LOBBYING REFORM: It Would Be Nice (For Them) If
They Didn't Blow It
Thu. Jan. 19, 2006
1 "Divided over changes to lobbying and ethics rules," congressional Dems have been "slow" to
seize upon the corruption scandals plaguing the GOP. Rep. David Obey (D-WI) notes that just at
a time when Dems have the opportunity to regain a majority in Congress in the '06 elections,
many party members "oppose tightening lobbying rules."
2 For one, House Min. Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), there is "little need" to change the rules
because "it is not the rules that are the issue, it's the character of the players that is the issue here.
That is what I want to focus on, the culture of corruption."
The DLC's Marshall Wittmann recommends that the leadership "rattle some members and say,
unless we take the initiative with bold and far-reaching proposals, the Republicans will steal this
issue from us." More Wittmann: "The real problem is the town drowning in big money." The
possibility of a return to power, and its associated advantages, may affect Dems' divisions over a
lobbying overhaul. GOPers showed that when they took back the House in '94 that the majority
party has an advantage in fundraising from PACs. Public Citizen's Congress Watch's Frank
Clemente points out that Dems "may be counting on exploiting this funding source in the future"
(Newton-Small, Bloomberg, 1/19).
Yeah, Could It Be Any Easier?
CNN's Begala: "I think the Democrats have been given a gift by the Republicans when the
Republicans put Rick Santorum in charge of reform, since Senator Santorum, Republican for
Pennsylvania, was also in charge of .
.. the K Street project, which was a way that they used to
strong arm lobbyists. It was a corrupt enterprise" ("Situation Room," 1/18).
Don't Want To Be Left Out In The Cold November Rain
5 When announcing their ethics plan 1/18, the "high profile" nature of the event at the Library of
Congress "made it clear" that they intended to make their assertion of GOP corruption "into a
theme" in the 11/06 elections (Hulse, New York Times, 1/19).
6 Saying GOPers must be held responsible for the "poison tree of corruption" as well as the
"fruits of bad legislation" that result, House and Senate Dem leaders "pledged to more than
match" the GOP effort to tighten lobbying rules, curb gifts and travel. The p.m. rally at the
Library of Congress "underscored the larger political stakes." Senate Dems are proposing the
establishment of a new Office of Public Integrity which would have the authority to "audit and