In Broad Daylight: The Only Game In Town

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There is only one lobbying game in town: grabbing for bailout bucks. Changes at the Stevens trial, while more stories unfold regarding the Alaska senator’s earmarking. Earmark disclosure in the Senate is still woefully inadequate. All of that in today’s news:

What’s bad for the goose, is good for the gander. Crisis in business tends to mean profits for lobbyists, especially when the private sector is seeking direct payments from the government. The AP reports that the quest for a piece of the $700 billion bailout pie is currently the only lobbying game in town. I can see the scene now, blue power suits swarming past Albert Gallatin as they enter the Treasury Department building on Pennsylvania Ave. to beg for their clients like so many street corner hobos. I can’t wait for those 4th quarter lobbying disclosures.

The judge hearing the charges against Sen. Ted Stevens replaced a juror after attempts to contact a juror on leave for the death of her father failed. The judge instructed the jury to begin deliberations anew today. Meanwhile, the AP reports on another questionable earmark Sen. Stevens sought and received for a campaign contributor Bob Persons. Persons, an Alaska restauranteur, is also the provider of the nearly $3,000 massage chair that is at the center of one of the seven charges filed against the senator. The new earmark revelations show that after seeking $10 million for road projects in Girdwood, Alaska, Sen. Stevens pushed hard for the state transportation agency to use $2.7 million in funds to pave a road connecting directly to the Double Musky Inn, a Cajun restaurant owned by Persons. Stevens insisted that the road paving project be priority number one, despite it ranking sixth in importance on a list of road projects.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Sen. Bob Bennett finally released a list of his defense earmark recipients, but only due to confusion between his office and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Unlike in the House, senators are not required to reveal the recipients of earmarks. Instead, they operate on a voluntary disclosure agreement, with 50% of senators revealing who they earmark funds to. Sen. Bennett has not been one of those 50% until now after the subcommittee told his staff that they were going to make the information public also. The subcommittee never did release the earmark information, but Bennett did. The Senate should scrap voluntary disclosure and institute mandatory earmark disclosure requirements as the House has done.

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