The Obey Commission approved proposals yesterday designed to toughen up the House code of ethics. But a stormy debate erupted over limiting House member's outside income to 15 per cent of his salary, so that proposal at least may run into rough opposition when the package reaches the floor.
Republican House members and citizens on the 15-member commission also made clear they would oppose increasing official allowances by $5,000 in return for abolishing "unofficial office accounts," financed by private contributions or leftover campaign funds.
The package will now be presented to the Speaker, the Rules Committee and House Administration Committee for approval. Commission Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said the proposals should reach the floor by March 2.
In addition to ending unofficial office accounts and limiting outside income, the package extends and tightens, financial disclosure requirements, limits gifts to an aggregate of $100 with a new exceptions, ends lame duck travel and puts limits on the use of the free-mailing frank.
Added yesterday to recommendations already approved by a commission task force was a ban on converting campaign funds to personal use. The commission had already barred personal use of proceeds from testimonial dinners.
Recent news reports have detailed how Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) used campaign funds to pay off personal debts which he had commingled with his campaign debts.