Sunday, February 04, 2007

They Just Can't Let Go of Corruption?

Lobbying legislation must require that K Street report the campaign cash it collects for lawmakers.
Sunday, February 4, 2007;

DISTURBING, though not particularly surprising, rumblings are emanating from the House of Representatives to the effect that some Democrats are balking at requiring lobbyists to disclose the campaign contributions they arrange or collect for lawmakers.

This important requirement was included in the lobbying and ethics package that recently passed the Senate; Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) have introduced the same measure in the House and want to see it included in the lobbying legislation that the House plans to take up in the next few months. A similar provision was overwhelmingly approved by the House Judiciary Committee last year but unceremoniously disappeared from the final version of the legislation, which never became law in any event.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported last week that some Democratic House members, egged on by K Street lobbyists, are agitating to have the provision removed. That can't be allowed to happen. Mr. Van Hollen, who's responsible for helping to raise big money from K Street and elsewhere as the new head of the House Democrats' campaign arm, nonetheless understands that providing accurate information about the real influence of lobbyists is a critical piece of reform.

As it stands, lawmakers who happily take the cash and the lobbyists who harvest it for them are all too aware of how much the former are indebted to the latter. The public is left in the dark. If House leaders want to have credibility on cleaning up the "culture of corruption" they decry, they will see to it that the lobbying package that passes the House is as strong on this score as the Senate version.

...and the truth shall set us free.

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