Sunrise (1/21/11)

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SUNLIGHT LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO CHANGE LOBBYING DISCLOSURE LAWS

Sunlight’s Ellen Miller: “This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision. We here at Sunlight recognize that if Congress and the Supreme Court are going to make it difficult to follow the money, then we’re going to have to follow the action. Now is the time for modern day lobbying disclosure. We need to fix the current regulations and mandate the tracking of lobbying activities in real-time, online. … As a result of the Citizens United decision, lobbyists now have a powerful new means of persuasion — the ability to spend corporate money against a member of Congress without any accountability. We need real-time online reporting of lobbying contacts by anyone who lobbies to counter this new radical power lobbyists have to influence public policy through the very real threat of unlimited campaign ads.”

You can help draft the bill: “Over the coming months — and if necessary, years — Sunlight will fiercely advocate for greater transparency and disclosure around lobbying, and we want you to be involved every step of the way. The first step is building legislation that closes the loopholes for lobbyists and makes the influence of special interests transparent to the public. … You can see and comment on our first draft of it at PublicMarkup.org – it’s the Real Time Online Lobbying Transparency Act. (Note: Ideas for catchier names are also welcome).

OUR FIRST EX-CONGRESSMAN OF THE 112TH CONGRESS?

Talking Points Memo: “Florida Republican Rep. David M. Rivera is facing an expanding investigation into alleged financial improprieties just a few weeks into his first term in office. … Rivera, the Miami Herald reported this week, set aside tens of thousands of dollars from his dormant state Senate campaign account to send “thank you” letters to supporters. Turns out the company he paid $50K to produce those notes was run by the daughter of Rivera’s longtime aide. … Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday that Rivera’s financial dealings are being investigated by the agency’s Public Corruption Bureau.”

HEALTH INSURERS LOBBYING ON HEALTH CARE CHANGES

Bloomberg: “Insurers led by UnitedHealth Group Inc. want to charge older patients more than the law allows. Drugstores such as CVS Caremark Corp. seek to roll back a prohibition against using tax-free savings accounts for over-the-counter medicines. … Hospitals, doctors and drugmakers led by New York-based Pfizer Inc. are trying to dismantle a board created to recommend Medicare spending cuts. And a medical-device industry goal is scrapping a new tax levied on their products.”

PhRMA REVOLVING DOOR

Politico: “California Rep. Mary Bono Mack has hired PhRMA’s former chief spokesman as a senior adviser, adding another Republican lawmaker to the list of those who have recruited staff members with K Street ties. … Ken Johnson will serve as a senior policy and communications adviser to Bono Mack, chairwoman of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Johnson has deep ties to the committee, having worked for former Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin when he headed the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE LOBBYING

The Hill: “[The Chamber] spent $131.5 million on lobbying in 2010, according to the reports, a nearly 9 percent decline from its lobbying spending in 2009. The Chamber itself spent $100.2 million on lobbying last year while an affiliated group, the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, spent $31.3 million.”

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