You have to hand it to Congressional Republicans. Introducing a lobbying reform bill that leaves a huge, gaping hole in in any actual reform, allowing members of Congress to keep wining and dining on someone else's dime...so long as they are also raising campaign funds at the same time -- brazen doesn't begin to describe the scheme.
Can you get more efficient than fleecing a lobbyist and the public simultaneously? Nothing like pretending that you are for reform while propping up the very system you publicly pretend to change. That's some serious ass chutzpah.
According to the WaPo, a member of Congress could still...say...travel to Scotland for a golfing outing, as long as the outing was also accompanied by a big, fat fundraising check from all the lobbyists in attendance.
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.That's a pretty huge loophole, wouldn't you say?
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.
Clearly the gamble is that the American public is too stupid to figure this out for themselves -- and that the media wouldn't catch onto it, or that folks in the media wouldn't have the balls to report on it if they did catch on to the scam. Guess that's not working so well, considering even the WaPo has picked up on the bait and switch lobbyist money game.
Democrats have gone on the offensive with this issue, proposing their own version of lobbying reform today, according to the NYTimes.
Democrats plan to push ahead with their own proposals, saying they are skeptical that the Republicans who control the House and Senate will be able to clean up a system they have presided over.Oh, that Harry Reid. Pissing off Republicans by calling things like they really are. (Good on ya, Harry.)
"It is like asking John Gotti to do what he can to clean up organized crime," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.
UPDATE: Democrats will be unveiling their reform plan this afternoon. I'm told the event is going to be broadcast live on CSPAN starting around 2:00 pm EST and it will be also webcast live on the Democrat's website for those without access to television.