- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006


House Republican leaders will back legislation that would require lobbyists to disclose their gifts to lawmakers and temporarily would bar House members from taking privately funded trips, party officials said last night.

Responding to a corruption scandal that erupted earlier this year, Republican leaders also agreed to support a requirement for lawmakers to disclose when they place money in a spending bill for pet projects, the officials said.

In addition, Republicans intend to seek limits on outside political organizations that now can accept unlimited donations from individuals. Republicans say Democrats benefit disproportionately from these groups, and Republicans envision imposing a cap of slightly more than $27,000 on individual donations, with a requirement that donors be disclosed by name.

Republican leaders have long wanted to crack down on nonparty political groups known as 527s, named after a section of the tax code. They escaped regulation when Congress last passed legislation designed to reduce the influence of money in politics.

The officials who described the details of the emerging package said they remain subject to change. They spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying the leaders are to brief the Republican rank and file today. It was not clear when the leadership intended to bring the legislation to the House floor.

Lawmakers can accept gifts of up to $50 in value and totaling no more than $100 in a year from any one person. The ban on privately funded travel would be in place until the House ethics committee established an alternative designed to scrutinize trips and ensure lawmakers complied with the rules.

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