FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Neal Ullman
October 20, 2005 406/254-2006
Monica Lindeen Calls For Real Ethics Reform In Washington
"Montanans - and all Americans - deserve a federal government free of
corruption and ethical misconduct," said Lindeen
(Helena, MT) -- At a Capitol press conference today, Monica Lindeen, Democratic candidate for
U.S. House of Representatives, announced her strong support for sweeping legislation to clean up the relationship between lobbyists and members of Congress, and challenged her incumbent opponent, Dennis Rehberg, to do the same.
Citing current, high-profile corruption scandals in Washington, Lindeen vowed to fight for passage of The Special Interest Lobbying and Ethics Accountability Act of 2005 as a member of Congress. Lindeen said tough ethics reform of Congress is needed now, and can be accomplished in four ways: Increasing disclosure of lobbying activities, slowing the "revolving door" between government and lobbying, curbing lobbyists-sponsored junkets and toughening enforcement and oversight.
"Montanans deserve better than the culture of corruption which has become the norm in Congress today. Too many members of Congress put their personal interests and the interests of their cronies ahead of the people who elected them," said candidate for Congress, Monica Lindeen. "When I get to the House of Representative, I will fight every day to change the way business is done in Washington. Montanans - and all Americans - deserve a federal government free of corruption and ethical misconduct. We have heard nothing but silence from Dennis Rehberg on this important topic."
The Special Interest Lobbying and Ethics Accountability Act of 2005, sponsored by campaign finance reform champion, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA), and supported by Monica Lindeen, would require members of Congress to fully disclose congressional travel; make it easier for citizens to learn about who is lobbying members of Congress; slow the "revolving door" between government and lobbying; and strengthen the enforcement and oversight of ethics and lobbying
rules already in place.
Last week, it was reported in news stories that Rehberg steered local officials in Carter County, Montana, to hire a Jack Abramoff-connected lobbyist, Kevin Ring, to lobby for them to get Highway 323 paved. He was paid more than $92,000. Ring subsequently cited his right not to
incriminate himself when he declined to answer any questions last summer at a U.S. Senate hearing looking into lobbying fraud. Rehberg took $2,000 in campaign contributions from Ring in 2002, and Rehberg's spokesman claimed that the recommendation had nothing to do with the contributions Rehberg received from Ring. [Billings Gazette, 10/9/05; Center for Responsive Politics]
Rehberg-favorite Kevin Ring also was among lobbyists - including Abramoff - that received more than $500,000 to lobby for Montana's Dry Prairie Rural Water Project, with poor results.
The Dry Prairie Rural Water Project has spent more in lobbying than any other water project in Montana or the Dakotas, yet received far less than three Dakota water projects. Since Congress authorized the $193 million project in 2000, Dry Prairie has received a total of $26 million. In contrast, the Garrison Diversion water project in North Dakota received $92.3 million and the Lewis & Clark project in South Dakota received $44.7 million from for fiscal years 2002 through
2005. [Gannett News Service, 5/12/05]
In addition to Rehberg's connection to Ring, he received $20,000 from indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay. An arrest warrant has been issued for DeLay in relation to illegal money laundering charges stemming from his political action committee. Rehberg's office, however, has said, "There's absolutely no reason for him (Rehberg) to return the money." [Helena Independent Record, 9/29/05]
Since DeLay's indictment, three of Rehberg's Republican colleagues in congress have returned money they received from DeLay - Reps. Jeb Bradley (NH), Heather Wilson (NM), and Kenny Hulshof (MO).