The Senate has some 'splaining to do for lagging behind their counterparts in the House on two important ethics bills. The New York Times chides them for dragging their heels. While the House has voted in favor of banning the use of campaign contributions to pay spouses of House candidates, and files campaign finance disclosure reports electronically the Senate has approved neither of these simple, sensible reforms.
The Jack Abramoff scandal and subsequent sniffing around about members of Congress paying family members with revenue from campaign contributions (Rep. John Doolittle, I'm looking at you) led the House to vote in favor a bill to ban that practice but the bill hasn't made any progress in the Senate. Neither has a bill that would require the Senate to file their campaign finance reports electronically (something the House already does) for which we can thank Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and his anti-reform henchmen.
The ethical issues here are not hard. Congressional campaigns, which these days are awash with millions of dollars in special-interest contributions, should not be seen as an opportunity to hand out cash to relatives. If Congress cannot muster the ethical fortitude to rein in these familial emoluments, the very least it should do is require members to disclose them up front and expeditiously, so taxpayers do not need to wait for groups like CREW to publicize their conflicts of interest.
Thank you New York Times for giving the Senate a kick in the pants, and for teaching me a new word! From now on, I'll be referring to my salary as an "emolument"...and an ethical one at that.