Obama Was A Key Player In Assembling And Passing The 2007 Ethics Reform Law, Which Curbed The Influence Of Lobbyists And Was Described As The "Most Sweeping Since Watergate."
In the first week of the 110th Congress, Obama joined with Senator Feingold to introduce a "Gold Standard" ethics package. Many of the Obama/Feingold bill's most important provisions were included in the final ethics reform package passed by the Senate in late January: a full ban on gifts and meals from lobbyists including those paid by the firms that employ lobbyists; an end to subsidized travel on corporate jets; full disclosure of who's sponsoring earmarks and for what purpose; additional restrictions to close the revolving door between public service and lobbying to ensure that public service isn't all about lining up a high-paying lobbying job; and requiring lobbyists to disclose the contributions that they "bundle" - that is, collect or arrange - for members of Congress, candidates, and party committees. The Washington Post wrote in an editorial that "...Mr. Reid, along with Sens. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), deserves credit for assembling and passing this package." In September 2007, the AP reported, "President Bush signed a bill Friday that will require lawmakers to disclose more about their efforts to fund pet projects and raise money from lobbyists, a measure that backers call the biggest ethics reform in decades...Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. who had pushed for the bundling provisions and was one of four lawmakers who participated in a Democratic conference call to reporters said the measure marks "the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate." [S. 230, 110th Congress; S.1, Became Public Law 109-110-81, 9/14/07; AP, 9/15/07; Washington Post, Editorial, 1/21/07]
Obama Passed A Bill Creating A "Google-like" Database For The Public To Search Details About Federal Funding Awards.
In 2006, Obama was an original cosponsor of a bill to create a "Google-like" database of information on federal spending. The bill requires the OMB by January 1, 2008, to make available to the public a searchable, free website that includes the (1) amount; (2) transaction type; (3) funding agency; (4) North American Industry Classification System code or Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number; (5) program source; (6) an award title descriptive of the purpose of each funding action; (7) the name and location of the recipient and the primary location of performance; and (8) a unique identifier of the recipient and any parent entity. The site must allow users to conduct separate searches that distinguish between awards that are grants, sub-grants, loans, cooperative agreements, and other forms of financial assistance and awards that are contracts, subcontracts, purchase orders, task orders, and delivery orders. [S. 2590, Passed by Unanimous Consent, 9/7/06; Became PL 109-282, 9/26/06] SEE THE DATABASE HERE =>[]
Obama Passed Into Law Legislation Requiring Lobbyists To Disclose Their Bundling Activity, Making Him Unpopular Even Among Other Democrats.
Obama sponsored an amendment to require lobbyists to disclose the candidates, leadership PACs, or political parties for whom they collect or arrange contributions, and the aggregate amount of the contributions collected or arranged. The amendment was passed by unanimous consent and attached to the Senate ethics bill, which was signed into law on September 15, 2007. The New York Times wrote, "The disclosure idea's lead sponsor, Senator Barack Obama... 'has not been the most popular person in our caucus in the last couple of weeks,' said a Democratic aide involved in deliberations over the bill." [S. Amdt. 41 to S. 1, S. Amdt. 3, Submitted 1/11/07, Agreed to By Unanimous Consent, 1/18/07; S. 1, Signed into Law 9/14/07; New York Times, 1/20/07; CQ, 9/15/07]
Obama Passed Illinois Campaign Finance Reform, "Heralded As the Most Sweeping Good-Government Legislation in Decades."
In 1998, Obama passed the Illinois Gift Ban that prohibited legislators, state officers and employees, and judges from soliciting or receiving gifts from a person or entity with interests affected by government. The bill required that statements of economic interest be made publicly available. The bill required public disclosure of any campaign funds received over $50, including the employer and occupation for donations over $500. The bill required non-profits and those registered under the Lobbyist Registration Act, and who give or accept more than $5,000 annually to register which the State Board of Election. The bill proscribed how campaign funds could be used, including ending the practice of allowing politicians to use campaign funds for personal use. The bill banned a political committee from receiving funds on government property and prohibited fundraisers held in Springfield while the legislature was in session. The bill required "Paid For" language to be printed on campaign literature. The bill required electronic filing of campaign disclosure as soon as technologically possible. Obama said, "'I have seen a general cynicism from taxpayers about government. They believe they have no influence on the process since they don't have the money of special interest groups. With the gift ban and the ban on Springfield fund-raisers that are contained in this legislation, I think at least some of this confidence will be restored,' the senator added." The Chicago Tribune reported, "Gov. Jim Edgar signed into law Wednesday an ethics and campaign finance package heralded as the most sweeping good-government legislation in decades. The law also required greater campaign finance disclosure and limited the uses for which raised money could be spent." [HB672, 3R P 52-4-1, 5/22/98; PA 90-0737, 8/12/98; Chicago Independent Bulletin, 6/4/98; Chicago Tribune, 8/13/98]
Illinois Campaign for Political Reform: Sponsors Of Ethics Legislation "To Be Strongly Commended" For "Landmark Legislation." The leaders of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform wrote, "The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform applauds the Illinois legislature for passing the bipartisan campaign finance and ethics package. The bill currently awaits Gov. Jim Edgar's signature. Shepherded by former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Mike Lawrence of Southern Illinois University's Institute for Public Policy, the bill's sponsors, state Sens. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) and Barack Obama (D-Chicago), and state Reps. Gary Hannig (D-Litchfield) and Jack Kubik (R-La Grange Park), made campaign finance reform in Illinois a reality by forging areas of common ground. With the support of legislative leaders, both parties and houses moved beyond their differences to pass this landmark legislation. All are to be strongly commended." [Chicago Tribune, 6/20/98]