One of the best developments of the final week of the General Assembly – especially in light of the latest Black and Beason revelations — occurred when legislators confirmed that they've gotten the message about the need for more lobbying and ethics reform. Unfortunately, the word seems not to have percolated up to Washington where good ol' Richard Burr was one of 14 U.S. Senators to vote "nay" on S. 1 – the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007."
According to the good government group, Public Citizen, "The new legislation imposes a wide array of lobbying laws and ethics rules designed to shed light on the potentially corrupting nexus between lobbyists, money and lawmakers. It also imposes a series of new ethics restrictions on Congress."
"This is landmark legislation that addresses head-on the lobbying and ethics scandals that have engulfed Capitol Hill," said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division. "The 110th Congress deserves praise for recognizing that there is a problem and for enacting meaningful new regulations on codes governing the conduct and disclosure of influence-peddling in Washington."
A charitable take on Burr's vote might be that it was cast out of deference to his presidential candidate, John McCain (who apparently voted "no" to make a statement about "reining in appropriations earmarks"). However, a search of Burr's website for an explanation of his vote comes up empty — as does a general search for anything on the site having to do with "ethics."