May 23, 2007


Democrats Find Ethics Overhaul Elusive in House (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 5/23/07, NY Times)

House Democratic leaders pushing a promised lobbying overhaul are facing resistance from balky lawmakers and fending off accusations that a prominent member is flouting new ethics rules.

The Democratic leaders were forced to scrap a promise to double the current one-year lobbying ban after lawmakers leave office. Now, they are struggling to pass legislation requiring lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they “bundle” — collect and deliver — to lawmakers. Failing to deliver on both measures would endanger similar provisions already passed by the Senate.

Other House rules changes this year appear to have done little to alter business as usual on Capitol Hill. House Democrats voted along party lines on Tuesday to block the censure of one of their most powerful members, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania. He was accused of violating a new ethics rule that prohibits lawmakers from swapping pork for votes.

Still to come is a long-overdue report by a House committee considering the creation of an independent watchdog to monitor compliance with ethics rules. Democrats say the House is unlikely to endorse the idea, which the Senate has already rejected.

The Hollow Promise Reform Act (NY Times, 5/23/07)
The House’s new Democratic majority is flirting with disaster as it guts key provisions of the strict lobbying reform it promised voters last November. Rebellious lawmakers, worried about their own career path, fought their leaders to defeat tighter restrictions on the sleazy, revolving-door culture by which members of Congress move on from an apprenticeship of merely serving the people to real Washington money as insider lobbyists. [...]

For all the promises, the bundling disclosure mandate is in deep trouble as opposition mounts from Blue Dog, Hispanic and black caucus Democrats intent on protecting their re-election campaigns. The pity is that the proposal they are fighting doesn’t even stop this ethically indefensible practice — it merely puts the details on the record.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows failure to approve bundling disclosure will reduce the Democrats’ vaunted vows to political farce and shorten their chances of retaining the majority. Republicans are chortling, but the smarter moderates in their ranks better keep their eyes on the people’s agenda, not the lobbyists’ A.T.M.’s. A crucial vote over the lobby bill’s debating rule is about to determine whether reform dies at the hands of greedy incumbents. They might remember that next year’s voters will check for enactment of last year’s promises.

As God is their witness, the Timesmen thought Democrats could reform.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 23, 2007 9:00 AM

Great reference in the title OJ. Let's hope that in '08 the Dems suffer the same fate as WKRP's gift turkeys.

Posted by: Patrick H at May 23, 2007 9:42 AM

Anyone who voted (or withheld their vote) for any Congressman based on "ethics reform" is too stupid to be allowed the franchise.

Posted by: b at May 23, 2007 10:49 AM

Anyone who voted (or withheld their vote) for any Congressman based on "ethics reform" is too stupid to be allowed the franchise.

Well, corrupt Republicans lost. Corrupt Democrats didn't. It was always thus, though; the Republicans are the party of clean government, so corruption amongst their members hurts them more. Democrat voters don't care much about it.

Posted by: John Thacker at May 23, 2007 11:38 AM

A minor correction (which does, however, reflect on the post's title):

It was the Big Guy -- Arthur Carlson his ownself -- who, as God was his witness, thought that turkeys could fly. Les merely provided commentary on "the humanity!" of the situation.

Posted by: porkopolitan at May 24, 2007 7:37 PM