On Wednesday, the California State Senate Rules Committee, embarrassed by the continuing scandals revolving around members of their beloved Democratic Party, approved three measures that would supposedly demand more ethical behavior from members of the Senate.
One stipulation is that there will be an ombudsman to hear allegations of misconduct and another will feature a blackout on campaign fundraising the last month the Senate is in session.
The California Senate must still approve the three resolutions.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) was pleased, although he insisted the Senate already had measures in place that should have prevented misconduct. He said, “But there is always room for improvement and certainly the events of the past year have given us all pause.”
Democratic Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ronald Calderon of Montebello, and Roderick Wright of Inglewood have all been suspended for criminal violations.
The outlines of the three resolutions are:
Senate Resolution 43 (Steinberg): to create an ethics ombudsman “to facilitate the receipt of information about potential ethical violations” and make sure that whistle-blowers are protected;
Senate Resolution 44 (de Leon): to prevent senators from accepting campaign contributions made by companies and groups which lobby for roughly the last two months near the approval of the budget and the end of the year’s session.
Senate Resolution 45 (Steinberg): 12 standards of conduct for senators, including vague promises such as: “Each Senator and each officer or employee of the Senate shall conduct himself or herself in the performance of his or her duties in a manner that does not discredit the Senate.”
Steinberg left himself an out, saying the new rules “will not fix all of the challenges and problems that have risen to public attention, but will have a demonstrable, positive effect on the culture of the Senate and strengthen the integrity of our institution.”