Wednesday, April 26, 2006

USA Today Bashes Republican Leaders For 'Snow Job' On Ethics Reform

It looks as though no one, I mean no one, is buying the Republicans and their so called "reform".

Below is an article from USA Today bashing the Republicans for their poor job on reforming ethics:

Congress still doesn't get it. After more than a year of negative headlines about political corruption and money-soaked alliances with lobbyists, House leaders are weakening their already anemic excuse for reform.

They hope to pass the plan this week and then, with the glowing pride of grandees doling pennies to the poor, con the public into believing they're actually giving up enough of their prized perks to make a difference.

The plan —pushed by Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier and Majority Leader John Boehner —contains a few enticing illusions, such as modest changes in disclosure rules and pork-barrel spending restraints. But it's far from anything lobbyists might fear. In light of the tawdry political culture exposed by the sprawling case of super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, awaiting sentencing in Washington, the measure is most noteworthy for what it would fail to do:

• Cushy travel paid for by private groups — a device lobbyists use to buy favors — would be banned, but only until after the election. Next year, it would be back to business as usual.

• Lobbyists would be barred from flying on corporate jets with members of Congress, a response to calls to abolish this cozy form of special-interest access. But nothing would prevent executives who aren't registered lobbyists from continuing to do the same thing. And nothing would alter the practice of routinely making these planes available for members' political or personal trips at deeply subsidized fares.

• There's no provision for creating a much-needed independent, non-partisan Office of Public Integrity to give credibility to probes of ethics complaints. Ethics committees of the Senate and House of Representatives have proven inadequate for the task.

• House Republican leaders have dropped proposed requirements that lobbyists disclose which lawmakers and aides they have contacted and how they have raised money for politicians. As a result, lobbyists banned from paying $100 for a congressman's restaurant dinner would remain free to pay $25,000 or $50,000 to underwrite a fundraising party to "honor" the member.

• Most rules allowing members of Congress and their staffs to accept gifts from lobbyists would remain unchanged.

The sorry record of this Congress cries out for real reform, not a toothless sham. One member has been sent to prison for extorting bribes from lobbyists and favor-seekers. Former House majority leader Tom DeLay is under indictment on political money-laundering charges, two of his former aides have pleaded guilty to corruption charges, and he's quitting because he fears the voters' backlash. At least a half-dozen other members, from both parties, are under investigation by various federal agencies on everything from bribery to insider trading.

Not coincidentally, polls show public disillusionment with Congress at the highest levels in more than a decade. This is fueled in part by the lobbying and corruption scandals that show special interests and self-interest trumping the public interest.

If the self-righteous incumbents can't do better than this outrageous substitute for needed reform, they will deserve to be defeated in November.

People are fed up with the Republicans' games and inaction. John Boehner meant it when he said he was against ethics reform and the American people will mean it this November when they elect Democrats as the majority party in Congress!

Read about Congressman Ford's actions on ethics reform here! (1 , 2, 3)

Read about John Boehner's views opposing ethics reform here!

Read about John Boehner's broken promises regarding ethics reform here!