Implications of the Abramoff Scandal — What Should Congress Do Now?
In the days since former lobbyist Jack Abramoff pled guilty to a series of criminal charges involving bribery of members and staff of the U.S House of Representatives, the Speaker and the Chairman of the House Rules Committee have pledged to review and strengthen the laws governing lobbyists. But the Abramoff scandal is only one of a series of recent revelations about inappropriate and illegal conduct with respect to the manner in which the Congress is conducting public business. Is the lobbying community at fault or are there more fundamental problems in how the Congress has organized itself and is approaching its responsibilities under the Constitution?
Video & Transcript
• Introduction: Scott Lilly
• Thomas Mann
• Stan Brand
• Mickey Edwards
• Scott Lilly
• Panel Q&A
Full Transcript (PDF)
Read also: Abandon the System That Created Abramoff, by Scott Lilly
Thomas E. Mann, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
Stan Brand, Partner, Brand and Frulla
Mickey Edwards, Former Member of Congress from Oklahoma
Scott Lilly, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Thomas E. Mann is the W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution. Between 1987 and 1999, he was Director of Governmental Studies at Brookings. Before that, Mann was Executive Director of the American Political Science Association. Mann has taught at Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, the University of Virginia and American University; conducted polls for congressional candidates; worked as a consultant to IBM and the Public Broadcasting Service; chaired the Board of Overseers of the National Election Studies; and served as an expert witness in the constitutional defense of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. He lectures frequently in the United States and abroad on American politics and public policy and is also a regular contributor to newspaper stories and television and radio programs on politics and governance. Mann is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Frank J. Goodnow and Charles E. Merriam Awards. He is currently working on projects dealing with redistricting, election reform, and party polarization. He and Norman Ornstein have just completed a manuscript on Congress – The Broken Branch – which will be published as a trade book by Oxford University Press in the spring of 2006. Mann resides in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Sheilah, who is also a political scientist. They have two children, Ted, an art historian at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and Stephanie, an MBA student in the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.
Stan Brand founded his Washington, D.C.-based law firm in 1983, and since then has “specialized in cases at the intersection of politics, criminal law and communicating in the Washington echo chamber,” according to former client George Stephanopoulos in his best-selling autobiography, All Too Human: A Political Education. With more than 25 years of service in the Washington area, Stan Brand earns his reputation as a tenacious, committed counsel. Mr. Brand has represented clients in Justice Department, grand jury, Inspector General, and independent counsel investigations; trial proceedings; and agency enforcement proceedings. He is “one of the more sought-after white collar defense attorneys in the business” (The Washington Post). He has served in many positions, including as General Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives under Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr. (1976-83), and, since 1992, as Vice President of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of minor league baseball. In the media, as in the courtroom, Mr. Brand is recognized as an expert. His honed insights and keen humor dissect topics like corporate, public, and political ethics, congressional procedure, and criminal law in a lively and intelligent manner. He appears on network, public, and cable television shows, such as ABC News, Fox Morning News, CBS News, Court TV, and CNN’s Crossfire, Burden of Proof, and Talk Back Live.
Mickey Edwards is the Director of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship Program in Public Leadership and a lecturer in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Previously, Mr. Edwards was a member of Congress for 16 years, where he was a member of the House Republican leadership serving as Chairman of the party’s policy committee, a member of the Appropriations and Budget committees, and the ranking Republican member of the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. After leaving Congress, Edwards taught for 11 years at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government before joining the Princeton faculty in January of 2004. He has also taught at the Harvard Law School and as a Visiting Professor at Georgetown University. In 2004, Edwards was appointed as an advisor to the State Department by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Scott Lilly is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Lilly joined American Progress after 31 years of service with the United States Congress. He has served as Clerk and Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee, Minority Staff Director of that Committee, Executive Director of the House Democratic Study Group, Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee and Chief of Staff in the Office of Congressman David Obey. Prior to his service with the Congress, Lilly served as Director of Campaign Services for the Democratic National Committee, Central States Coordinator in the McGovern Presidential Campaign and as a bill drafter for the Missouri legislature. He served two years in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri and teaches at Georgetown University as an Adjunct Professor in the Public Policy Institute.