While Rep. Dave Reichert and the GOP House collapse under the weight of an expanding ethical crisis, 8th District Democratic challenger Darcy Burner has adopted some “House Rules” of her own. Attacking Congress for putting the needs of high-powered DC lobbyists above those of taxpayers, she has enunciated a clear set of guidelines by which she and her staff will interact with lobbyists:
NO SECRET LOBBYIST MEETINGS: My office will report all meetings that any member of my staff or I have with a registered lobbyist, to be updated on my website once a week.
NO HELPING MEMBERS CASH IN: No member of Congress with whom I have served who becomes a federal registered lobbyist will be allowed to lobby my staff or me on any issue for 5 years after that member has left Congress.
NO HELPING LOBBYISTS CASH IN: No former member of my staff who becomes a registered federal lobbyist will be allowed to lobby my staff or me on any issue for 5 years after they have left my employment.
NO FAMILY LOBBYISTS: No direct relation of any member of my staff or of mine who is a registered federal lobbyist will be allowed to lobby my office or me.
NO LOBBYIST SPONSORED TRAVEL: All trips by my staff or me will either be official trips and thus paid by Congress or they will be paid by each person taking the trip or, if either partisan or campaign related, by my campaign funds.
NO LOBBYIST GIFTS: No gifts will be accepted by my staff or by me from any registered federal lobbyist.
COMPLIANCE: Any member of my staff who willfully violates any of these rules will be terminated.
What does this mean? Well, first of all, it means working for Burner won’t be a get-rich-quick scheme like some congressional gigs. It also means Burner’s staffers will have to work a helluva lot harder than most of their colleagues, as staffers often rely on their lobbyist buddies for position papers, talking points… even (gasp) drafting legislation.
It also means that a Congresswoman Burner would run as transparent and influence free an office as you’re likely to find in the Capitol.
Burner has challenged Reichert to adopt similar rules for the remainder of his term, and beyond. Fat chance. Reichert has proven to be a bit of an overwhelmed lightweight, captive to his professional staff and advisors, and there’s no way they’re going to let him throw them off the gravy train.
And you know what else his staff won’t ever let him do? Debate Burner. You know why? They’re afraid. (And so is he.)