Richard Painter is a distinguished, ethics-savvy attorney of a progressive bent who teaches legal ethics and who is a frequent contributor to the Legal Ethics Forum. He has formulated a legally enforceable candidate’s pledge requiring a member of Congress, once elected,not to accept campaign contributions except from natural persons residing in a congressional district and a promise, after leaving Congress, not to accept a lobbyist job that would entail lobbying former colleagues in the Capitol.
Painter was inspired to do so, he says, when contacted former student who is managing the John Denney for Congress Campaign in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District. Denny wants to take such a pledge, and Painter obliged with the document below.
What do you think?
Deal With The District: A Legally Enforceable, Money Back-Guaranteed Ethics Contract for Better Government
PURPOSE AND AGREEMENT
I _______________ AS CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS IN THE _____DISTRICT OF [STATE], AND LATER, IF ELECTED, AS A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (“PROMISOR”), AGREE TO TRULY HOLD MYSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO MY CONSTITUENTS BY MAKING LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE MY CAMPAIGN PROMISES AND SUBJECTING MYSELF TO THE BELOW ANTI-CORRUPTION PROVISIONS AND PENALTIES NOT CURRENTLY ENFORCEABLE AGAINST OR APPLIED TO ANY CANDIDATE FOR OR MEMBER OF CONGRESS.
IN ORDER TO MAKE THESE PROMISES LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE, I SHALL ENTER INTO A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT WITH [NAME OF STATE FOLLOWED BY DISTRICT NUMBER LLC] [E.G. MINNESOTA SIXTH LLC] (“MINNESOTA SIXTH”), A MINNESOTA LLC ESTABLISHED FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ENFORCING THIS CONTRACT, PROVIDING THAT MINNESOTA SIXTH HAS, AT ITS OWN EXPENSE, INVESTIGATED MY INTENT TO ABIDE BY THESE PROMISES, AND BELIEVES I WILL ABIDE BY THESE PROMISES AND THAT, IF I BREAK ANY OF THESE PROMISES, I AGREE TO PAY TO MINNESOTA SIXTH, OUT OF MY PERSONAL FUNDS, LIQUIDATED DAMAGES AS SET FORTH BELOW.
AS PROVIDED IN ITS ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION, FOR ANY SUCH RECOVERY MINNESOTA SIXTH RECEIVES FROM ANY CANDIDATE OR MEMBER FOR BREACH OF CONTRACT, AFTER PAYING ALL APPLICABLE EXPENSES AND TAXES, MINNESOTA SIXTH SHALL DISTRIBUTE ALL REMAINING AMOUNTS RECOVERED TO CHARITIES THAT SERVE, PRINCIPALLY, THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE OF THE SIXTH DISTRICT. THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION OF MINNESOTA SIXTH SHALL PROVIDE THAT ITS MANAGING MEMBERS SHALL ALL BE RESIDENTS OF THE DISTRICT WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE PRINCIPLES SET FORTH IN THIS AGREEMENT.
Prohibitions and Promises –
1. No Conflict of Interest Campaign Contributions. Promisor shall not intentionally and directly solicit or Knowingly Accept any campaign contributions that create a conflict of interest (“COI Contributions”) with Promisor’s duty to represent, exclusively, the people of the District Promisor represents.
2 Lifetime Ban on lobbying Congress. Promisor agrees to self-impose and adhere to a lifetime ban on Lobbying back to any member or staff of the United States House of Representatives or Senate for compensation after serving any congressional term.
3. Definitions and Terms –
Knowingly Accept means to expressly accept or Impliedly Accept any contribution of any legal tender.
Impliedly Accept means to spend or cash any contribution, or to fail to expressly reject any contribution within 90 days of its receipt.
Express rejection may be made in any manner reasonably calculated to give notice to donor and the public.
COI Contributions are campaign funds donated to Promisor by any political party, Political Action Committee (PAC), labor union, for-profit corporation, Special Interest Group, or any individual not residing in the State of Minnesota who is not also a Family Member of Promisor.
Special Interest Groups are industry or advocacy associations or groups that focus on particular issues, or any other group that seeks through its contributions to influence legislation.
Family Member means any family member or immediate relative as defined by the Office of Personnel Management under 75 C.F.R. § 33491 (2010).
Lobbying shall have the same meaning as set forth in the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 as amended.
4. Penalties/Damages in the Event of Breach.
Section 1. Promisor must pay out of Promisor’s personal funds, liquidated damages to Minnesota Sixth in the amount of twice the amount of the contribution in question, and furthermore, if elected, Promisor must pay liquidated damages in the amount of Promisor’s entire congressional salary for Promisor’s term as Member.
Section 2. Promisor must pay out of Promisor’s personal funds liquidated damages to Minnesota Sixth in an amount equal to Promisor’s entire earnings to date as a Member plus the agreed upon amount of Promisor’s first year salary as lobbyist.
Signed: _______________________ Date
Note: this document is a pledge to be signed by the candidate. The contract with the LLC is to have substantially similar language and is to be signed by both the candidate and a managing member of the LLC and shall state the consideration provided by the LLC to the candidate including the LLC’s efforts conducted at its own expense to ascertain the candidate’s intent to comply with the pledge, to explain the pledge to the candidate and his or her staff and to the public, and the LLC’s ongoing efforts to ascertain compliance with the pledge by all candidates in the district who sign it.
I like it!