If Congress is serious about reform, here's what it looks like

Just in case the incoming Democratic majority is serious about real ethics reform, here are a few ideas for its members to consider:

Just in case the incoming Democratic majority is serious about real ethics reform, here are a few ideas for its members to consider:

Ban spousal and family employment by campaign committees and PACs.

This is not a new phenomenon. Sen. Harry Truman hired his wife, Bess, to work on his public payroll at a $2,500 salary (this when senators were paid $10,000). Worried about media criticism, he urged her to “only just drop in and do some signing of letters. It helps all concerned.” Truman was right to be concerned. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) opened the floodgates to the latest version of this abuse when he secured a ruling from the FEC allowing him to hire his wife as a fundraiser on his campaign payroll. In his case, his wife was an experienced campaign aide. But now 30 members have employed their wives or other family members on their campaign or PAC payrolls.

Whether these people are competent or not is beside the point. Campaign contributions are not bribes because they are not personal income. But when the campaign money flows to a spouse, the contributions become income for the member. This thinly veiled way to launder campaign contributions so that they add to the family income should be banned. Hiring of other family members should also be prohibited.

Those who have hired spouses and family members include: Reps. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), wife and two brothers; Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), husband’s law firm; Bernie SandersBernie SandersPerez, Ellison start multistate ‘turnaround tour’ for Dems Overnight Finance: US preps cases linking North Korea to Fed heist | GOP chair says Dodd-Frank a 2017 priority | Chamber pushes lawmakers on Trump's trade pick | Labor nominee faces Senate Sanders: Block Trump's SEC pick MORE (I-Vt.), wife and step-daughter; John Doolittle (R-Calif.), wife; Ralph HallRalph HallGOP fights off primary challengers in deep-red Texas Most diverse Congress in history poised to take power Lawmakers pay tribute to Rep. Ralph Hall MORE (R-Texas), daughter-in-law; Pete Stark (D-Calif.), wife; Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), wife; Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), wife; Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), wife; Jim Costa (D-Calif.), cousin; Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), wife; Dave ReichertDavid ReichertOvernight Finance: Biz groups endorse Trump's Labor pick | New CBO score coming before health bill vote | Lawmakers push back on public broadcasting cuts Dem, GOP lawmakers push back against Trump’s cuts to public broadcasting The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (R-Wash.), nephew; Chris Cannon (R-Utah), three daughters; Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), sister-in-law and daughter; Louie GohmertLouie Gohmert Freedom Caucus chairman: I’m less optimistic about entitlement reform Ryan-aligned group targets conservatives with robocalls The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (R-Texas), wife; Tim BishopTim BishopDems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary Flint residents hire first K Street firm House moves to vote on .1T package; backup plan in place MORE (D-N.Y.), daughter; Bob Filner (D-Calif.), wife; J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), wife; Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), wife; Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), wife; Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), wife; John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), wife; Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeTop Trump aide calls GOP senator a 'hater' Overnight Tech: Senate moving to kill FCC's internet privacy rules | Bill Gates pushes for foreign aid | Verizon, AT&T pull Google ads | Q&A with IBM's VP for cyber threat intel Senate on the verge of vote to kill FCC's consumer privacy protections MORE (R-Ariz.), wife; Ed PastorEd PastorWhich phone do lawmakers like the most? CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Political tomfoolery Pastor endorses in race to replace him MORE (D-Ariz.), nephew; John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), son; and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), brother Michael’s political consulting firm; Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerAnother day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs Carly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report MORE (D-Calif.), son; and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), son and daughter during vice presidential race; and ex-Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), wife; and Tom DeLay (R-Texas), wife and daughter.

Ban immediate family members of senators or congressmen from lobbying Congress.

An only slightly more removed form of family enrichment is the increasingly frequent hiring of the wives or children of congressmen or senators as lobbyists. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) son, for example, closed his music business in Illinois and moved to Washington where he was eventually hired to lobby for Google. Incoming Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE’s (D-Nev.) son and son-in-law are lobbyists. The wife of House Republican Whip Roy BluntRoy BluntTop Dems prep for future while out of the spotlight Overnight Healthcare: Pressure mounts for changes to GOP ObamaCare bill Pressure mounts for changes to ObamaCare bill MORE (R-Mo.) is a lobbyist who hawks for tobacco companies, one of the congressman’s biggest contributors. While legislators piously maintain that family members do not lobby them and some even bar them from communicating with their offices, their status as family members of key legislators is well known to their colleagues, who cannot avoid feeling pressure to give them special advantage.

Restore presidential power to line-item veto earmarks in appropriations bills and reverse the anti-impoundment legislation passed during the Nixon administration.

It is only by letting the administration police appropriations bills that the massive conflicts of interest inherent in the earmarking-for-campaign-contributions scam can be stopped.

Proposals to require public reporting of who has inserted what earmark will not be effective since most members are quite proud of their earmarks and would not only not mind public disclosure, but would actually likely welcome it.

And finally :

• Require lobbyists to disclose the specific bills that they are lobbying for or against on the lobbying registration forms.

• Ban all privately paid travel by members, including use of corporate jets.

• Require electronic filing of all travel disclosures for private and government travel.

• Require both chambers to work a full week, instead of the two- to three-day schedule they’ve had for the past few years.

• Don’t hold your breath waiting for these reforms, but they do represent what Congress should do if it wants to come clean.

Morris, a former political adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonBill ClintonWe must act now and pass the American Health Care Act Trump's message: Russia First or America First? Senate Democrats should grill Judge Gorsuch on antitrust. Here's how. MORE, is the author of “Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race.” To get Dick Morris’s columns e-mailed to you for free, please send him your e-mail address. His e-mail is dickmorris2006@aol.com