< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: Congress to Tighten Lobbying Rules

Monday, January 09, 2006

Congress to Tighten Lobbying Rules

From the Washington Post, an article about Congress moving to change the rules involving lobbying of politicians. While this is a good step, I doubt they will go far enough to really get at the root of the problem. From the article:

With Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) formally removed from congressional leadership, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) took the next step yesterday in Republican efforts to distance the party from a growing corruption scandal, saying the House will move soon to tighten the rules governing lobbyists' access to lawmakers.
Hastert tasked House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) to head the GOP's effort to draft new lobbying rules. The move comes months after House Democrats, led by Reps. Martin T. Meehan (Mass.) and Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), and Republican Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.), unveiled proposals to mandate more disclosure of lobbying contacts, ban most lobbyist-sponsored trips and lengthen the time former House members and staff must wait before taking up lobbying.

Click here to read the full article.

For more information on the Abramoff scandal, click here.

--Tom Hayes


Blogger ICHR said...

What would be "far enough"? You're the political guru, here. Drop some knowledge on us.

1. What are the roots of corrupt lobbying?

2. What can be done to remedy the problems?

3. What indirect, potentially troublesome consequences could occur if remedies are undertaken?

11:54 PM  
Blogger Colorado Coalition for Human Rights said...

I just think there is a huge difference in lobbying a representative by providing information and providing gifts and favors. I think there are multiple things that can be done to attempt to remedy the problem of money and politics. Some solutions have been laid out by watchdog groups like Common Cause such as the following:

* Tough enforcement - An independent ethics commission to provide oversight and enforcement of Congressional ethics rules.
* Impose an Effective Gift and Travel Ban - No more gifts from lobbyists; no more privately-funded travel.
* Slow the Revolving Door - No more Members of Congress and staff getting lucrative lobbying job offers as they write special interest legislation.
* Enact a publicly-funded, clean elections system for Congressional campaigns.
* Shine a Light on Lobbying Activities - Full, real-time disclosure of lobbying contacts, who's lobbying who and how much they're spending.

I think that transparency and an independent agency overseeing activities are the first steps to real reform. Obviously there are tradeoffs in politics, so a system of publicly funded campaigns would be seen as a limit on speech by some. It boils down to whether you think money does in fact equal speech and whether you view the current system as a threat to effective democratic governance, which includes safeguards attempting to limit corruption.

--Tom Hayes

6:23 PM  
Blogger JB said...

Those who do not view the current lobbying system in this country as a threat to our democracy should ask themselves why our congress repeatedly undertakes actions that the majority of Americans oppose. The most obvious example of this occurring is how lobbying has shaped the United States' policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Poll after poll show that the majority of Americans feel our government should adopt a more evenhanded approach towards both parties, instead of always siding with Israel. The powerful pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC has ensured that no politician in Washington can even think of criticizing Israel (e.g. Howard Dean had to reverse course in the 2004 primaries after suggesting that the U.S. should be more "evenhanded" in dealing with the Israelis and the Palestinians.) If our lobbying system was reformed in the meaningful way Tom proposes, our representatives' actions would begin to reflect the true will of the American people instead of the will of entrenched power interests.

11:10 AM  

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