21st century lobby and campaign finance reform : enough to prevent scandal
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The first amendment to the constitution provides the opportunity for every American citizen to freely petition the government of the United States to ensure their interests are always considered while officials in all branches of government carry out their duties. Whether by individual lobbyists or by special interest groups, the act of petitioning the United States government is as vital to democracy as the separation of powers themselves.; While the act of lobbying effectively checks the balance of power in our nation's government institutions, ethics laws and regulations, created by these governing bodies, provide mechanisms for the institutions to check themselves. This thesis examines whether current lobby and campaign finance reform is sufficient enough to prevent the reoccurrence of 21st century scandals involving Congress, lobbyists and industry. Scandals involving the firms Preston Gates & Ellis, where Jack Abramoff lobbied, PMA Group, and MZM Incorporated revealed an unprecedented level of corruption that engrossed White House officials, senior Members of Congress, their staff, and industry leaders.; Each scandal shared a common bond in that they were born out of the desire to secure congressional directed spending for clients of each lobbying firm. These firms broke numerous campaign and ethics laws as defined by House and Senate Ethics Committee rules and the Federal Election Commission. By identifying inherent weakness in the law that resulted in a lack of oversight, providing a sense of entitlement to those involved, this thesis will determine if current lobby and campaign finance reform and regulation are adequate to prevent these types of scandals. At the heart of lobbyist corruption is the selfish desire of a few individuals at the cost of their clients and the trust of the American people. Current enacted legislation went a long way to create transparency in lobbyist-to-Member relationships and is beyond adequate to prevent the types of reoccurring scandals committed by Jack Abramoff, the PMA Group and MZM Inc. and regardless of the mandates of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, there will always be someone who tries to circumvent its rules. Further legislation and regulation in this area would constitute a gross miscarriage of justice and an erosion of the First Amendment right to the freedom of assembly and right to petition the government of the United States of America.
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