In Broad Daylight: Cell, Cell, Cell…


Sen. McCain, can you hear me now? Sen. Stevens pays for his own lunch like a big boy. And Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah continues his annual tradition of earmarking funds for his biggest campaign contributors. That and more in today’s news:

The Atlantic’s Joshua Green takes a look at the Verizon and AT&T cell phone tower plans for Sen. John McCain’s ranch and determines that the defenses offered by the companies and the McCains are simply not sufficient. The excuse for the now-derailed permanent installation of cell phone towers at the McCain ranch in Sedona was that Cindy McCain had made an independent request for cell service. Of course, the rapid and costly effort undertaken by the two companies had nothing to do with her husband’s public role as a United States Senator and possible presidential candidate. Except that Verizon referred to the Sedona ranch, not as Cindy McCain’s ranch, but as “John McCain’s cabin.” Green writes, “So while Cindy McCain may indeed have requested the tower over the web like an ordinary millionaire rancher with spotty phone reception, Verizon was well aware that she was anything but that.”

Sen. Ted Stevens emphatically denied any wrongdoing as he took the stand yesterday in a federal corruption trial in which the senator is accused of filing false statements on his personal financial disclosure reports. Sen. Stevens stated outright that, “I don’t allow people to buy my lunch or buy my dinner; wherever I am, I pay my bills.” Prosecutors have sought to show that the Alaska oil company VECO, headed by Stevens friend Bill Allen, paid for renovations to Stevens’ house in Girdwood, Alaska and Stevens and Allen colluded to hide the expenses by filing false disclosures. Stevens’ examination continues today.

Utah Rep. Rob Bishop has an annual tradition: earmark hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in earmarks to ES3, a company operating at Hill Air Force Base and then attend an August fundraiser thrown by ES3 after the earmarks are secured. This year, Rep. Bishop secured $800,000 in earmarks for ES3 whose employees have generously donated $22,000 in August of this year to Bishop’s reelection bid. Over the past five years, Rep. Bishop has secured $9.8 million for ES3.

Sunlight’s Nancy Watzman has the final disclosures for the party convention committees over at Party Time. Democrats raised $60,966,482 for their convention, while Republicans raised $51,229,299 for theirs.

Open Secrets now has lobbyist campaign contributions available in their lobbying database. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 required the disclosure of lobbyist campaign contributions for the first time.

Open Congress‘ Donny Shaw continues his excellent series of posts comparing the legislative achievements of John McCain and Barack Obama by using actual data rather than stump speeches and press releases. Today, Donny is looking at the two candidates’ voting records. Hurray, factual data comparisons!

And for something slightly different, here’s a great article from Reason explaining, by way of Cindy McCain’s beer distributor fortune, how the government aids and subsidizes certain parts of the beer, wine, and liquor industry, in the process raising the price of that frothy cold one waiting for you at that happy hour around the corner.