Finally--a Bush Administration Statement On Ethics I Can Agree With
I'm not used to nodding yes when US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks. But his remarks to a business group in Portland, Oregon definitely resonate:
But our dream can also be tarnished and diminished by government and corporate scandal.
I've told Department prosecutors to operate with one principle in mind: No one is above the law-not a city councilman, a CEO, or a Member of Congress.
The role of the Department is not to discourage business risks that are rewarded or punished in the marketplace. Rather, we seek to prosecute those who engage in lawless practices. In this same spirit, we will protect intellectual property rights as well against domestic and international piracy.
The protection of the civil rights of all Americans is an historic mission of the Department of Justice and an essential element of realizing the American Dream.
We will continue to aggressively combat discrimination wherever it is found. For example, we recently announced Operation Home Sweet Home, an expansion of our Fair Housing Act testing program.
This mission includes protecting the rights of those with disabilities and institutionalized persons. We're also vigorously working to end the modern-day slavery of human trafficking.
Let me reflect for a moment on one major right, the key political right, the right to vote. Three years ago, when I was White House Counsel to President Bush, my then 72-year-old mother visited Washington, DC and the Oval Office for the first time. My mom never voted until she was 50. She explained that it had become a different time for people of color in America.
Laudable sentiments, all. I hope this means we can count on Mr. Gonzales to support and vigorously enforce laws that provide consequences for business ethics violations, as well as for HR 550 — The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act, introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by a number of Representatives on both sides of the aisle.
This would provide for voter-verifiable, auditable paper trails in conjunction with the electronic voting screens so common these days--and thus would prevent the scandalously unverifiable questionable results we've seen in the last few elections.
The e-mail I received about it (from TrueMajority.org) notes,
It already has the bipartisan support of 1/3 of the House of Representatives, and has been endorsed by VoteTrustUSA and VerifiedVoting.org as the "gold standard" in verifiability legislation. Not only would it mandate a voter verified paper record for every vote cast, it would also:
(1) establish a mandatory uniform national standard that states that the voter verified paper ballot -- the only record verified by the voter rather than the voting machine -- is the vote of record in the case of any inconsistency with electronic records;
(2) provide Federal funding to pay for implementation of voter verified paper balloting;
(3) require a percentage of mandatory manual (by hand count) random audits of actual election results in every state, and in each county, for every Federal election;
(4) prohibit the use at any time of undisclosed software, wireless communication devices, and Internet connections in voting machines;
(5) require full implementation by 2006; and
(6) protect the accessibility mandates of the Help America Vote Act.
The language in this bill was carefully written with input from computer scientists, disabilities organizations, and election reform advocates. It should be passed as written and in time to protect the 2006 elections.
There are many politically contentious election reform issues mentioned in the report but making sure that votes are counted accurately is not one of them. Elections are the foundation of a representative democracy, and representative democracy lives or dies based on the integrity of its elections. HR 550 will help restore voters' confidence and ensure the accuracy and integrity of America's elections.
Attorney General Gonzales, I look forward to your public support of this important legislation.