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Congress Agrees to Disagree on Gift Rules

In what no longer comes as a surprise, the House ethics committee — contradicted by their colleagues at the Senate ethics committee — have poked another gaping hole in the new ethics rules.  The new ethics rules ban gifts of any value from lobbying organizations to lawmakers.  Both the House and Senate ethics committees were asked by a lobbying organization to rule on whether that organization may buy tables of seats at a charity event, and then suggest to the sponsors of the event to hand them over as gifts to lawmakers.

The House ethics committee said "yes."  The Senate ethics committee said "no."

Following the House committee’s ruling on parties at the national conventions — in which the House ethics committee said that the new ban on lobbyists throwing lavish parties for a lawmaker at the national conventions does not apply if two or more lawmakers are honored at the party — it is becoming clear that we have a rogue House ethics committee that has not changed much since Tom DeLay.