This doesn’t quite seem right:
No one, though, should fall for phony enforcement of the sort peddled by Senate Democrats in their lobbying reform bill.
That’s a snippet from the end of a Washington Post Editorial, and if it seems unusually strong, I thought so too.
Apparently, the Washington Post believes that
The existing rules are too permissive and don’t require enough disclosure; more is needed. But such changes need to be coupled with a better system to police compliance.
Right there with you. So far so good. Apparently, the best idea is to
create an Office of Public Integrity. This office would serve not simply as a passive repository of filings, as the current system does. Instead, it would be an independent, nonpartisan entity, on the model of the Congressional Budget Office.
Fair enough. That sounds all right to me.
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has proposed creating an Congressional Ethics Enforcement Commission, composed of former judges and former members of Congress, to investigate complaints and determine whether a violation has occurred; the ethics committee would determine what punishment was proper. That’s a bit too much outsourcing for our taste.
Umm, what? Outsourcing? They are calling former judges and congressional representatives “outsourcing?” I don’t see why it is automatically a bad idea for the people with oversight of congressional ethics to not be, in addition, congressional representatives. Maybe this is a bad idea, but I’m not sure why it deserves such scorn. Oh, and speaking of scorn:
No one, though, should fall for phony enforcement of the sort peddled by Senate Democrats in their lobbying reform bill. Their measure would establish a Senate Office of Public Integrity — but it would have authority over lobbyists’ compliance with the rules, not senators’. They’d be left to the ethics committee. Public integrity, it seems, only goes so far.
This is ridiculous! To recap, Republicans flout all the rules, sell influence and accept bribes, engage in all sorts of shady dealings, and now Democrats are accused of only pursuing “public integrity . . . so far?” Completely incomprehensible. The first time I read it I thought it was a misprint. This sort of irresponsible and misleading editorial makes one want to write a letter to the editor.
For a much more thoughtful and incisive look at reform Molly Ivins is, as usual, right on:
Forget the people talking about “lobby reform.” The lobby does not need to be reformed, the Congress needs to be reformed. This is about congressional corruption, and it is not limited to the surface stuff like taking free meals, hotels and trips. This is about corruption that bites deep into the process of making laws in the public interest. The root of the rot is money (surprise!), and the only way to get control of the money is through public campaign financing.
I’ve mentioned before the idea that, as long as dollars can buy votes, we won’t really have a clean government. Ivins rightly keeps the focus on the larger situation, which is that the GOP led congress is rotting with corruption. Meanwhile, the Washington Post chooses to whine that the Democrats’ bill isn’t exactly what they’d like. Stupid.