Ethics and Lobbying Reform


Legal Center works to ensure that federal officials comply with the rules and standards governing ethical conduct. The Legal Center assembled and leads the Congressional Ethics Coalition, an ideologically diverse group of the nation's leading government reform organizations that work for meaningful reform of congressional ethics rules.

 


What's Next for Campaign Finance Reform? PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Friday, 19 September 2014 14:06

The constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision came up short in the Senate. Such things are no easy lift. But while it failed to garner the supermajority vote, the Senate's consideration and debate provided an avenue to keep people who are appalled by the current campaign finance system energized and engaged. Now it is time to harness that energy for some shorter-term battles that are worth fighting even though we have five Supreme Court Justices who have taken the position that the selling of access and influence by American lawmakers is not a problem. Increased disclosure, curbing coordination, preventing rampant abuse of the tax code and updating other federal regulations will help bring reality closer in line with the "Wonderland" described in Justice Anthony Kennedy's Citizens United decision.

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McDonnell Case Shows Virginia Is Not Above Corruption PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 17:17

For many years, opponents of restrictions on the role of money in politics have held out the state of Virginia to legitimize their opposition to campaign finance reform.  A state with few restrictions on money in campaigns, not much disclosure, and few ethics laws, Virginia has been heralded by reform opponents as showing what politics at the national level could look like if the federal campaign finance laws were repealed.  The picture they painted was of patrician politicians above it all, incorruptible by plebian concerns of money, legislating for the Commonwealth on purely ideological grounds.

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Ambassadorships should not be political payoffs PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 18:00
Were you impressed over the winter when hotelier George Tsunis, nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Norway, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he had never been to Norway and confused a moderate political party with a “fringe” party?
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Officials shouldn’t be beholden to special interest groups PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Monday, 14 April 2014 15:56
The problem isn’t that members of Congress travel too much. In fact, they probably should travel more. The issue is who pays for the travel.
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Video: Do Ethics Count? PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 18:56

People who want "a little bit of corruption" to break gridlock in Washington or their local statehouse simply do not understand what makes our democracy great.

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Who Cares About Ethics? PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 15:20

This past Sunday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed by one of their editors, Hilary Krieger, asking whether "a little corruption should matter to voters." She reported that D.C. incumbent mayoral candidate Vincent Gray has won her over, despite his ethical and campaign finance challenges. And she goes on to make the case that we may have tipped too far toward concern about ethical standards for public officials at the expense of good stewardship and the ability to "getting results in a fractious system."

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‘The Real Scandal in Washington Isn’t What’s Illegal, It’s What’s Legal’ PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Monday, 02 December 2013 21:06
Leadership PACs, they’re legal but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a scandal.  A few weeks ago, 60 Minutes cast a harsh light on these political slush funds and recently Legal Center Policy Director Meredith McGehee took another look via a video guest commentary on Politix.
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Video: Trevor Potter on the State of Money & Politics PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 17:09
“We are in a really dangerous place in terms of money and politics and its effect on Congress, on our system,” Trevor Potter warns in a new video.  But he emphasizes that there are things that can be done to improve the situation in a new video produced by Legal Center Policy Director Meredith McGehee.
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A New Recipe for Election Reform PDF Print Email
Written by Trevor Potter and Bob Bauer   
Friday, 10 May 2013 15:44

Four decades after the campaign finance reforms that followed Watergate, arguments over the role of money in politics seem increasingly tired and unproductive. We ought to build on the experience of recent years and consider what’s necessary for a new phase of political reform.

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Office of Congressional Ethics Is a Singular Success PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 15:24

Not surprisingly, the Office of Congressional Ethics is under attack yet again. The office, which helped bring some accountability and transparency to the House ethics process, has not been popular since its creation. This time the offensive is coming from a group of defense attorneys who represent members of Congress and their staffs against allegations of ethics violations.

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White House, Congress Must Act to Fix FEC, Preserve OCE Respectively PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 20:55

Today, conservative groups joined reformers in calling upon House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to reauthorize and appoint new board members to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), and for President Barack Obama to nominate replacements for the 5 lame duck commissioners on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) with individuals willing to enforce the laws passed by Congress. Legal Center Policy Director Meredith McGehee focused her remarks at the press conference on the importance of reinvigorating the FEC.

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Trevor Potter Helps Craft & Launch the American Anti-Corruption Act PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 17:29

Yesterday, Legal Center President Trevor Potter, along with a broad coalition of unexpected bedfellows from across the political spectrum, launched an effort to drastically overhaul the laws governing campaign finance, disclosure, government ethics and lobbying.   The far-reaching American Anti-Corruption Act is supported by prominent Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street activists, government officials, former lobbyists, legal scholars, and other experts of all political stripes and championed by the Represent.Us campaign.

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Campaign Legal Center's Meredith McGehee Again Named Top Lobbyist PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 15:54

Today, The Hill released its annual “Top Lobbyists” list, and once again Campaign Legal Center Policy Director Meredith McGehee was included on the prestigious list.  As she has been for a number of years, McGehee is listed along with top lobbyists from the biggest firms on K Street and the players in the corporate, union, association and nonprofit worlds.

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Unraveling The John Edwards Case PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 16:08

The jury considering the charges against former Senator John Edwards has already surprised many observers by taking more time to consider the case than it took the Edwards lawyers to put on their defense.  There is speculation that the case will be appealed if Edwards is convicted, raising questions about the judge’s instructions to the jury about the evidence and applicable standards of law.

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STOCK Act’s Anti-Corruption Provisions Are Needed PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:46

Usually Members of Congress compete with each other to claim the mantle of “pro-law-enforcement politician.” But when it comes to laws that might be used by prosecutors to hold Members of Congress accountable, the House leadership’s pro-law-enforcement stance apparently flags. That is the message being sent by its decision to strip out the anti-corruption provisions included by unanimous vote in the Senate-passed Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. These provisions should be restored in a House-Senate conference committee on the bill.

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Democracy Earned PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Monday, 05 December 2011 00:00

Polls place public approval of Congress at near 10% - an all-time low - and President Obama's at about 41%, well below the average since Franklin Roosevelt. Should Americans be concerned?

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Jack Abramoff: "This system hasn't been cleaned up at all." PDF Print Email
Written by CLC   
Monday, 07 November 2011 00:00

Last night Jack Abramoff was the focus of a "60 Minutes" piece on CBS. After serving his time in a federal prison, the infamous lobbyist offers his take on the influence game in Washington which, he assures correspondent Lesley Stahl, "hasn't been cleaned up at all." 

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Crocodile Tears from Disclosure Opponents PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 00:00

Congressional Republicans are shedding “crocodile tears” about the supposed politicization of government contracting that could result from a draft executive order requiring contractors to disclose political contributions. 

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An Ethics Process Badly in Need of Reform PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Friday, 22 July 2011 00:00

There is good news and bad news today in the House's vote to defeat the amendment offered by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to gut the funding of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The good news is that it went down to defeat with 302 Members voting against it. The bad news is that there are at least 102 Members who are totally clueless about public perception and apparently about the facts of what has been occurring in the House ethics process.

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Rep. Fitzpatrick, money and politics PDF Print Email
Written by Meredith McGehee   
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 00:00

Usually the news that a Member of Congress is seeking $30 contributions would be received as good news – evidence that there is a role for average Americans in the multi-million dollar campaign game.  But the recent debacle involving Members skipping their own swearing in and fundraising in the United States Capitol reflects horribly on the institution.  The situation highlights the poisoned atmosphere in Washington where for all too many Members the never-ending campaign threatens to trump their constitutional role of legislating.  

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