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Statement of WISPIRG Democracy Advocate Gary Kalman
Today’s votes on lobby reform take another important step toward reining in the corruption that plagued the last Congress.
The adoption of a wide range of disclosure measures will increase the transparency of the actions of Washington lobbyists. Especially important is the approval of the Van Hollen bundling amendment requiring that lobbyists who raise funds for lawmakers disclose their fundraising activities. It’s helpful under current law to know who is giving $200 or $2000. But if you want to know who the real money people are in Washington, you have to know who is raising hundreds of thousands for candidates and campaigns -- these are the people that are building special access through campaign contributions.
Among other significant provisions, the bill also cracks down on those in Congress who might use their insider status to unfairly leverage a job in the private sector at the expense of the public. This was the case with former Rep. Billy Tauzin who was negotiating Medicare’s prescription drug plan while simultaneously negotiating a job with PhARMA. It is little wonder that the program has more benefits for industry than the public.
WISPIRG applauds Wisconsin’s entire Congressional delegation for supporting this important legislation.
While WISPIRG applauds today’s vote, the work is not yet done. Members still need to work out differences with the Senate. Whether or not Congress lives up to the promise to clean up Washington will be determined by what comes out of conference and is finally passed.
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