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Scrutiny of foundation ethics urged

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In light of recent abuses of the nonprofit sector by lawmakers connected to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, lobbying reform legislation should seek to curb such unethical activities, a watchdog group says.

Politicians’ efforts to use foundations and nonprofits to shield their unethical activities are being neglected by current lobbying reform legislation, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy says in a statement.

Foundations and nonprofits connected to members of Congress should be required to provide full disclosure of the sources of their funds and the details of donations made, says Rick Cohen, the group’s executive director.

New legislation also should strengthen ethics rules governing lawmakers, and provide more funding for oversight and enforcement of the laws by the IRS.

And nonprofits of all types, including politically-affiliated 527 organizations, should be required to provide more comprehensive disclosure of their financial dealings and donations.

“The Abramoff affair should be a clarion call to prevent politicians, their campaign staff and their K street cronies from cloaking dirty dealings behind charity and philanthropy,” Cohen says.

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