Tuesday, February 06, 2007

House Democrats Set the Record Straight on House Rules Amendments; Call for Rules Promoting Ethical Behavior in the House

On February 5th, the first day of the Legislative session, House Republicans refused to change the House rules to allow for a more open and honest government.

“I’m very disappointed that Speaker-Pro Tempore Gus Blackwell had to take such a partisan stand yesterday,” said Democratic Floor Leader James Covey, D- Custer City. “We had a real opportunity to allow for more open debate and an ethically sound House of Representatives.”

While House Republicans allowed most of the amendments to be considered, they were voted down along party lines. However, the amendment to restrict the use of Political Action Committees, or PACs, was not heard and immediately thrown out by the House Republicans.

“It is a conflict of interest for a committee chair to have a PAC while overseeing legislation in committee,” said Representative Richard Morrissette, D- Oklahoma City, the author of the PAC amendment. “The difference between a candidate campaign account and a PAC is that a PAC can donate to other candidates. PACs are routinely used to funnel money during election cycles. It is unethical for this practice to continue and that is why we proposed the amendment yesterday.”

“The issue was not discussed in our meetings with the Leadership before the Rules were brought before the whole House,” said Covey. “The Democratic Caucus thought that the issue was important, so we proposed an amendment before the whole House.”

“House Democrats will not be satisfied until there are rules that allow for open debate and promote ethical conduct for the members of the House.”

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