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Illinois Politicians Weigh In On Ethics Reform

By Amy Hart in News on Jan 18, 2006 11:23PM


In light of the Jack Abramoff scandal in Washington, politicians are having an ethics-off, with both Republicans and Democrats denouncing the other party and vowing to pass their own ethics plans.

On Tuesday Speaker of the House Denny Hastert urged new legislation that, among other things, would end the practice of lobbyists paying for meals and trips for members of Congress. Under Hastert’s plan, members would also face tougher financial disclosures regarding gifts, including an end to the acceptance of gifts worth over $20.

Democrats scoffed at the Republicans’ plan and presented one of their own today, and it looks pretty similar to the one presented by the Republicans, although the Democrats’ plan would end the practice of Republicans’ pressuring lobbying groups to hire Republicans.

Front and center in the ethics debate is our very own Senator Barack Obama, who remains popular beyond Illinois’ borders and has very little lobbying baggage since he is so new to the Senate. Today Obama declared that neither party has “a monopoly on virtue,” but said the Abramoff scandal is strictly a Republican issue.

Obama, along with Senator Dick Durbin, has informed his staff that they are no longer able to accept free gifts, meals, or trips from lobbyists.

Will some version of ethics reform eventually be passed? Probably. Will that mean the issue will go away? Not a chance.