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The New Bribery Rules For GOP Congressmen - The Hastert Loophole

danarhea

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Dennis Hastert talks a good game, but like many of the blowhards in Washington, his game isnt up to the standards he talks of setting. In the debate of setting ethical standards for GOP lawmakers, he talks very tough, and backs the following proposal:

The House Republican lobbying proposal would:
  • Ban privately financed travel for House members.
  • Ban gifts worth more than $20, down from the current limit of $50.
  • Bar former lawmakers who are lobbyists from the House gym and House floor.
  • Cancel the pensions of House members who are convicted of felonies related to official duties.
  • Double to two years the ban on former members of Congress or staffers lobbying their former offices.
However, talk is cheap, and Hastert's not addressing campaign finance reform as part of the package makes for the following exception:

According to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert's proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world at an interest group's expense and eat on a lobbyist's account at the priciest restaurants in Washington.

The only requirement would be that whenever a lobbyist pays the bill, he or she also must hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly OK.

"That's a big hole if they don't address campaign finance," said Joel Jankowsky, the lobbying chief of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, one of the capital's largest lobbying outfits.
In short, outright bribery would be legal, as long as a campaign contribution is part of the bribe. Every Congressman and Senator, Democratic and Republican, knows this, and despite their tough talk, it seems they are looking forward to this "change" in the rules. So what we have in the end is a proposal to legalize what some of our lawmakers are now being indicted for. How stupid do they think we are? Well, pretty stupid, since they are doing this right under our very noses. Hastert may be doing this for his fellow Republicans, but the Democrats are also licking their lips at the possibilities.

The bottom line is that, if our lawmakers are going to reign in corruption on Capitol hill, the way campaigns are financed is going to have to be part of the package. If not, then despite all the talk, it will still be business as usual, and the pigs will still continue to feed at the trough without having to worry about those pesky indictments.

Article is here.
 
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