Jeff Flake on Government Reform
Republican Representative (AZ-6); Senate challenger
Opposes Open Government initiative for non-partisan primary
Q: The Open Government initiative that we could see on the November ballot, which would put all candidates on the same primary ballot, what do you think of it?
A: Not a big fan. They did it in California. They thought that it would result in a lot
more competitive general elections there. It looks as if there will be only a few, if any, that will really turn out that way. I kind of like the nominating process we already have. It seems that when we go down this road--like we did with
Clean Elections--hoping for something better, it always turns out worse.
Q: Proponents of the initiative hope it would address gridlock. How can we do that?
A: Right now, when you look at the gridlock we have, what's frustrating
is that we passed a budget and some people may not like it, but it's a serious budget. And everyone knows that politics is the art of compromise. You have to compromise on some issues if you want to pass something.
Source: The Sahuarita Sun on 2012 Arizona Senate debates
, May 29, 2012
End the egregious practice of earmarking
For years I've been railing against the egregious practice of earmarking in Congress. After 10 years it's great to see the new leaders in Washington have gotten the message. Both the House and Senate have instituted moratoriums on earmarks this Congress.
It's true that earmarks make up only 1-2% of the federal budget, but earmarks leverage higher spending elsewhere. While I'm happy that we've sworn off earmarks in the 112th Congress, we still have much work to do to get on the right financial track.
Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, jeffflake.com, "Issues"
, Jul 16, 2011
Voted NO on Senate pay raise.
Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for:Amends the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act of 1968 to increase by $50,000 the gross compensation paid all employees in the office of a Senator. Increases by $96,000 per year the aggregate amount authorized for the offices of the Majority and Minority Whip.
- expense allowances;
- representation allowances for the Majority and Minority Leaders;
- salaries of specified officers, employees, and committees (including the Committee on Appropriations);
- agency contributions for employee benefits;
- inquiries and investigations;
- the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control;
- the Offices of the Secretary and of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate;
- miscellaneous items;
- the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
- official mail costs.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of
Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.
Reference: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act;
; vote number 2009-H413
on Jun 19, 2009
Voted YES on requiring lobbyist disclosure of bundled donations.
Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require a registered lobbyist who bundles contributions totaling over $5,000 to one covered recipient in one quarter to:
"Covered recipient" includes federal candidates, political party committees, or leadership PACs [but not regular PACs].
- file a quarterly report with Congress; and
- notify the recipient.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This measure will more effectively regulate, but does not ban, the practice of registered lobbyists bundling together large numbers of campaign contributions. This is a practice that has already taken root in Presidential campaigns. "Bundling" contributions which the lobbyist physically receives and forwards to the candidate, or which are credited to the lobbyist through a specific tracking system put in place by the candidate. This bill requires quarterly reporting on bundled contributions.
We ultimately need to move to assist the public financing of campaigns, as soon
as we can. But until we do, the legislation today represents an extremely important step forward.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This legislation does not require that bundled contributions to political action committees, often referred to as PACs, be disclosed. Why are PACs omitted from the disclosure requirements in this legislation?
If we are requiring the disclosure of bundled contributions to political party committees, those same disclosure rules should also apply to contributions to PACs. Party committees represent all members of that party affiliation. PACs, on the other hand, represent more narrow, special interests. Why should the former be exposed to more sunshine, but not the latter?
The fact that PACs give more money to Democrats is not the only answer. Time and again the majority party picks favorites, when what the American people want is more honesty and more accountability.
Reference: Honest Leadership and Open Government Act;
Bill H R 2316
; vote number 2007-423
on May 24, 2007
Voted NO on granting Washington DC an Electoral vote & vote in Congress.
Bill to provide for the treatment of the District of Columbia as a Congressional district for representation in the House of Representatives, and in the Electoral College. Increases membership of the House from 435 to 437 Members beginning with the 110th Congress. [Political note: D.C. currently has a non-voting delegate to the US House. Residents of D.C. overwhelmingly vote Democratic, so the result of this bill would be an additional Democratic vote in the House and for President].
Proponents support voting YES because:
This bill corrects a 200-year-old oversight by restoring to the citizens of the District of Columbia the right to elect a Member of the House of Representatives who has the same voting rights as all other Members.
Residents of D.C. serve in the military. They pay Federal taxes each year. Yet they are denied the basic right of full representation in the House of Representatives.
The District of Columbia was created to prevent any State from unduly influencing the operations of the Federal Government. However, there is simply no evidence that the Framers of the Constitution thought it was necessary to keep D.C. residents from being represented in the House by a voting Member.
Opponents support voting NO because:
The proponents of this bill in 1978 believed that the way to allow D.C. representation was to ratify a constitutional amendment. The Founders of the country had the debate at that time: Should we give D.C. a Representative? They said no. So if you want to fix it, you do it by making a constitutional amendment.
Alternatively, we simply could have solved the D.C. representation problem by retroceding, by giving back part of D.C. to Maryland. There is precedent for this. In 1846, Congress took that perfectly legal step of returning present-day Arlington to the State of Virginia.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
Bill H R 1905
; vote number 2007-231
on Apr 19, 2007
Voted NO on protecting whistleblowers from employer recrimination.
Expands the types of whistleblower disclosures protected from personnel reprisals for federal employees, particularly on national security issues.
Proponents support voting YES because:
This bill would strengthen one of our most important weapons against waste, fraud and abuse, and that is Federal whistleblower protections. Federal employees are on the inside and offer accountability. They can see where there is waste going on or if there is corruption going on.
One of the most important provisions protects national security whistleblowers. There are a lot of Federal officials who knew the intelligence on Iraq was wrong. But none of these officials could come forward. If they did, they could have been stripped of their security clearances, or they could have been fired. Nobody blew the whistle on the phony intelligence that got us into the Iraq war.
Opponents support voting NO because:
It is important that personnel within the intelligence community have
appropriate opportunities to bring matters to Congress so long as the mechanisms to do so safeguard highly sensitive classified information and programs. The bill before us suffers from a number of problems:
Reference: Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act;
Bill H R 985
; vote number 2007-153
on Mar 14, 2007
- The bill would conflict with the provisions of the existing Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998, which protecting sensitive national security information from unauthorized disclosure to persons not entitled to receive it.
- The bill violates the rules of the House by encouraging intelligence community personnel to report highly sensitive intelligence matters to committees other than the Intelligence Committees. The real issue is one of protecting highly classified intelligence programs and ensuring that any oversight is conducted by Members with the appropriate experiences, expertise, and clearances.
- This bill would make every claim of a self-described whistleblower, whether meritorious or not, subject to extended and protracted litigation.
Voted YES on requiring photo ID for voting in federal elections.
Requires that to vote in federal elections, an individual present a government-issued, current, and valid photo identification. After 2010, that ID must require providing proof of US citizenship as a condition for issuance. An individual who does not present such an ID is permitted to cast a provisional ballot, and then present the required ID within 48 hours. Exempts from this requirement the absentee ballot of any eligible overseas military voter on active duty overseas.
Proponents support voting YES because:
The election system is the bedrock that our Republic is built on and its security and oversight is of paramount concern. Only US citizens have the right to vote in Federal elections, but our current system does not give State election officials the tools they need to ensure that this requirement is being met.
This bill is designed to increase participation by ensuring that each legitimate vote will be counted and not be diluted by fraud. There are many elections
in this country every cycle that are decided by just a handful of votes. How can we be certain that these elections, without measures to certify the identity of voters, are not being decided by fraudulent votes?
Opponents support voting NO because:
There is something we can all agree on: only Americans get to vote, and they only get to vote once. But what we are talking about in this bill is disenfranchising many of those Americans. It is already a felony for a non-American to vote. We had hearings and what we found out was that the issue of illegal aliens voting basically does not occur.
The impact of this will disproportionately affect poor people and African Americans, because many are too poor to have a car and they do not have a license. We have no evidence there is a problem. We have ample evidence that this will disenfranchise many Americans. This is the measure to disenfranchise African Americans, Native Americans. It is wrong and we will not stand for it.
Reference: Federal Election Integrity Act;
Bill H R 4844
; vote number 2006-459
on Sep 20, 2006
Voted NO on restricting independent grassroots political committees.
A "527 organization" is a political committee which spends money raised independently of any candidate's campaign committee, in support or opposition of a candidate or in support or opposition of an issue. Well-known examples include MoveOn.org (anti-Bush) and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (anti-Kerry). Voting YES would regulate 527s as normal political committees, which would greatly restrict their funding, and hence would shift power to candidate committees and party committees. The bill's opponents say: This legislation singles out 527 organizations in an effort to undermine their fundraising and is a direct assault on free speech.This bill would obstruct the efforts of grassroots organizations while doing nothing to address the culture of corruption in Congress.H.R. 513 is an unbalanced measure that favors corporate trade associations over independent advocates. Corporate interests could continue spending unlimited and undisclosed dollars for political purposes while independent
organizations would be subject to contribution limits and source restrictions.H.R. 513 also removes all limits on national and state party spending for Congressional candidates in primary or general elections--an unmasked attack on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and clear evidence that the true intention in advancing H.R. 513 is not reform, but partisan advantage in political fundraising.
The bill's proponents say:
Reference: Federal Election Campaign Act amendment "527 Reform Act";
; vote number 2006-088
on Apr 5, 2006
- 527s' primary purpose is to influence the election or defeat of a Federal candidate. They have to file with the FEC because after Watergate in 1974 this Congress passed a law that said if you are going to have a political committee whose primary purpose is to influence an election, then they have to register with the FEC.
- The FEC ignored 30 years of congressional actions and Supreme Court jurisprudence in allowing 527s to evade the law. In short, the FEC failed to do its job and regulate 527s as required under the Watergate statute.
Voted YES on prohibiting lawsuits about obesity against food providers.
The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act ("The Cheesburger Bill") would prevent civil liability actions against food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers, sellers, and trade associations for claims relating to a person's weight gain, obesity, or any health condition associated with weight gain or obesity. A YES vote would:
Reference: The Cheesburger Bill;
Bill HR 554
; vote number 2005-533
on Oct 19, 2005
- Prohibit such lawsuits in this act in federal or state courts
- Dismiss any pending lawsuits upon this bill's enactment
- Maintain an individual's right to bring a lawsuit to court for false marketing, advertising or labeling of food when such information led to injury, obesity or weight gain
Voted YES on limiting attorney's fees in class action lawsuits.
Class Action Fairness Act of 2005: Amends the Federal judicial code to specify the calculation of contingent and other attorney's fees in proposed class action settlements that provide for the award of coupons to class members. Allows class members to refuse compliance with settlement agreements or consent decrees absent notice. Prohibits a Federal district court from approving:
Reference: Bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA];
; vote number 2005-038
on Feb 17, 2005
- a proposed coupon settlement absent a finding that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate;
- a proposed settlement involving payments to class counsel that would result in a net monetary loss to class members, absent a finding that the loss is substantially outweighed by nonmonetary benefits; or
- a proposed settlement that provides greater sums to some class members solely because they are closer geographically to the court.
Voted YES on restricting frivolous lawsuits.
Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004: Amends the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to:
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Lamar Smith [R, TX-21];
; vote number 2004-450
on Sep 14, 2004
- require courts to impose sanctions on attorneys, law firms, or parties who file frivolous lawsuits (currently, sanctions are discretionary);
- disallow the withdrawal or correction of pleadings to avoid sanctions;
- require courts to award parties prevailing on motions reasonable expenses and attorney's fees, if warranted;
- authorize courts to impose sanctions that include reimbursement of a party's reasonable litigation costs in connection with frivolous lawsuits; and
- make the discovery phase of litigation subject to sanctions.
Voted NO on campaign finance reform banning soft-money contributions.
Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Overhaul: Vote to pass a bill that would ban soft money contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT, and Meehan D-MA;
Bill HR 2356
; vote number 2002-34
on Feb 14, 2002
Voted YES on banning soft money donations to national political parties.
Support a ban on soft money donations to national political parties but allow up to $10,000 in soft-money donations to state and local parties for voter registration and get-out-the vote activity.
Bill HR 2356
; vote number 2001-228
on Jul 12, 2001
Limit federal power, per the 10th Amendment.
Flake adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement:
As adopted by the General Membership of the Republican Liberty Caucus at its Biannual Meeting held December 8, 2000.
- WHEREAS libertarian Republicans believe in limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility;
- WHEREAS we believe that government has no money nor power not derived from the consent of the people;
- WHEREAS we believe that people have the right to keep the fruits of their labor; and
- WHEREAS we believe in upholding the US Constitution as the supreme law of the land;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:
Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC1 on Dec 8, 2000
- The power of the federal government should be limited, as per the tenth amendment to the US Constitution.
- The US Department of Commerce should be abolished, per the tenth amendment of the US Constitution.
The National Endowment for the Arts should be abolished, per the tenth amendment of the US Constitution.
- The National Endowment for the Humanities should be abolished, per the tenth amendment of the US Constitution.
- The US Department of Housing and Urban Development should be abolished, per the tenth amendment of the US Constitution.
- Subsidies to agricultural and other businesses should be eliminated.
- Corporate taxes should be eliminated simultaneously and proportionally with the elimination of subsidies to businesses.
- Recommendations by the Grace Commission and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) should be reviewed and implemented, where possible, beginning immediately.
- Privatization of government assets, management and services should be implemented for cost-effectiveness wherever applicable.
Unlimited campaign contributions; with full disclosure.
Flake adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement:
The Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:
Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC7 on Dec 8, 2000
- Election campaigns should not be subsidized by tax payers.
- No individual should be compelled to support a political candidate he or she does not support. Government should not empower trade unions to collect funds from their members for use as political contributions without their membersí expressed consent.
- All limits on campaign contributions should be eliminated.
- There should be full and timely public disclosure of all the sources and amounts of all campaign contributions upon their receipt.
Sponsored bill prohibiting non-legislated earmarks.
Flake sponsored prohibiting non-legislated earmarks
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to prohibit Federal agencies from obligating funds for appropriations earmarks included only in congressional reports.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. McCAIN: This bill would prohibit Federal agencies from obligating funds which have been earmarked only in congressional reports. This legislation is designed to help reign in unauthorized, unrequested, run-of-the-mill pork barrel projects.
Report language does not have the force of law. That fact has been lost when it comes to appropriations bills and reports. It has become a standard practice to load up committee reports with literally billions of dollars in unrequested, unauthorized, and wasteful pork barrel projects.
We simply must start making some very tough decisions around here if we are serious about improving our fiscal future.
It is simply not fiscally responsible for us to continue to load up appropriations bills with wasteful and unnecessary spending, and good deals for special interests and their lobbyists. We have had ample opportunities to tighten our belts in this town in recent years, and we have taken a pass each and every time. We can't put off the inevitable any longer.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management & Government Information; hearings held; never came to a vote.
Source: Obligation of Funds Transparency Act (S.1495/H.R.1642) 05-S1495 on Jul 26, 2005
Require Internet disclosure of all earmarks.
Flake signed H.R.5258& S.3335
- Establishes a free public searchable website, listing all requests by Members of Congress for congressionally directed spending items (congressional earmarks).
- Requires each congressional committee, within five calendar days of receipt of a request for a congressional earmark from a Member of Congress, to provide the initial information regarding that request that is required to be placed on the website.
- Makes it out of order to consider any legislation unless it meets the requirements of this Act.
The website shall be comprised of a database including the following information, in searchable format, for each earmark:
Source: Earmark Transparency Act 10-HR5258 on May 11, 2010
- The fiscal year in which the item would be funded.
- The number of the bill or joint resolution for which the request is made, if available.
- The amount of the initial request made by the Member of Congress.
- The amount approved by the committee of jurisdiction.
The amount carried in the bill or joint resolution (or accompanying report) as passed.
- The name of the department or agency, and the account or program, through which the item will be funded.
- The name and the State or district of the Member of Congress who made the request.
- The name and address of the intended recipient.
- The type of organization (public, private nonprofit, or private for profit entity) of the intended recipient.
- The project name, description, and estimated completion date.
- A justification of the benefit to taxpayers.
- Whether the request is for a continuing project and if so, when funds were first appropriated for such project.
- A description, if applicable, of all non-Federal sources of funding.
- Its current status in the legislative process
Ban stock trading based on Congressional insider knowledge.
Flake co-sponsored STOCK Act
Congressional Summary:Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act): Amends the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit purchase or sale of either securities or commodities by a person in possession of material nonpublic information regarding pending or prospective legislative action.
- Amends the Ethics in Government Act to require formal disclosure of certain securities and commodities futures transactions.
- Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to subject to its registration, reporting, and disclosure requirements all political intelligence activities, contacts, firms, and consultants.
Bill explanation (ProCon.org, "Insider Trading by Congress", Feb. 3, 2012):
Source: H1148/S1871 11-S1871 on Nov 15, 2011
- On Mar. 17, 2011, Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the STOCK Act where it gained nine co-sponsors by Nov. 4, 2011.
- On Nov. 13, 2011, the TV show "60 Minutes" reported that several members of
Congress allegedly used insider information for personal gain. The STOCK Act received 84 additional House co-sponsors in the five days following the report, and Scott Brown (R-MA) filed the STOCK Act in the Senate on Nov. 15, 2011. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also filed a variation of the STOCK Act in the Senate on Nov. 17, 2011.
- On Jan. 24, 2012, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama said "Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow."
- Immediately after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters, "I think people should have enough sense not to do it [insider trading] without legislation, but I will support legislation."
- On Feb. 2, 2012, a revised version of the STOCK Act passed in the Senate by a vote of 96-3 with Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) dissenting.
No recess appointments without Congressional approval.
Flake co-sponsored Resolution against Presidential appointments
Congressional Summary: Resolution Disapproving of the President's appointment of four officers during a period when no recess of the Congress for a period of more than three days and expressing that those appointments were made in violation of the Constitution.
Text of Resolution:
- Whereas the Constitution states, 'Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days';
- Whereas, on January 4, 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Richard Cordray to be the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and appointed Sharon Block, Terence Flynn, and Richard Griffin to the National Labor Relations Board; and
- Whereas these appointments broke the long-established precedent of Congress being in recess for more than three days before the President can make a recess appointment:
Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives disapproves of the President's appointment of four officers when no recess of the Congress for a period of more than three days was authorized.
OnTheIssues Notes:Pres. Obama attempted to appoint Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in May 2011; House Republicans disapproved of Ms. Warren. House Speaker John Boehner disallowed the Senate's adjournment resolution, which meant the Senate was legally not adjourned and Pres. Obama could not make a "recess appointment" which would otherwise be allowed. This Resolution brings the issue to the fore again, for another set of Obama appointments for which House Republicans disapprove.
Source: H.RES.509 12-HR509 on Jan 10, 2012
Sponsored prohibiting IRS audits targeting Tea Party political groups.
Flake sponsored Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act
Congressional summary:: Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act: Requires the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) standards and definitions in effect on January 1, 2010, for determining whether an organization qualifies for tax-exempt status as an organization operated exclusively for social welfare to apply to such determinations after enactment of this Act. Prohibits any regulation, or other ruling, not limited to a particular taxpayer relating to such standards and definitions.
Proponent's argument in favor (Heritage Action, Feb. 26, 2014): H.R. 3865 comes in the wake of an attack on the Tea Party and other conservative organizations. The current IRS regulation is so broad and ill-defined that the IRS applies a "facts and circumstances" test to determine what constitutes "political activity" by an organization. This test can vary greatly depending on the subjective views of the particular IRS bureaucrat applying the test.
IRS employees took advantage of this vague and subjective standard to unfairly delay granting tax-exempt status to Tea Party organizations and subject them to unreasonable scrutiny.
Text of sample IRS letter to Tea Party organizations:We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for exemption. Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or officer whose name is listed on your application.
Source: H.R.3865 & S.2011 14-S2011 on Feb 11, 2014
- Have you conducted or will you conduct candidate forums or other events at which candidates running for public offices are invited to speak?
- Have you attempted or will you attempt to influence the outcome of specific legislation?
- Do you directly or indirectly communicate with members of legislative bodies?
- Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for public office or political party?
Require all laws to cite Constitutional authorization.
Flake signed Enumerated Powers Act
A bill to require Congress to specify the source of authority under the United States Constitution for the enactment of laws.
Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise explanation of the specific constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not affect any other available relief.
Constitutional Authority for This Act: This Act proposes to establish new procedures by which legislation shall be considered by Congress and is enacted pursuant to the power granted Congress under article I, section 5, clause 2, of the United States Constitution establishing that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.
Source: S.1319&HR450 2009-S1319 on Jun 22, 2009
Repeal automatic Congressional pay raises.
Flake signed Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act
A bill to prevent Members of Congress from receiving any automatic pay adjustment in 2010.
For purposes of the provision of law amended by section 704(a)(2)(B) of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 (5 U.S.C. 5318 note), no adjustment under section 5303 of title 5, United States Code, shall be considered to have taken effect in fiscal year 2010 in the rates of pay under the General Schedule.
Source: S.542&HR.156 2009-S542 on Jan 6, 2009
Page last updated: Oct 07, 2018