Sunday, June 24, 2007

Obama Promises "Vast" Ethics Reforms

We are all too familiar with John McCain's extensive ties to lobbyists, but The Huffington Post also reports that Hillary Clinton's campaign employs more lobbyists than any of the other Democratic contenders.

The same Huffington Post "exclusive" indicates that "of the leading Democratic candidates, Barack Obama is the least entangled with K Street. His campaign has no lobbyists on the payroll or serving as key advisers."

Maybe that is why Obama feels free to promise "vast" ethics reforms if elected. According to's Ben Breier, Obama recently told a crowd in New Hampshire.

“When I am president, I will make it absolutely clear that working in an Obama administration is not about serving your former employer, your future employer or your bank account — it’s about serving your country, and that’s what comes first.

“It’s time to renew a people’s politics in this country — to ensure that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists."
Specifically Obama promises to give Americans a chance to review all non-emergency legislation sent to him for signature before he signs.
“When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it. . . . When there are meetings between lobbyists and a government agency, we won’t be going to the Supreme Court to keep it secret like Dick Cheney and his energy task force; we’ll be putting them up on the Internet for every American to watch.”
We are never going to eliminate lobbyists. Even if we could, I am not sure doing away with all lobbying is either constitutional or in America's best interests.

For me the real ethics reforms are those leading to greater transparency. Just like cockroaches corrupt lawmakers and lobbyists scurry to the shadows when they encounter sunlight.

Obama's comments on his ethics reform plan were broadcast on NPR.