Pelosi’s Ethics Pledge Fails Reality Check

September 29, 2010

Pelosi’s Ethics Pledge Fails Reality Check
Spotlight Shines Bright on Speaker’s Failed Ethics Reforms

SPIN CYCLE: Speaker Pelosi Vowed that Democrats Would Lead the “Most Honest, Most Open, and Most Ethical Congress in History”:

“Our goal is to restore accountability, honesty and openness at all levels of government. To do so, we will create and enforce rules that demand the highest ethics from every public servant, sever unethical ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, and establish clear standards that prevent the trading of official business for gifts,” (Nancy Pelosi’s “A New Direction for America,” Page 21).

RINSE CYCLE: Ethics Problems Pile Up Despite Pelosi’s Empty Promises:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised four years ago that Democrats would lead “the most honest, most open, most ethical Congress in history.”
But as her party defends its record with its majority in jeopardy, two prominent Democrats await ethics trials. Two other party members gave Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to relatives. Most importantly, lobbyists, corporations and special interests still have unimpeded ways to buy access to members of Congress.

One Pelosi reform failed miserably when given a reality check.
An Associated Press review last year found that few members of Congress were disclosing that lobbyists were helping them raise campaign cash — despite a provision of the Honest Leadership law designed to shed light on the ties between lawmakers and the capital’s influence brokers.

Republicans, trying to win back control of the House, now cite ethics charges against Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California to argue that the speaker broke her word to run the most ethical Congress.
Rangel, former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, is charged with financial and fundraising misconduct, and has acknowledged some ethical lapses.
Waters, a senior member of the Financial Services Committee, is contesting allegations that she sought federal aid for a bank where her husband is an investor.
Republicans on the House ethics committee demanded Tuesday that the Rangel and Waters trials be completed before the November elections.
Recent news reports also revealed that Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., awarded Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to relatives. The foundation has close ties to the Congressional Black Caucus, although it is run separately as a tax-exempt organization.
And last week former lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, who helped defense clients secure government contracts, pleaded guilty to illegally funneling more than $380,000 in campaign contributions to House members controlling the Pentagon’s budget. Three top Democrats he worked with — Jim Moran of Virginia, Peter Visclosky of Indiana and the late John Murtha of Pennsylvania — directed $137 million in defense contracts to the lobbyist’s clients.
While no member of Congress has been criminally charged or found to have violated House rules, outside ethics watchdog groups have criticized the lawmakers’ conduct. (Larry Margasak, “Promises, Promises: Pelosi Ethics Pledge Falters,” Associated Press, 9/29/10)

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