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.

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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 SandersFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE (I-Vt.), wife and step-daughter; John Doolittle (R-Calif.), wife; Ralph HallRalph Moody HallRising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief Former Texas GOP Rep. Ralph Hall dead at 95 GOP fights off primary challengers in deep-red Texas 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 (Dave) George ReichertLymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Wash.), nephew; Chris Cannon (R-Utah), three daughters; Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), sister-in-law and daughter; Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertLive coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing GOP lawmaker invokes possibility of 'civil war' after House votes on Trump impeachment procedures Why the GOP march of mad hatters poses a threat to our Democracy MORE (R-Texas), wife; Tim BishopTimothy (Tim) Howard BishopDem candidate 'struck by the parallels' between Trump's rise and Hitler's Dems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary Flint residents hire first K Street firm 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 FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.), wife; Ed PastorEdward (Ed) Lopez PastorCross outside North Carolina historic black church defaced with KKK threat GOP lawmaker blasts Trump for quoting pastor warning of civil war over impeachment North Carolina's special House election heads to nail-biter finish MORE (D-Ariz.), nephew; John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), son; and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), brother Michael’s political consulting firm; Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates 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.

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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 Mason ReidHarry Reid: Early voting states Iowa, New Hampshire 'not representative of the country anymore' The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Bottom Line MORE’s (D-Nev.) son and son-in-law are lobbyists. The wife of House Republican Whip Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMichelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule 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 ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage The 2 events that reshaped the Democratic primary race 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