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Advocates looking to close a loophole that allows lawmakers to accept gifts from public entities, such as universities and colleges, had their hopes put on hold last week during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the lobbying reform bill. During the May 17 session, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) offered up an amendment requiring public entities to abide by gift and travel restrictions, arguing that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked on behalf of public entities such as the Northern Mariana Islands and Native American tribes. “The great firestorm of lobbying came from Abramoff,” Issa told the committee.”You are not different simply because you are the Mariana Islands or you are a tribe or you are a state university.” Lawmakers briefly battled over the issue. Some argued Issa’s amendment would go too far, possibly banning lawmakers’ children from receiving student loans or keeping members from attending public events held in parks. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) suggested Issa withdraw his amendment and recraft it. Issa agreed to withdraw it, and if he tries again, the amendment could be considered by the House this week, when it is scheduled to debate the ethics bill.
Osita Iroegbu can be contacted at [email protected].

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