Sunlight (1/26/11)

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STATE OF THE UNION

–Obama’s comments on transparency: “In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people’s faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online. And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”

–Sunlight will have more on this soon…

WSJ SUES FOR MEDICARE DATABASE

Sunlight: “The Wall Street Journal announced today that it’s suing for access to data on payments that doctors receive from Medicare, which has been exempt from public disclosure thanks to a 1979 court case won by the American Medical Association. The Journal argues that absent data on the payments, it’s impossible for journalists or members of the public to tell which doctors are billing the system improperly. “It’s time to overturn an injunction that, for decades, has allowed some doctors to defraud Medicare free from public scrutiny,” Mark Jackson, the counsel for Dow Jones, the Journal’s immediate parent, said.”

DAVOSLEAKS

Deal Book: “With governments and companies around the world shaken by the release of confidential documents via the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, the issue of transparency has become more than just an organizational matter at the forum this year, but a topic of discussion in and of itself. … Almost everyone agrees that transparency is a good thing. But what happens when the push for greater openness turns radical? Is there a point at which the digital door to government and business secrets opens too far?”

THESE GUYS ARE GONNA BE BUSY

–The lobbying firm The Livingston Group is registered as the official lobbying firm for the government of Egypt. I think they’re busy calling lawmakers and the State Department right now. Since they have to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act the lobbyists have to report every contact they’ve made with government officials. You can their most recent filing here: The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Disclosure for Egypt

TAUZIN MAY JOIN HEALTH CARE LOBBYING FIRM & ANOTHER LOBBYIST BECOMES A STAFFER

Roll Call: “Ex-Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is in serious negotiations to join the law and lobbying firm Alston & Bird, sources familiar with the situation said. … Several news reports cited policy disputes between Tauzin and PhRMA’s board as a reason for his exit. One of his close aides, former PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson, made comments during the health care reform debate to the New York Times suggesting that drug companies were willing to renegotiate their $80 billion deal to pass the health care overhaul. Johnson insisted his comments were taken out of context, but Roll Call later reported that Johnson’s quotes set off a firestorm among some PhRMA members, who demanded that Johnson step down.”

–From the same article: “…Separately, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) announced last week that Johnson, who also left PhRMA last year, has become her senior adviser for policy and communications.”

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