WASHINGTON - January 11 - Common Cause today is releasing its "Ethics Challenge," a five-point reform proposal to clean up Washington.
The centerpiece - and what makes it different from other reform proposals - is the establishment of an Independent Ethics Commission to handle ethics investigations and related matters in Congress. More than 30 states have independent commissions that oversee ethics matters for state legislatures. On Jan. 23 we plan to convene a panel of experts to further explore this idea, discuss details and answer questions.
"New reforms and new ethics rules will mean nothing unless they are enforced," said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. "Congress has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is incapable of peer review and handling the monitoring and enforcement of its own rules. An outside ethics commission would provide a fair and firm process to ensure that Members live by ethics rules on the books."
You can find the Common Cause Ethics Challenge at www.commoncause.org/ethics.
In the wake of the Abramoff scandal, Congress must take urgent action to reform the ethics process, the existing rules under which lobbyists operate and disclose their activities and the campaign finance system. Throughout its 35-year history, Common Cause has been at the forefront of efforts to improve lobbying and congressional ethics, improve transparency and hold power accountable in Washington and in the states. From the 1989 Ethics in Government Act, which banned speaking fees as congressional income supplements and tightened ethics rules on lawmakers, to the 1995 Lobby Disclosure Act, to the congressional gift ban, Common Cause has successfully pushed Congress to improve the way business is done on Capitol Hill.