What Happened to Lobbying Reform?

Remember when Republicans were clamoring publicly about tightening the rules regulating lobbying? Because they sure aren't anymore.

Following the convictions of Jack Abramoff and Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the indictments of Tom DeLay and others, the Republican Party began talking a good talk when it came to lobbying reform. But just a few months later, the GOP has done litte to clamp down on the system that allowed for such shady activities to take place, and increasingly it appears that they aren't going to reform the system any time soon, as Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported for The New York Times yesterday.

The drive for a tighter lobbying law, just two months ago a major priority on Capitol Hill, is losing momentum, a victim of shifting political interests, infighting among House Republicans and a growing sense among lawmakers of both parties that wholesale change may not be needed after all.

In the Senate, debate on a lobbying bill was derailed this week by the fracas over port security, and it is unclear when the measure will return. A chief architect of the legislation, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said Friday that the bill was "way off track" and that she feared its chances had been jeopardized.

"People have turned to other issues," Ms. Collins said in a telephone interview from Maine. "This was our window, and I'm afraid it will be slammed shut."

In the House, Representative David Dreier of California, the Republicans' point man on lobbying legislation, said reaching consensus on what the bill should include had been more difficult than he had expected.

Can House Majority Leader John Boehner, who handed out campaign checks from tobacco lobbyists on the House floor during a debate on issues related to the tobacco industry, really reform lobbying? Can Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading, really clean up Congressional ethics? Can the party of Jack Abramoff and Randy "Duke" Cunningham rid Capitol Hill of the crooks?

Americans want to see Congress cleaned up, but Republicans are clearly unable and unwilling to get it done. And it's not long until voters will be able to send a message to Washington that they want to see change now. In just under a month, residents of California's 50th congressional district will go to the polls to select a replacement to the ethically challenged jail bound Cunningham, an election in which they can send a strong signal to Washington by electing Democrat Francine Busby, who is calling for widespread reform; in just eight months, voters across the country will be able to do the same thing. The writing is almost on the wall for the Republican Party, and if they don't get serious about reforming their ways immediately, happy days will be here again for Congressional Democrats.

Tags: Ethics, House 2006, lobbying, Senate 2006 (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

Re: What Happened to Lobbying Reform?

I only hope that when the Democrats take over control of the pork barrel, their zeal for reform won't suddenly die, too.

by Feh 2006-03-12 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: What Happened to Dems

Dems are afraid to reform lobbying too.  They depend on large contributors to get elected too.  Even Dem. large contributors have things they want from Congress.

Even more troubling, they are afraid of the media and the right-wing attack machine (working in concert quite often).  Dems in the House and Senate are islands without defenses: they can't depend upon their fellow Dems in Congress to defend their backs if attacked.  

I believe the only lobbying reform that can break this cycle of fear and dependence is public financing of elections, and the same forces that the Dems fear and depend upon won't like public financing at all, for the obvious reasons that it spoils their game.

Until, if ever, this becomes an election issue for individual congresspeople, and those supporting major reform win (and those defending the status quo lose), this issue is going nowhere.

by JimPortlandOR 2006-03-12 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: What Happened to Lobbying Reform?

Sorry to say it. But this reads just a tad like interference being run for Ms Nancy 'Love That Ethics Truce' Pelosi, whose most recent shard into the hearts of ethics-loving Dems was her humiliating kow-tow over the Louise Slaughter memo (as recounted by Matt yesterday).

Not to mention, from the 'upper house', Brers Akaka and Pryor, who apparently voted in committee against the Lieberman-Collins amendment to institute an independent Office of Public Integrity to oversee the handling of Congressional ethics complaints.

I'm afraid that the idea that closing down the process of ethics reform is a GOP exclusive flies in the face of a whole slew of evidence.

Sad but true. And, natch, not doing anything to dispel the CW that pols on both sides of the aisle are soiled goods.

by skeptic06 2006-03-12 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: What Happened to Lobbying Reform?

Politicians understand that it takes a lot of money to but the TV spots and newpaper space to advertise and expand their name recognition and message.....and they don't see that money as coming from the citizens, but from corporate America

because if this, I don't see either the Republicans or the Democrats making any serious inroads into reform in this area.

Until we in the blogosphere, outside the Beltway and its hordes of smarmy lobbyists and bag-men (and women), can show that we can mobilise as much money and funding power as corporations (or even a significant minority of the funding), the politicos won't pay us mush heed, and we won't be seeing anybody introducing and pushing hard for the reform we want, to get THE DRUG out of the hands of THE ADDICTS.

by justadood 2006-03-12 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: What Happened to Lobbying Reform?

The perspective of the Abramoff case is primarily associated with the Republican party though as outlined in the Washinton Post, Abramoff had worked with democrats too. Tom Daschle, Harry Reid, and Richard Gephardt are examples. Most lobbyist firms are bipartisan, and Abramoff's group was no exception.

More information on Abramoff's connection with democrats can be read in this article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/article/2005/06/02/AR2005060202158. html

by sox111489 2006-03-13 11:12AM | 0 recs

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