The widespread corruption in Congress in the past few years reveals just how easily politicians can be swayed by lobbyists like Jack Abramoff – and the lavish fundraisers and golf trips to Scotland they provide. The result of this cozy relationship between the Capitol and “K Street” lobbyists is a government that serves corporate instead of public interests.
There has been little to prevent the influence peddling of high-priced lobbyists – until now.
We succeeded in passing stronger rules for lobbyists and Members of Congress! Now we are focusing on implementing the new law, and creating an Office of Public Integrity to enforce the new rules. You'll find the latest analysis in the Watchdog Blog. Join the conversation!
We believe it's time to take back our government from special interests and hope you join the fight.
The members of the House Ethics Committee are undermining the efficacy of the new lobbying reform law. They decided that the ban on lobbyist-fundied parties at national party nominating conventions does not apply to events with more than one Member in attendance, and that lobbyists and lobbying organizations can buy seats and tables at charity events, and then instruct the charity to give the seats to lawmakers. But the Senate Ethics Committee should be commended for sticking to the letter of the law. The House needs to do the same.
- Read our letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to have the Ethics Committee reissue its rule on party conventions that carries out the clear meaning, purpose and spirit of the new rule.
- Read our press release on the House Ethics Committee ruling
- Read our advice to the House Ethics Committee on how to implement the lobbying rules.
- Read the House Ethics Committee’s ruling on lobbyist-sponsored parties at the national conventions.
- See what else the Ethics Committee is doing to undermine lobbying reform in our Watchdog Blog.
Office of Congressional Ethics
After a tough vote in March 2008, the House approved House Resolution 895, instituting the new Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The organization is currently being implemented. On Friday, July 25th, the first six-member OCE board will be announced. Public Citizen was very disappointed with the weak powers of this body, as it lacks the power of subpoena, is not a fully independent agency, and only has the power to recommend investigations to the House Ethics Committee rather than take action on its own. We hope that the OCE, though handicapped by its limited powers, serves as a positive force to root out unethical behavior in the House.
Check back after July 25th for more information on the new board!
Keeping the Disclosure Rules
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) lost their attempt to overturn the part of last year's landmark lobbying reform law which requires it to reveal who funds the goliath business lobbying organization. Public Citizen and other reform groups issued an amicus brief explaining how the disclosure requirement is constitutional, and should be kept intact. U.S. District Judge Kollar-Kotelly agreed with us. Consumers should know who's behind NAM's lobbying to weaken toy and product safety improvements being considered by Congress now.
Dinner and a Movie
Despite the new ban on gifts from lobbyists and lobbying organizations, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continues to use “Dinner and a Movie” to woo lawmakers. Public Citizen sent comments to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the U.S. Senate Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct highlighting the violation, and a follow-up letter after the OGE responded.
The Buzz on Lobbying Reform
Several federal laws and regulations either restrict lobbyists' activities or mandate disclosure of their activities. Learn more about what's on the books.