• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Empty Ethics Rhetoric Exposed

    Democratic National Convention

    DENVER — One of Barack Obama’s only legislative accomplishments in the U.S. Senate is the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act, which passed in September 2007. When he announced his candidacy in Springfield, Ill., Obama called the bill “the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.” Critics from left and right, however, have called it a chilling threat to free speech. This is something to boast about?

    Obama’s ethics bill sounds good on paper: “strict bans on receiving gifts and meals from lobbyists; new rules to slow the revolving door between public and private sector service.” But once this lofty rhetoric hits reality, it crumbles. Just as Obama can’t define a “windfall profit,” defining “gifts” and “meals” also proves difficult.

    The First Amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” That’s what lobbying is. Under Obama’s ethics law, groups sponsoring events here in Denver have to consult a lawyer at every step. The New York Times reports:

    Depending on the circumstances, breakfasts are limited to bagels, rolls and croissants, while proteins like eggs are prohibited. What is more, rules differ for events that are deemed to be “widely attended” — something that has more than 25 diverse attendees but is not a ballgame or a concert.

    “People are trying to organize parties around conflicting and inscrutable rules,” said Jan Baran, a campaign finance expert at Wiley Rein, a Washington law firm. “It drives the lawyers crazy to give advice. We are having to decide if a group is a cover band, a string quartet or a name band.”

    So, for example, if farmers from Minnesota want to throw a party for lawmakers, and they serve steak and cheese quesadillas and have the band Styx provide entertainment, then any lawmaker who attends is violating the new ethics law. But if the Minnesota farmers serve only cheese quesadillas and a Styx cover band provides entertainment, Washington has been saved from corruption.

    Even Democrats who voted for the legislation recognize how silly the law is. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) told The Hill, “the whole thing is ridiculous,” the result is a “hodgepodge of inconsistency” that has created “artificial restrictions which are arbitrary.” These words ought to be remembered when we consider other liberal priorities: allowing Congress to both compete in the health care market while also setting its rules and creating a “market” for carbon out of thin air.

    Denver is awash in special-interest money this week. The Denver Post reports that Obama’s big-money donors are being offered premier seats to his acceptance speech at Invesco Field.

    Top fundraisers for the “Obama Victory Fund” were offered club-level seats through the end of Monday for $1,000 apiece. … The Obama campaign and its partners at the Democratic National Convention Committee have 8,300 club-level seats. If all were purchased, it could mean a cash infusion of $8.3 million.

    Many in the progressive community are a bit disillusioned, including netroots activist Chris Bowers, who wrote: “It is hard for me to swallow that Democrats have reaped a windfall from corporate lobbyists since taking office, and then to hear about how we have passed great new ethics reforms. It isn’t making a lot of analytical or emotional sense.” Reminds us of the last paragraph of a certain George Orwell novel:

    Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to Morning Bell: Empty Ethics Rhetoric Exposed

    1. Howard R. Roby says:

      Front page of Local paper:




      I went to the local newspaper today (8/28/08)and talked to Len LaCara the Managing Editor about the paper printing the Article where Katherine Mitzel said she was for Obama as "He's not a cold warrior or from the Vietnam era or civil rights era" She also says she speaks for Sandra Miller and Kathy Brantley (Local Black leader) She says Obama "doesn't come with all that baggage" (the baggage he comes with is much worse ,my words

      Apparently when I thought I was helping to protect this country including her and the Brantley's/Mitzel's I was doing nothing but picking up "baggage" to drag along the rest of my life. I have a Certificate signed by Rumsfield Sect'y defense that says – Certificate of Recognition of your service during the period of the Cold War (2 September 1945- 26 December 1991) In promoting peace and stability for this nation, the people of this nation are forever grateful..

      I know it is just a piece of paper , and thousands of men and women are Cold War Warriors, however I am proud to have served with the Strategic Air Command in the Eighth Air Force during the (so Called) cold war. We kept Russia at bay as we had B-36 Aircraft carrying Nukes in the air 24/7. We didn't just talk the talk, we walked the walk !!

      Also We lost a lot of airmen due to accidents and actual shoot downs. That is why I call it the "So Called" cold war.About a week after I was trained (asst Crew chief) at Upperhayford RAF station on loading an A-Bomb in a B-47 bomber, Soviet Migs chased and fired at RB-47's over Finland and they just made it back to the base At Upperhayford and had to be refueled before landing. Many other planes and crewmen were lost but never made the news.

      Mr. LaCara asked me what I wanted and I said at least the paper could state that the statements made by the Mitzels and Brantleys were their personal opinions. All he would say was "that was her personal opinion" He said I could retract the letter I wrote about the Obama headquarters at 126 Muskingum ave, and write a letter about "Baggage" I am supposed to be carrying.

      It never occurred to me until after I left him that he never said "Thanks for your Service" I try to remember to tell that to all service men in or out, (especially the young ones).

      Howard R. Roby

    2. Pingback: Morning Bell: Empty Ethics Rhetotric Exposed : Dtv 2009

    3. vicki, marco island, says:

      Wait, wait, wait, wait; you think that the Dems haven't partaken of lobbyist's perks? Step away from the glue. The Dems. invented lobbyists. It happened the same day they started slamming the wealthy, big business and health care.

      Hello out there the biggest business in this country is our Federal Government. They want more of our money and yes, will use lobbyists to get laws passed that they perceive as 'gaining control' of more or our hard earned money. These money addicts, both Dems and Reps, need an intervention. In case no one has noticed the clowns in D.C. haven't been doing so good with the money they've already robbed from us.

      There is no sainthood on either side of the isles of Congress.

    4. Michael O'Rourk says:

      Thank you, Howard R. Roby.

      Not just for your service and sacrifice but also for the pride you have for your country and the strength you have given to our country.

    5. E Paul Lian, Scottsd says:

      "Thank you to Howard R Roby". Mr Roby, you would have loved being in Phoenix this past week for the American Legion National Convention. I happen to be a new Legion member after serving in the USAF from 1970-1974. What a thrill it was to salute the flag & sing the National Anthem again with so many other like minded individuals. The United States has several items to improve, but we are absolutely the best thing going. Also, V P Cheney addressed our group and gave an impassioned plea for a solid National Defense. When this is combined with the leadership of President Bush, the good ol' U.S.of A. is as impressive as ever.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.