Senate Ethics Rules on Parties

Posted February 4, 2008 at 6:40pm

The Senate Ethics Committee clarified Monday that lobbyists and certain advocacy organizations may not underwrite Democratic and GOP convention parties, shoring up a loophole that government watchdog groups say will now force the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee to act.

“The House ethics committee has a long and sordid history of ignoring and even covering up ethical transgressions,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, in a statement. “The Senate ethics committee action should now prompt the House committee to follow suit.”

According to Senate Ethics panel guidance out Monday, “an event honoring the ‘Nevada Congressional Delegation’ would be prohibited, but one honoring ‘Nevada Republican Officials’ or ‘Nevada Delegates’ is permissible.”

Public Citizen has been critical of moves by House lawmakers that they say soften restrictions in the ethics legislation.

“With a green light from the House to ignore the ethics rules, lobbyists and lobbying organizations right now are planning convention soirees and circumventing the gift ban at charity events,” said Craig Holman, a Public Citizen lobbyist, in a statement. “If the hard-fought ethics rules are to mean anything, the House needs to look for ways to enforce the rules, not eviscerate them.”