Monday, January 09, 2006

Delay, Doolittle, and Pombo and influence peddling / Jerry McNerney Announces Plan to Strengthen Federal Lobbying Laws

If you haven’t already seen the LaTimes piece on Tom Delay, John Doolittle, and Richard Pombo’s latest scandal here you go:

-A Donor Who Had Big Allies
By Richard A. Serrano and Stephen Braun, Times Staff Writers

In a case that echoes the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, two Northern California Republican congressmen used their official positions to try to stop a federal investigation of a wealthy Texas businessman who provided them with political contributions.Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.

The investigation was ultimately dropped.The effort to help Hurwitz began in 1999 when DeLay wrote a letter to the chairman of the FDIC denouncing the investigation of Hurwitz as a "form of harassment and deceit on the part of government employees." When the FDIC persisted, Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz.Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker.


In key aspects, the Hurwitz case follows the pattern of the Abramoff scandal: members of Congress using their offices to do favors for a politically well-connected individual who, in turn, supplies them with campaign funds. Although Washington politicians frequently try to help important constituents and contributors, it is unusual for members of Congress to take direct steps to stymie an ongoing investigation by an agency such as the FDIC.

More Here…


-Nick Juliano of the Tracy Press posted a blog entitled, ‘Pombo upset over LA Times story’ in which a Pombo aide tells him ‘that Pombo intervened because he believed the FDIC was unduly influenced by environmental groups’.

-Also from Juliano’s Blog‘Pombo for majority leader?’


And while Pombo and Delay are involved in just their latest scandal:

-Jerry McNerney Announces Plan to Strengthen Federal Lobbying Laws

Pleasanton, CA – Congressional Candidate Jerry McNerney today announced his plan to strengthen federal lobbying laws in order to bring back strong ethics to Capitol Hill.

“The lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s guilty plea to corruption, fraud and tax evasion charges needs to lead to laws that change the way our nation’s business is done on Capitol Hill and on K Street,” according to Jerry McNerney, candidate for the 11th Congressional District.
“Locally Congressman Richard Pombo’s actions on behalf of client’s represented by Jack Abramoff reeks of the pay to play atmosphere of Washington. For the future of our country we need to prevent even the appearance of such impropriety.”

“In my first week in Congress I will either introduce or co-sponsor legislation that adds real teeth to federal lobbying laws. Such laws need to restrict the hiring of the relatives of members of Congresses by lobbyists, increase the waiting time for Congressional staff to work as a lobbyist after leaving the Hill, and take away the fox from guarding the henhouse by taking away the power of Congress to regulate federal lobbyists and place it in the hands of the Justice Department.”

McNerney’s Plan

Restrict lobbyists from hiring the relatives of members of Congress. Jack Abramoff hired spouses of congressional members, members with whom he had business. Such activities are an indirect way to reward Congressman for compliance. This must stop. Lobbyists with business before a member of Congress must be restricted from employing, either directly or on a contract basis, the relatives of members of Congress.

Increase from one to four years the waiting period before a former Congressman or congressional staffer can work as a Federal lobbyist. The present system rewards those with access; access that is developed through working closely with that member of Congress. One year or even two years is not enough, especially in the process of crafting legislation, to prevent someone with inside knowledge to leave and work for lobbyists in crafting that law or related legislation.

Prevent lobbyists from indirectly funding through foundations or other related entities trips abroad, meals, and access to seats or arena luxury boxes not only for members of Congress but additionally their relatives, and congressional staffers.

Allow Justice Department oversight of all federal lobbyists. Presently the DOJ only has jurisdiction over the lobbyists of foreign governments and other foreign entities. The present situation gives the elected Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate oversight, but they have no enforcement authority over rogue lobbyists. The Justice Department has the independence, authority and resources to investigate and punish individuals who violate the law.

Source: Press Release


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