Statement of Diane E. Brown, Executive Director, on U.S. Senate Passage of Landmark Lobby and Ethics Reform

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Arizona PIRG

Today’s vote in the U.S. Senate was a very good win for the American people.  Following the U.S. House action earlier this week, the landmark bill now heads to the President’s desk where we expect he will sign the bill.

The reforms passed this week represent the most sweeping changes to the rules in a generation.  Congress has never operated in the way we learn about in high school civics but the workings of Washington, D.C. have become poisoned by the common practices that all too often put lobbyists and the powerful interests they represent ahead of constituents and the American people.

The changes take our democracy out of the darkness and open up the process with meaningful disclosure and new, tougher rules on the actions of lobbyists and their dealings with legislators.

For the first time, lobbyists will have to disclose the contributions they not only give to candidates but also those they raise.  If the public is to truly understand who is building access through campaign fundraising, knowing about an individual’s personal $2,000 contribution is helpful, but knowing about the tens and hundreds of thousands they bundle for candidates is critical.

The bill also:

  • Strikes at the “clubby” environment in which lobbyists buy members gifts, pay for meals and take them to sporting events and on lavish trips to gain access that is not afforded to the rest of us.
  • Requires sponsors to disclose the earmarks lawmakers insert in bills and adds a new layer of accountability to the process.
  • Slows the “revolving door” by which lawmakers can leave public service and immediately return as high paid lobbyists for special interests with special access.