Clean up that place

June 5, 2006 at 7:48 pm | In CA-26, David Dreier, ethics reform | Comments Off on Clean up that place

Running to fill disgraced Rep. Duke Cunningham’s seat, it’s no wonder Francine Busby has put ethics at the center of her campaign. We’ll find out tomorrow how well that goes. Even if it doesn’t put her over the top, I think it’s still a good strategy, considering the GOP-controlled government has failed to pass any ethics reform at all, much less anything meaningful:

The stench of scandal on Capitol Hill is getting stronger five months after lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to influence-peddling charges, but a lobbying overhaul has yet to see the light of day.

The Senate passed its version at the end of March and the House bill was approved in early May. In the month since, the House has not taken the next step, naming negotiators for talks with the Senate on a compromise bill.

…It was only in January that Republicans and Democrats battled for the ethical high ground. They proposed to outlaw privately funded travel, ban meals and gifts from lobbyists, and slow the move of former lawmakers to lobbying jobs.

Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., who has led GOP lobbying efforts in the House, said at the time he hoped to pass a bill by the end of February.

That did not happen for two reasons, according to an analyst.

Congress stumbled over how to rein in lobbyists without violating their constitutional right to petition the government, and lawmakers were sidetracked by immigration legislation, extending tax breaks and other priorities, said Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker.

The public has not pressed the lobbying issue because “most ordinary Americans really don’t think much can be done,” Baker said. “There’s a built-in cynicism” about corruption in Washington.

Fred Wertheimer, president of the watchdog group Democracy 21, says lawmakers may be misreading public attitude. “The public understands corruption, understands it’s wrong and wants it eliminated,” he said.

Dreier’s spokeswoman, Jo Maney, said GOP leaders could appoint negotiators to the House-Senate conference soon after Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess. She said the effort to reach consensus on the bill has been a challenge because some lawmakers are opposed to any changes while others favor revamping the entire system.

Thanks for that great explanation Maney. I’m with Wertheimer. Where the hell’s our lobbying reform? Maybe it’s for the best. Dreier’s lobbying reform was a joke. If Democrats win the House in November there’ll be a better chance to pass some real ethics reform. And maybe, as Mark Kleiman is always saying, Democrats should break the ethics truce now–and use that to make cleaning up DC a big part of the platform for November. Getting Republicans on record as not willing to do anything to clean up the mess sure won’t hurt Democratic candidates. More on this soon…

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