ETHICS COMMITTEE OKAYS THIN LINE BETWEEN CAMPAIGN AND CONGRESS
—Paul Singer: “The House Ethics Committee issued a report last month with evidence that campaign donors were offered one-on-one meetings with Members of Congress, that senior Congressional staff participated in nearly every fundraising activity a Member conducted, and that a lobbyist discussed both a legislative concern and a fundraising event with a Member’s chief of staff. … The committee found nothing wrong with any of it. … the committee’s report shows just how close the interaction can be between Members’ Congressional offices and their fundraising operations. … For example, the committee report includes e-mails from Crowley’s fundraising consultant thanking a financial industry lobbyist “for helping out Crowley for Congress and JOE PAC” and offering times and dates when the Congressman is available for a one-on-one meeting. Similarly, a fundraiser for Campbell sent an e-mail to a corporate donor asking for a contribution and noting that “Congressman Campbell wanted me to see if you are available to do a 1-on-1 coffee or lunch with him. He prefers these to big events. Is there any way you can do $1k or even $500 to help him out?”
EX-REP. JOINS TRADE GROUP AS LOBBYIST
—Roll Call: “Former Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), one of the past leaders of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, has taken a job as senior vice president of government relations and public policy for the International Franchise Association. … Melancon will direct IFA’s lobbying and political activities, including managing staff members covering state and federal issues, according to the statement.”
CORPORATE TAX LOBBYING BEGINS
—Bloomberg: “The 112th Congress is less than a month old, and lawmakers in both chambers and of both parties have proposed at least 57 new, extended or expanded tax breaks. … Representative Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, proposes making the first $200 of interest earned tax free in 2011 and the first $400 tax free after that. Democratic Representative Joe Baca of California supports a $10,000 tax credit for small fruit-and-vegetable farmers. Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana offered a bill to allow a deduction for home-schooling expenses. … Baucus, a Montana Democrat, is proposing tax credits for companies that hire recently discharged military veterans. … “The goal is to get as much as you can before the music stops,” said William Gale, a tax policy expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based group that does research and analysis on U.S. public policy.”
—Wall Street Journal: “In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called for lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate “without adding to our deficit” by closing down corporate “loopholes.” … At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers and experts already were looking for ways around Mr. Obama’s self-imposed limitation. … Some conservatives, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), said that a basic tax overhaul could boost overall economic growth, and thus increase government revenues beyond what’s expected. That could help businesses make their case for cutting fewer of their existing tax breaks. … Several of the expert witnesses – and at least a couple of the senators – went further, suggesting that some type of consumption tax such as a value-added tax might be needed to make up the cost of a corporate rate reduction.”
FUNDRAISING PARTIES TODAY:
–Sen. Ben Cardin is raising money by offering funders a breakfast of bagels.
–Mortgage Bankers Association lobbyist Brad Cheney is hosting a lunchtime fundraiser for Sen. Mary Landrieu at Bistro Bis.