Ethics-based reform is desperately needed in Congress but regulating the lobbying industry is only treating the symptoms of the disease. The problem in Washington, D.C., is not the lobbyists. The problem is members of Congress.
When a disgraced lobbyist described Congress and its budget process as an "earmark favor factory," most Americans were reminded that earmarks are a key aspect of the culture of corruption in Washington, D.C. Corruption scandals involving members of Congress revealed that earmarks are the gateway drug that leads to spending addictions.
The climate in Washington has provided lobbyists the ability to wine and dine congressmen in a culture where votes and influence are bought and sold. Congress does not need to reform the lobbying industry as much as it needs to reform itself.
I believe disclosure and transparency is the best disinfectant against corruption because I trust the wisdom of the electorate far more than I trust politicians. By forcing disclosure and transparency, the public will be able tie together the nexus between gifts from lobbyists with the "special interest" earmark from a congressman in return.
If politicians have to report on everything they do, the public will be aware of their transgressions and consequently corrupt politicians will be thrown out of office.
For the American people, the ethics scandals only are beginning to connect the dots between politicians, individual earmarks, lobbyists and campaign contributions. If Congress fails to enact meaningful reforms that attack this climate of corruption at its source the public will, and should, take reform into its own hands at the ballot box.
For these reasons and more, it always has been my policy to not request any earmarks.