Thursday, February 1, 2007

After 100

Congress ... We're Still Watching !


The New York Times
Full Disclosure of Back-Scratching
February 1, 2007

Now that House Democrats are beyond the spotlight of their ballyhooed first 100 hours, there are signs of foot-dragging on the keystone of their promised lobbying reform: forcing disclosure of the huge sums in campaign donations that lobbyists package to grease privileged access in the Capitol. This practice -- called bundling -- has lobbyists mass hundreds of donations of a few thousand dollars each into special-interest pinatas of hundreds of thousands. Full disclosure of bundling is the sine qua non of lobbying reform. Speaker Nancy Pelosi cannot let the new House majority backslide.

Senate Democrats have already passed bundling disclosure, but Roll Call, the Capitol newspaper, reports that House colleagues are raising questions about whether they really want to go along. The Senate bill requires quarterly reports from lobbyists detailing their own donations and fund-raising events, plus the mega-sums they solicit, bundle and grandly submit to candidates. According to Roll Call, this provision is stalled by Congressional doubters and K Street lobbyists. Opponents also! want to hobble a provision barring Congressional alumni from lobbying for two years, and another forcing disclosure of how lobbyists concoct ''grass roots'' campaigns to create pressure in Washington.

A bill matching the Senate's disclosure mandate has been submitted by the Democrats Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Marty Meehan of Massachusetts. Hesitant Democrats should bear in mind that Mr. Van Hollen, as chairman of their re-election drive, is well aware of how the easy-money culture helped sweep the Republicans from power. The new majority cannot afford to be tagged as hypocrites.

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Released: Thursday, February 1, 2007
Contact: Elenia Saloutsi

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