Federal ethics legislation

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When the Jack Abramoff, Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Tom DeLay scandals broke in 2005-2006, several pieces of ethics reform legislation were proposed. By the late spring of 2006, two of those bills stood a chance of becoming law.[1]

Contents

Reform bills passed by one chamber of Congress

H.R.4975: Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006

The Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 was passed by the House on May 3, 2006 by a vote of 217-213 (See votes).

Bill resources

S.2349: Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006

The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 was passed by the Senate on March 29, 2006 by a vote of 90-8 (See votes)

Amendments with record votes

Bill resources

Current status of legislation

Because the bills that have passed the House and Senate are different, a conference committee must meet to iron out the differences with a compromise bill that must then also pass both chambers of Congress. However, the House has not appointed negotiators for the conference committee, which has halted any progress in the legislation.

Measures aimed at executive branch officials

On February 13, 2007, The Hill newspaper reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was expected to move legislation that would place strict ethics limits on executive branch officials. The measures were seen as exceeding the limits the House previously adopted for itself back in January.[2]

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee was scheduled, on February 13, 2007, to hold a hearing on the new measures and planned to mark up the legislation in committee the following day.[3]

These proposals appeared to be in response to the various scandals that surfaced during President Bush’s term. Specifically, the controversies ranging from the establishment of a secret energy task force to the paying of political pundits for favorable reviews.[4]

A sweeping reform being considered by Waxman, under the bill, the Executive Branch Reform Act of 2007, H.R.984, would require executive-branch officials to report all significant contacts they have with any private interest related to an official government action. This would entail administration officials to report, four times per year, with whom they have met during the previous three months, the subject matter of those meetings, and the name of any clients represented.[5]


House measure to ban campaign pay going to spouses

On July 23, 2007, the House passed (H.R. 2630) which would ban lawmakers from paying their spouses for campaign work. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Mike Castle (R-Del.) and passed on a voice vote.[6]


Shiff commented on the legislation, saying, "Specifically I was concerned about cases where a spouse was being paid on a commission basis," describing an arrangement made by Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), who paid his wife a percentage of the donations she brought in. Schiff stated, "You're essentially telling a donor, 'Part of what you give to my campaign, you give to me.' That's inherently a conflict."[7]

Bill details

H.R. 2630 would amend the The Federal Election Campaign Act to prohibit committees and leadership PACs of a candidate or incumbent from making payments to the candidate’s or incumbent's spouse for services provided with the exception of reimbursements for travel.[8]

PACs and committees would have to report disbursements in a separate statement. Payments made to entities the spouse is and officer or director of would be prohibited. Nominal payments for supplies and equipment would not be prohibited if they amount to less than $500.[9]

Included in the group who may not be reimbursed would be son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, mother, father, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, or grandchild.[10]

Violation would bring penalties for the committee or PAC, but if the candidate or incumbent knew of the violation then they would be subject to penalties under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. [11]

Articles and resources

See also

Disclosure Legislation
Disclosure Legislation Family Tree

References

  1. Clean Up Washington, "What's Happening in Congress?," Public Citizen.
  2. Alexander Bolton, "Ethics gun is turned at executive," The Hill, February 13, 2007.
  3. Alexander Bolton, "Ethics gun is turned at executive," The Hill, February 13, 2007.
  4. Alexander Bolton, "Ethics gun is turned at executive," The Hill, February 13, 2007.
  5. Alexander Bolton, "Ethics gun is turned at executive," The Hill, February 13, 2007.
  6. Elizabeth Williamson. "House Passes Ban On Campaign Pay Going to Spouses," Washington Post. July 24, 2007.
  7. Elizabeth Williamson. "House Passes Ban On Campaign Pay Going to Spouses," Washington Post. July 24, 2007.
  8. Robert McElroy, " Managing America: Elections," TheWeekInCongress, July 27, 2007.
  9. Robert McElroy, " Managing America: Elections," TheWeekInCongress, July 27, 2007.
  10. Robert McElroy, " Managing America: Elections," TheWeekInCongress, July 27, 2007.
  11. Robert McElroy, " Managing America: Elections," TheWeekInCongress, July 27, 2007.

External resources

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