ETHICS FENCING IN THE SENATE
California Congressman Doolittle, paid his wife $200,000 from campaign funds for working at home. He's also been under investigation in connection with Abramoff
Congressional Ethics Reform
It appears that many of our Democratic and Republican Congressmen have forgotten that the war in Iraq is not the only important issue for many voters in the recent election.
From today's NY Times editorial page:
ETHICS FENCING IN THE SENATE
The Senate's promising start in reforming its ethical shortcomings is showing signs of slippage. Senators ducked a worthy amendment that would bar members from putting family members on campaign payrolls, or see kin become lobbyists. The proposal was ruled unrelated to the debate over lobbyist and ethics reforms, which is hardly the case.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, insisted that there's no such problem in the Senate. Critics instantly noted that her fellow Californian, Senator Barbara Boxer, paid $130,000 from her campaign funds to her son's political consultant firm. In the House the campaign kitty of Representative John Doolittle, Republican of California, paid $200,000 to his wife as a designated campaign consultant working at home. Congress's reputation cannot affor more such embarrassments.
As the Senate debate continues, there are key proposals that will test how real all the talk is about reform. Some lawmakers are already trying to water down the proposal of majority leader Harry Reid, which would stop senators from accepting the nearly free use of corporate jets. [Comment: A good friend of mine, recently retired as a corporate plane pilot for a public utility company, tells me that he spent a good deal of his time flying members of Congress all over the U.S. and even to many countries around the world.] Opponents on both sides of the aisle are also intent on blocking a measure from Senators Barack Obama and Russell Feingold, which would force lobbyists to disclose the vast campaign funds they routinely raise from corporate donors eager to grease access to lawmakers. The money would still flow, but special-interest bagmen would have to list the take on public record.
Equally vital is the proposal to make lobbyists and their employers regularly disclose their "earmarking" rounds, where lawmakers are induced to pepper maoney bills with small fortunes in favors without debate or public notice. Lobbyists would have to list the specific earmark they sought, their client and the lawmakers they approached. [Comment: Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?]
Another important measure would force disclosure of who is paying for media campaigns in the name of fake grass-roots politicking. Such shell games could still go on as gree speech, but the public could find out who's paying the bill. [Comment: We all eventually end up paying these bills!]These measures give senators a much-needed opportunity to prove they are on the side of the voter, not the lobbyist.
Write or call your Senator and Representative! Let them know you care about Congressional ethics.