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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today concerning reports that House Republicans plan to push new rules governing lobbyists’ access to lawmakers, in light of the evolving scandal involving Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff:
“I am sure that many House Republicans would like nothing more than to stand on the sidelines and now pretend that the unfolding Abramoff scandal is largely a story of lobbyist misconduct and wrongdoing.
“But that would ignore the critical point in this entire sordid episode: the participation of Members of the House of Representatives. The fact of the matter is, Members of Congress conceived of, presided over and enforced a system of legislator-lobbyist relationships that is now coming to light through the indictment and subsequent guilty plea of Jack Abramoff and others.
“The Republicans rose to power over a decade ago by emphasizing the importance of ‘personal responsibility.’ I therefore find it ironic that they are now pointing fingers at others for a culture of corruption that they have assiduously nurtured since January 1995 and for which they were unabashedly proud until the guilty plea by Jack Abramoff.”
“Today, House Republicans would have us think that the Abramoff scandal has everything to do with lobbyists. But the reality is that it has everything to do with Members of Congress, who now want to deny any responsibility for it – from the so-called “K Street Project,” to the participation of lobbyists in writing legislation, to lobbyists’ fund-raising on behalf of Members, to Members negotiating lucrative employment deals while still in Congress.
“The time for action is now. Democrats are absolutely committed to reforms that will ensure the integrity of this institution and assure the American people that their government is open and honest. Furthermore, it is imperative that the House Ethics Committee – which essentially has been shut down by the Republican leadership – begins to do its job.
“Before House Republicans can even begin to consider real reform, they need to come to terms with their own culpability in this evolving Abramoff scandal.”