About that engagement ring…

October 23, 2007   •  By Brad Smith
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You always hear that political connections run deep in Washington.  But until the recently enacted lobbying and ethics regulations we had no idea just how close these ties ran!

Fred Wertheimer (aka "Democracy 21") has taken umbridge (is anyone who has followed Wertheimer’s career surprised) at criticism of the new ethics rules passed by Congress.  In a broadside press release defending the latest "bookend" to his long career as a Washington insider and lobbyist, Wertheimer is upset that the law is being mocked by some Washington lobbyists.

One of Wertheimer’s complaints comes from a column in the October 9th Washington Post.

According to Wertheimer, "Washington lobbyist Darryl Nirenberg of the Patton Boggs law firm spun a yarn that under the gift rules a lobbyist is not allowed to give a Senate staffer an engagement ring unless the lobbyist first gets permission from the Senator, subject to review by the ethics committee.

Nirenberg is quoted as saying, ‘So, if you want to give your girlfriend who works in the Senate an engagement ring, you are going to have to ask permission from not only her father, but also from the Senator, and maybe from the ethics committee, too.’"

Wertheimer confidently asserts that engagement rings are exempt from the law under a clause governing "gifts from relatives."  From Wertheimer’s press release: "The gift rules exempt gifts from relatives from all gift restrictions, and they deem a ‘relative’ to include ‘a fiancé or fiancée,’ for purposes of the rules."

Of course, in real life a romantic young man gets down on one knee and gives a girl a ring before she is his fiancee.  And as a friend of CCP reminded us, with a few notable exceptions, the young lady is not already one of his relatives

Brad Smith

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