Today, the House passed H.R. 4975, a sham ethics plan that gives us election-year window dressing instead of real reform.

As Joe said today, “There needs to be full transparency in all relationships between members and lobbyists. In the military, there are extraordinarily strict rules that regulate all contact with individuals or institutions that have an interest in defense programs. Why shouldn’t Congress be held to the same standards?”

Instead, this Republican House of Representatives – and Joe’s opponent, Curt Weldon – turned what started out as a much needed effort to reform ethics on Capital Hill into what Joe called “a watered-down piece of legislation that fails to address the real issues.”
Why is Joe so opposed to H.R. 975? A few reasons why:

  • Rather than creating an independent ethics board to monitor lawmaker compliance, it allows lawmakers to continue to regulate themselves
  • Instead of banning privately funded trips outright, the legislation only outlaws them until December 15, 2006
  • There are no provisions in the bill requiring members to pay for their flights on corporate jets
  • It does not require lobbyists to disclose the fundraising activities they conduct on behalf of lawmakers

Joe has a better plan. He believes that real lobbying legislation must not only reverse the four points of failure noted above but also must include the following terms:

  • Creation of  an independent public integrity office to rule on all Congressional ethics complaints
  • Require members to pay fair market value for all travel on corporate jets, and prohibit travel paid for by organizations that retain registered lobbyists, or that is paid for by foreigners
  • Mandate the disclosure by Members and senior staff of employment negotiations
  • Provide for the creation of a public database that tracks all member fundraising and travel and institutionalize a quarterly disclosure system for all lobbyists and associations
  • Ban all gifts to members over $5 from registered lobbyists or groups that employ lobbyists

Sadly, it is of little surprise that Curt Weldon was once again among the members who did nothing to affect real change–especially on an issue that hits so close to home.

Curt Weldon hasn’t fought for ethics reform during his time in office. He has only contributed to the problem. Curt Weldon has received over $155,000 from lobbyists since 1990 – one of his leading funding sources — according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.  

In addition to H.R. 4975, Weldon has voted:

  • AGAINST a measure that would have prohibited members of the House from negotiating lucrative jobs with lobbying firms that capitalize on their committee membership [HRS 5, Vote #5, 1/4/05]
  • FOR new rules that would have allowed lobbyists to cater meals to member’s offices.  [HRS 5, Vote #4, 1/7/03]

“I am running for Congress to bring real security to all Americans: health, education, economic, and defense security. We can’t create true security unless our representatives truly have the interests of their constituents at heart. Real ethics reform is the first step. Curt Weldon and this Republican Congress failed their constituents today.” – Joe Sestak

– Colin Holtz-Eakin
Sestak for Congress

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