You and Public Citizen helped put lobbying and ethics reform on the front burner of the nation’s political agenda. We ran a Voters First Pledge drive to commit congressional candidates to the reform agenda and we hounded Congress to change their ways, to be open and accountable. It worked.
Most Democratic and many Republican congressional candidates campaigned on ending corruption and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised to make lobbying and ethics reform first on the legislative agenda for Day One of the new session. Many of the members of Congress in our Hall of Shame who had close ties to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff are now packing their bags. We now have to make sure the new majority follows through on its promise to end the "culture of corruption" in Washington, DC.
Public Citizen has been working with Rep. Pelosi and other members of Congress to help craft the strongest lobbying and ethics reforms possible. We are expecting the final draft to resemble Rep. Pelosi's previous Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006 (H.R. 4682), which will do the following (click here for a full summary):
1. Increase transparency of lobbyists' activities - enabling searches
online showing which lobbyists are fundraising for which Congressmen;
2. Slow the revolving door – doubling the time retiring members of Congress and their
staff must wait before becoming a lobbyist;
3. Prohibit lobbyists and their special interest groups from providing free travel for
members and staff and require detailed itineraries on all other trips;
4. Ban gifts from lobbyists to members or staff;
5. Expose who is earmarking government contracts and appropriations to special
interests and corporations in our bills; and
6. Create an Office of Public Integrity (OPI) to monitor and initiate
investigations against lobbyists (but not members of Congress).
The last provision, the creation of an OPI, is what most desperately needs improvement. Keeping an eye on lobbyists is vital, but they are not the only ones who break the rules. The OPI must also act as an independent ethics agency to monitor members of Congress and their staff to assure that everyone is following the rules.
This is a huge opportunity to change business-as-usual in Washington by passing real, sweeping reforms. To help make it happen, please take a minute to personalize the letter below to your Representative. After you send it, you will be given an opportunity to write Rep. Pelosi directly, or you can click here now.