Thursday, May 04, 2006

Abramoff Would Be Proud

A chicken omelet and a feather duster are what you usually get when you set a fox to guard the hen house.

And, the U.S. House coop is no exception. Yesterday they passed a bill on lobbying reform and ethics intended to reform themselves. The results are predictable.

The vote was close, 217 to 213 with 3 not voting, falling mostly along party lines with the foxy GOP carrying the day.

Provisions include: --Requiring lobbyists to file quarterly (instead of twice yearly) reports of their activities with a penalty of $100,000 for noncompliance.....oooooohh, sounds tough.

--Allows privately funded travel with preapproval by two-thirds of the (ha-ha) House ethics committee. This committee typically can't investigate House ethics charges because they are too busy investigating each other, or getting axed from the committee for daring to act against someone like former House majority whip Tom "Hammer Head" Delay, who left his House seat under an Abramoff cloud.

--Requires random audits of lobbying reports and mandatory ethics training for congressional staff....just staff? How about mandatory training for the sticky-fingered Representatives.

--Requires a list of earmarks with sponsors names in appropriation bills so "points of order" can be raised against reports not having these lists. Stop, I can't stand it, raising points of order. Agggggh!

--It takes away the retirement benefits of members convicted of bribery or acting as a foreign agent while in office....why not extend the "acting as a foreign agent" to include after holding office too.

--Oh yes, there was an attached provision that limits donations to nonprofit political groups known as 527s....which not surprisingly tended to support Democrats in the 2004 elections. Guess that accounts for much of the party-line vote.

Too bad they just dressed the fox like Little Red Riding Hood instead of doing the only thing that will actually change the corrupt way business is done in our nation's capital....throw out the lobbyists altogether. No gifts, no trips, no writing about a "House Without Lobbyists." Sounds sweet.

But that's not going to happen......some things just never change, and power corrupts is one of them.

Government watchdog groups say this lobbying legislation is particularly ineffective, and was labeled by Joan Claybrook of the Public Citizen group as "a fraud on the American public."

I'm not even going to tell you about the earmarks being stuffed into the Senate "emergency" off-budget spending bill....a person can take just so much.

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