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And We're Back

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Happy New Year! The Sunlight blog is back after the holidays and here's a look back at some stories we missed covering over the past week and a half:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, man of multiple criminal conspiracies and multiple toupees, appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the open Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama that Blagojevich was wont to sell to the highest bidder. The press conference announcing the pick was one of the best media spectacles of 2008 (and that's saying a lot). The Senate has threatened to not seat Burris despite varying degrees of legal certainty regarding their power to refuse membership.

The stimulus package is in many ways turning into a bailout for the rest of us (us meaning people - ie: organizations - other than you and me). Zoos, bicycle companies, alternative energy, mayors, eroded beaches, you name it, they're lobbying for money in the as yet unfinished stimulus package.

'Twas the season of giving and we the followers of the Charlie Rangel saga were presented with more stories about the embattled Ways and Means Committee Chairman. The New York Times reported that Rangel pushed bailout magnate/insurer AIG for a contribution to the Charles B. Rangel School for Public Service as AIG pushed Rangel for a tax break. They both got what they were asking for. On the more mundane side, Rangel was found to use campaign funds to pay for his parking tickets.

USA Today reported what we already knew, one-third of all top staffers become lobbyists when they leave the halls of Congress.