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Abramoff Scandal
Editorial: Burns should take lead on lobbying reform


"Montana's junior senator has been getting bushels of unwanted publicity lately. Conrad Burns has not been charged with a crime, nor has evidence been made public that he committed a crime. However, the revelation that he received more campaign contributions from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's clients than any other congressman hurt Burns' popularity back home. His recent attempt to return that money or donate it to Montana Indian groups doesn't erase concerns about why he accepted almost $150,000 from out-of-state Abramoff clients in the first place.

Burns was the first Republican to sign on as a co-sponsor of lobbying reform legislation introduced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. But he told The Gazette editorial board last week that the legislation "doesn't make a lot of changes." If that's true, the McCain bill doesn't go far enough. Change is essential to rebuilding public trust in Congress and the White House.

Burns should be a leader in promoting meaningful reform that will be enforced this year.

Last week, he said he didn't know what contributions came into his campaign. He said he isn't responsible for what his staff may have done. Disengagement is not an acceptable excuse for a man who holds one of this nation's highest elected offices. Like the CEO of a corporation, a U.S. senator is responsible for what happens in his office. He is accountable to voters back home for every vote he cast and every appropriation of public funds he made in the Senate "

Get the Story:
Gazette opinion: Burns should take lead in lobbying reform (The Billings Gazette 1/20)

Relevant Links:
Sen. Conrad Burns - http://burns.senate.gov
Montana Republican Party - http://www.mtgop.org
Montana Democratic Party - http://www.montanademocrats.org

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