Hart calls for anti-corruption bill on campaign finance, lobbying, gerrymandering

By: - October 22, 2020 2:04 pm

2nd Congressional District candidate Rita Hart, a Democrat, spoke to the Greater Des Moines Partnership on Oct. 22, 2020. (Screenshot of Partnership event)

Iowa congressional candidate Rita Hart said Thursday if she wins the election, she hopes her first vote is to support an anti-corruption bill.

“It’s so important that we reinstill faith in the system,” Hart told the Greater Des Moines Partnership in response to a question asking what bill she would put in place if it were only up to her. “And right now, I see so much cynicism. I see so much division.

“I see a longing for people to get back to a place where we not only didn’t see so much division in the country, but that we had faith in our public leaders,” Hart added. 

Hart, a Democrat, is running against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks for the 2nd Congressional District seat representing southeast Iowa. Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat, is retiring.

“I’d like to see an anti-corruption bill that included campaign finance reform,” Hart said. “It’s so crucial that we get that done, (with a bill that ) that eliminates gerrymandering,” which is the practice of changing voting districts to favor one party. 

Hart said a redistricting reform bill should resemble Iowa’s system, which has the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency draw the proposed districts. 

Without a system that ensures it isn’t “hopelessly Democrat or hopelessly Republican, Hart said, “people soon get cynical about that and they feel that their vote doesn’t count and that there is no way to hold accountable their representatives.”

Hart said such a bill should ban members of Congress from ever lobbying at that level. She also wants to ban members of Congress from owning “individually held stocks.”

“I think if we could take some steps in that direction, that would help restore our faith that people who go into public office are there to help people, rather than to help themselves,” Hart added. 

Hart’s appearance came in in the final days of a hotly contested presidential election and a highly partisan fight for control of the two chambers of Congress.

Her comments about political division in the country came hours after former President Barack Obama pointedly criticized President Donald Trump’s performance in office, including his response to the pandemic. At one point, Obama noted the president’s television ratings for his appearances had dropped. That was a reference to Trump’s frequent remarks about ratings for his TV appearances as president, and as host of the reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” before he was elected. 

A presidential candidates debate scheduled for Thursday night will include mute buttons for the candidates’ microphones to control interruptions of the other candidate.

The first debate arranged by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debate including steady interruptions by Trump, and some by Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who called the president a “clown.” A second debate was canceled when the commission announced it would be virtual because Trump had contracted COVID-19, and Trump objected to the format. 

Trump this week walked off the set of CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview recording early when he objected to intense questioning by CBS anchor Lesley Stahl about his response to the coronavirus pandemic, a central issue in the campaign. He then posted a video of the interview Thursday, several days before CBS was scheduled to air it. 



The Greater Des Moines Partnership’s candidate series, in cooperation with the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and the Young Professionals Connection, wraps up Oct. 29 with a session featuring Sen. Randy Feenstra, a Republican who is running for the northwest Iowa 4th Congressional District seat against Democrat J.D. Scholten

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.