That’s why I recently introduced H.R. 3491, a bill that would impose a lifetime ban on former Members of Congress engaging in lobbying contacts with covered executive branch officials, or any Member, officer, or employee of the House or Senate. Violators would be subject to penalties of up to $50,000 in fines and a year in prison. While existing laws ban Senators from lobbying for two years after leaving office and Members of the House for a year, a lifetime ban is necessary to help ensure that those running for office and serving in our government cannot one day take advantage of their public office to lobby the federal government.
We also know that corporate influence in the political arena extends well beyond lobbying Congress. The Supreme Court’s decision last year in Citizens United opened the floodgates for profligate corporate spending to influence election outcomes. In addition, by opening the door to Independent Expenditure-Only Committees (known as Super PACs), Citizens United allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts on elections without any requirement to disclose their activities. It’s not hard to see just how much of a threat this poses to the basic principle of “one person, one vote.”
I recently joined 25 of my colleagues in the House as a cosponsor of H.J.RES.78, which would reverse Citizens United and amend the Constitution to ensure that Congress and the states retain the right to limit or eliminate corporate spending in elections. The Constitution has been amended numerous times throughout history to protect and expand the voting rights of women, minorities, and young people, and now it’s time to do the same to ensure that the voices of individual voters are not drowned out by wealthy corporate interests.
Lastly, we must ensure that Members of Congress play by the same rules as everyone else. If a corporate executive buys stock based on information not available to the general public, they get sent to jail, but Members of Congress can do the same thing today with impunity. Earlier this year, a study found that from 1985 to 2001, investments made by Members of the House of Representatives performed 6% better than the market each year. In their report, the researchers opined that this performance could be a result of Members of Congress capitalizing on their “access to non-public information that could have a substantial impact on certain businesses, industries or the economy as a whole.”
In order to rebuild public trust, it is imperative for Members of Congress to not even appear as if they are personally benefitting from their public office. I am a cosponsor of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, H.R. 1148, which will make this goal a reality and bar Members of Congress, their staff, and the executive branch from buying or selling securities, commodity futures, or swaps based on information that is not available to the general public. Passing this bill will make it clear that public service is an end in itself, not a means to personal profit.
Even as we face mounting challenges at home and abroad, Washington has continued with business as usual – leaving most people justifiably frustrated and disillusioned with our political process. What it takes to restore faith in our government is simple, but it won’t be easy. Congress will have to enact far-reaching reforms that show we are serious about governing, even if it means giving up some of the personal benefits that come with public service. It’s time we get to work."

As a former Rhode Islander,  who worked on David Cicilline's campaign, I'm proud of the job he's been doing for lil'Rhody. He is also brave to publish this thoughtful piece in last Tuesday's DailyKos, a notoriously liberal website!