Congressional Democrats Spell Reform: CA$H
Brian Ross and Avni Patel Report:
Democrats in Congress appear to be taking full advantage of the "pay to play" system they said led to a "climate of corruption" under Republicans, an ABC News investigation has found.
"Washington looks pretty much the same as it always did," said Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, despite Democratic promises of reform.
Campaign finance records made public this week show Democratic congressional campaign committees taking in substantially more in contributions than their Republican counterparts.
One of the Democrats' biggest fundraisers, held at a private estate in suburban Washington, required lobbyists and other big donors to pay as much as $28,000 to have dinner and access to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic House leaders.
During last year's campaign, Pelosi strongly criticized Republican fundraising efforts.
"The Republicans have turned Congress into an auction house, for sale to the highest bidder. You have to pay to play," she said as the Democrats announced how they planned to reform Congress.
Lobbyists say little has actually changed in Washington, other than with the Democrats in power, they are in a position to collect the largest share of the contributions.
"There's a cuisine and place to greet your favorite politicians in almost any hour of the day or night in Washington," said Tony Podesta, a leading lobbyist and Democratic party fundraiser.
Democrats say they have moved to change rules banning meals, gifts and trips from lobbyists and plan to introduce a more comprehensive reform bill in the next few weeks.