It's not clear what games might be under way. Are K Street lobbyists staging a last-ditch fight against finally disclosing their fund-raising clout with lawmakers? Are Republicans trying to foil Democrats from delivering on their campaign promises last year for credible reform?
Whatever is going on, the public had better be wary of backsliding and make sure that Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, doesn't cave in to any weakening of the strong measures he already steered to approval. Gamesmanship should be firmly met by a leadership initiative that forces a fresh vote on the record, if necessary, to smoke out any members trying to privately torpedo in conference what they publicly supported last January.
At the heart of true reform is the requirement that lobbyists reveal their influence as "bundlers" who mass separate donations from clients into single eye-popping packages. No less vital is the mandate that lobbyists disclose their other roles at the Capitol groaning board — hosting fund-raising events for politicians, funneling donations to lawmakers' charities and their inaugural events and ginning up parties to "honor" powerful incumbents. None of this influence-peddling would end, but the public would at least gain a clearer idea of the ways the Capitol operates. Any retreat from these basic reforms can only deepen voters' cynicism.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Times editorial: Senate must hold fast against last ditch effort by lobbyists to derail reform
In an editorial in today's edition, the New York Times encourages the Senate to stick to its guns with lobbying reforms: