Gary Johnson on Government Reform

Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor


Citizens United decision protects First Amendment

Q: On Campaign Finance: Support Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited corporate & union campaign contributions?

Clinton: No. Proposes Constitutional amendment to overturn.

Trump: Ambiguous. Condemns money in politics. Praises Justice Scalia who voted in favor of decision.

Johnson: Yes. Considers it a First Amendment issue.

Stein: No.

Source: CampusElect Voter Guide to 2016 Presidential race , Oct 9, 2018

Clinton promises spending programs but doesn't address debt

Clinton: I want us to do more to support people who are struggling to balance family and work. So let's have paid family leave, earned sick days let's be sure we have affordable childcare andˇdebt-free college.

Johnson: I heard Hillary Clinton writing checks we can't possibly cash. Americans don't want their children and grandchildren to inherit a $20 trillion debt, and they didn't hear anything tonight that will keep that from happening. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump are afraid to tell the truth about spending. It's easier to just promise more of it and send the next generation the tab.

Source: 3rd-party commentary on First 2016 Presidential Debate , Sep 26, 2016

Senate should consider Obama's Supreme Court nominee

If you're a Republican who can't stand to vote for Donald Trump, Gary Johnson might be your guy. The way Johnson sees it, there's a "vast middle" of the electorate that would be drawn to his socially liberal, economically conservative platform and turned off by the polarizing figures that are likely to secure the two main parties' nominations.

However, it's clear that if Johnson hopes to offer himself as a serious alternative to the Democratic and Republican nominees, he'll have to polish his presentation a bit. During a discussion about the late Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat, Johnson-- who believes the Senate should consider President Barack Obama's nominee--conceded he couldn't name the remaining eight sitting Supreme Court justices.

Source: Huffington Post, "Meet The Third Party", by Eliot Nelson , Mar 10, 2016

Strong advocate of term limits for governors & Congress

Americans are increasingly frustrated, even angry, that--regardless of which political party is in control--nothing really changes in Washington, DC. The spending continues unchecked. The wars continue. Government keeps taking away more freedom. This disastrous allegiance to the status quo by career politicians is a direct result of the reality that those politicians are more concerned about keeping their jobs than about doing what needs to be done. That's why Gary Johnson is a strong advocate of term limits. Run for office, spend a few years doing the job at hand, and then return to private life. That's what Gary Johnson did as Governor, and that's what Senators and Representatives should do.
Source: 2016 presidential campaign website GaryJohnson2016.com , Jan 11, 2016

New SuperPAC, "Our America PAC", for principled candidates

2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee and chairman of the Our America Initiative, Gary Johnson announced yesterday the formation of a Super PAC called Our America PAC. The new Super PAC has the goal of supporting and ultimately getting into elective public office, principled candidates committed to smaller government, fiscal conservatism and individual liberty. This is separate from the Our America Initiative, which advocates on issues.

Johnson said, "More Americans than ever are ready to take a serious look at candidates who offer real alternatives to business-as-usual. However, the reality of our political system is that voters must first have the opportunity to learn about those candidates and their plans for smaller government and greater freedom. That is the purpose of the Our America PAC. Voters deserve real choices beyond varying shades of big government, and helping provide those choices is our goal. We intend to make a real difference in the upcoming 2014 elections."

Source: The Examiner on 2014 New Mexico Governor race , Dec 12, 2013

Sues to attempt to participate in presidential debate

Johnson has filed a lawsuit to win a spot in the presidential debates, arguing that the private Commission on Presidential Debates, along with the Democratic and the Republican parties, are unfairly blocking him from participating. Only President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are being allowed to debate.

"Someone has to stand up and call this what it is--a rigged system designed entirely to protect and perpetuate the two-party duopoly," says Johnson's spokesman. "That someone will be the Johnson campaign."

The commission has declared that the debates are limited to candidates who are constitutionally eligible to hold the presidency; have achieved ballot access in enough states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election, and have the support of at least 15% of the national electorate. Johnson falls short in the polling category.

Johnson says this amounts to a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act because the collusion limits competition.

Source: US News and World Report, "Presidential Debates" , Sep 24, 2012

Should government be doing this policy in the first place?

Decisions on public policy must be based on a clear vision of the proper role of government. Before deciding how a program should work or how much we should spend, the first question must always be: Should government even be doing it in the first place?

As simple as it sounds, Democrats and Republicans alike long ago stopped asking that question. We hear much about cutting government spending and balancing the budget. But, if you listen closely, these promises are almost never made in the context of making government actually DO LESS. Instead, when you wade through the rhetoric, the politicians promise to keep government doing the same things--just cheaper. That approach, as we have seen via decades of Administrations and Congresses, doesn't work.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 7-8 , Aug 1, 2012

Won 1994 with $510K of own money & not beholden

I ran for governor as the owner of a successful construction company with no political experience whatsoever. When the Republican ballots were tallied in 1994, I'd won with 34% of the vote in a 4-way race.

Of the $540,000 I spent in the primary, $510,000 of it was mine. I did not solicit donations because I did not want to be beholden to anyone or any group. It was easier to focus on my message instead of having to be worried about fundraising.

I said this many times, and I still believe that people who would have given me money would have expected certain things from me. They would have wanted, or even demanded, my signature on legislation that I ultimately vetoed.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 23 , Aug 1, 2012

750 vetoes & contentious relationship with legislature

I earned the nicknames Gary "Veto" Johnson and "Governor No" (I prefer "Governor Know") by vetoing 750 bills. I may have vetoed more bills than all of the other 49 governors in the country at the time. Combined.

Those 750 vetoes didn't include line-item vetoes in state budgets, which I raised to an art form. It was safe to say that I had the most contentious relationship with my legislature of any governor in the country.

I didn't mind for a moment saying "No" so often. I believe that every time you pass a law you take a little bite out of freedom. Although I do not believe that government is ill-intentioned, I strongly believe in less government. I vetoed 750 bills as governor because I abhor the government spending money on programs that show no improvement in our lives and criminalize actions that do not warrant criminalization.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 27-28 , Aug 1, 2012

OpEd: managed to improve the state while slashing the budget

Voters will tell you that the reason Johnson got reelected (and might still be in office if there hadn't been term limits) was that he managed to improve the state while slashing the budget. He vetoed 750 spending bills, knew how to strong-arm the Democratic-controlled state house and senate, and reinvented the state agencies.
Source: Lisa DePaulo in GQ Magazine , Nov 1, 2011

Vetoed more bills than all other governors combined

Q: How do you plan to restore the 10th amendment, hold the federal government only to those enumerated powers in the Constitution and allow states to govern themselves?

PAUL: The responsibility of the president would be to veto every single bill that violates the 10th amendment.

JOHNSON: If anybody doubts my willingness to veto bills, I think I vetoed more bills than any governor in the history of the United States. I think I vetoed more bills than all the other governors in the country combined.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

As governor, vetoed 750 bills

I'm Gary Johnson, former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico. In office, I vetoed 750 bills, cut taxes 14 times & left the state with a $1 billion budget surplus. To learn more about me watch my YouTube video "Who is Gary Johnson?"
Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

Government creates jobs by reducing its role, not expanding

Q: Can a president create jobs without expanding the role of the federal government?

A: As I proved in NM, government creates jobs by reducing its role, not expanding it. Get government out of the way. Government can create certainty. Something that is completely lacking at the moment. Eliminate the cooperate income tax completely and adopt what is being called the Fair Tax: a one-time federal consumption tax.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

"Governor No": 742 total vetoes of bills over two terms

Governor Johnson was one of the most anti-spending governors in New Mexico history. Governor Johnson set a state record for vetoes as Governor, earning the title "Governor No" after 742 total vetoes of bills over two terms. In an interview with John Stossel on Fox News, Governor Johnson bragged that one of his veto messages was "I'm vetoing this piece of legislation because it's just way too long and we don't understand what it says."
Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #9: Johnson , Jul 21, 2011

1996 tort reform: limit punitive damage awards

The Club for Growth supports major reforms to our tort system to restore a more just and less costly balance in tort litigation.

Governor Johnson formed a task force aimed at limiting punitive damage awards in 1996. He also supported the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act that toughened liability standards for securities litigation.

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #9: Johnson , Jul 21, 2011

Unlimited campaign contributions by corporations

In a January 2001 interview with Playboy Magazine, Governor Johnson stated that he opposed campaign contribution limits. "The problem isn't large contributions. The problem is that we don't know who contributed. If you limit contributions from an individual to, say, $1000, then I think just the opposite occurs. Then you have politicians beholden to way too many people." In 2010, Johnson said he favored unlimited contributions by corporations as well.
Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #9: Johnson , Jul 21, 2011

Cost benefit analysis on all government spending

Q: Your track record as governor: you balanced the budget, you cut a number of thousands of jobs without firing anybody.

A: Not one single opinion any of tax went up in an eight year period. We reformed Medicaid in New Mexico to save 25% over what we were spending; built 500 miles of a four lane highway without raising taxes. [We had] 1,200 fewer state employees over an eight year period by managing attrition.

Q: You are on the more the libertarian side of the Republican Party?

A: I would argue that perhaps some of these issues are really conservative. And for me, as governor of New Mexico, everything was a cost benefit analysis, everything. What are we spending our money on and what are we getting for the money we are spending? I think the fact that I get reelected really speaks volumes to the fact that people appreciate good stewardship of tax dollars.

Source: Sean Hannity 2012 presidential interviews "Hannity Primary" , May 27, 2011

Full disclosure, but no limits on campaign donations

Q: What's your view about campaign finance reform?

A: If you're talking about reform where you want to do away with soft money, yeah, I think that's good. If RJR wants to give me $100,000 for my campaign, it can't. But it can give it to the Republican Party and then the Republican Party will write a check to me. It's not directly from the cigarette manufacturer and all I have to say is that I got it from the party. So I think that should be reformed. The public should know exactly where every penny comes from. But I don't think there should be limits on contributions.

Q: But big contributions mean the wealthy have much more political influence.

A: My biggest contributor during the last two campaigns gave me over $150,000. Not once since I've been elected has he been on the phone to tell me anything about what I should do. Is that not better than 150 people giving me a limit of $1000? Of those 150, there's a good chance that 50 are going to be on the phone trying to tell me what to do.

Source: David Sheff interview in Playboy Magazine , Jan 1, 2001

Term limits let politicians focus on issues, not re-election

Q: Would you have brought up the issue of drug legalization if you planned to run again for office?

A: I don't plan to run again for office.

Q: Does your experience influence your opinion of term limits? In other words, do term limits allow politicians to push for issues they care about rather than worrying about the implications for reelection?

A: That's absolutely a case for term limits. Politicians shouldn't spend most of their time in office trying to get reelected.

Source: Interview with David Sheff in Playboy Magazine , Jan 1, 2001

No limits on corporate or PAC campaign donations

Q: Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative candidates: Individual?

A: No.


A: No.

Q: Corporate?

A: No.

Q: Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns?

A: No.

Q: Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns?

A: No.

Source: 1998 New Mexico National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1998

Reforms must respect state's rights to select electors.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

In the wake of the United States presidential election in Florida, the Congress and the administration has expressed interest in federal standards for elections. Recognizing that Articles I and II of the United States Constitution grants states, not Congress, the authority to determine the manner of selecting presidential electors and conducting elections generally, most legislative proposals do not mandate federal standards. Rather, current proposals direct federal agencies or commissions to study and make recommendations concerning the election system. Nonetheless, the possibility of legislation in the 107th Congress requiring states to implement federal election standards remains. If enacted without adequate funding by the federal government, such legislation could also result in an unfunded mandate to the states.

NGAís Position

Articles I and II of the United States Constitution grant states the authority to determine the manner of selecting presidential electors and provide that states are responsible for establishing election procedures generally. However, in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, the nationís Governors recognize the need for election reform. NGA will continue to monitor federal legislation addressing this issue, but has not taken a position in support of or opposition to election reform efforts.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA11 on Aug 1, 2001

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Page last updated: Oct 29, 2016