Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Weak Ethics Bill

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle lets Congress have it, over the weak ethics bill they passed, in an editorial yesterday:

After the Jack Abramoff scandal broke in Washington, around the time of scandals involving former Rep. Duke Cunningham and House leader Tom DeLay, the chances for a strong ethics bill — basically, Congress cracking down on itself — were as strong as at any time in recent memory.

But lawmakers puttered, hoping the public would forget. And when the House finally got around to voting on legislation last week, it was a monumentally weak offering. Its message to constituents was, essentially: Take this thin gruel and leave us alone.


Hair-splitting legislation is bad legislation. The task here is to restore integrity to Congress. That can be done in this case by controlling access by monied special interests. All gifts should be banned, including the gift of travel and accommodations from any private entity.

Rep. James Walsh, meeting with the Editorial Board last week, said he didn't think identifying "earmarks'' — meaning money or programs targeted for special interests — fit with an ethics bill. Technically, maybe not. But leaving it to another bill, at a later time, likely means nothing will be done. Now is the time to rein in influence-peddling of all kinds, including earmarks.

Of course Jimbo doesn't want earmarks reform, earmarks are about the only reason he can muster as to why he should be re-elected.


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