I'm tired of these "good government" groups that talk about eliminating money from politics, and the link between advocacy (and lobby) groups with lawmakers. Today's top story in the New York Times is about how the new rules for Congress limit but not ban paid trips:
Despite changes intended to curb Congressional junkets, some lawmakers and even their families continue to take trips hosted by private groups and companies that revel in their access to Washington power brokers.
An examination by The New York Times of 1,150 trips shows that some of them bent or broke rules adopted in 2007 to limit corporate influence in Washington. Others exploited glaring loopholes in the guidelines, enacted with much fanfare after scandals involving the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The problem is with the criminals and not the system. Lawmakers need to have contact with the public. This sometimes needs to include trips for factfinding and exploration. If that is so, they are going to have families/companions accompany them. The question is really whether when laws are written/not written or regulations offered or enforced;is there something unethical going on. Is the law being broken. If a lawmaker is honest and transparent, we should leave it alone. The left, middle, and right all have groups. There really isn't anyone locked out of the system. There are people who forcefully advocate for the poorest of the poor.
There are those who work on behalf of the worst criminals. I say this to say, we should mandate disclosure and watch what happens.
We should make sure any changes we make actually make us better as a nation. Right now we are wasting both public and private sector resources investigating trips, dinners, gifts, etc. Not on a large scale but on a micro level.
Our Congress is fundamentally honest, but Democrats and Republicans. The crooks have and will be caught. For the rest of them, let's leave them alone to do their jobs.