New Report on Congress demands Reform, or so says Public Citizen by Mitch E. Perry10/18/06
Last week Ohio Representative Bob Ney pleaded guilty to corruption charges arising from the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He because the firs elected official to fall in the Abramoff scandal. Earlier this year California Republican Randy Ã¢â‚¬Å“Duke Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Cunningham was sentenced to 8 years in prison after pleading guilty to accepting over 2 million dollars in bribes.
And according to the authors of a new study looking at Congress, our current political system is designed to allow for such abuses.
Today a comprehensive report from the Washington based group Public Citizen tallied the amount of contributions that every member of the House and Senate has accepted from lobbyists, political action committees and out of state donors, as well as percentage of contributions from large versus small donors.
Joan Claybrook is the President of Public Citizen (roll tape#1 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?and harder for them to climb out of debtÃ¢â‚¬?)
In Public Citizens rankings, the highest Florida Representative listed is South Florida Republican Clay Shaw, listed as 20th in the entire Congress. Next on the list is Orlando area Congressman Tom Feeney, while Pinellas CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Bill Young comes in at 86.
In terms of funding received from out of state, only 11 members of the House of Representatives more money than Sarasota area Congresswoman and now GOP Senate candidate Katherine Harris.
Public Citizen says they have the solution to this situation. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s called public Funding of national campaigns. Again, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s President, Joan Claybrook (roll tape#2 o.q. Ã¢â‚¬Å“speaking with constituentsÃ¢â‚¬?)
Claybrook says that is not unprecedented to go to public financing. Arizona and Maine currently do this, and North Carolina has begun doing that for Judicial appellate races.
When asked what would the incentive be for politicians to forgo the current system of raising money to go to the public system, Joan Claybrook said itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a boon for local candidates (roll tape#3 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?and the large donorsÃ¢â‚¬?)
For more information on the report, go to citizen.org