Final Four Update: So a combination of Porkbusters and Muckraker tallies has the search for the "secret hold" Senator down to the Final Four. Is it Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), or Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)? The money is pick is Stevens who’s had it out for Coburn ever since the Oklahoma Senator killed the "Bridge to Nowhere". (Frist calls on all Senators to "honestly and transparently" answer whether they are the "secret Senator" when contacted by "the blog community".)
By now many of you know that an unnamed Senator (or Senators) placed a secret hold on the Coburn-Obama bill (the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act) that would create a searchable database of all federal contracts. Porkbusters has been on it since day one keeping a tally of Senators who have denied (or NOT denied) placing the secret hold. One thing that has come out of this example of unaccountable politicians is that transparency is a uniting issue bringing the Left and Right in the blogosphere together to defend the citizen’s right to know.
While Porkbusters has led the way on the effort to unmask the “secret-hold Senator” numerous others have lent their readership to the cause. The guys at Wonkette have called for the Senator’s unmasking along with other Left-leaning blogs Crooks & Liars, Mother Jones, TruthDig, and Daily Kos. TPM Muckraker is also directing its muckraking forces to help uncover the Senator’s identity.
The right wing bloggers, at GOP Progress, Instapundit, Tapscott’s Copy Desk, and Porkbusters, have clearly put some pressure on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Frist expressed anger at the secret hold placed by one of his colleagues in his blog and declared that when the Senate meets again in September he will make it a top priority to pass the transparency legislation.
Mark Tapscott, who testified in favor of the bill on hold, calls on Frist to act sooner telling the Majority Leader, “Here’s a clear-cut opportunity to demonstrate leadership and make a concrete difference in advancing genuine, much-needed reform in Washington. What are you waiting for, Mr. Senate Majority Leader?”
It’s great to see the two political sides uniting online to fight this abuse of Senate privilege but none of this needed to happen. Back in those heady days when reform was all the rage — you know, January — House and Senate leaders were all about fixing serious ethical issues (at least they said so) that had been festering for years. The Senate passed their version of lobbying and ethics reform called the Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006. One of the provisions in that bill would have mandated that all holds on legislation be submitted in writing and placed into the Congressional Record preventing the problem that we find ourselves in now. Unfortunately, ethics reform is dying a slow death in conference committee waiting for a congressman to be indicted so that it can finally be passed.
The best thing to do now is to find out whether your Senator is the secret holder. Go to Porkbusters for the action. So far 33 Senators are in the clear, according to the Porkbusters site. TPM Muckraker has updated that number to 35! As Ken Layne of Wonkette writes, “It’s like citizen journalism or something!”