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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bob Casey's ethics plan: introduced 11/15/05 (what took the Republicans so long?)

In a conference call with supporters tonight, Bob Casey discussed the need for ethics reform in Washington, and the 6-point plan that he introduced last November...long before the Republicans felt it necessary to distract attention from their ethical lapses and violations of existing laws by proposing their own "plan" to change the laws. (so they can break even more of them next time around?)

Bob's 6-point ethics plan is posted on his campaign website here:

Here are the 6 points. For more details, and links to newspaper coverage, visit the link above.

1. Close the K Street Project

Members of Congress and their staff should be prohibited from using threats or coercion to influence the hiring decisions of lobbying firms, interest groups, or other private entities.

2. Slow the Revolving Door

Increase to two years the "cooling off period" before former Members and senior aides can lobby their former colleagues. Also, they should be barred from drafting lobbying strategy and indirectly lobbying.

3. Improve Reporting

Ensure timely release of information by requiring lobbying disclosures to be filed quarterly rather than semi-annually.

4. Same-Day Disclosure

Lobbyists should be required to report every substantive conversation they have with a Member of Congress. They should disclose the date and issue area discussed in each conversation. These meetings would be disclosed on the Internet on the same day that the meeting occurs.

5. Ground Special Interest Flights

It is too easy for corporate special interests to give favors to Members of Congress by flying them on their private jets. These trips, their itineraries, and the people on board the plane should be fully disclosed. And the price paid for these flights should be increased to more accurately reflect their value. Politicians are now only required to reimburse corporations for the price of a first class ticket. The ticket price should be increased to that of a chartered plane.

6. Blind Trusts Should Be Blind

The Ethics Committees should ensure that Members who have a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest do in fact have no knowledge of their holdings.

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