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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in support of the “Honest Leadership, Open Government Act,” an aggressive set of reform proposals released today by House and Senate Democrats in response to the widening Abramoff scandal and other Republican abuses of power. The Democrats’ ethics and lobbying proposals are designed to combat Republican abuses and to restore the American people’s confidence in the integrity of Congress:
“I strongly support this important Democratic package of ethics and lobbying reform proposals. What the American people have heard out of Republican-run Washington over the last year – from the indictment of the former Republican House Majority Leader, to the guilty plea by a Senior Republican to bribery charges, to the unraveling Abramoff scandal – is nothing less than outrageous. And, this Republican culture of corruption demands decisive action to restore the American people’s trust and to ensure the integrity of this Congress.
“But even as we fight for these reforms, we must not lose sight of the larger, critical point: None of these legal and ethical transgressions could have occurred without the active and knowing participation of Republican Members of Congress. The fact is, Republican Members of Congress conceived of, presided over, enforced and boasted about a system of legislator-lobbyist relationships that is now coming to light through the indictment and guilty plea of Jack Abramoff and others.
“While House Republicans want us to think that the Abramoff scandal has everything to do with lobbyists, the reality is that it has everything to do with the behavior of Republican Members of Congress – from Republican Members enforcing the ‘K Street Project,’ to Members allowing favored lobbyists to write legislation, to Members negotiating lucrative employment deals with interest groups that they are responsible for overseeing.
“Changing the rules will not end such practices. Enforcing the rules will. That is why I believe that this Republican Majority, first and foremost, must put aside partisan politics and join House Democrats in immediately constituting a vigorous, real ethics process that is committed to enforcing the rules.
“The unfortunate truth is, this Republican Majority effectively neutered the Ethics Committee during the last year, even as ethical and legal allegations against Republicans Members continue to come to light. Real change requires real enforcement. And the place to start, I believe, is a bipartisan agreement to ensure a vigorous, real ethics process.”