Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board questionnaire responses
Q) What are your three top legislative priorities for the country?
1. Comprehensive criminal justice reform that reduces over criminalization, addresses the juvenile justice system, and promotes successful reentry. Andrea also believes that the issues of community policing and gun control reform are critical components to criminal justice reform and should be addressed concurrently. Andrea has spoken extensively about this issue and her policies have won support from community and civic leaders, as well as former federal prosecutors.
2. Increasing economic opportunity and rebuilding the middle class, through: 1) good-paying jobs through public capital investments and federal investments in scientific research, clean energy, and health technology; 2) tax incentives that encourage private sector job growth; and 3) federal support for small businesses.
3. Immigration reform that provides pathways to citizenship and includes better, more humane enforcement of laws. Immigration reform should not focus on militarizing our borders.
Q: What are the three most important issues in Illinois on which you believe the federal government needs to act?
A) Andrea believes that the issues facing Illinois are the same issues that are facing the nation.
Q) What is your biggest fundamental difference with your opponent(s)?
A) Unlike any of her opponents, Andrea has a strong record of delivering results on the issues that voters care about and has been consistent in her positions throughout her career.
Q) Will you pledge to make public: a) your campaign schedule; b) your fundraiser schedule and the names of all fundraiser hosts ; c) if elected, your daily schedule of meetings? If not, why not?
A) Andrea would be happy to make he campaign schedule public – most of her activities are well documented on her social media accounts and press releases. Additionally, 99% of donations to Andrea’s campaign are from individuals, all of which are publically available on the Federal Election Commission’s website. If elected, Andrea would make her schedule public then as well.
Q) Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
A) Kelsey Zopp – Scheduler for Andrea Zopp
Q) What are the most important actions the Senate can take to reduce the threat of ISIS abroad and at home?
A) Andrea believes the U.S. should continue to strengthen ties with our allies and continue to wage an air campaign with these allies, to target ISIS leadership, heavy weaponry and infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. We should continue to arm and support indigenous forces in Syria and Iraq fighting ISIS.
However, Andrea would not support large-scale deployment of military forces, but would support deployment of small numbers of U.S. Special forces to close down ISIS safe havens. Andrea would also support increased intelligence sharing with our European allies to discover and disrupt ISIS/terrorist plots abroad, and support working with Turkey to seal its border with Syria. Additionally, Andrea would continue to press for a cease-fire in the Syrian civil war. Andrea would also support strong communication channels between federal and state law enforcement agencies that would facilitate disruption of domestic activity.
Q) What bans, if any, do you support on Muslim admissions to the United States? Please explain your position.
A) Andrea will not support any form of ban on immigrant admissions that is based on religion, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or familial status.
Q) Specifically, how would you have, or how did you, vote on the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 and its efforts to make it harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S.? Please explain your position.
A) Andrea would not vote for this act or any act that would make it harder for refugees to enter the U.S. The process for screening and admitting refugees can take years to complete, involves over a dozen steps, and includes review of a refugee’s personal history by multiple federal agencies, including both the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, some refugees may be subject to additional review, often called a Security Advisory Opinion, by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The SAFE Act of 2015 would only add a layer of bureaucracy to this process, without actually increasing the level of review for those refugees whose backgrounds may actually warrant more thorough examination. Moreover, the SAFE Act, which requires additional, specialized screening of all refugees within a certain region by one particular agency, such as the FBI, raises the risk of overburdening that agency and reducing effectiveness by negatively impacting that agency’s ability to focus on real dangers.
Q) Do you support a Syrian no-fly zone or the U.S. enforcement of Syrian humanitarian safe zones? Why or why not?
A) At this time, and without broad, multilateral support, Andrea would not support U.S. enforcement of these zones. U.S. enforcement of a Syrian no-fly zone or humanitarian safe zone would require significant efforts and could open the door to large-scale military operations.
Q) Regarding the House Benghazi Select Committee, should its investigation remain open-ended, or should the panel be given a deadline to complete its work? Please explain.
A) Andrea believes the House Benghazi Select Committee should be disbanded. The committee itself has spent millions of taxpayer money, in addition to the costs borne by federal agencies that must respond to the committee’s numerous requests for information. This Congress has failed to address the myriad issues facing Americans today – the committee should complete its work and turn towards the issues Americans elected them to address.
Q) What measures, if any, do you support to give U.S. authorities access to encrypted or “dark web” communications about potential terrorist plots? Please explain.
A) As a former federal and state prosecutor, Andrea has worked to ensure that the rights of Americans are protected while investigating and prosecuting criminal activity. Andrea is committed to ensuring that the challenges for law enforcement and military intelligence do not erode civil rights principles. While broad based access to encrypted communications is not appropriate, there may be certain circumstances where there is a specific need and limited access may be appropriate, and Andrea would work closely with the technology community to strike the appropriate balance. Moreover, there are methods federal authorities may use to track criminal communications via the “dark web” that do not violate citizens’ rights and those should be utilized before seeking access to encrypted communications.
Q) Do you support transferring the detention of terrorism suspects from Guantanamo Bay to the United States? Why or why not?
A) Andrea supports closing Guantanamo Bay, and addressing the indefinite detention of detainees.
Q) What is the single most important action the Senate can take to reduce U.S. gun violence?
A) Andrea believes there are two critical components to address gun violence, as she identified in her comprehensive gun violence prevention plan, which she released in October 2015. The first is enacting legislation that reduces access to guns by people who are violent and dangerous, and the second is addressing criminal justice reform, which would break the cycle of poverty and despair that contributes to urban violence.
Q) Do you support or oppose the ‘‘Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act?” Please explain your position.
A) Andrea supports the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act. As part of Andrea’s gun violence prevention plan, Andrea proposes that federal laws and policies be updated to prevent all dangerous individuals from gaining access to guns. These changes include:
Require background checks for all purchases (universal background checks)
Close Charleston loophole. If National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) inquiry results are not returned within 3 days, then purchase must be denied
Encourage private sellers to use licensed dealers for sales
Require forms used during purchase and background checks to be sent to FBI for record keeping
Federal support of state efforts: 1. Federal government should clarify rules on states’ ability to share relevant information on those prohibited from gun ownership and 2. Provide funding to facilitate state sharing of criminal convictions
Ensure federal agencies share relevant information within the federal government
Ensure federal rules clearly identify who should have guns and who should not, including domestic abusers
Q) Do you believe there is scientific evidence of climate change, and is it caused by human activity? What is your position on the Paris climate change agreement?
A) Yes. There is no time left to deny the reality of climate change, the fact that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, or to ignore the impact that it has on our planet. Moreover, climate change is such a large issue that it can’t be solved simply by individual, or even community level, responses – it requires a world-wide solution. As such, Andrea believes that we must strive for energy independence, work to lower energy prices and promote a cleaner, smarter, more cost-effective energy future. Andrea supports President Obama’s position on the Paris climate change agreement and would also work to advance clean energy, increase energy efficiency, and reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
Q) What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
A) Andrea would support many of the tax code reforms that President Obama has proposed. Andrea would support reforming the U.S. International Tax System by providing tax incentives for locating jobs and business activity within the U.S.; adjusting the minimum tax on foreign income (including previously untaxed foreign income); closing tax loopholes; and limiting the ability of domestic entities to expatriate. Additionally, Andrea would support reforming the tax code for small businesses to simplify and provide tax relief for small business expenditures, such as organizational expenditures or non-elective contributions to employee health insurance. In order to encourage investment and job growth that also has the benefit of addressing environmental issues, Andrea would support tax reform that incentivizes clean energy, such as extending credits for renewable electricity production and creating a carbon dioxide sequestration tax credit. Tax reform must also address issues facing families and individuals. Andrea would support expanding and making permanent the child care tax credit, and expanding the earned income tax credit to workers without qualifying children.
Q) What are the most important actions the Senate can take to ensure the solvency of Social Security?
A) Federal authorities have indicated that Social Security's Trust Fund reserves would not become depleted until sometime between 2033 and 2036. Andrea believes the most important actions the Senate can take to ensure continued solvency would be to slightly increase taxes on income above the current Social Security cap for the highest earners.
Q) Do you support a “risk fee” on big banks? Why or why not?
A) Andrea would support a “risk fee” because it presents an opportunity to appropriately identify those entities that have inherent risk and may be likely to contribute to a financial crisis.
Q) Should Obamacare be overturned, left intact, or changed — and if so how?
A) Andrea believes that full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, namely expansion of Medicaid in all 50 states, will truly maximize the number of Americans that have unfettered access to the health care system. Andrea would also support a review of implementation of the ACA over the last two years, specifically with respect to the Cadillac tax and how small businesses comply with the ACA requirements. She also believes that we must work diligently to address health disparities in access and outcomes. Andrea believes that reducing disparities in health will improve the quality of life for all Americans and would support many of the recommendations from the U.S. Surgeon General.
Q) Do you favor stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood? Why or why not?
A) Andrea would not support defunding Planned Parenthood. Andrea believes that organizations such as Planned Parenthood are integral to ensuring women are in control of their own healthcare. In fact, Andrea signed on to a “friends of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that is in support of the petitioners, Whole Women’s Health.
Q) President Obama used his executive powers to prevent the deportation of "DREAMers—youths who came to the U.S. illegally as children with their parents. Would you support legislation to prevent DREAMer deportations? Do you support putting DREAMers on a path to citizenship?
A) Andrea believes we must offer undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship. Such a pathway should encourage payment of taxes, include a penalty or fine, and require passing national security and criminal background checks. There should be no uncertainty about their ability to become U.S. citizens if they meet the eligibility criteria established in the reform legislation, and there should be a process for administrative and judicial review for decisions.
Additionally, Andrea believes we must stop punishing innocent young people brought to the country by their parents, through no fault of their own, and give them a chance to earn their citizenship more quickly if they serve in the military or pursue higher education. Andrea supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and its counterpart, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), which allows parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to request deferred action and employment authorization if they meet certain conditions. Additionally, Andrea has consistently believed that a viable plan for comprehensive immigration reform must include 1) comprehensive reform measures such as those found in Senate Bill 744 – but without the unnecessary militarization of U.S. borders and 2) better and more humane enforcement of existing laws.
Q) What reforms do you favor to address America’s student loan crisis?
A) Student loan debt is the second largest type of debt in America, greater than credit card debt and exceeded only by mortgage debt. Andrea believes that we must strongly support federal policies that increase college affordability, and promote student loan refinancing and lowering of student loan interest rates. Andrea supports initiatives like the America’s College Promise proposal. This initiative would create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for responsible students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college. Andrea supports allowing federal and private student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at more affordable rates that will save them thousands of dollars. Andrea also believes that we should review how student loan interest rates are set to find ways to reduce the cost of debt for students.
Andrea Zopp is endorsed by the Sun-Times.Read the endorsement.
Office running for: U.S. Senate.
Political party: Democrat
Member, Board of Directors, Navy Pier Inc.
Member, Chicago Board of Education
Member, Board of Directors, Black Ensemble Theater, Chair Development Committee (2007-2010)
Member, Board of Directors, Leadership Greater Chicago, President, (2008-2010),
Member, Executive Committee, Metropolis Strategies (formerly Metropolis 2020))
Member, The Economic Club, Chair Forums Committee and 2nd Vice President (2012-2013)
Member, The Chicago Network
Member, Auxiliary Board, Art Institute of Chicago (1987-1995)
Member, Board of Directors, Harvard Club of Chicago (1993-2000)
Member, Board of Trustees, National Urban League, Chair Audit Committee (2004-2010)
Member, Board of Directors, Chicago Area Project (1991-2011) , Chairman (2007-2011)
Member, Board of Directors, Cook County Hospital and Health Systems Board,
Chair, Human Resources Committee (2008-2011)
Director, Harvard Alumni Association (2009-2011)
Member, Governor’s Commission to Review the Death Penalty (2000-2002)
Co-Chair, Panel to Review City of Chicago Building Code Enforcement (2003-2004)
Chair, Blue Ribbon Commission to Review Selection Practices in Chicago Public Schools & Magnet Schools (2005-2006)
Member, Task Force to Review Cemetery Regulation (2009)
Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Member, American Bar Association, Member, Section of Litigation Council (1999-2002)
Member, Chicago Bar Association, Member, Board of Managers (2000-2002)
Member, The Chicago Inn of Court, President (1999-2000)
Member, Corporate Counsel Women of Color
Member, Black Women Lawyers Association
Chicago Urban League, Chicago, Illinois
President and Chief Executive Officer 9/2010 to 2015
Exelon Corporation, Chicago, Illinois
Executive Vice President, General Counsel 6/2009 – 5/2010
Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer 1/2008 – 6/2009
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer 8/2007 – 1/2008
Senior Vice President, Human Resources 8/2006 – 10/2005
Sears Holdings Corporation, Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary 1/2003 – 10/2005
Sara Lee Corporation, Chicago, Illinois
Vice President, Deputy General Counsel 1/2000 – 7/2003
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, Chicago Illinois
Partner in Litigation Department 1/1997 – 1/2000
Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
First Assistant State’s Attorney of Cook County 11/1992 – 11/1996
Chief, Narcotics Prosecution Bureau 4/1991 – 11/1992
McDermott, Will & Emery
Partner in Litigation Department 10/1990 – 4/1991
United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois
Deputy Chief, Criminal Litigation Division 3/1988 – 10/1990
Deputy Chief, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force 8/1986 – 3/1988
Assistant United States Attorney 8/1983 – 8/1986
Judicial Clerk, Honorable George N. Leighton, United States District Court,
Northern District of IL 8/1981 – 8/1983
Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois 1997 - 1998
Harvard Law School, Cambridge Massachusetts 1987 - 1999
Instructor, Trial Advocacy Workshop
University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, Illinois 1994-1995
Adjunct Professor of Law, Seminar: Selected Topics in Federal Criminal Law
Instructor, Intensive Trial Practice Workshop
Chicago Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois 1983-1984
Instructor First Year Legal Writing
Harvard Law School, Cambridge Massachusetts 1981
Teaching Assistant, Assistant Professor David Rosenberg
Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1980
Teaching Assistant, Professor Archibald Cox
American Government: Constitutional Law
Private and Public Company Boards
Urban Partnership Bank, Chicago, Illinois, Board of Directors 1/2011 - present
Andrew Corporation, Westchester, Illinois, Board of Directors 2005 - 2007
Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts
B.A. Cum Laude in History & Science, 1978
Campaign website: www.andreazoppforsenate.com