Corruption and Lobbying Reform Stalls…Again
The "pretend to do something while we’re really standing up for the status quo" Congress is at it again. All that talk about lobbying and corruption reforms in the wake of the myriad of Republican corruption and bribery scandals, indictments and guilty pleas…well, it was all a lot of hot air designed to provide public CYA for the next election, according to the WaPo:
When Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) announced his resignation as majority leader in January — soon after lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges — House Republicans panicked. Dozens of GOP lawmakers, fearing a political backlash, flooded the office of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) with urgent pleas for lobbying reform.
Their message was clear: Hastert needed to champion legislation to crack down on unethical behavior and impose tough new restrictions on lobbyists and congressional perks. Hastert, who had previously shown scant interest in the issue, responded with proposals that surprised longtime reformers with their reach: a ban on privately funded travel by lawmakers and severe restrictions on lobbyist-paid meals.
"We need to reform the rules so that it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what is ethically acceptable," Hastert said at a news conference 10 days after DeLay stepped down.
But that was then. Six months later, the legislation has slowed to a crawl. Along the way, proposals such as Hastert’s that would sharply limit commonplace behavior on Capitol Hill have been cast aside. Committee chairmen once predicted the bill would be finished in March, but the Senate did not pass its ethics bill until March 29 and the House passed its version May 3. The House has yet to name negotiators to draft the final package.
Legislators and public-interest group advocates say the most likely result this year is a minimalist package that would allow members to say they have responded to the Abramoff situation and other scandals but would do little to crimp their ability to accept lobbyist favors.
Oh yeah, I got yer "public interest" right here. Do they think that everyone in America is so caught up on who is hitting whom with a chair on the WWF this week that we won’t notice that they have done absolutely NOTHING — that every action taken is mere window dressing?
Let’s take a stroll down Republican Corruption Memory Lane this morning, shall we? I think we all need to refresh our recollections as to just how broad the reach is in terms of lobbying efforts, bribery and looking the other way in the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress of Corruption:
Meet Tom Delay. Former Republican House Majority Leader — I say former because he has resigned his seat in the House to deal with a multiple felony indictment in the State of Texas, and an alleged pending investigation by the Department of Justice on his KStreet "pay to play" activities and his crony friendship (and that of multitudes of his former staffers) with Jack Abramoff. This lovely photo was taken with President Bush around the time of DeLay’s indictment — in a show of solidarity. Cozy.
Meet Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, David Safavian and Bob Ney. (The tall guy in the back, Jack Murdoch, is the bloke who organized the golf junket and is now stuck in a photo with these bozos for all eternity.) Jack Abramoff, uber-GOP lobbyist and power dealer in Washington recently plead guilty to a multiple felony federal plea. He’s awaiting sentencing. David Safavian was found guilty of multiple federal felonies by a jury of his peers last week — he’s also awaiting sentencing. Bob Ney is a Congressman from Ohio (for the moment…) and is allegedly under federal investigation for corruption and bribery charges — and he is now alleged to have lied to Senate investigators. (Ouch.) Ralph Reed is having a pretty bad week himself, since Sen. McCain released lots of documents late last week that make Reed look like a hypocritical user of his Christian Coalition pals for Reed’s own personal accumulation of wealth and power. What a group of family values fellas, eh?
Meet former Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham — he’s accepted responsibility for multiple federal felonies, including bribery, and is now cooperating in the investigation of an even larger bribery and corruption scandal involving hookers, limos, poker and…
Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, also of California, who heads up the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
And that’s just the first few that I pulled off the top of my head this morning before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee. Your Republican government in action..nothing like a lot of feeding at the trough, I suppose, and never mind the real people (you know, the "constituents") that you are supposed to represent. Sheesh.
Who did I miss? List your favorites and maybe we’ll get some more rogues gallery photos up…