Derrick Crowe Candidate Questionnaire
What actions have you taken to improve your community?
I have a long history as volunteer, activist, and nonprofit professional. As an activist in Austin, I’ve organized rallies, protests, trainings, and other events to help the community defend itself from corporate power and racial animus. I’ve planned and/or participated in numerous climate-change- and environment-related protests, rallies, and other actions, including those targeting the Dakota Access Pipeline and Kelsey Warren; the Texas Public Policy Foundation during climate denial events; Donald Trump’s visit to Austin; and numerous rallies and events related to stopping S.B. 4. I was on the core team that set up the Austin chapter of 350.org as well.
I’m a certified facilitator for Creating a Culture of Peace trainings, which aim to introduce participants to personal and political nonviolence. I’ve led trainings in Austin and participated in trainings elsewhere. These trainings help participants confront violence in their own lives and injustice in their communities, as well as preparing them for civil disobedience direct actions and social change efforts.
As a volunteer, I’ve:
● Regularly participated in St. Alban’s Episcopal Church’s Grate Patrol food route for homeless people in Washington, D.C. while a resident there.
● Participated in 6 cleanup trips to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. My wife and I were some of the primary organizers of Washington Episcopalians Respond to Katrina, which organized more than a dozen relief trips to New Orleans following the hurricane.
● Participated in river cleanup efforts in the Kerrville area.
● Volunteered at Austin-area shelter following Hurricane Harvey.
● Given talks to Austin ISD students on foreign policy and military spending.
As a nonprofit professional, I’ve worked as communications director for the Center for Public Priorities and The SAFE Alliance in Austin. CPPP advocates for low- and moderate-income people at the state level. The SAFE Alliance is a merger of Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace (Austin’s domestic violence shelter). At SAFE, I was one of the leaders of their successful effort to increase city budget funds for the testing of sexual assault evidence kits last year. SAFE’s work seeks to end violence and abuse in Central Texas through education, intervention, and advocacy for change.
What is an example or two of legislation you’d like to see passed on Criminal Justice Reform?
I would work to fully legalize marijuana, as well as to decriminalize possession of other controlled substances in amounts of less than a gram such that the possessor faces only the seizure of the material and has 60 days to either challenge the seizure or be charged an amount of money required for the disposal of the material. This would deescalate many interactions with the police, keep countless people out of needless jail sentences, and create an opening for treating drug addiction like the disease that it is instead of a revenue generator for the prison industry.
I’d also like to implement a federal-system-wide network of conviction integrity units similar to what some localities have implemented. These staff are responsible for the review of cases where a key prosecutor, witness, piece of evidence, process, or expert has been found to be tainted and makes it the state’s responsibility to address other cases where this taint may create the ability for a successful appeal. This flips the responsibility to the state, instead of making it the incarcerated’s responsibility to be informed and aware of these tainted factors potentially affecting their cases.
What is your stance on gun control?
● Background checks should be expanded to all gun sales, including those made over the Internet and at gun shows.
● I support making it a federal crime to stage a “straw purchase” that puts a gun into the hands of a person legally barred from possessing a gun.
● I also support a nationwide ban on assault weapons.
● I support a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines (10+ rounds).
● I would fight Trump’s move to put military surplus equipment like grenade launchers, armored vehicles and other weapons of war into the hands of police departments.
What policies would you like to see in place nationally to address racial justice? What actions have you taken on racial justice?
● I want to end the war on drugs (see criminal justice reform answer above).
● I will fight to end the cradle-to-prison pipeline for communities of color. I want to end zero-tolerance school policies, student arrests, corporal punishment and the presence of police in schools. Capital punishment and money bail should be banned.
● I would fight to stop the privatization of the criminal justice system in all respects and roll back the privatization of the prison industry.
● We must stop mass deportations. Those targeted by immigration court proceedings should have the right to legal counsel. I would fight for the repeal of the provisions of the 1996 laws that allows the use of secret evidence in deportation proceedings and end the practice of deportation for minor offenses. As a member of Congress, I would investigate ICE’s use of detainer requests and use those investigations to educate the public about the threat these requests pose to constitutionally protected rights.
● I support requiring an outside special prosecutor for cases involving killings by police to eliminate conflicts of interest.
● I support Black Lives Matter, and I am a frequent participant in anti-DACA-repeal and anti-S.B. 4 actions and protests. I’ve worked with Black Lives Matter and Austin Justice Coalition to, among other things, organize anti-Trump rallies using anti-racism messaging.
What policies would you implement to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change? What actions have you taken on Environmental Justice?
I am an organizer for climate justice in Austin and have organized, co-lead, supported, and participated in numerous rallies, events, panels, and other actions to energize, organize, and mobilize the climate justice movement in Central Texas. These actions range from protests outside of Lamar Smith’s office, to protests of the Texas Public Policy Foundation when they promote science denial events, to anti-Trump protests, to protests of Kelsey Warren/DAPL/Energy Transfer Partners, to providing public testimony on the need to move our city’s power generation to 100-percent carbon-free by 2030.
I would offer a comprehensive legislative package in Congress to set energy policy in the United States and get our carbon emissions to net-zero by 2035. The highlights of this package would include:
● A sense of Congress that we reaffirm the principles outlined in the Paris agreement, that we must commit to a national carbon budget that reaches net-zero by 2035, and that we should avoid mitigation dead-ends like fracking and natural gas infrastructure.
● The imposition of a carbon fee, dividend, frontline community fund, and R&D fund system.
● An immediate end to subsidies for fossil fuel companies, diverting that federal spending to electric vehicle and charging station development and deployment.
● Greatly increased funding for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy R&D budgets to advance solar, wind, electric vehicle, and storage technology.
● The imposition of carbon-equivalency fees on imports from countries with weak carbon mitigation schemes. The funds from these fees would be used to fund state and local programs for adaptation, resilience, and the transition to clean energy utilities (including contract buy-outs), as well as projects that promote electric vehicle deployment.
● A ban on fossil fuel exploration and fracking, as well as a ban on extraction on public lands and the outer continental shelf.
● Increased CAFE standards and a complete rework of the Renewable Fuels Standard to end the era of the internal combustion engine by 2035.
● Appliance and building efficiency efforts to immediately reduce energy demand and create jobs through the weatherization program.
In addition, I support the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act (Markey, Merkely, Sanders)
I also support the repeal of the fracking exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
What’s an example of legislation you would support to promote clean renewable energy?
See above related to electric vehicle deployment. EV deployment is one of the most critical problems of transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels. In addition to the above, I’d also work to establish a coordinating body at the Department of Transportation to time the onlining of electric vehicle charging infrastructure with market availability of electric vehicles.
Will you sponsor HR-676 Medicare For All?
Yes, and I also endorse and support the People’s Platform in general.
What policies would you pursue to address the issue of income & wealth inequality?
● I support Sanders’ proposals on a jobs program via a massive infrastructure program ($1 trillion over five years), as well as his youth jobs program proposals. In addition, the electric-vehicle-deployment and weatherization programs I outlined above would represent very large jobs programs that would energize the economy and provide good-paying jobs.
● I would work to implement a robotics and automation fee and dividend system to protect American incomes from the deep challenges caused by automation. The dividends from this system would be paid directly to every American’s bank account. A just wage equivalency fee would similarly be imposed on all items imported that were produced through robotic or very-low-wage labor practices, and the funds from these fees would be used to fund education and just worker transition programs.
● I support a $15/hour federal minimum wage and ending the loophole that allows employers to pay tipped workers less than the minimum wage.
● I support Medicare for All.
● I support tuition-free college and an end to the federal practice of profiteering off of student loans.
● Reverse trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and preferred-nation-trading status with China.
● Corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. We must close tax loopholes that allow corporations to hide their profits overseas.
● We should end the carried interest deduction.
● Pass pay equality legislation that mandates equal pay to every gender identity.
● Require 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, two weeks of paid vacation, seven days of paid sick days.
● I support universal child care and universal pre-K programs.
● Lift the cap on taxable income above $250,000 for Social Security.
● I support the Employee Free Choice Act, and I would vote to repeal Taft-Hartley.
● I support allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate pharmaceutical prices.
What ideas do you have for consumer protection and Wall Street regulation?
● I support reinstituting Glass-Steagall and breaking up the big “too big to fail” banks.
● I support a financial transaction tax to reduce fast-paced, risky trading and other speculation.
● I want to cap credit card interest rates at 15 percent.
● I would vigorously support trust-busting enforcement and use my investigative authorities as a Member of Congress to push the executive branch to vigorously utilize the antitrust tools they have at their disposal. I would fight to return the full scope and purpose of the antitrust laws to federal enforcement efforts: Protecting consumers from anticompetitive overcharges; protecting small producers from anticompetitive underpayments, preserving open and competitive markets; and dispersing economic and political power.
● The SEC should stop settling out of court with big banks that break the law and instead bring them to trial.
● I support Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a banking option through the U.S. Post Office.
● Shareholders should get a binding vote to approve or disapprove CEO pay packages.
● If companies pay CEOs more than 50 times their median worker salary, they should lose the tax deduction for executive compensation.
● We should end the tax loophole that allows Wall Street to deduct the cost of the fines and penalties from their taxes.
● I would hold hearings to expose the problem of “platform monopolies” and the threat they pose to democracy. (Facebook, Google, etc.)
● We should mandate that an individual has a right to real-time access to their own credit scores.
What are some policies you would implement to make our election system more democratic?
● I would fight for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases in the courts. This amendment should make it clear that Congress and the states have the power to regulate spending on elections.
● I would fight for comprehensive disclosure requirements for political spending.
● I would use my investigatory powers as a Member of Congress to push the IRS to enforce the tax code’s specific language on 501(c)(4) groups. The law as written says such groups must be “operated exclusively” for social welfare purposes, but IRS regulations grant the tax exemption to groups if they are “primarily engaged” in social welfare purposes. This disconnect allows c4 groups to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence elections without disclosing their donors.
● I would push for an effective, public financing system for federal elections. This system should incentivize small donations.
● I would support a constitutional amendment to end the Electoral College.
● I would push for congressional hearings on the discriminatory effects of voter ID laws.
● I would work to force the SEC to use its existing authority to require all publicly traded companies disclose any political donations or donations to trade associations or nonprofits that engage in politics.
Beyond elections, I would also pursue an aggressive anti-corruption agenda inside of the U.S. government:
● Require the disclosure of congressional fellowships. Fellowships in the House of Representatives must be disclosed when they are compensated by outside sources beyond the U.S. government. The report should include the identity of the source of the compensation and the amount or rate of compensation. These disclosures should be publicly accessible and electronic.
● Members of Congress, their immediate family members, and congressional committee staff should be banned from special interest lobbying for life.
● Members of Congress and congressional and executive senior staff should be barred for life from representing the interests of a foreign government.
● Ban private payments for public service (i.e. bonuses from employers for leaving their company to join the government)
● Government appointees involved in policy decisions should be barred from working for private entities that have benefited from those policy decisions for five years.
● Require government employees to recuse themselves from cases involving their former employers for five years.
● Require Members of Congress to better disclose job seeking activities while in office and remove conflict of interest determinations from the hands of individual members.
● We should substantially strengthen the Office of Government Ethics, giving OGE the power to investigate ethics complaints and to correct and discipline violators in non-criminal cases. OGE’s director should only be removable by the president before the end of their term in cases of clear cause.
How are you funding your campaign?
I am funding my campaign by making my case directly to constituents and the American people about the need to unseat Smith. I am taking on no debt, and will not accept corporate PAC donations.
What should the Federal Government do regarding undocumented immigrants?
● The federal government should preserve DACA and DAPA and bar the use of immigration raids to influence public policies (i.e. the recent raids to punish so-called sanctuary cities).
● Provide a just path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. This should include a wait time of no more than 5 years.
● Expand parole-in-place and humanitarian parole.
● Modernize the visa system while ensuring that major outsourcing firms don’t use HB-1 guest worker visas it to simply attract cheap labor.
● Offer whistleblower visas for workers who report abusive employers or those that benefit from human trafficking.
● Provide access to counsel for those undergoing immigration enforcement proceedings and end the use of secret evidence in those proceedings.
● End for-profit and family detention.
● Pass the DREAM Act.
If there were one thing you could accomplish immediately, what would it be?
I would pass the climate change mitigation and adaptation package mentioned above.
What is your campaign strategy for winning in November?
Our strategy is to mobilize the strong progressive base in this district and reconnect the thousands of people in this district who feel left behind by corporate-dominated politics. We will pair this with a focus on local issues like broadband access, clean water access, etc., to allow us to reach communities that have been neglected by traditional Democratic organizing. With a strong student organizing plan to supplement this, we will be able to improve over past Democratic performance and create a new model for winning campaigns in Texas.
What spending would you advocate increasing or decreasing while in office?
Congress’s most significant power is the power of the purse; thus, my entire platform is a map for spending I would increase or decrease. The general contours would increase spending on climate change mitigation, health care, education and infrastructure while decreasing spending on military purposes and the fossil fuel system.
Are there any issues on which you disagree with Bernie Sanders?
I would not support the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.