Rep. Maloney on Tough New Ethics Bill Signed Into Law Today

Sep 14, 2007
Press Release
Washington, D.C. – This afternoon, the President signed into law the Honest Leadership, Open Government Act of 2007, which will end the tight-knit relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers that flourished under previous Congresses.  Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) hailed the new law, which she strongly supported and passed the House by a vote of 396-22 on May 24th.

“The Republican Congress was a lobbyist feeding frenzy that catered to every interest except for that of the American people,” said Rep. Maloney.  “Democrats pledged to ‘clean house’ and won the House as a result.  Today, we kept our promise and enshrined in law a tough new bill to restore accountability in Washington.”

The law signed today:

■ Requires new transparency for lobbyists bundling campaign contributions: For the first time, requires reporting on lobbyists who "bundle," or collect campaign checks for Members of Congress.  Requires Members to report if a lobbyist bundled more than $15,000 in campaign contributions semiannually for that Member; 

■ Includes historic disclosure of other financial contributions to Members: Increases disclosure of lobbyists' contributions to lawmakers and entities controlled by lawmakers, including contributions to Members' charities, to events or entities honoring members, contributions intended to pay the cost of a meeting or a retreat, and contributions to Presidential library funds;

■ Strengthens ethics rules for the Senate, similar to already enacted House reforms:  Includes a variety of changes to Senate rules, including a ban on gift and travel by lobbyists, full disclosure of earmarks, points of order against out of scope earmarks and limits on secret holds;
 
■ Ends lavish convention parties: Prohibits Members of Congress from attending national political convention parties held in their honor and paid for by lobbyists or their clients;

■ Ends the “K-Street Project”: Prohibits Members of Congress and their staff from attempting to influence private sector hiring and firing in exchange for access;
 
■ Expands public disclosure of lobbyist activities: Doubles the frequency of the disclosure of lobbyists' reports to four times a year. Establishes an online, searchable public database of lobbyist information.  Requires lobbyists to disclose past executive branch and Congressional employment.  Prohibits lobbyists from giving gifts and travel in violation of House and Senate rules.  Increases criminal and civil penalties for violating the Lobby Disclosure Act to $200,000 and five years in prison;

■ Ends conflicts of interest and strengthens restrictions on post-Congressional employment:  Requires Members to disclose job negotiations for post-Congressional employment and to recuse themselves on matters if there is a conflict of interest.  Also strengthens the revolving door, banning Senators from lobbying their colleagues for two years.  Prohibits congressional staff from having official contact with the Members' lobbyist spouse on behalf of the spouse's client;

■ Requires Congressional Pension Accountability:  Denies taxpayer-funded pension benefits to Members of Congress convicted of corruption while serving the American people; and

■ Expands public disclosure of Members' travel and finances:  Establishes an online, searchable public database of Member travel and personal financial disclosure forms.

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