Cleaning up Capitol Hill

January 11, 1991|By Providence (R.I.) Journal-Bulletin

JUST AS campaign finance reform laws in the 1970s led to unanticipated PAC abuses in the 1980s, the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 already seems to be having unhealthy side-effects.

One of these is an exodus of talented employees from federal service. The former drug czar William Bennett recently declined to become chairman of the Republican National Committee because, as of Jan. 1, he would have been barred from honoring a book contract. . . .

Bennett is not the only one to encounter these new regulations. A disturbingly high number of high-ranking officials left government at the end of last month because, had they waited until after New Year's, new regulations would prohibit them from getting jobs with private firms interested in employing their expertise. . . .

As readers are well aware, ethics in government is vitally important. But not everybody in Washington shares (former House Speaker Jim) Wright's moral compass.

Congress should amend its new rules to aim for an ethical environment that does not rest upon the presumption of guilt. To do otherwise is to punish the honest dissemination of expertise, and that can only encourage a government managed and staffed by people lacking honesty, expertise -- or both.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.