Testimony of Karen Hobert Flynn on H.R. 1’s Executive Ethics Provisions Today Before the House Oversight Committee

Today at 10:00 a.m. Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform at its hearing “H.R. 1, For the People Act: Strengthening Ethics Rules for the Executive Branch” in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Her full written testimony was submitted to the Committee in advance of the hearing.

Flynn’s testimony emphasizes the crisis of our democracy under the Trump Administration:

We now face a democracy crisis with many similarities to the Watergate era, and H.R. 1 is a comprehensive and effective solution to address the rampant corruption, conflicts of interest, and abuses of power that have significantly worsened in the last two years under the Trump administration. The timing of this legislation has never been more important as Americans grow more frustrated and cynical about our state of politics. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have called, written, and visited the offices of their Members of Congress about H.R. 1 to demand an end to the abuses of power and corruption in the current administration. While every presidential administration in our nation’s history has had various ethical challenges, never before have we seen such corruption and a lack of concern for executive branch ethics rules as we have seen with the Trump administration.

The testimony outlines the national appetite for democracy reforms, the wave of those reforms being enacted at the state and local level, and how the executive ethics sections of H.R. 1 being considered by the Oversight Committee would address aspects of the current crisis as well as future threats to our democracy. Flynn’s testimony goes on to stress that the final legislation must be expanded to included conflict of interest rules to cover the President and Vice President.

With regard to the H.R. 1 provisions that are within the Committee’s jurisdiction, Common Cause has supported many of the underlying bills that are incorporated into Title VIII of H.R. 1, as well as several other key policies. At the outset, let me state that it is very important to provide new conflict of interest rules that cover the President and Vice President. We are aware that H.R. 1 currently recognizes this problem, and we believe H.R. 1 must provide a solution to this problem. We urge that the final version of H.R. 1 contain new conflict of interest rules that would prevent the spectacle of the American people never knowing whether presidential decisions are being made in the nation’s interests or the president’s personal financial interests.

The testimony goes on to outline and advocate for the sweeping set of democracy reforms, beyond those dealing with executive branch ethics, that would strengthen our democracy by getting big money out of politics, empower voters and secure our elections, as well as curbing corruption and making government more accountable to the people.

Flynn ultimately closes here testimony with a call to Members of Congress to take advantage of the opportunity to be on the correct side of history as they vote on these reforms.

You can be on the correct side of history and support reforms that strengthen our democracy and empower the voices of all Americans, or you can be on the side of the status quo and turn a blind eye to conflicts of interest, corruption, and abuse of power. For nearly 50 years, Common Cause has helped bring to public attention the ethical lapses of leaders in both political parties in states and in Washington, D.C. It’s a Republican in the White House now, but in five or 10 years, there might be a Democrat in the White House who engages in significant ethics abuses and undermines the rule of law. It’s past time for Congress to enact strong ethics and other democracy reform laws because no American is above the law, not even the President.

To watch the hearing on the House Oversight Committee website, click here.

To read Flynn’s full written testimony to the Committee, click here.