of their members doesn’t show up or somebody is, God forbid, ill or unaccounted for in some other way, votes are going to matter. So I think the public is going to be watching along with the press. There are some very important issues involving ethics among others, including the Child Victims Act, and things could tip either way depending on a given day. So it’s very close, not to mention the fact that we’ve got a November election to run. So I think it’s going to be a moment for leadership, clearly. In the Democratic conference, I’m more than certain that we are up to the challenge.”

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Holyman responds to Bill Samuels’ argument that individuals should be allowed to give money to county committees to support candidates the way Bill de Blasio did, and also weighs in on whether he thinks de Blasio did anything wrong:

BH: “I don’t have the details of the investigation. I did read the report that was leaked. That said, there could be a lot that we don’t know about and there are obviously parties that have been speaking to the authorities and I think that is appropriate. But I will say that one individual pumped in over a million dollars to try to defeat Todd Kaminsky out in the 9th Senate District. And Citizens United, as you know, has opened the floodgates for individuals and special interest groups and independent expenditures to try to defeat Democrats all across New York. We’ve seen it in the last cycle, we’ve seen it already with Senator Kaminsky. So I think this is all pointing towards a need for comprehensive campaign finance reform at every level.”

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More from Hoylman on why it makes more sense for money to go to local parties than independent expenditures:

BH: “I think that certainly a party is, in theory, more accountable to a community than a billionaire dilettante who wants to take down a certain state senator because he fears a Democratic majority.”

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Holyman on whether he thinks that the investigations into de Blasio will be a major line of attack against Democratic candidates in this cycle’s State Senate races:

BH: “Sure, I expect that. They’ve tried the last several cycles and they did so against Senator-elect Kaminsky. And you know what? It doesn’t work. We saw Kaminsky survive that million dollar-plus onslaught trying to link him to the New York City mayor. I don’t think voters really care that much and I think a lot of them are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the fuss is about. The Mayor of the City of New York doesn’t control the Democratic conference and vice versa.

So I think they spend a lot of money and waste a lot of energy on that link. But really this next election is going to be about ideas. I think ethics reform is part of that, but a lot of ideas the Democratic conference, under the leadership of Andrea Stewart-Cousins, has pursued. And those involve protecting the most vulnerable, making sure that a woman has the right to choose, LGBT issues, making sure our delivery and economic development is both upstate and downstate. I’m certain that that’s what is going to win the day just like it was with Todd Kaminsky. And his big win is, I think, a warning sign that … the attempt to link Senate Democrats with the mayor of the City of New York really falls on deaf ears.”

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Holyman on whether New York should pass a statewide Equal Rights Amendment:

BH: “It seems past due. I couldn’t agree more. I feel the same way about a lot of LGBT issues. Transgender New Yorkers still don’t have the same rights as you or I. You can still fire someone from their job simply because they are transgender in some instances in some parts of the state and we need to update our human rights protections. If we could get that done in a constitutional convention, I think it’s something to think about.

On the other hand, we should have a state Senate bill that tackles this kind of legislation. We shouldn’t have to go to a constitutional convention every couple of decades to get that done. Our state Senate does not reflect … the wishes, the hopes and the dreams of New Yorkers. That’s clear when it comes to women’s rights. You know … we still have not codified Roe v. Wade in New York State law. That’s astounding.”

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Holyman on whether New York should pass a redistricting amendment that makes the process more independent than the one passed in 2012:

BH: “Yes, there’s no question that we can do better when it comes to redistricting and having something that resembles the state of California more closely and depoliticized. It’s tough to do that but I think it’s possible. Now that we have new leadership in both houses, I think it’s a possibility. And, hopefully, with Democratic control in November, I think it’s more than a possibility. I think it’s a certainty because the Republicans are over-represented, let’s face it, in upstate and on Long Island. And a fair redistricting commission would point that out.”

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