The keystone of lobbying reform has already been passed by the Senate: the requirement that lobbyists disclose details of how they buy insiders’ clout — think Jack Abramoff — by soliciting donations from countless clients and delivering them to grateful lawmakers in eye-popping megabundles. The House must match the Senate in requiring full disclosure of these bundling operations and full details of who gives what to whom at pay-per-view fundraising galas that are the staple of Washington’s social life.
Credible reform also demands that lobbying firms, which now must disclose their accounts inside Washington, be forced to report on their out-of-town “grass-roots” campaigns. These are expensive, highly sophisticated operations disguised as spontaneous local movements, aimed at stirring the public to lobby Congress. The House should ban outright another wile of professional lobbyists: bankrolling lavish parties to “honor” (read “buy”) political leaders at the national party conventions.
The final target in credible reform is restraining the rush of members to become lobbyists through that golden revolving door to K Street. The present one-year quarantine must be doubled to two years during which alumni must avoid all lobbying, and not just direct contact but also the behind-the-scenes strategizing that is a current loophole.
Make no mistake. If the leadership fails to bring the lobbying industry to heel, voters will know that Congress remains as much for sale under the Democrats as it was under the Republicans.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Times editorial: House must match Senate on lobbying reforms
The U. S. Senate has made changes in how it deals with lobbyists; now it's time for the House to follow suit, according to an editorial in today's New York Times: