13
Jan
2006

Regulating Congress

Boston Globe
by Ezekiel J. Emanuel & Dennis F. Thompson

01/12/06

In the wake of the Abramoff scandal and the DeLay difficulties, Congress is scurrying to enact new ethics rules governing lobbying. But as with other ethics reforms, the changes will not make much difference unless the rules are enforced. Even the most minimal kind of regulation -- disclosure -- has been widely disregarded in recent years. Since 1998, lobbyist organizations failed to submit about 14,000 disclosure documents as required by law. Members and staff fail to report travel as required by House and Senate rules. Without more effective enforcement, new rules will be evaded or ignored like the old rules. Why has enforcement been so lax? As in other professions, self-regulation among politicians does not work well. Congressional ethics committees are prone to partisan paralysis or bipartisan collusion. The rule seems to be: If we investigate a Republican, we have to investigate a Democrat (and vice versa); therefore, we had better not investigate anyone...

//tinyurl.com/cntro


Informant: Thomas L. Knapp
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