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"Draining the Swamp"

Adam's Apple

Senior Member
Apr 25, 2004
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Ten common sense suggestions, but, since common sense doesn't reign in Washington, we don't send "common sense" types there to represent us. What we get in return is corruption, corruption, corruption........

A Question of Ethics
By Jonathan Turley, USA Today
November 13, 2006

Voters sent Congress a clear message: End corruption now. Will Democrats listen, and more importantly, act?

While Republicans richly deserve the lion's share of blame for the grotesquely corrupt 109th Congress, it is only fair to note that ranking Democrats have long fought to preserve and benefit from many of the same loopholes and technicalities.

Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois has been criticized for accepting trips for himself and his wife that were paid for by outside groups such as the not-for-profit Aspen Institute. Likewise, the presumptive Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, was recently scrutinized for alleged ethics lapses, including a controversial land deal in Las Vegas and the use of campaign funds to give Christmas bonuses to workers at his luxury condo building in Washington.

None of this means that the Democrats cannot show that they are capable of personal change with needed political reform. Yet, the last Democratic proposals for ethics reforms contain obvious gaps that would allow the continuation of corrupt practices, including some favored by their leadership.

If Pelosi is serious about “draining the swamp,” here are 10 practices that would have to end:

Free vacations - Prohibit travel for members and their family and staff paid by outside groups, including not-for-profit organizations.

Playing the market - Bar members from legislating in areas where they have financial interests by closing a loophole in the definition of “outside income,” which excludes investments and stocks. Better yet, require the use of blind trusts by members (already used by executive and judicial officers).

Quid pro quo deals - End the practice of receiving windfall private deals from partners, who then receive generous government contracts. Require recusal from any matter in which a business partner has a direct financial interest.

Self-policing - Create an independent office of ethics in which non-members investigate and rule on allegations of unethical conduct.

Misuse of campaign funds - Prohibit the use of such funds for any purpose other than direct campaign costs for the original recipient, barring the transfer of funds to other candidates.

Family lobbyists - Bar members from any official contact with family members who are employed as lobbyists and require recusal from any committee with jurisdiction over issues on which a spouse or a child is a lobbyist. Enact an ethics principle that expressly condemns the employment of spouses or children as lobbyists as harmful to the institution.

Family businesses - Strengthen nepotism rules, including a ban on the hiring of spouses and family as campaign staff or contractors.

Gifts - Change the scope of prohibited gifts to include the use of private jets by members and catered food for members or staff. Also require the valuation of gifts by an independent ethics committee.

Club privileges - End all special access to the floor and other areas for former members that allows them free access as lobbyists.

Earmarks - The primary currency for corrupt practices and pork barrel projects remains earmarks — special pet projects inserted into budgets outside of the usual competitive bidding and appropriations processes. Democrats have proposed changes but not the most obvious: Ban earmarks.


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