Friday, May 25, 2007

Ethics Proposals the Democrats Rejected

Congressional Democrats are getting good press today for passage of an ethics reform bill in the House. But while I provided a partial list yesterday, I thought it might be useful to list all the ethics proposals the Democratic leadership refused to allow to come before the House for debate.

Courtesy of the House Rules Committee, the House Democratic leadership refused to allow debate on the following measures:

  • Require the House Inspector General to conduct random audits of lobbying disclosures, and refer improper filings to the DoJ;
  • Close the gift-rule loophole for governments and public agencies;
  • Make it a federal offense for convicted felons to register as lobbyists;
  • Block Congressmen from converting funds in their leadership PACs to personal use;
  • Require lobbyists to report the earmarks for which they lobby;
  • Prohibiting lobbyists from lobbying for earmarks with federal funds;
  • Require registered lobbyists who work for an entity created by an earmark to report the total amount of federal dollars received by the entity;
  • Extend the lobbying ban for former Members of Congress, senior staff, and executive branch officials;
  • Require registered lobbyists to take an 8-hour ethics class;
  • Prohibit a Member convicted of bribery from receiving taxpayer-funded retirement benefits;
  • Prohibit former ambassadors and CIA station chiefs from lobbying for the nation where they were assigned for five years after their service;
  • Strip pensions for Members of Congress convicted of current federal "white-collar" crimes; and,
  • Create an outside ethics review board to investigate allegations against Members of Congress (Democrats complained mightily last year when the GOP blocked such a proposal).

A lot of these seem like commonsense ideas. Why did the Democratic leadership refuse to allow them even to be debated? You have to hope that when they head home for the Memorial Day break, the Democratic members of the Rules Committee--who voted against these proposals--hear from their constituents about it.

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