Sunrise (5/31/11)

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EARMARKS NEVER DIE

WaPo: “When is an earmark not an earmark? It’s when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) says so. … During last week’s debate on the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, McKeon said flatly — and more than once — “There are no earmarks in this bill.” … But what about the dozens of en bloc amendments approved during the committee markup May 11 that reserved funds contained in a $1 billion, committee-created Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund (MFET)? … Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a strong earmark opponent, said during debate on the House floor that it was his understanding “that during the full committee markup more than $650 million of that money was moved out of this [MFET] fund by members of the committee seeking to increase funding for their own priorities in the bill.. . .Members with a pot of money from which they can transfer money to fund their own projects, this would be similar to the earmarking culture.”

FURTHER SENATE REVOLVING DOOR

Wire: “The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.(NYSE:GS – News) today announced that Judd Gregg, a former three-term U.S. Senator from New Hampshire has been named an international advisor to the firm. He joins a group of 17 international advisors and will provide strategic advice to the firm and its clients, and assist in business development initiatives across our global franchise. … “Judd Gregg’s experience and insight will contribute significantly to our firm and our continuing focus on supporting economic growth,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.”

CONGRESSWOMAN REVISES FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

Roll Call: “Former House Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez recently filed disclosure reports for thousands of dollars worth of international travel that she had failed to report for several years. … In the March 9 Congressional Record, the New York Democrat filed expense reports for official committee travel to Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East for trips taken in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The travelers included Velázquez and other committee members, and the reports document expenses of more than $15,000 for the trips. … Members and staffers who travel overseas as part of a Congressional delegation must give an itemized report of their expenses to the committee chairman who authorized the trip no later than 60 days after it is completed.”

KAZAKHSTAN BEST LOBBYING IN THE WORLD

NYT: “Four years ago, Kazakhstan’s foreign minister summoned the United States ambassador to a meeting in Astana, the capital of his oil-rich nation, to warn that a family squabble between the country’s president and his son-in-law — two of the country’s most powerful men — had boiled over. … Government authorities had charged Rakhat Aliyev, the son-in-law, with kidnapping executives from a prominent bank. Mr. Aliyev, in turn, had accused President Nursultan Nazarbayev of rolling back the clock to the country’s dictatorial Soviet days. “Mr. President for life,” he labeled his father-in-law. … That call to the United States Embassy was the start of what has become an extraordinary lobbying and public relations war here in Washington, a still-unfolding fight that one State Department official has called a “blood feud to the death.” … With billions of dollars at stake, plenty of people here have been willing to play bit roles in the Nazarbayev family drama, including teams of corporate lawyers, Capitol Hill lobbyists, a former American ambassador to Kazakhstan and the sister of a lawmaker. The dueling lobbyists have appealed to more than three dozen members of Congress, either to condemn the Kazakh government or help form pro-Kazakhstan caucuses. (One congressman even nominated the president for the Nobel Peace Prize.)”

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