Issue One is sad to note the passing of a member of our ReFormers Caucus, Tony Beilenson of Southern California. Congressman Beilenson brought a wealth of practical political experience, civility and enthusiasm to our ReFormers Caucus, a group of 170 former members of Congress from both parties working with Issue One to fix our broken system and restore trust in our institutions.
Rep. Beilenson served California’s 23rd and 24th Districts for ten terms from 1977 to 1997. He chaired the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and served on the House Rules Committee. Lou Cannon of Real Clear Politics described Rep. Beilenson as “a rare politician who was committed not only to causes but to civil and consistent dialogue with those who disagreed with him.”
Throughout his tenure, the fiercely independent Rep. Beilenson consistently spoke out against our broken system: “Money corrupts. It does,” he said to the Lawrence Journal-World in 1997. “People are upset, and I think they should be, that the majority of legislators have come to rely more and more on special interest money to fund their campaigns… People often say ‘I listen to them, but it doesn’t affect my vote.’ I don’t believe them. They’ve helped you in the past and you want them to help you in the future. It’s obvious special-interest money has some impact on you, otherwise, why would they give it?”
We at Issue One are grateful for Rep. Beilenson’s service with us in this cause and for his contributions to the public good. His spirit of public service lives on through our work and through his numerous conservation efforts. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rep. Beilenson as we salute his memory.