When we decided to serve our country in the military, we took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution and American values. If there’s anything that years of service to our country taught us, it’s that honor and integrity are critical to being a servant leader.
So when we launched our campaigns for Congress, we made a promise to voters: when we got to Washington, our only priority would be to represent the people of our districts in Maine and Colorado, without special favors to big donors and special interests. To demonstrate our seriousness, very early in our campaigns, we announced that we would not accept corporate PAC money to finance our elections.
Americans fear that Washington is corrupt. They see that politicians receive big checks and then pass tax breaks for the super wealthy, followed by proposals to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security. In turn, trust in government is at an all-time low. By rejecting corporate PAC money, our constituents know that when we make decisions and advocate for specific policies, we do it because we believe it’s the right thing to do, not to curry favor with big-monied special interests.
We’re not alone. Today, 36 of our freshmen colleagues are rejecting corporate PAC money, and that number continues to grow. Since winning our elections, we have both been asked a cynical question: “OK, now that you won, you’ll start taking those corporate PAC checks now, right?”
For us, the answer is easy: no. Like other oaths we’ve taken in our lives, we made a promise, and we intend to keep it. When we took the oath of office to -- “well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter” -- our constituents will know that when it comes to protecting people with pre-existing conditions or fighting to lower prescription drug prices, top issues we heard about from voters on the campaign trail, we won’t be influenced by insurance or pharmaceutical companies and instead will be thinking about them and their families.
Now, to be clear, our refusal to take corporate money is about our campaigns and our constituents, but it doesn’t mean we’re anti-business. We’ll meet with anyone who wants to work in good faith to strengthen the economy, raise wages, and make sure our constituents have quality, affordable health care. We just don’t need campaign contributions to spur us to do it. We’ll do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Importantly, our voluntary decision to reject corporate money won’t on its own address the structural inequities in our democracy. That’s why we’re proud to support H.R. 1, a robust package of reforms that will make it easier to vote, start to curb the dominance of big money in politics, and ensure our elected officials are working in the public interest. These are key reforms that we’re excited to help lead on, and we hope the Senate will pass and the president will sign this legislation into law. We are mindful of the challenges ahead, but we also know that we’re on the right side of history.
Just like serving our country in the military was an incredible honor, so too is serving in Congress. And this week, when we vote to pass H.R. 1, it is to once again help protect and strengthen the country that we love so dearly.
Grow represents the 6th District of Colorado and Golden represents the 2nd District of Maine.