We at Clean Up Washington can barely contain ourselves. As reported in today’s top story, below, the Secret Service will release records of when convicted superlobbyist Jack Abramoff’s visited the White House – and with whom he visited. This should be an interesting test for new White House spokesperson Tony Snow….
And if you thought the effort to control lobbyists in the U.S. Congress is running into some rough sledding, just take a look across the pond. The European Union, where lobbyists seem to be proliferating (many from the U.S., and many of them starting to adopt U.S.-style lobbyist practices), is also slowly backing away from the problem. In an interview about the EU’s stance on the issue, Estonian Commissioner Siim Kallas explains that "to start legislation with compulsory registration [of lobbyists] would face enormous legal difficulties. We would not achieve anything until after the end of our mandate, that is quite sure." Currently there is no registry at all of lobbyists in the EU, and Kallas justified his proposal for a voluntary registration system on the grounds that the lobbying firms were preparing to challenge a mandatory registration system every step of the way.
Lastly, for a fairly thorough summary of the scandals and resulting lack of action here in the U.S., check out "U.S. Grapples with Corruption and Loses" in – of all places – the Tehran Times. (Yes, that Tehran.) They seem to have a pretty good bead on the situation after interviews with our own Legislative Representative Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s lobbyist on ethics and campaign finance legislation, who concludes by noting "today Capitol Hill is being run by and for corporations. The motive here is profit and it has nothing to do with what is good for the country." My goodness – even repressive theocracies feel emboldened to rub our government’s nose in our own corruption….