Let the Parties Begin


The Hill reports on pressure directed at Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconcile House ethics rules on lobbyist-sponsored convention parties with the more strict Senate rules, which the Senate reinforced on Monday. A grouping of six watchdogs (Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG) argue that the House rules punch huge holes in the ethics rules passed last fall that were meant to end the long-standing culture of corruption on Capitol Hill.

The new ethics law contains a convention party rule meant to prevent lobbyists from hosting parties to honor members in an effort to curry favor with them. The Senate Ethics Committee makes it clear that lobbyists or the organizations that they work for can’t sponsor events feting a group composed solely of members of Congress. In contrast, the House Ethics Committee‘s guidelines said the new rules do allow lobbyists to sponsor parties honoring more than one member as long as those members are not mentioned by name.

Despite the fact that the Senate rules are stronger, The Hill questions whether "wiggle room" might yet exist. The Senate’s ethics panel outlawed parties thrown for a group of Members of Congress only, but says AOK to other parties aif the honorees lists include other pols or party functionaries such as delegates.

That’s some wiggle room. As The Hill‘s headline said, "the party’s (not quite) over."