Watchdog groups urge House members to oppose scam lobbying “reform” bill

Common Cause

Democracy 21

Public Citizen

Common Cause, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen on Tuesday urged House members to vote against the so-called lobby reform bill the House is expected to consider unless it is greatly strengthened on the House floor. The watchdog groups say the current form of the legislation is a pathetic response to the Abramoff lobbying scandal that does nothing to curb the ‘anything goes’ culture in Washington and cannot credibly be called reform.

“Clearly, Congress thinks the public is not paying attention,” Common Cause President Chellie Pingree said of HR 4975, the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. “Yet we know that the vast majority of Americans believe that business as usual between lobbyists and Members of Congress must change, and that the corruption of public officials is an important issue.”

“The House Republican leadership lobbying bill is apparently based on the premise that you can fool all of the people all of the time,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer. “The bill, for example, contains a section called ‘Curbing Lobbyists Gifts’ that doesn’t curb gifts from lobbyists, and a section called, ‘Slowing the Revolving Door,’ that contains no provisions to slow the revolving door. The bill is a scam and a joke that should be defeated in its current form.”

“This bill is a sham because the House leadership does not want real ethics and lobbying reform,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “They aren’t rock stars, but they want the luxury trappings to be showered with lobbyists’ money and entertainment, and flown around on corporate jets above the fray of security lines, delayed flights and missed connections.”

Pingree, Wertheimer and Claybrook addressed reporters on a telephone press conference, urging House leadership to oppose any rule around HR 4975 that would prohibit Members from voting on a proposal to establish an Office of Public Integrity (OPI), and on other strengthening amendments to the bill.

Common Cause, Democracy 21, Public Citizen, along with the Campaign Legal Center, League of Women Voters and U.S. Public Interest Research Group are among a coalition advocating for meaningful ethics and lobby reform in Congress. The groups sent a letter to Members of Congress on April 24, urging them to vote no on the bill unless it is greatly strengthened on the House floor, as well as urging free and open debate around the bill.

Click here to read the letter: