Bundling bill, lobby and ethics reform are solid first steps

Bills approved today by the US House that would require lobbyists to disclose campaign contributions they collect for Members of Congress, as well as broad lobby and ethics reform legislation, are a solid step in the right direction for changing business-as-usual in Washington. But more is needed.

“They’ve started to drain the swamp and we commend the Democratic leadership and the freshmen members of Congress who pushed hardest for this,” said Bob Edgar, the new president of Common Cause. “But there’s still a lot of work to do to prove that this Congress is serious about cleaning up Washington.”

Congress still needs to: Create independent, outside ethics enforcement, and extend the so-called revolving door rule that prohibits Members from lobbying their colleagues once they leave office.

“I also want to commend those Republicans who offered strengthening amendments to the legislation,” said Edgar, who was in Congress’ first post-Watergate class that enacted sweeping ethics and campaign finance reforms in the wake of scandal.

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act contained a number of good provisions, including one that requires Members and senior staff to disclose to the Ethics Committee negotiations for future employment and also requires job seekers to recluse themselves from consideration of conflict of interest legislation; it prohibits a Member from influencing a private entity’s hiring choice on the basis or partisan political affiliation and it requires the House Clerk to post on a public Internet site for six years all advance authorizations, certifications and disclosure regarding transportation, lodging and related expenses for travel.