February 21, 2006

Lobbying Congress

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Thursday January 19th 2006, 6:25 am
Filed under: Free Speech, Government

Everyone in America has the freedom of speech to talk about politics.

But some Americans get to do it directly to Reps. and Senators, while most of us don’t.

The former group includes lobbyists.

A Republican proposal described in the Washington Post yesterday would diminish the influence of lobbyists by stopping them from buying meals, travel, and other gifts for Congress members.

“Did I hear you say that there must be a catch?,” as the old song goes.

From an article by Jeffrey H. Birnbaum:

Lawmakers are about to bombard the American public with proposals that would crack down on lobbyists. Several prominent plans, including one outlined yesterday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would specifically ban meals and privately paid travel for lawmakers.

[However] according to lobbyists and ethics experts, even if Hastert’s proposal is enacted, members of Congress and their staffs could still travel the world on an interest group’s expense and eat steak 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 must also hand the lawmaker a campaign contribution. Then the transaction would be perfectly okay.

…[Senator John] McCain [(R-AZ)] said he knows the loophole exists and vowed to close it before the bill becomes a law.

The Washington Post, which published the article above, has done a much better job of covering lobbying proposals than many other news organizations, suggests Media Matters for America.

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