Jack Abramoff, the infamous former lobbyist who spent more than three years in prison for bribery of public officials and other crimes, has a new book out about corruption in Washington. In an interview aired on '60 Minutes,' he said lobbying reforms have not curbed influence peddling. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing has an analysis on this story, as well as on the recently launched investigation into California Rep. Laura Richardson.
Reforms have not restricted lobbying access
According to Jack Abramoff, new reforms have not slowed down influence peddling, and he says hill staffers and members of Congress should be banned for life from working for lobbying firms. Hawkings agrees, saying the rules of the game have been changed, but lobbyists are not completed restricted.
"The revolving door Jack Abramoff took advantage of is still very much a force in Washington, as is the amount of money that is sloshing around," says Hawkings. "While no term limits are coming by statute, there's enormous turnover in Congress anyway. Just think, one in every five is a new member each year. The lifetime ban on employees of Congress going downtown to work would be difficult to enforce."
Ethics Committee launches investigation into Rep. Laura Richardson
The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into California Rep. Laura Richardson on allegations that she compelled her staff to do significant amounts of political work for her, required them to appear at her fundraisers, and made them run her personal errands. Hawkings says there's a gray area in all of these allegations.
"There are many members who encourage and expect that if you are going to be a Capital Hill Congressional employee, you will be enthusiastic about making sure the member you work for gets reelected," says Hawkings.
This is not the first time Richardson has been in trouble with the Ethics Committee. According to Hawkings, just last year, there were some significant questions about the home she owned in the Los Angeles area, which was foreclosed upon, and how she refinanced to get the house back. The Ethics Committee cleared her.