Public Citizen Urges Congress to Pass Ground-Breaking Package of Lobbyist Fundraising, Earmark and Other Key Reforms

Far-Reaching Lobbying and Ethics Reform Legislation Faces Up or Down Vote This Week

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen praised new lobbying and ethics reform legislation introduced in Congress today. Nearly two years – and one Congress – after a wave of lobbying and ethics scandals put a dozen current and former lawmakers under criminal investigations, the 110th Congress is on the verge of passing far-reaching reforms to change the way business is done on Capitol Hill.

The legislation, unveiled today as a substitute measure consolidating earlier House and Senate versions, faces an up-or-down vote in the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday. If passed by both houses of Congress this week, it will be sent directly to the president to be signed into law. The earlier legislation (H.R. 2316 and S. 1) stalled in the Senate when Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) placed a hold on the appointment of conferees. It looked as though the legislation would perish until House and Senate Democratic leaders worked out a single bill.

“Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid demonstrated leadership and a strong commitment to reform in their clever end-run around roadblocks,” said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The bill includes new measures to enhance the transparency of government, including disclosure of campaign fundraising by lobbyists.”

This lobbyist bundling provision creates new disclosure requirements for all federal races, including congressional and presidential, and will address disclosure inadequacies recently brought to light by Public Citizen’s new Web site on the 2008 presidential election, www.WhiteHouseforSale.org

In sum, the new ethics bill:

  • Bans gifts from lobbyists and lobbying organizations;
  • Restricts privately-sponsored travel for members of Congress;
  • Restricts the use of corporate jets to fly members around the country or the globe;
  • Discloses fundraising and bundling activity by lobbyists for lawmakers;
  • Requires earmarks to be identified and available on the Internet 48 hours prior to a vote on any appropriations or tax bill; and
  • Discloses lobbyist financial activity every three months on the Internet in a searchable and sortable format.

“This is much of what America demanded in the 2006 elections, when voters sent a clear message to Congress to clean up its act,” said Craig Holman, lobbyist for Public Citizen. “This important lobbying and ethics reform bill will be a landmark of more honest government for years to come.”

###