The New Orleans Times-Picayune points out another possible ethics violation made during the opening day of the 112th Congress. Lobbyist Bob Livingston, a former member of Congress, was on the floor of the House for the swearing-in ceremony despite ethics rules forbidding former lawmakers who lobby from exercising their privilege of setting foot in the House chamber. Livingston apparently left the floor after being informed that he could be in violation of the rule.
[I]t turns out, Livingston, who now runs the Livingston Group lobbying firm, was on the floor in violation of an ethics rule, passed by the Republican House in 2006 in the wake of the scandal over lobbyist Jack Abramoff, that denies lawmakers-turned-lobbyists their lifetime floor (and gym) privileges, except on select ceremonial occasions.
“I was under the impression that opening day and the State of the Union were days when I, as a lobbyist, could indeed go on the floor,” Livingston said. “When I was informed that I was mistaken, I left.”
Rules that restrict lobbyists from setting foot into the House chamber are important, but may be difficult to enforce as there is no one in direct violation aside from the lobbyist and the officers who gave the lobbyist floor access.
Also, there is a provision to the rule that allows the Speaker to create rules that would provide for floor access during ceremonial or educational functions.