Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Proposed Ethics Changes

Boston Globe reported Among the proposals being seriously discussed:

Ban lawmakers from accepting any privately funded travel. Now, some lobbyists get around the prohibition on paying for lawmakers' travel by arranging trips through corporate sponsors.

According to First Read
But as Viq has reported before, not all GOP members are pleased with the prospect of a total ban on outside travel: "I applaud the Speaker and Chairman Dreier's efforts. However, many trips are truly educational, and I believe a complete ban on all private travel would be an overreaction that doesn't get to the root of the problem," said Rep. John Shadegg, who happens to be one of the three candidates for House majority leader.
If Congress feels that its members need to travel somewhere in support of heir committee duties, then the trip should be paid for out of committee funds, and it should be reported online.
Lower limits on the value of gifts lawmakers can accept. Now, they are permitted to accept individual gifts worth less than $50, with an annual limit of $100 in gifts per source. The proposal would lower the value of acceptable gifts to $20 and set an annual cap of $50 per source.
I don't object to this, but don't see it as absolutely necessary. If a congressman can be bought for $50, he can probably be bought for $20.
Ban former House members who have become lobbyists from entering the House gym or stepping onto the House floor.
Sounds fine to me.
Increase reporting requirements for "527" issue advocacy groups.
I support this completely. According to First Read
Roll Call notes that "growing Republican sentiment for using lobbying reform bills to clamp down on free-spending 527 groups" threaten "bipartisan accord" because of how Democrats have come to rely on the groups to help them compensate for their traditional disadvantage on hard money.
If the Democrats want to come out as opposing Ethics changes, that is their right.
The item I would like to see changed is banning all ear marks.

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