Carnahan talks Congressional ethics on Columbia visit

The candidate for U.S. Senate spoke at a Columbia store Tuesday morning.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robin Carnahan speaks to Columbia residents Tuesday at Farm Power Lawn & Leisure in north Columbia. Carnahan, who is currently Missouri's Secretary of State, took swipes at her presumed Republican general election opponent, Roy Blunt, a Republican U.S. represntative, during her remarks.

Missouri Secretary of State and Senate candidate Robin Carnahan spoke to an audience of about 20 at Farm Power Lawn & Leisure in north Columbia on Tuesday, sharing her ideas on how to reform ethics standards in Congress.

Her visit was one of three stops Tuesday on her “Stop the Bull” campaign tour around the state. The potential Democratic nominee also spoke in Springfield and Kansas City.

Carnahan said legislators need to limit lobbyists' access to politicians, place constraints on contributions to elected officials and push for greater transparency throughout the lawmaking process.

"Washington's broken today,” she said. “We know that. There is this culture of corruption, of influence peddling that puts powerful special interests ahead of regular people."

In her remarks, Carnahan called for a permanent ban on Congressional earmarks, blasting her potential Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, who has called for a one-year ban on the practice.

"There's some people, like Congressman Blunt, who think we should just stop earmarks for this election year, and then just go right back to business as usual next year," she said "I've got a better idea. Let's scrap them all for good. It's long past time."

Today's appearance by Carnahan comes as the Blunt campaign launched a new television ad claiming that she would be a "rubber stamp vote" in support of President Barack Obama’s agenda if elected. The advertisement features footage of Obama saying that Carnahan's election would help him to enact more legislation.

Carnahan denied the “rubber stamp” claim, saying she would make her own decisions if elected. She alleged that Blunt is out of touch with Missourians and their values.

"The fact is, I've never been a ‘rubber stamp’ for anybody," she said. "I know he can look pretty good when he comes out here to Missouri and puts on his plaid shirt and drives around in his rented pick-up truck and says he's looking out for us. But the problem is, his 14-year record in Washington just doesn't hold up."

Carnahan also called for tougher limits on former members of Congress and their staffers working for lobbying firms when they leave public office, a custom that has become known as the 'revolving door' practice. Under her proposal, members of Congress would never be allowed to become lobbyists, while members of their staffs would have to wait at least six years before they could do so.

"The financial industry alone has 1,500 former members of Congress, staff members or federal employees that now lobby on their behalf," she said. "It's those cozy relationships that have got to stop."

Columbia resident Shari Korthuis, who attended the event, said she supports Carnahan's ethics plan.

"I like her ideas and solutions," she said. "The revolving door problem is really bad."

Korthuis said she agrees with Carnahan on the need for tougher ethics regulations in Congress.

"Something needs to be done in Washington right now," she said. "Because they're not working for the people."

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Missouri Republican Party released a video on its website in response to Carnahan's speech. The video, which features excerpts from her event in Columbia, claims several of Carnahan's statements on ethics are hypocritical.

"Robin Carnahan knows something about the lobbyist revolving door," text overlaid on the video says. "Two of her brothers were lobbyists in Missouri while her father was governor."

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