U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today voted against S. 1, the Senate Democrat's ethics reform bill. Graham noted the bill fails to address real ethics reform by bring openness to the earmark process.
"Unfortunately, our efforts to bring sunlight and transparency to earmark process have been greatly diluted," said Graham. "This legislation does not require an open and public disclosure of earmarks. It is weak and a vast departure from our original legislation."
Graham noted the House-Senate conference report contained an unusual procedure where the Majority Leader and committee chairman could certify that earmark disclosure met compliance. This process is fraught with potential abuse.
"Elected officials should be able to designate money for the states and districts," said Graham. "But every elected official should have to defend their actions and the merits of the program. The public deserves to know where the funds are going. They also deserve to know whether there is any financial self-interest on behalf of the elected official or their family."
"There is a belief in politics that money is power," said Graham. "My belief is that the ultimate power an elected official can have is the trust of the people. Congress has lost that trust.
"I hoped the ethics reform bill would be an opportunity to restore trust," said Graham. "Unfortunately, our efforts to bring about real reform were gutted."