Why aren’t U.S. political candidates required to undergo background checks?



Political candidates in Nevada do not have to undergo background checks, a fact that Jody Baden, founder of Transparency in Politics, is working to change. She encourages political candidates and elected officials to voluntarily disclose a background check on their personal history, including work, education, and military experience. However, Baden has found little local interest in her initiative despite voters’ desire for more transparency in politics.

Purple Politics Nevada: Candidates Not Vetted for Background Check

Join Lucia Starbuck on KUNR’s Purple Politics Nevada as we explore a lesser-known fact: political candidates in Nevada don’t undergo background checks. Transparency in Politics, a Nevada-based organization, is taking steps to change this.

Episode Overview

In Nevada, political candidates must meet a set of requirements which vary by office. Jody Baden, the founder of Transparency in Politics, is pushing for background checks to be part of these requirements. She hopes that candidates will voluntarily publish checks on their personal history, including work, education, and military experience.

“Many assume that candidates are vetted in some way,” notes Baden. “However, there’s currently no appetite for it among both parties and endorsers,” she adds. But she firmly believes that being transparent about backgrounds provides a credible alternative to mudslinging ads.

Baden expresses her concern about unqualified individuals making policy decisions. “When someone with a history of financial instability or criminal record starts making decisions that impact many, that’s very concerning. And often, lying is not considered illegal,” she says.


Join us in this episode as Lucia Starbuck and Jody Baden discuss the need for comprehensive background checks for political candidates. Baden highlights the lack of vetting process for candidates and the importance of transparency in politics. This conversation shines a light on the urgent need for public verification of a candidate’s background. Listen now to Purple Politics Nevada with Lucia Starbuck.

STARBUCK: So your organization, Transparency in Politics, allows political candidates to be transparent about their history through a background check. Are you saying this isn’t already required? I had to get a background check to work at Sam’s Club.

BADEN: Yes, many tend to assume that candidates are already vetted in some way. But the fact is, almost none of the information provided at the Registrar of Voters office is verified. The conversation needs to change.

BADEN: Many people want transparency, at least a resume verification and a criminal background check. With Transparency in Politics, we’re trying to start a movement that normalizes background checking for those who run for office.

STARBUCK: It sounds like a big mission. Why is it so important to you personally?

BADEN: It’s about making a difference. I’m concerned about our country, and our democracy, and the truth.

Our theme song, “Vibe Ace” by Kevin MacLeod, is licensed under Creative Commons and was edited for this episode.

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