Rep. Boyda hails passage of ethics bill

? Tucked into the ethics bill approved by Congress this week is a provision by U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka, whose district includes west Lawrence.

Boyda said she hoped the measure will help restore public confidence in Congress, which has been rocked with recent scandals.

“This is all about rebuilding trust with the American people,” Boyda said. “It’s not going to happen overnight.”

A freshman, Boyda introduced legislation that would prevent members of Congress convicted of bribery and other ethics crimes from getting a federal pension.

The Pension Forfeiture Act was approved by the House but not the Senate. It was eventually placed in the mega ethics bill that passed the House on Tuesday, 411-8, and the Senate on Thursday, 83-14. All of Kansas’ congressional representatives voted for the bill.

President Bush has voiced displeasure with the bill but has not said whether he will veto it.

The major portions of the bill would require lawmakers seeking targeted spending projects, or earmarks, to publicize their plans in advance.

Lawmakers and political committees also would have to disclose those lobbyists who raise $15,000 or more for them within a six-month period by bundling donations from many people.

The Democratic-crafted bill would bar lawmakers from taking gifts from lobbyists or their clients. Former senators and high-ranking executive branch officials would have to wait two years before lobbying Congress; ex-House members would have to wait one year.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called it “the most sweeping reform bill since Watergate.”

Bush has said the measure doesn’t go far enough in stopping earmarks.

Boyda said the bill “will make a difference.”

She said she would like to eventually have public financing of campaigns, which she said would reduce the influence of monied interests in elections.