As Governor, I will prioritize transparency and trust. Vermonters expect nothing less because the truth is that our state is next to last if not last in the nation in terms of overall transparency and accountability.
We’re one of only 3 states that don’t require disclosure of relevant financial information from all candidates for office.
We’re one of only 7 states that don’t have an ethics commission.
We’re one of 17 states that don’t have any rules aimed at closing the revolving door between the public officials and lobbyists.
And we’re one of the remaining states to allow direct corporate contributions, which have been illegal at the federal level for over 100 years.
On ethics and accountability, national watchdog groups have ranked us 50 out of 50. When it comes to promoting and protecting the integrity of our government, our laws and institutions just don’t measure up. With that in mind, this is what we must do:
We must finally eliminate direct corporate contributions to state candidates. The federal government and 22 states prohibit direct corporate contributions to candidates running for office. It is time for Vermont to catch up and prohibit corporate contributions to political campaigns. This will also eliminate the “single source” loophole. Currently, an individual who has made the maximum allowable personal contribution to a campaign is allowed to make additional contributions from LLCs or other business entities that they control. We need to make sure that corporations can’t cut checks directly to campaigns.
We must create a real ethics commission that applies to all legislators and executive officials. Vermont ranks last in the nation on ethics mainly because we lack an organized body tasked with overseeing ethical guidelines. That has to finally change. We should have an independent ethics commission with one full-time commissioner and several staff accountants. An Ethics Commission should have guidelines on what is ethical covering everything from nepotism to interest in government contracting decisions, and must explicitly prohibit legislators and executive officials from being involved in decisions that present clear conflicts of interest.
We must require that all candidates for legislative and executive office, and all executive officials, file a standard disclosure of their financial interests. Vermont is one of only three states that has no requirements at all for disclosure of financial information. That’s why we rank last in the nation for independent measures of accountability and conflicts of interest. Want to see my assets disclosure in full detail? Click here.
We must make Vermont’s system for public financing of elections the most robust in the nation, rather than one of the least effective. In the long term, our state and nation have to move to a true public financing system to eliminate any possible monied influence. We have a long way to go before that -- however, we must take the first step by ensuring our public financing system is effective for those who opt to use it.
We must institute a 2-year cooling off period before former legislators or executive branch officials are allowed to lobby for any organization or work in a sector they were responsible for overseeing.
We must require monthly, rather than quarterly disclosure of campaign funds raised.
We must strengthen laws preventing coordination between campaigns and Super PACs. Even though coordination is technically illegal, it is commonplace. To discourage it, we must lower the legal threshold at which coordination is presumed by courts.
We must ban “Pay-to-Play” Contracts. The State Treasurer is already prohibited from taking a campaign contribution from a party with business before the state. Similar prohibitions should be enacted for all statewide elected officials.
We must provide clear metrics for success and real-time tracking dashboards for accountability. We cannot assess our government effectiveness without clear metrics and transparency. By creating a website that shows Vermonters how our state is tracking, we will both increase the efficiency of the Vermont state government, and help vermonters understand why lawmakers make certain policy and investment decisions.
Requiring all public data that is not privacy or security related, including government contracts and payment amounts, to be published and searchable on-line. This data would include a searchable yearly budget as well as any government contract information to ensure that the government is operating fairly and efficiently.