A Positive Step
Unlike any of the other bills or proposals introduced thus far, Senate Democrats today introduced legislation that includes a proposal to strengthen oversight and enforcement of lobby disclosure rules through the creation of an independent Office of Public Integrity. This is a positive step, and we welcome it.
As we have previously stated, many of the excesses in the Abramoff scandal were already in violation of existing rules. Rules governing the behavior of lobbyists need to be tightened, but without effective oversight and enforcement, more rules are only half a solution.
The same is also true for members of Congress. The ethics committees in the House and Senate have been ineffective at enforcing the rules of official conduct for members of Congress. We believe Congress must have independent oversight of ethics rules as well as lobby disclosure rules if there is going to be complete reform.
“The ethics committees in the House and Senate are supposed to be the cop on the beat,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “For nearly a decade we’ve had no one on patrol. We need credible enforcement of all the rules and this is a step in the right direction.”
Common Cause’s goal is the strongest bipartisan legislation we can achieve. We will continue to work with both the Democratic and Republican leadership in House and Senate to the get strongest reform proposal enacted.