Don't give 'em a break

After almost a year in control of Congress, the Democrats have not been able to end the war in Iraq. They tried, but they did not have enough votes to override presidential vetoes. While I understand the bigger forces at work that account for the Democratic leaders’ failure to end the war, there is no reason to give Dem House leaders a break on the ethics front if they really do allow lobbyists to continue to throw parties for lawmakers at presidential conventions.

I’ve covered these parties for years — Democratic and Republican — and they are expensive affairs with no other purpose than to stroke a greedy egomaniacal lawmaker who in most cases holds power over something the entity writing the check wants to pass or die or will desire in the future.

Thank goodness for the goo-goos, the good-government watchdogs that keep the pressure on lawmakers to try to wean themselves from their addiction to lobbyists’ handouts.


That’s the Campaign Legal Center, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Public Citizen and Democracy 21, which are jointly urging the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to recant the guidance — make that the loophole — given members earlier this month that would allow these parties to “honor” a member to continue, despite new ethics rules.

In a letter to committee Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) and ranking member Doc HastingsRichard (Doc) Norman HastingsCongress just resolved a 20-year debate over Neolithic remains Boehner hires new press secretary GOP plots new course on Endangered Species Act reform MORE (R-Wash.), the groups tells them bluntly that their doozy of a loophole “defies not just the new ethics rule but common sense.”

“Does the Committee really believe, for example, that the purpose of this rule was to stop lobbying groups such as the energy industry trade associations from paying for a six-figure party to ‘honor’ a specific House member, but to allow these same trade associations to pay for such a party to honor all of the Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee?

“Does the Committee really believe that the purpose of this rule was to stop lobbying organizations from paying for a party to ‘honor’ a specific Member of the Blue Dogs or of the Congressional Black Caucus, but to allow such lobbying organizations to finance a lavish party at the conventions for all Members of the Blue Dogs or all Members of the Congressional Black Caucus?

“Just who do the members of the House Ethics Committee think they are fooling?”

No one.




Who would use such a word in a fundraising appeal? The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, that’s who, in a low-dollar e-mail pitch — “dreck” was in the subject line — signed by DSCC executive director J.B. Poersch.

And who would be the DSCC target? Put the bull’s-eye on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Meadows: Election will be held on November third Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency MORE (R-Ky.). Using the fundraising rule that any controversial remark by an opposing force must be used to raise political donations, the DSCC has locked onto this doozy from McConnell:

“Nobody is happy about losing lives, but remember these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers.”

“Dreck like this disgusts me,” writes Poersch.

And happy holidays to all.       

Sweet is the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times. E-mail: