Shaheen, Hassan Join Introduction of the For the People Act to Strengthen Democracy & Stem Dark Money Influence & Voter Suppression

March 18, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) helped introduce the For the People Act, a package of comprehensive reforms that would end the influence of special interests in our politics and make government work for the people. The landmark legislation aims to restore the promise of American democracy by guaranteeing every American citizen full access to the ballot by addressing voter intimidation and suppression, which are indicative of systemic racism in our society; ending the influence of dark money in our campaigns; and putting an end to partisan gerrymandering. In addition, it strengthens ethics laws to ensure that public servants work for the public interest, not corporations. Companion legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3.

“For too long, dark money has flowed into our politics unchecked and voter suppression has undermined the core democratic ideals of our nation. We must end voter suppression and the corrosive influence of money in politics to ensure our government reflects and responds to the needs of everyday families across the country,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to join this landmark legislation to remove barriers to the ballot box and ensure every American’s voice, regardless of zip code or skin color, is represented in our government. I’m eager to get these critical reforms signed into law so we can strengthen our democracy and empower Granite State voters.”

“Voting is the foundation of our democracy and the nationwide attacks on the right to vote must end,” said Hassan. “The For People Act would take long-overdue steps to protect the voting rights of all Americans and help put an end to voter suppression tactics that have disproportionately impacted people of color and young people. Importantly, this bill would also help limit the influence of dark money in our politics. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that will help strengthen our democracy and ensure that all voters can participate in our democratic process.”

The For the People Act would:

Make It Easier, Not Harder, To Vote

  • Improve Access and Secure Voting Rights – Expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as cumbersome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. It also makes common-sense reform such as expanding voting by mail and promotes early voting.
  • Promote Integrity – Fights back against the assault on voting rights by reaffirming Congress’s commitment to restoring the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere, and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights.
  • Bolster Election Security – Ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill creates a national strategy to protect our democratic institutions, increases oversight over election vendors, and enhances federal support for state voting system security upgrades, including paper ballot voting systems.

End The Dominance of Big Money In Politics

  • Guarantee Disclosure – Shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring all political organizations to disclose their donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called “social welfare” organizations.
  • Empower Citizens – Builds a 21st-century campaign finance system to increase the power of small donors, reaffirms Congress’s authority to regulate money in politics, and pushes back against Citizens United.
  • Strengthen Oversight – Repairs and restructures the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to break gridlock and enhance enforcement mechanisms, tightens rules on super PACs, and repeals policy riders that block sensible disclosure measures.
  • Prevent Foreign Interference – Incorporates lessons learned from preventing foreign interference in the 2020 election, which includes restricting the exchange of information between candidates and foreign governments, a ban on foreign lobbying, and prohibiting the establishment of corporations to conceal election contributions and donations by foreign nationals.

People Should Choose their Politicians, Not the Other Way Around

  • End partisan gerrymandering – Prevents politicians from picking their voters and ensures that state and congressional districts are not drawn with surgical precision to benefit a political party or specific politician, by requiring states to adopt independent redistricting commissions.

Ensure Public Officials Work For The Public Interest

  • Fortify Ethics Laws and Slow the Revolving Door – Breaks the influence of special interests in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slows the revolving door, prohibits members of Congress from serving on for-profit corporate boards, limits first class travel for government officials, ends taxpayer-financed settlements for officeholders, and requires the President, Vice President, and candidates for those offices to disclose their tax returns.
  • Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – Gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, requires the Supreme Court to create a new ethical code, and closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.

A section-by-section summary of the legislation is available here.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan are leading efforts in Congress to strengthen voting rights. In July, Senators Shaheen and Hassan helped introduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bipartisan bill would restore the Voting Rights Act, end the scourge of minority voter suppression and help preserve the legacy of civil rights hero John Lewis. The legislation was originally introduced in 2019 as the Voting Rights Advancement Act. Shaheen, Hassan and the bipartisan group of Senators reintroduced the legislation to honor Congressman John Lewis. Shaheen also recently joined a group of Senators led by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on a letter to the Biden administration urging the establishment of an office for democracy reform within the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Shaheen and Hassan have also led efforts in Congress to stem the flow of dark money and mitigate the damage created by the destructive Citizens United decision. During the 116th Congress, Senator Shaheen introduced a Constitutional Amendment, with former Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), the Democracy for All Amendment, which Senator Hassan also cosponsored, that would overturn the Citizens United ruling and help get big money out of politics. Shaheen and Hassan have long supported Congressional action to crack down on dark money in politics. Shaheen called out millions of dollars’ worth of dark money ads in New Hampshire and across the country that sought to derailed bipartisan efforts in Congress that Senator Hassan led to end surprise medical billing. A report by the New York Times revealed that the group behind this ad campaign, Doctor Patient Unity, is a front for private equity firms on Wall Street.  

###