FCC MAKES OUTSIDE CONTACTS MORE TRANSPARENT
—RadioWorld: “The FCC will now require all oral ex parte communications to be documented, and their content described, not just for those presentations that involve new information or arguments not already in the record. Not all oral ex parte discussions had been documented before; and some descriptions of what took place during those meetings had been skimpy, according to consumer advocacy groups who sought change. … New electronic filing rules will help Internet users access the information. Ex parte notices must be submitted electronically in machine-readable format. PDF images created by scanning a paper document are not allowed unless no other electronic version is available. Confidential info may continue to be submitted on paper, but a redacted electronic version must be filed at the same time. … In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the commission asks for comment on whether it should adopt real party-interest disclosure rules based on those used in many court proceedings. This is to determine if someone making a filing or otherwise lobbying the commission is representing an undisclosed party.”
IS IT TIME TO DO AWAY WITH THE ETHICS COMMITTEES?
—TPM: “The Senate Ethics Committee’s decision to appoint a special counsel to lead the investigation into activities surrounding Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) affair with a political staffer is raising age-old questions about the panel’s relevancy. … Ensign’s case is exhibit A for why Congress should hand all authority to investigate serious allegations against members of Congress over to an independent ethics office equipped with attorneys who specialize in white-collar crime, argues Public Citizen’s Craig Holman. … Operating within the current system, however, the ethics committee has no choice but to appoint an outside counsel in dicey, serious cases, Holman said, because there are just too many conflict-of-interest issues involved in finding a colleague in serious violation of ethics rules or the law.”
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATION FOR BAILED OUT AUTO MAKER
–General Motors, which is still owned largely by U.S. taxpayers after a government bailout, has hired lobbying firm OB-C Group to advocate for it on an array of issues including automotive issues, funding for advanced technology, environmental issues including climate change and the Clean Air Act, and tax and international trade. OB-C group’s cofounder, Lawrence O’Brien, includes glowing tributes from Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and notes that he has “Lifetime Membership status” in the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Majority Trust program. OB-C also includes a number of Republicans, including Robert Marsh, who was a legislative assistant in the George W. Bush administration, Robert Stevenson, who was communications director for former Senate Majority Leader Bill First, R-Tenn., and Michael Johnson, who served as chief of staff to former Republican Minority Leader Bob Michel, R-Ill.
FUNDRAISING PARTIES TODAY
–Sen. Mike Crapo is hosting a winter ski fest in Sun Valley, Idaho.