Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smoke, Mirrors and Congressional Ethics

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Smoke, Mirrors and Congressional Ethics

Article excerpt

The Senate has gone one step further than the House and banned just about everything a senator could conceivably receive from a lobbyist - in the name of convincing the public that its servants are honest and trustworthy. The vote was 95-4, though many senators endorsed the measure with reluctance.

Some of what the Senate did made good sense. It closed loopholes in the House-passed version of the bill. For instance, free travel and lodging at charity sporting events, which amount to lobbyist-paid vacations, would be prohibited - as they should be. The House should agree. However, prohibiting all gifts, including those from non-registered lobbyists with a value of less than $20, is silly. Even one of the sponsors of the measure, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, was against that prohibition.

Such a detail hardly matters, however. The main - and meritorious - point of the bill is to stop special interests from providing favors to members of Congress, whether in the form of meals, entertainment or gifts. …

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