Ron Paul
2006 Ron Paul Chapter 33

Ron Paul Jack Abramoff Scandal

3 May 2006

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Jack Abramoff Scandal
3 May 2006

2006 Ron Paul 33:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, the public outrage over the Jack Abramoff scandal presented Congress with an opportunity to support real reform by addressing the root cause of the corruption: the amount of money and power located in Washington, D.C. A true reform agenda would focus on ending federal funding for unconstitutional programs, beginning with those programs that benefit wealthy corporations and powerful special interests. Congress should also change the way we do business in the House by passing the Sunlight Rule (H. Res. 709). The Sunlight Rule ensures that members of the House of Representatives and the American public have adequate time to read and study legislation before it is voted upon. Ending the practice of rushing major legislation to the House floor before members have had a chance to find out the details of bills will do more to improve the legislative process and restore public confidence in this institution than will imposing new registration requirements on lobbyists or making staffers waste their time at an “ethics class.”

2006 Ron Paul 33:2
I am disappointed, but not surprised, to see that Congress is failing to go after the root cause of corruption. Instead, we are considering placing further burdens on the people’s exercise of their free speech rights. H.R. 4975 will not deter corrupt lobbyists, staffers, or members. What H.R. 4975 will do is discourage ordinary Americans from participating in the policy process. Among the ways H.R. 4975 silences ordinary Americans is by requiring grassroots citizens’ action organizations to divulge their membership lists so Congress can scrutinize the organizations’ relationships with members of Congress. The result of this will be to make many Americans reluctant to support or join these organizations. Making it more difficult for average Americans to have their voices heard is an odd response to concerns that Congress is more responsive to special interests than to the American public.

2006 Ron Paul 33:3
This legislation further violates the First Amendment by setting up a means of secretly applying unconstitutional campaign finance laws to “Section 527” organizations. This is done by a provision in the rule under which this bill is brought before us that automatically attaches the “527” legislation to H.R. 4975 if H.R. 4975 passes the House and is sent to the Senate for a conference.

2006 Ron Paul 33:4
H.R. 4975 also contains minor reforms of the appropriation process to bring greater transparency to the process of “earmarking,” where members seek funding for specific projects in their respective district. I have no objection to increased transparency, and I share some of the concerns raised by opponents of the current earmarking process.

2006 Ron Paul 33:5
However, I would like to remind my colleagues that, since earmark reform does not reduce the total amount of spending, instead giving more power to the executive branch to allocate federal funds, the problem of members trading their votes in exchange for earmarks will continue. The only difference will be that instead of trading their votes to win favor with Congressional appropriators and House leadership, members will trade their votes to get funding from the Executive branch. Transferring power over allocation of taxpayer dollars from the legislative branch to the executive branch is hardly a victory for republican government. Reducing Congress’s role in allocating of tax dollars, without reducing the Federal budget, also means State and local officials, to say nothing of ordinary citizens, will have less input into how Federal funds are spent.

2006 Ron Paul 33:6
Earmarks, like most of the problems H.R. 4975 purports to deal with, are a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The real problem is that the United States government is too big, spends too much, and has too much power. When the government has the power to make or break entire industries by changing one regulation or adding or deleting one paragraph in an appropriation bill it is inevitable that people will seek to manipulate that power to their advantage. Human nature being what it is, it is also inevitable that some people seeking government favors will violate basic norms of ethical behavior. Thus, the only way to effectively address corruption is to reduce the size of government and turn money and power back to the people and the several states.

2006 Ron Paul 33:7
The principals in the recent scandals where not deterred by existing laws and congressional ethics rules. Why would a future Jack Abramoff be deterred by H.R. 4975? H.R. 4975 is not just ineffective to the extent that it burdens the ability of average citizens to support and join grassroots organizations to more effectively participate in the policy process, H.R. 4975 violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment. I therefore urge my colleagues to reject this bill and instead work to reduce corruption in Washington by reducing the size and power of the Federal Government.

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