Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Pretend Step To Reform

Yesterday the US Senate approved an amendment to a bill that would prohibit lobbyist from buying meals for Senators.

The amendment to a broad lobbying and ethics-reform bill, accepted by a voice vote, strengthened language in that bill that bars lawmakers from accepting lobbyist gifts but makes an exception for meals.

Some seem quite pleased with themselves over this not so bold step, but remember this.

The vote on meals came after the Senate rejected, on a party-line, 55-44 vote, a broader Democratic alternative that would have banned meals and all privately funded travel.

They want to give the impression that they are doing something, but make sure they get to keep the better goodies flowing.

The real trouble is, these new rules will do little to redefine the over cozy relationship that exist between lobbyist and law makers. When this story first started breaking, one item that gathered much attention were the semi-formalized ties that now exist between the Republican party and lobbyist groups. A perfect example of this tie were the Tuesday morning meetings hosted By Sen.. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

When the story broke, the Senator first announced he was changing some of the practices of the meetings (the job fair), then announced that the meetings were canceled.

He Lied.

But in the month since his announcement, Santorum has held two meetings attended by the same core group of lobbyists, and has used the sessions to appeal for campaign aid, according to participants. Both of those meetings were convened at the same time as the previous meetings -- 8:30 a.m. -- on the same day of the week -- Tuesday -- and they lasted for about as long as the earlier meetings -- one hour.

The only difference is that the meetings are no longer held in the Capital Building.

It is this relationship, not just the goodies, that have to be distanced, and the people we now have in charge in DC are clearly not the ones to make this happen.



Barry - Charlotte NC said...

What the Republican party has become disust me. There is no one left to vote for.

Lynne said...

Molly Ivins has a great column about this.
"I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight."