November 19, 2006


Democrats Split on How Far to Go With Ethics Law (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 11/19/06, NY Times)

After railing for months against Congressional corruption under Republican rule, Democrats on Capitol Hill are divided on how far their proposed ethics overhaul should go. [...]

Sweeping change, however, may be a tough sell within the party. Representative John P. Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, was embarrassed by disclosures last week that he had dismissed the leadership proposals with a vulgarity at a private meeting. But Mr. Murtha is hardly the only Democrat who objects to broad changes.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who will oversee any proposal as the incoming chairwoman of the Rules Committee, for example, said she was opposed to an independent Congressional ethics watchdog. “If the law is clear and precise, members will follow it,” she said in an interview. “As to whether we need to create a new federal bureaucracy to enforce the rules, I would hope not.”

Other Democratic lawmakers argued that the real ethical problem was the Republicans, not the current ethics rules, and that the election had alleviated the need for additional regulations. “There is an understanding on our side that the Republicans paid a price for a lot of the abuses that evolved,” said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, alluding to earmarks. Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, said the scandals of the current Congress were “about the K Street Project for the Republicans,” referring to the party’s initiative to put more Republicans in influential lobbying posts and build closer ties to them.

“That was incestuous from the beginning. We never had anything like that,” Mr. Harkin said of Democrats. “That is what soured the whole thing.”

Democrats, of course, have also cultivated close ties to lobbyists, who play a major role in campaign fund-raising for members of both parties. Indeed, ethical violations and house-cleaning efforts have both been bipartisan activities over the years. Congress has seesawed between public calls for changes and a reluctance to cramp incumbents’ campaign fund-raising and political power.'s pretending you'll be different.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2006 6:41 PM
Comments's pretending you'll be different.

Actually, it's believing your own campaign slogans about how you are so special that you are immune to it.

Doesn't anyone even remember anymore how Clinton, before his inauguration, boasted how he was going to run the cleanest administration ever, and how that turned out?

Then again, Sam Clemens observed that an honest politican was one that stayed bought, and nothing has proven him wrong in the century since.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 19, 2006 9:48 PM


I have read that whenever Clinton is asked about this statement, he just flatly asserts that he did have the most ethical administration ever. And then he changes the subject.

I don't think he takes questions about his own legal status on January 20, 2001.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 20, 2006 3:46 PM