Are new ethics laws ethical enough?

Marketplace Staff Feb 4, 2009
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Are new ethics laws ethical enough?

Marketplace Staff Feb 4, 2009
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: A few of President Obama’s cabinet-level nominees seem to have some tax skeletons in their closets. The latest is Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority leader, who withdrew his nomination to head Health and Human Services because of unpaid taxes. His nomination also raises questions about the president’s new ethics rules. Here’s Tamara Keith.


Tamara Keith: Right after taking office, President Obama issued an executive order aimed at halting the revolving door whereby appointees move freely between the executive branch and the ranks of lobbyists.

And while Tom Daschle was getting most attention for skimping on taxes, Melanie Sloan, director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, was more put off by his high-paid consulting work that appeared to be lobbying in all but name only.

Melanie Sloan: Lobbyist has a very narrow definition, and Mr. Daschle didn’t fit within that definition. And there will plenty of folks who will both come to the administration who are like Mr. Daschle, technically not lobbyists, and then they’ll go out and take jobs like Mr. Daschle has had.

Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, another Washington good government group, describes the new ethics rules as ground-breaking. Still:

Fred Wertheimer: The bottom line here is lobbying is going to continue in Washington for as long as government continues in Washington.

Two other Obama appointees recently worked as registered lobbyists.

In Washington, I’m Tamara Keith for Marketplace.

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