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Lobbying Reform in the House's Hands

Today the House picks back up with its work to end the “culture of corruption” in Washington.  The House Judiciary’s subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties is discussing the bill of comprehensive reforms passed by the Senate, S.1, in a hearing today.  This is an excellent place to begin. But will the panel and House leadership make their bill match their promises to be the most "ethical Congress" in history? 

Public Citizen submitted a letter today to the subcommittee and the other members of Congress, urging them to take a tough stand in some key areas.  First, they need to shine sunlight on the secret fundraising done by lobbyists.  As noted in a piece by Congress Watch Director Laura MacCleery posted on Commondreams.org, the public has a right to know who is involved in the practice of “bundling” gobs of campaign cash at lavish fundraisers or through lobbyist networks.  These bundled contributions add up to influence and access for lobbyist bundlers and their clients.

The House also must slow the revolving door between K Street and Capitol Hill.  Lobbying restrictions are supposed to prevent government employees from stepping through the revolving door between the Capitol and “K Street” and selling out the public by exploiting the contacts they made while in office.  Developments in recent years have shown these laws need MUCH improvement. Check out our post on this blog on Zell Miller’s turn through the revolving door.

The public also needs to know who is funding “Astroturf” lobbying. Business journalist Gary Weiss lays it all out in “Astroturfing Congress” in Forbes.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity for the new House to put their stamp on real reform is to create an independent monitoring and enforcement entity.  The House can best the Senate by making sure all of these new laws and rules actually get enforced.

Let’s hope the members of the people’s House fulfill their promise. This is their moment to make Congress more accountable and inspire confidence in a government for and by the people.


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