Local Commentary

Jim Moran

Congress passed the “Honest Leadership, Open Government Act” (S. 1) this week, which will bring about major changes in the way business is done in Washington.

This bill is the most sweeping lobby reform in a generation and has been hailed by reform groups as a “sea change for citizens” and “landmark reform.” 

The Honest Leadership, Open Government Act of 2007, together with the Congressional ethics reforms enacted in the first 100 hours of this Congress, are significant steps forward in cleaning up the culture of corruption that plagued Washington in past years.   

On the first day of the 110th Congress, we passed a landmark rules package – the toughest ethics reform in a generation – that broke the link between lobbyists and legislators: no gifts, no private jets, and no meals from lobbyists. 

But for the past few months, our larger lobbying reform package has been held up by a single Republican Senator who, through the use of procedural stalling tactics, has tried to prevent this legislation from going forward.  That stalemate was finally broken this week and the American people will not have to wait any longer for these needed reforms.  

Under the bill being sent to the President’s desk, a whole host of lobbying reforms have been enacted. These include:  

<!–[if !supportLists]–>l     <!–[endif]–>New transparency laws for lobbyists who bundle campaign contributions

<!–[if !supportLists]–>l     <!–[endif]–>An end to the K-Street Project by prohibiting private entities from hiring and firing based on politics

<!–[if !supportLists]–>l     <!–[endif]–>Expansion of public disclosure of lobbyist activities by doubling the frequency of the disclosure of Lobbyists’ Reports to four times a year, establishing an online, searchable public database of lobbyist disclosure information and increasing criminal and civil penalties for violating the disclosure laws to $200,000 and five years in prison.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>l     <!–[endif]–> Denies taxpayer-funded pension benefits to Members of Congress convicted of corruption while in office.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>l     <!–[endif]–>Establishes an online searchable public database of Member’s personal financial disclosure forms.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>l     <!–[endif]–>Requires disclosure of stealth lobbying by closing the loophole in current law that permits coalitions — such as the one that funded the extensive “Harry and Louise” ad campaign that targeted health care legislation in 1993-94 – to avoid disclosing their clients.   

From the first day of the 110th Congress, we began a new era of honest, open government, returning this House to the American people.  And with this comprehensive lobbying reform bill, Democrats are keeping their promise to the American people to make this Congress the most honest and open in history.

 

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