Seven 2020 Democrats pledge to focus first bill on fighting corruption

click to enlarge Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks during the Young Democrats of America Convention at Union Station, in Indianapolis, July 18, 2019. Buttigieg is one of seven Democratic presidential hopefuls who have promised that their first legislation as president would be an ambitious clean-government bill, earning them the approval of End Citizens United. - MARK FELIX/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Mark Felix/The New York Times
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks during the Young Democrats of America Convention at Union Station, in Indianapolis, July 18, 2019. Buttigieg is one of seven Democratic presidential hopefuls who have promised that their first legislation as president would be an ambitious clean-government bill, earning them the approval of End Citizens United.
By Alexander Burns
New York Times News Service


Seven Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, have promised that their first legislation as president would be an ambitious clean-government bill, earning their campaigns an influential reform group’s stamp of approval.

End Citizens United, a grassroots advocacy group that played a key role in the 2018 midterm elections, said the seven candidates had vowed to prioritize ethics and campaign finance reform in a commitment the group is calling the “Reform First” pledge. The group said it would begin raising money for all seven candidates online and highlight their campaign activities on social media.


In addition to Warren and Buttigieg, the list of supportive Democrats includes three senators — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado — as well as former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana.

“We need sweeping anti-corruption and voting rights reform to make voting easier and more secure and to ensure our democracy works for everyone,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “As president, it will be the first bill I send to Congress.”

O’Rourke said he favored legislation to ban contributions from political action committees, lower barriers to voting, end gerrymandering and impose new restrictions on lobbying.

End Citizens United has more than 4 million members, including half a million donors, and raised nearly $9 million for candidates in last year’s elections. During that campaign, it urged candidates to reject contributions from corporate PACs and helped persuade Democratic congressional leaders to introduce a reform bill as the first legislation of the new House majority.


Officials with End Citizens United said its fundraising and promotional activities for the presidential candidates would begin immediately.

Tiffany Muller, president of the group, said getting involved in the presidential race was an essential next step. Calling President Donald Trump “the most corrupt president in American history,” she said the seven candidates who had taken End Citizen United’s 2020 pledge had shown a distinctive commitment to the group’s agenda.

End Citizens United said other Democrats could be added later to its list of approved candidates. Most of the 2020 presidential candidates have been supportive of new ethics and fundraising regulations, though some have previously suggested their first legislation might focus on other areas of policy.

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