Does your Congressperson represent you – or Israel?

on 47 Comments

In this time of economic austerity, when jobs are being slashed and Americans are fearful about their future, the Congressional recess is the time for our elected representatives to be home in their districts, reaching out to their constituents and servicing the people they are paid to represent. Instead, this August one out of every five representatives will be taking a junket to Israel, compliments of an affiliate of the Israel lobby AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) but still clocked in on the taxpayer’s dime.

Americans who have lost their jobs and seen their life savings evaporate because Congress can’t seem to get it together deserve an explanation of how this crisis will be solved. Following the recent debt debacle, the public is hungry for information about the mysterious 12-person “super committee” that will slash over one trillion dollars from the federal budget. But instead of opening their doors to their constituents, 81 members of Congress will be getting briefings from Israeli government officials, touring historic religious sites, and perhaps “seeking a salty dip in the Dead Sea.” Representative Steny Hoyer, who is leading the Democratic delegation, said he is pleased members of Congress have this opportunity “to gain a deeper understanding of the issues involved in increasing stability in the region.” One has to wonder whether our elected officials are more concerned about the stability of Israel or the well-being of American families.

Not surprisingly, trip expenses are being paid by an affiliate of the all-powerful AIPAC lobby, the American Israel Educational Foundation. AIPAC lobbies hard to ensure that Israel is kept on the U.S. dole, with $3 billion of US taxpayers’ dollars a year going to the Israeli military. Without AIPAC and the financial contributions to Congressional campaigns made by its affiliate organizations, our representatives would be freer to speak out against funneling precious taxdollars to this already wealthy nation. This junket goes to show that those who claim AIPAC has a stranglehold over our Congress are not far off the mark.

Going on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel is the moral equivalent of using an Anglo-Boer travel company to visit apartheid-era South Africa. Although they claim to be visiting leaders “across the political spectrum”, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, you can bet your bottom dollar that AIPAC will not be giving these 81 Congresspeople a fair and balanced view of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. They won’t observe one of the weekly demonstrations in Bi’lin or Nabi Saleh, where Israeli soldiers routinely tear gas and arrest non-violent protesters. They won’t spend time with grieving Palestinians whose homes have been demolished to make way for more Jewish-only housing. They won’t spend a few hours at a checkpoint to witness how Palestinians are detained, abused and humiliated, or how this “thriving democracy” forbids Palestinians from driving on Jewish-only roads. They won’t go to Gaza, where 1.5 million people are suffering under an unbearable siege, unable to travel freely, conduct business transactions across borders or even rebuild their homes destroyed by the Israeli invasion. And they won’t likely be visiting the burgeoning tent cities in Tel Aviv where hundreds of thousands of Israelis are currently camped out protesting the lack of affordable housing, gas and food.

With the disapproval rate for Congress at a record 82%, now is not the time for our representatives to pander to AIPAC. Now is not the time for “free” junkets to Israel—with an implicit promise of $3 billion of our taxdollars in return. Now is the time to stop the freefall of the American economy. If our representatives want to earn more respect from the American public, they better prove that their allegiance is not to a foreign government or a group that lobbies on behalf of a foreign government, but to their constituents back home.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK. She encourages you to contact your congressperson and ask where they will be this August recess. Call  202-224-3121.

47 Responses

  1. annie
    August 9, 2011, 7:47 pm

    thank you medea!

  2. American
    August 9, 2011, 8:13 pm

    Yes, thank you medea.
    I’ve saying the same for 11 years.

    I think I will quote that site….. “If Americans Knew”
    Cause if Americans knew a tenth of what most of us here know there would be hell to pay.

    But my congressman doesn’t go to Israel, has never been as far as I know. My district isn’t suspectible to AIPAC tactics.
    Don’t know if my senator is going, I’ll check and see.

  3. Richard Witty
    August 9, 2011, 8:14 pm

    How dare they visit Palestinian and Israeli representatives and officials.

    How dare they concern themselves with foreign policy concerns and getting as direct information as they can?

    Better that they not see for themselves, ask questions. Better that they only listen to dissenters propaganda.

    • PissedOffAmerican
      August 9, 2011, 10:44 pm

      Of course, when Witty brays the sort of nonsense we see above, there will be those that attempt to turn “He haw, he haaaaaaw, he haw, he haaaaaaw” into some sort of sound effect that warrants rebuttal.

      Have any of you stopped to consider that if he was capable of understanding what you are saying, than he would be capable of offering something other than his irritating and incessant braying?

      • Mooser
        August 9, 2011, 11:05 pm

        Witty is a spurned lover. I can only surmise this is his obsession born of having his advances refused on a summer night in Cape Cod.
        I’ve never seen anything like this that wasn’t like that.

      • Chaos4700
        August 10, 2011, 1:20 am

        Well what do you expect? Witty’s sitting pretty in his place of privilege. What does he care that Congress shuttles off to an all-expenses paid vacation on the Med.

        You know the only reason I don’t have a star next to my screen name? I’ll bet Witty’s never had both his checking and savings accounts dip below three figures.

      • CigarGod
        August 10, 2011, 9:36 am

        What does the star mean?

      • Mooser
        August 10, 2011, 10:09 am

        “Witty’s never had both his checking and savings accounts dip below three figures.”

        Richard has unwittingly exposed an awful lot of himself over the past two years I have been reading his comments. Let’s just say his financial thinking and success is on a par with his political, ethical and moral accomplishments.

        It’s pretty simple and it’s there for everyone to see: Something happened back in the adolescent days which convinced Richard that Phil has some kind of permanent obligation to him. Apparently, space to comment is all he is getting, and it’s killing him that Phil is doing something successfully and passionately and he, Richard, has no integral part in it. So he is gonna keep pooping on the floor until he gets the attention he needs.

        And besides, the first thing anybody does these days when considering an applicant for a job or contract is Google them. So he is gonna have a lot of free time to demand love from Phil.

        That, of course, is my purely personal view, and it’s based on his comments here. I have no personal knowledge of the situation, and I could be wrong.

      • James North
        August 10, 2011, 10:17 am

        Richard Witty said, ‘Ouch, Mooser. The image of me “pooping on the floor” is painful, if appropriate. Maybe a good part of my motivation for my 10,000+ comments has nothing to do with my warped views of Israel/Palestine, but in fact is a childish effort to get attention. Otherwise, I would just be an obscure guy up here in western Massachusetts, contributing once a week to my own mini-blog.
        ‘By the way, I have a confession to make. I exaggerate the closeness of my relationship to Phil. We’ve seen each other at most 4 times in the past 40 years.’

      • annie
        August 10, 2011, 10:24 am

        the star was added during the site fundraising last month and represents those who have made donations to support the site. however there are people who requested not to have stars next to there names, i think there are quite a few of us who have donated and do not have stars. you can always donate if you want your own star!

      • CigarGod
        August 11, 2011, 8:29 pm

        Thanks, Annie.
        You guys do amazing work and I think I’ll honor that with a star!

    • Mooser
      August 9, 2011, 11:10 pm

      “Better that they not see for themselves, ask questions.”

      And they can do that best by having their way paid and their itinerary arranged by AIPAC?

    • James North
      August 9, 2011, 11:30 pm

      Richard Witty said, ‘I’m having a terrific day. Re-read this:

      Better that they [Congresspeople] only listen to dissenters propaganda.

      ‘I’ve identified a grave danger to the U.S. Congress. A huge majority of them follow Mondoweiss regularly, or propaganda created by other, like-minded “dissenters.” The pro-Israel point of view barely gets a hearing on Capitol Hill.
      ‘So naturally, 81 of them, 20 per cent of the total, have to go to Israel to ferret out the hidden, suppressed truth — at a time when America, the nation they claim to represent, faces grave dangers.
      ‘Of course, you won’t see me, Richard Witty, going to Israel, “to see for myself,” even though I haven’t been there in 25 years. I might have to hold my nose at some of what I experienced there.’

    • Chaos4700
      August 10, 2011, 1:18 am

      Speaking of propaganda, we’re still waiting for you to denounce institutionalized racism in Israeli textbooks.

    • radii
      August 10, 2011, 2:58 am

      oh Witty, why do you perform the act for people who can see through it?

      we all know the US congresspeople in israel are asking “how much money?” “how many votes” [will I get from jews]
      and “what do I have to do?” [to please AIPAC and israel] … pretty much that’s the whole conversation

    • Koshiro
      August 10, 2011, 8:59 am

      Feel free to provide us with some statistics on how many Palestinians (in the territories, not fig-leaf Israeli Arabs) they actually talk to, as opposed to Israeli ones.

  4. Brewer
    August 9, 2011, 8:31 pm

    Gags doing the rounds:

    Why doesn’t Israel want to join as the 51st state? Because then they would only have 2 senators.

    In other news, Libya and Syria recognise UK rioters as the official government of the UK.

  5. General Choomin
    August 9, 2011, 8:51 pm

    My congressperson represents rich white people. Nothing new.

    Anyways, when Rahm Emanuel was a big shot and Obama aid, I knew things wouldn’t be changing any when he took a vacation in occupied west bank and the occupied Golan Heights. Now we see more US officials taking a vacation in occupied territory to hammer in the idea that Israel has created something out of a wasteland and “settled” the “unsettled” and savage lands of the brown hordes. There will be no mention of what villages and towns were bulldozed to make this area “bloom” of course. Since most will already know what cheap propaganda they are being fed but won’t be able to turn down the offer of a free all expenses paid vacation.

  6. MLE
    August 9, 2011, 9:17 pm

    Can we get a list of those visiting? My Congressman doesn’t represent any of my views, but I’d like another reason to call and yell at him a bit.

  7. Debonnaire
    August 9, 2011, 9:31 pm

    Would never have learned of this zioride other than here. Thank you, Medea.

  8. MRW
    August 9, 2011, 9:39 pm


  9. stopaipac
    August 9, 2011, 9:50 pm

    One thing we know about the anti-democratic “Congress of 12”, is that cuts to military aid to Israel is simply “off the table”. There will cuts to Cleveland, but no cuts to Tel Aviv. Congress will say NO to extra funds to building homes in West Oakland California, but yes, yes, yes for increased funds to demolish homes in the West Bank.

    It is too expensive, both financially and morally, to fund injustice in the Middle East, but hardly any congressperson is willing to step up and say that. It is time that we declare the moral bankruptcy of the US Congress in its shameful pandering to a lobby for war and occupation. It is time that we organize mass protests at every “membership event” for AIPAC (see examples of past protests here ), and make an even larger showing at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference next March than we did in May of this year. Protests on the street will make a difference. As the people lead, eventually Congress will follow.

  10. PissedOffAmerican
    August 9, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Well, there are media sluts that are just as complicit in this shameless pandering.

    If people like Maddow, Olberman, O’reilly, the “Morning Joe” coffee klatch, etc, would bring this up, then things would begin to change.

    Ever seen this clownish brainy Maddow bring up ANYTHING Isr/Pal???? She doesn’t touch it.

    Olberman??? You’re dreaming.

    And the Fox crew??? Ever seen anything out of them that wasn’t straight outta the Israeli/AIPAC playbook?

    Fact is, the whorish pandering media of BOTH sides merely greases the skids for these political opportunists and money grubbing pieces of shit in DC to shamelessly fly off in these Israeli sponsored orgies of propaganda and carefully managed guided tours.

    Hoyer and Cantor should be tarred and feathered out of the people’s capital. They are low grade sluts, that would sell their firstborn for another term in office.

    And the media mouthpieces that abide, abet, and ignore how completely our “representatives” have been seduced, bribed, blackmailed, and indentured by the various Israel lobby groups are no better. I can’t even bring myself to watch most of them, they are so far from what a “Fourth Estate” is supposed to be. In fact, Maddow and Company has so completely IGNORED anything and everything having to do with Israel, that I don’t even watch MSNBC anymore. They can kiss my ass. They’re no better than Fox.

  11. thetumta
    August 9, 2011, 11:07 pm

    Notice all the zero comments lately? Time to abandon this ship. The economy has left them no choice in case you haven’t noticed. War is the only way out. It won’t work this time, unfortunately. It’s about to get very, very ugly. Move on.
    Hej! Tumta

  12. Exiled At Home
    August 10, 2011, 12:51 am

    My Congressman’s last name is Israel. Seriously. Steve Israel (D) NY-2. A very fitting name for this fawning lapdog, too.

  13. American
    August 10, 2011, 12:53 am

    The 81 congresspeople going to Israel will no doubt be discussing how to circumvent Palestine at the UN with Netanyahu and the US Amb to Israel who actually works for Israel as we all know. I think we can assume the 81 are main AIPAC’ers in congress.

    This blip also caught my attention:

    Liberia: Amb. Bull Visits Israel – Meets Prime Minister Netanyahu‎ – 19 hours ago
    The group will also meet with visiting US Congressmen and the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. A packed schedule also features visits to holy sites in …

    I would bet there are some other country’s reps as well visiting at the same time the 81 congressperps will there in Israel….a confab with US politicians appearing in Israel to lend weight to Israel’s trying to convince them not to vote for Palestine statehood.
    Why not just move the US government to Israel. Israel owns it anyway and it’s not doing anything for us here.

  14. American
    August 10, 2011, 12:59 am

    Let’s see what Shapiro, Obama’s latest zioninst Amb, is up to.

    Dan Shapiro, playing by J14 rules
    By Ron Kampeas · August 7, 2011

    It’s not Robert Ford in Hama, but Dan Shapiro, the U.S. envoy to Tel Aviv, likes the J14 (that stands for July 14) social justice protests sweeping Israel.

    Not their message (and who’s sure of what that is exactly), but the fact that they’re sweeping Israel. And that they’re able to sweep Israel.

    Shapiro — a fluent Hebrew speaker — just posted the following in Hebrew on his Facebook page:

    The United States has no position on the internal matters of the state of Israel. But we admire the strength of Israeli democracy. The citizens of Israel know that they can demonstrate in the streets without fear of violence, and that’s not the case in many other places in the region. The people and the government will decide together how they will deal with the serious social and economic problems about which people are demonstrating. And we are confident our democratic partner will come out of this period even stronger.

    Okay, so he’s saying nothing, right? Just that he likes democracy?


    The problems are “serious”? That’s already a call — and maybe the right one, but it’s a call. “The people and government will decide?” Also an interesting call, considering the “people” are in the streets precisely because they feel the government is cutting them out of decision-making.

    And two nods to the strength of Israeli democracy at a time that even stalwart stateside pro-Israel groups are spooked by some of the “nationalist” laws the Knesset is enacting?

    Interesting. As one commenter put it: “I’m not sure one needs especially to admire the fact that people can go out and demonstrate in Israel without being shot. I think that’s supposed to be understood.”
    I wonder what’s behind this.”

    • annie
      August 10, 2011, 1:07 am

      The citizens of Israel know that they can demonstrate in the streets without fear of violence,

      1/2 the people the government of israel rules do not know that. in fact there have been numerous stories about them purchasing weapons for the planned no violent demos in september.

  15. RobertB
    August 10, 2011, 1:09 am

    Click on link below to find out if your congressperson is tied at Pro-Israel /AIPAC’s feeding troughs…$$$$$. Find out how much money he/she received ?



    2009 Total Contributions: $ 1,139,692

    Total Contributions (1978-2009): $48,989,535

    Total No. of Recipients (1978-2009): 2,198

    KEY: The “Career Total” column represents the total amount of pro-Israel PAC money received from Jan. 1, 1978 through July 31, 2008. S=Senate, H=House of Representatives. Party affiliation: D=Democrat, R=Republican…etc…

    link to

  16. American
    August 10, 2011, 1:15 am

    How reassuring for Israel and its loyal supporters in the US.
    Too bad none of our politicians care about reassuring Americans our people will have jobs, our old folks won’t be eating catfood, our children won’t be dying in wars.
    When are we going to take our country back from them?

    JPost.comDiplomacy and Politics

    Shapiro: Economy won’t affect US obligations toward Israel

    08/10/2011 03:17

    New American envoy says commitment to Israel’s security “has been consistent through many ups and downs of our own economy”; adds that efforts continuing to find formula that will enable sides to return to peace talks.

    New US envoy Dan Shapiro expressed confidence Tuesday that despite the difficult economic climate in the US, Washington’s financial commitments to Israel’s security will continue.

    The ambassador pointed out that even during the very difficult budget environment this year, US President Barack Obama and the Congress “were united in providing the full funding of Israel’s annual military systems package, as well as the additional $200 million represented in the Iron Dome Program. So, I have a lot of confidence that our commitments will continue.”

    Shapiro said that the US’s commitment to Israel’s security was “iron-clad,” and said that “one of the most important examples of that commitment is in our cooperation on missile defense technology.”

    Shapiro, a close Obama confidant who is expected to do his utmost to improve the perception of Obama in Israel, said that after Obama visited Sderot during the 2008 presidential campaign he “promised that the United States would continue to support Israel every way that’s necessary, and every way that’s possible in defending itself against the threat it faces.”

    Shapiro termed the Iron Dome “an incredible accomplishment of Israeli ingenuity,” and said the US was “pleased to be continuing to accelerate its development and deployment to protect even greater portions of the Israeli people.”

    And we’re hopeful, although not certain, that we’ll be able to prevent a confrontation at the United Nations in September.”

    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week in the Knesset that Israel and the US were working on a written document spelling out the parameters for returning to negotiations with the Palestinians that would be based on the speech Obama gave at AIPAC on May 22, spelling out in greater detail what he meant by saying in his May 19 speech at the State Department that an agreement should be based on a return to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.

    Netanyahu told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “we are interacting with the US to put together a document [for an agreement with the Palestinians] using language from Obama’s second speech [the AIPAC speech].”

    In the AIPAC speech Obama said the parties “will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.

    Shapiro reiterated Washington’s opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the UN in September, saying “We don’t support any unilateral attempt to try to solve this conflict through the United Nations. It can only be resolved through direct negotiations.”

  17. rjcrawford33
    August 10, 2011, 2:25 am

    It is a peculiar mix of corruption and indoctrination.

    While recently in Israel, I was struck by the incredible amount of young Americans there, most of whom I would assume are Jewish. You hear them around Jerusalem, meet them while climbing Masada’s Snake Trail, and find yourself sitting next to them on Tel Aviv beaches. To a one, and I talked to many of them, they count themselves as bi-national, a potent mix of religious belief, nationalism, and militarism. This too is indoctrination. In Jerusalem, there were scores of young Americans selling t-shirts to “thank the Israeli Army”.

  18. CigarGod
    August 10, 2011, 9:24 am

    God, I love this woman!

    What she didn’t mention is each congress persons aide who is attached like a Remora, furiously taking notes on any contraditions they might witness and the possible justifications/deflections they can use if questioned about them.

  19. Kathleen
    August 10, 2011, 9:52 am

    Medea a deep well of compassion, and a deep and committed thirst for justice. When she jumps on an issue you can expect things to move.

    Medea check out this conversation Jeffrey Blankfort and I were having on his latest post. Wondering if Move over Aipac could take on investigating and drawing attention to how the I lobby gets around the alleged new restrictions for lobbyist sending our Reps on junkets.

    We need the complete story about how and why the I lobby gets around these new laws. American Israel Education Foundation needs to be targeted.

    Kathleen August 9, 2011 at 9:55 am

    After the bought out Bob Ney scandal I thought there was legislation passed to knock out “pay to play” trips. How did the I lobby get around this? I know a silly question but thought I would ask anyway.

    Jeff I was the lady on the corner near the front of the Aipac conference where we both stood as a young Palestinian man was telling his story about his brothers dying. And I asked the older Jewish man who was listening at a distance if he had had relatives killed in the Holocaust. He answered “yes” and all shared compassionate statements and feelings. I then went on to ask him if he thought “Jew’s lives were more valuable than Palestinians” And he answered with anger “absolutely, no question about it” His wife came at us with claws and nasty statements. You had been capturing on a camera…did you get that?


    Jeffrey Blankfort August 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Kathleen, of course I remember you and the incident which can be seen here which I grabbed on my Flip camera, but I don’t have the woman on it but her husband was more than enough: link to

    There was a new regulation added to the lobbying laws that was intended to restrict lobbyists from paying for congressional trips but does anyone think AIPAC was going to let some lousy law get in its way and does anyone seriously think that Congress would do anything to stop it? Of course not. So AIPAC uses a tax-exempt “charity,” AIEF, the American-Israel Education Foundation, that it created in 1989, to get around the law, the goal of which is “Furthering understanding of the United States/Israel relations.”
    link to


    Kathleen August 10, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Whoa…great catch. For a full picture of what was taking place. Is that Jeffrey and I as well as an Egyptian woman were listening to a young man talk and weep about the deaths of his two Palestinian brothers who had died after I believe being shot by the IDF and were unwilling to get medical help because of checkpoints. He was weeping. Several of us started crying.
    This older Jewish man attending the Aipac conference was also standing there. I turned to him and asked him in a compassionate way if he had lost relatives in the Holocaust. He answered “yes” I sincerely shared deep concern, outrage and sadness over his expressed loss. Then went onto stir any compassion that he might have for the young Palestinian mans story. Clearly he did not. According to him a Jewish life is far more valuable than a Jewish life.

    You can see his wife enter the clip at the end. She was enraged and came at us with her hands in a claw position repeating “yes a Jewish life is more valuable than a Palestinian life”

    There is the essence of the problem in the I/P conflict. Ethnocentricity gone wild

    Kathleen August 10, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Thanks. Do you know the name of the law passed to restrict lobbyist from paying for congressional trips?

    Jeffrey have you all ready done a blog on this issue. Hope someone here at Mondoweiss will if you have not.

    Kathleen August 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    that link to charity navigator is not work

    • Kathleen
      August 10, 2011, 9:57 am

      The link to Jeffrey Blankforts latest.

      link to

      So how did the I lobby get around these new laws. I thought after the Bob Ney scandal no lobbyist were supposed to be able to send our Reps on junkets. The I lobby clearly rolled over those new laws.

  20. Kathleen
    August 10, 2011, 10:05 am

    Ok see that you have brought attention on this issue as Jeffrey Blankfort did the other day.

    Hoyer should be hammered as well as the 81 congress people. Tell Hoyer that we thought lobbyist were not supposed to be able to send Rep on junkets. Not through alleged charities etc. If this is going to continue can Move over Aipac, Code Pink etc start paying for trips through a charity for our Reps to go to the West Bank, etc?

    Contact Hoyer
    link to

    Now aid to Israel is not supposed to be used for illegal settlements or illegal housing. But since Israel is not required to clarify where US aid is spent…there is no way to determine whether they are spending US aid on their illegal activities. But you can be sure they are. Otherwise why not report specifics about where they spend US aid

    “Not surprisingly, trip expenses are being paid by an affiliate of the all-powerful AIPAC lobby, the American Israel Educational Foundation. AIPAC lobbies hard to ensure that Israel is kept on the U.S. dole, with $3 billion of US taxpayers’ dollars a year going to the Israeli military. Without AIPAC and the financial contributions to Congressional campaigns made by its affiliate organizations, our representatives would be freer to speak out against funneling precious taxdollars to this already wealthy nation. This junket goes to show that those who claim AIPAC has a stranglehold over our Congress are not far off the mark.”

    • Michael W.
      August 10, 2011, 12:16 pm

      @Kathleen, the majority of the US aid to Israel is in the form of military hardware. The hardware can only be bought from US defense companies.

      • annie
        August 10, 2011, 12:34 pm

        michael, i went to a seminar w/an israeli recently who read off a list of israeli owned weapons manufactures and other defense security companies opening up their businesses in the US to take advantage of this aid. that way israel can direct their purchases to their own citizens and keep the money ‘in house’.

      • Kathleen
        August 12, 2011, 1:44 pm

        Or accessed for free. By calling military stock “leftovers” They receive all sorts of in kind billions.

        Lowered interest rates, on loans etc etc

      • Kathleen
        August 12, 2011, 1:45 pm

        And Israeli defense companies

  21. Kathleen
    August 10, 2011, 10:09 am

    Legislation that was supposed to restrict lobbyist paying for trips for our Reps

    link to

  22. Kathleen
    August 10, 2011, 10:23 am

    link to

    link to
    House of Representatives – Major Legislative Proposals

    On Day One, Speaker Pelosi introduced and the House adopted a rules package of ethics reforms (H. Res. 6), which govern the behavior of members of the House. Read our summary of the rules changes. These rules changes have since been modified somewhat to allow members to attend charity events free of charge and to fly their own private planes for campaign and official purposes.

    New lobbying and ethics reforms (H.R. 2316) governing the behavior of those outside the House (i.e. lobbyists and former members of Congress), discussed below under the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act,” were adopted months later on May 24, 2007.

    The rules package was quickly debated and approved that night by a near-unanimous vote of 430-to-1. (Only Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., opposed the new rules.) The lopsided vote in favor of the new ethics rules is ironic, given that a majority of these same members steadfastly opposed the same rules last year, prior to the November election.

    The new ethics rules are quite sweeping in scope and signal that the Democratic majority in the House appears committed to serious lobbying and ethics reform. The new rules include:

    * Ban on gifts from lobbyists and organizations that employ lobbyists.
    * Value tickets to sporting events and concerts at real face value for purposes of the gift limits.
    * Prohibit organizations that employ lobbyists (other than universities) from arranging or financing trips for members and staff, except for one-day trips.
    * Prohibit registered lobbyists from attending privately-sponsored trips.
    * Require pre-approval by the chair and ranking member of the ethics committee for permissible trips, which is public information.
    * Prohibit members and staff from flying on private corporate jets for personal, official or campaign purposes.
    * End the K Street project.
    * Identify all earmarks with congressional sponsors.

    Rep. Pelosi’s “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007″

    After languishing for months largely because of intra-party squabbles within the Democratic caucus, the House finally approved the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007” (H.R. 2316) on May 24, 2007. The bill must now be reconciled with the Senate lobbying and ethics reform package in conference committee.

    The House statutory reform package, which governs lobbyists and those who are not current members of the House, faced some stiff opposition, especially from long-term Democratic members. (Read an op-ed piece describing the legislative battle, “The Illusionist: What Reform Opposition?”)

    Pelosi’s reform package, which started as a comprehensive reform package based on last year’s H.R. 4682, was steadily chipped away at in committee. In the final mark-up before the House Judiciary Committee, even the revolving door restriction was stripped from the measure in exchange for a committee vote to send the rest of the measure to the floor. The package was accompanied by another bill (H.R. 2317), calling for disclosure of bundled contributions from lobbyists, which was seen as too controversial among Democrats to include in the reform package itself.

    Ironically, during floor debate on May 24, the Republican caucus offered a “motion to recommit with instructions” that attached the bundling provision to the entire bill, required lobbyists to disclose earmarks sought, removed state and local governments from the exemption to the gift restrictions, and prohibited congressional staff who previously served as lobbyists from making official contacts with their previous employers for one year. (Read the Motion to Recommit here).

    The entire lobbying and ethics reform package was then approved overwhelmingly by a vote of 396-to-22. It now awaits reconciliation with S. 1 in conference committee before the legislation is sent back to both chambers for final approval. The key issue that will have to be resolved in conference committee is whether to strengthen the revolving door restriction.

    How the hell are they getting around this legislation?

    H.R. 2316: Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007

    110th Congress: 2007-2008
    link to

    Here is the section that looks like it SHOULD APPLY TO THESE I LOBBY PAID TRIPS:

    (a) Prohibition- The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:


    (a) Prohibition- Any person described in subsection (b) may not make a gift or provide travel to a Member, officer, or employee of Congress, if the person has knowledge that the gift or travel may not be accepted under the rules of the House of Representatives or the Senate.

    (b) Persons Subject to Prohibition- The persons subject to the prohibition under subsection (a) are any lobbyist that is registered or is required to register under section 4(a)(1), any organization that employs 1 or more lobbyists and is registered or is required to register under section 4(a)(2), and any employee listed or required to be listed as a lobbyist by a registrant under section 4(b)(6).’.

    (b) Effective Date- The amendment made by this section shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.


    Paragraph (2) of section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1602) is amended to read as follows:

    (2) CLIENT-

    (A) IN GENERAL- The term `client’ means any person or entity that employs or retains another person for financial or other compensation to conduct lobbying activities on behalf of that person or entity. A person or entity whose employees act as lobbyists on its own behalf is both a client and an employer of such employees.


    (i) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in clauses (ii), (iii), and (iv), in the case of a coalition or association that employs or retains other persons to conduct lobbying activities, each of the individual members of the coalition or association (and not the coalition or association) is the client. For purposes of section 4(a)(3), the preceding sentence shall not apply, and the coalition or association shall be treated as the client.

    (ii) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN TAX-EXEMPT ASSOCIATIONS- In the case of an association–

    (I) which is described in paragraph (3) of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code, or

    (II) which is described in any other paragraph of section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code and which has substantial exempt activities other than lobbying with respect to the specific issue for which it engaged the person filing the registration statement under section 4,

    the association (and not its members) shall be treated as the client.

    (iii) EXCEPTION FOR CERTAIN MEMBERS- Information on a member of a coalition or association need not be included in any registration under section 4 if the amount reasonably expected to be contributed by such member toward the activities of the coalition or association of influencing legislation is less than $500 during the quarterly period during which the registration would be made.

    (iv) NO DONOR OR MEMBERSHIP LIST DISCLOSURE- No disclosure is required under this Act, by reason of this subparagraph, with respect to lobbying activities if it is publicly available knowledge that the organization that would be identified under this subparagraph is affiliated with the client concerned or has been publicly disclosed to have provided funding to the client, unless the organization in whole or in major part plans, supervises, or controls such lobbying activities. Nothing in this subparagraph shall be construed to require the disclosure of any information about individuals who are members of, or donors to, an entity treated as a client by this Act or an organization identified under this subparagraph.’.
    link to

  23. Kathleen
    August 10, 2011, 10:29 am

    Hoyers contact info below. ONE QUESTION… How is Israel and the I lobby getting around the “Text of H.R. 2316 [110th]: Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007” Legislation?


    1705 Longworth House Office Building
    Washington, D.C. 20515
    Phone – (202) 225-4131
    Fax – (202) 225-4300
    Office Hours – Open Monday through Friday except Federal Holidays
    9 a.m. to 6 p.m. when Congress is in session. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. otherwise.
    E-mail Congressman Hoyer

  24. Kathleen
    August 10, 2011, 11:38 am

    Please contact the Democracy Now Story Idea link. Ask Amy to do a story on this important issue

    link to

  25. hophmi
    August 10, 2011, 7:53 pm

    So raise money, and send them to the territories. But no. You’d rather complain.

  26. Justice Please
    August 11, 2011, 5:17 am

    Treason, plain and simple. Time for a citizen’s arrest.

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