Delaware for Obama

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Obama on Ethics

(cross-posted as a guest post on delawareliberal)

Today marks the official return of Democrats to the offices of Congressional leadership. It is a wonderful, glorious, jubilant day, on which my only regret is that we don't have a Delaware Democrat in the House of Representatives to share it. I am joyful none the less, and I have confidence the 110th Congress will be proceed far more ethically than the 109th. The question, however, is "will it be ethical enough?"

My concerns (and yours, I'm sure) are addressed by the big "O" himself, Senator Barack Obama, in a Washington Post Op-Ed:
This past Election Day, the American people sent a clear message to Washington: Clean up your act.

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude that this message was intended for only one party or politician. The votes hadn't even been counted in November before we heard reports that corporations were already recruiting lobbyists with Democratic connections to carry their water in the next Congress.

We must stop any and all practices that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a public servant has become indebted to a lobbyist. That means a full ban on gifts and meals. It means no free travel or subsidized travel on private jets. And it means closing the revolving door to ensure that Capitol Hill service -- whether as a member of Congress or as a staffer -- isn't all about lining up a high-paying lobbying job. We should no longer tolerate a House committee chairman shepherding the Medicare prescription drug bill through Congress at the same time he's negotiating for a job as the pharmaceutical industry's top lobbyist.

I have long proposed a nonpartisan, independent ethics commission that would act as the American people's public watchdog over Congress. The commission would be staffed with former judges and former members of Congress from both parties, and it would allow any citizen to report possible ethics violations by lawmakers, staff members or lobbyists. Once a potential violation is reported, the commission would have the authority to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas, gather records, call witnesses, and provide a report to the Justice Department or the House and Senate ethics committees that -- unlike current ethics committee reports -- is available for all citizens to read.


Barack Obama for President, 2008. He gets it. He can do this. I pray that these proposals are made reality, so that they may serve as the inspiration for similar reforms in state legislatures around the country - especially right here in Delaware.


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