Back to The Issues
March 4, 2022

Government Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform

John Marty’s career in the senate is perhaps best defined by his nationally-recognized efforts to improve democracy in Minnesota, opening up the political process, taking on the corporate powers and the special interest money, and fighting conflicts of interest.

John Marty’s career in the senate is perhaps best defined by his nationally-recognized efforts to improve democracy in Minnesota, opening up the political process, taking on the corporate powers and the special interest money, and fighting conflicts of interest. His leadership and personal commitment to these issues has led many to call him the conscience of the Senate.

Government Ethics. John Marty authored Minnesota’s landmark law banning all gifts from lobbyists and interest groups to public officials. He has worked to eliminate conflicts of interest from our political process.

No special interest money. There is a critical factor that separates John Marty from politics as usual: special interest money. John Marty does not accept any PAC or Lobbyist contributions and no large $500 or $1000 contributions. Money has infiltrated our political system, and one’s ability to speak truth to power is compromised when that power bankrolls campaigns. Powerful interest groups regularly make generous financial contributions – often to both Republican and DFL legislative caucuses and candidates. Those contributions buy access and goodwill, which leads to favorable treatment. Special treatment doesn’t necessarily mean support of the donor’s issue; sometimes it is something as subtle as toning down criticism of it. No matter how indirect the benefit, selling political favors to the highest bidder is wrong.

If you take contributions from the insurance industry or the pharmaceutical lobby, it becomes much more difficult to fully challenge them. John does not accept any special interest contributions. He has been consistent in standing up to those powerful interests and fighting for real health reform in Minnesota. Senator Marty serves the public interest, not the special interests.

“Clean Money” Campaign Finance Reform. Campaign finance reform may not be the most glamorous issue, but it is critically important.  It’s about the future of our democracy, and John Marty has led the fight to take special interest money out of politics. John is working for “Clean Money” comprehensive campaign finance reform, which is more urgent than ever in light of the misguided Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

The Citizens United ruling is, like Plessy v. Ferguson (“separate but equal”), one of the most tragic decisions in U.S. History. Like Plessy, Citizens United must be overturned, or we need a constitutional amendment to do so.

Senator Marty seeks to remove all special interest money from the political process – no PAC money, no soft money, no lobbyist contributions, no dark money, no mega-contributions from anyone. Campaigns would be funded at a rational level with public financing. If anyone is going to “own” politicians, it ought to be the public, not special interests.

A Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo. The corrupting influence of special interest money in our elections affects virtually every issue in politics. To end this corruption, we need to clarify that the First Amendment was not intended to allow corporations, wealthy individuals, and interest groups to buy clout in the political system through massive contributions and dark money expenditures. Senator Marty is the lead author of legislation calling on the U.S. Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to overturn “Citizens United” and require that Congress and the states regulate political spending so that every person, regardless of their economic status, has access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence elections.

Conflict of Interest. Marty introduced legislation making it a conflict of interest for a legislator to vote on an issue after accepting a large campaign contribution from a lobbyist or interest group. No sports league would allow a team owner to give a financial “contribution” to the referees before a game. That same principle should apply to our political system.

Clean Government. For years, John has fought for legislation to close the “Revolving Door” between public office and lobbying. As your Senator, he continues to push for legislation that would prohibit legislators, constitutional officers and state agency heads from lobbying after leaving office.

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). John Marty has authored RCV legislation as an important step to offering Minnesotans a chance to support the candidates of their choice. Voters should have an opportunity to register their first preference, without concern for a “wasted vote” or unintentionally becoming a “spoiler” for a second preference. RCV is gaining momentum. It’s smart. And it’s good for democracy.

Stopping Omnibus “Garbage” Bills. Senator Marty has been a consistent and vocal opponent of the unconstitutional practice of combining large amounts of unrelated legislation into single bills. In addition to violating the state constitution, this practice allows lobbyists and legislative leaders to slip favorite positions into law with little awareness or accountability. Because of the difficulty of changing these routine practices at the capitol, Marty has focused his attention on building public awareness and opposition to force change either through the courts or at the capitol.

Open Government. John has been the strongest advocate in the legislature for openness in government. He believes the public business ought to be conducted in the public eye. He has been working to open conference committee negotiations as well as negotiations between legislative leaders and the governor. John will continue to keep the doors open for this important public business.

Public Right to Know. Senator Marty has worked to close loopholes in Minnesota’s financial disclosure laws covering public officials and lobbyists. For example, under current law, any lobbyist or interest group could pay a legislator an unlimited amount of money for “consulting” and there is no way that the public could even be aware of the financial relationship! Likewise, a lobbyist could give every single Minnesota legislator a $200 campaign contribution, without public disclosure, or any way for the public to know about it. When highly paid lobbyists, whose job is to persuade public officials, give money to those officials, the public has a right to know about it. This legislation would expose these transactions so that the public is aware of the conflict of interest.