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Democrats' Ethics Proposals Not So Impressive

The Democrats said they were going to clean out Washington and make Congress more ethical. Now that the Dems are in charge of Congress, they've proposed their ethics rules, and they leave a lot to be desired. In fact, some states have implemented ethics rules that are far stricter than the Democrats':

The Democrats taking over the U.S. Congress this week are promising sweeping changes to ethics and lobbying laws, pledging to clean up after a spate of corruption scandals under Republican rules.

So far, however, their proposals are not as comprehensive or far-reaching as changes already adopted by many states.

Democrats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing new restrictions on gifts, meals or trips paid for by lobbyists. They say they plan for the first time to require lawmakers to disclose their sponsorship of the pet items known as earmarks that they insert into major spending bills.

Meanwhile, several states, responding to the national scandals as well as their own imbroglios, have already adopted more sweeping gift and travel bans, broader measures to end the central role of lobbyists or government contractors in financing campaigns, and new forms of public campaign financing aimed at reducing lawmakers' dependence on big donors.

To enforce their rules, more than half of the states have also created independent ethics watchdogs, outside the control of the lawmakers they police -- something members of Congress have so far resisted.

John Hurson, a former member of the Maryland General Assembly and president of the National Council of State Legislatures, remembers marveling at the goings-on just a few miles away in the U.S. Capitol.

While he was in his state legislature, he was barred from letting a lobbyist buy him a cup of coffee under rules enforced by the Maryland Ethics Commission. At the same time, members of Congress were flying across the country for golf trips with lobbyists and enlisting them as major fund-raisers.

"It was amusing in a sad kind of way," said Hurson, who now works as a Washington lobbyist himself, for a cosmetics industry trade group. "At the state level in Maryland a lobbyist can't even have his name on a campaign flier. And at the federal level some of these guys are basically running campaigns."

Which is why we not only need ethics reform, but also earmark reform so we can eliminate the kickbacks that members of Congress provide back to the lobbyists. It's hard to tell what the Democrats will do. They fought against earmark identification when the Republicans were in charge.

Boehner wrote that on some issues, Democrats such as new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "have hinted at a bait-and-switch. Take earmark reform, for example. In September, when House Republicans fought successfully for adoption of earmark reforms requiring all earmark sponsors to be identified, Ms. Pelosi called the Republican reform a 'sham.'

"Yet just days after the 2006 election, USA Today reported that Ms. Pelosi had decided 'her first agenda item after being elected House speaker will be a vote to require sponsors of earmarks to be identified.' And days later, the New York Times reported House Democrats may actually propose earmark rules that retreat from those adopted by the House under Republican leadership this year."

Democrats retreating from earmark reform? I'm shocked, shocked!


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Comments (18)

Dems?? Ethics? ROFLMFAO</p... (Below threshold)

Dems?? Ethics? ROFLMFAO

yeah, put harry reid and william jefferson in charge of ethics!

They also fought against ra... (Below threshold)

They also fought against raising the minimum wage.

I'll second that. Dems and... (Below threshold)

I'll second that. Dems and ethics? Bwahahahahahahahah....

What a joke.

OXYMORON: Ethi... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:


Ethical Politician

Just 2 observations here. T... (Below threshold)

Just 2 observations here. The first: I've never read so may conclusory criticisms of a political party not in power yet. It has been funny reading you folks since the election. The second: I've never read so many opinions about the ethics of a political party from the supporters of probably the most unethical congressional party in the history of our country.

Why don't you take a deep breath, see what they enact, how they behave and how the ethics rules are enforced and then come to judgment about the actual facts instead of supposition.

I'm just saying, not judging.

"probably the most unethica... (Below threshold)

"probably the most unethical congressional party in the history of our country"

The reason this line doesn't have any punch is because if you go and read old newspapers, you see that it is invoked whenever Republicans win.

Seriously guys-- liberals are "progressive" and "pro change" right? So c'mon, new material! We could take any of your speeches, run them in 1986 and nobody would know they were anachronistic!

I see that I need to correc... (Below threshold)

I see that I need to correct myslef. What I meant to say is that the last republican congress was prpbably the most unethical congressional party in power in the history of our country. I'll stand by that one.

Hugh:What comes to... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:


What comes to mind is the old saying about "living in glass houses". Having not lived 100 years, or even 200 years ago, I doubt that you can establish that the recent Republican congress ws the most corrupt in history. As far as predicting how the new democratic congress will do, consider things like $90,000 in the freezer and lionizing a former congressman who had sex with a page.

I repeat.


Ethical Politician (of any party)

Didn't John Conyers of the ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Didn't John Conyers of the incoming ethical party admit last Friday that he 'probably broke the law' when he had his staff work for his election campaign while still on the clock?

"Why don't you take a deep ... (Below threshold)

"Why don't you take a deep breath, see what they enact, how they behave and how the ethics rules are enforced and then come to judgment about the actual facts instead of supposition."

See what they plan to enact: Anyone can read what they plan to enact, it's on the Communist Party of America's website.

How they behave: On 22 Apr 1971 in front of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the US Senate John Kerry stated that
" I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh's points it has been stated time and time again,""
John Kerry, by his own admission, met with America's enemiest during the time we were at war
with them. John Kerry adopted and promoted the enemies' plan. John Kerry,and his helpers are responsible for the total destruction of South Vietnam, and the reason the US is considered to have been defeated in Vietnam.

John Kerry was nominated by the Democrat Party to be their candidate for president of the United States in 2004.

In 2006, John Kerry has flown to Syria to met with the Syrian President, the same person who Sen Rockefeller met with to turn over US secrets
about our plans for Iraq in Jan 2002. In addition,
Sen Nelson, Sen Dodd, Sen Specter, and others have already met with this anti American Syrian leader. What could they be telling him? Probably
not that he needs to change his ways. Much more likely they are telling him they will accept his terms.

" How the ethics rules are enforced"
Congressman Murtha, an unindicted co-conspirator,
may be the least of his ethics problems. Congressman Jefferson and many more, demonstate
exactly how Democrats DON'T enforce ethics.

The list goes on and on. There is no need to sit around and wait, the proof of what Democrat
politicians are and what they intend to do to this great nation is readily available.

Here's more proof;

USMCOk ok ok I'll ... (Below threshold)


Ok ok ok I'll correct myself again. The most corrupt since you and I have been born. How's that? 1946 for me.

By the way I do agree with your OXYMORON position.

Hugh:If you are in... (Below threshold)
USMC Pilot:


If you are including the corruption on both sides of the isle, I might give you your case.

1941 (your just a kid)

They also fought a... (Below threshold)
They also fought against raising the minimum wage.

They voted against repealing the estate tax, to which the GOP min. wage increase was tied. I'd imagine the objections to the GOP proposal to ID earmarks were similar.

"Why don't you take a deep ... (Below threshold)

"Why don't you take a deep breath, see what they enact, how they behave and how the ethics rules are enforced and then come to judgment about the actual facts instead of supposition."

I wrote a long comment on this this morning, but apparently it had too many links, so I'll try a different approach. Is there any Democrat congressional leadership (except Sen Lieberman) that isn't linked to serious ethic problems?

Ethics reform would do harm... (Below threshold)

Ethics reform would do harm to Congress' (real) constituents.

What an entirely dishonest ... (Below threshold)

What an entirely dishonest post from Kim (no surprise there)

They fought against earmark identification when the Republicans were in charge.

No, they fought against the weaker bill in favor of the even stronger bill authored by Emanuel and Van Hollen. That Democratic earmark reform bill was not allowed to come to a vote by the Republican leadership, in favor of their weaker bill, which was rightly called a sham. Once again Kim you show that you (and Boehner, in this instance) are full of shit.

It is interesting to note that while you are more than willing to distort the intentions of one party, dishonestly ignoring the legislation they try to introduce which is blocked by the other party, you will criticize what they haven't even done (or not done), and completely ignore the Republicans' past unwillingness to deal with this issue. You claim the Democrats will introduce legislation that would be too weak (or at least weaker than in some states)? How about some criticism for the Republicans who had 12 years to enact legislation as tough as those states? Nothing? Thought not.

In what has to be the bigge... (Below threshold)

In what has to be the biggest set os brass ball hypocrisy in quite a while these whiners from the House want a Bill of Rights for Republicans.


It's hard for me to be struck wordless but this comes close.

What happened to the Intell... (Below threshold)

What happened to the Intelligence committee ethics thing?






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