Nearly 200 years ago, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Henry Clay stated that “Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the People." To fulfill this trust, ethics laws and rules exist to provide transparency and accountability. The laws are intended to have members of Congress use the power of their offices for the benefit of the people, not their own personal or financial gain.
Members of Congress are incredibly powerful, yet vulnerable, public servants whose work directly impacts the lives of all Americans. As they draft laws, conduct oversight hearings and establish legislative priorities in committees, members of Congress gain access to invaluable information and are subject to endless attempts to influence their decisions. The ethics rules of both the House and the Senate are expected to provide guardrails to prevent corruption, but it is the public that is frequently responsible for calling for enforcement of existing rules and proposing more effective rules when those on the books are not working.
CLC works to reduce corruption and increase integrity by holding members of Congress accountable to the laws and rules already on the books and ensuring that new laws and rules do not decrease transparency or allow members of Congress to evade accountability.