Thursday, January 5, 2006
AP is reporting that politicians are dumping Abramoff donations, and Newt Gingrich is calling for campaign-finance reform:
As politicians led by President Bush scrambled to ditch campaign contributions from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich cautioned Republicans they risk losing control of congressional majorities if they try to put all the blame on lobbyists. "You can't have a corrupt lobbyist unless you have a corrupt member (of Congress) or a corrupt staff. This was a team effort," Gingrich told a Rotary Club lunch in Washington on Wednesday.
He called for systematic changes to reduce the enormous financial advantages that incumbents have in congressional elections.
As head of a conservative movement based on ethics concerns and promises to curb federal growth, Gingrich led the GOP in 1994 to its first House majority in 42 years. But he decided to resign in 1998 when Republicans lost seats a year after Gingrich himself was fined $300,000 for violating House rules barring the use of tax-exempt foundations for political purposes.
He said the GOP leaders, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., need to resist mere "lobbyist bashing" and push campaign finance changes, along with smaller and more effective government.
"If they intend to retain a majority, then ... they need to take the lead in saying to the country we need to clean this mess up," Gingrich told reporters. "But any effort to push this under the rug, to say this is just one bad apple: That's baloney."