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Tag Archive: Chuck Schumer

There is Another Way

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and a bipartisan bloc of other senators have proposed a constitutional amendment that would overturn Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 Supreme Court decision that is the superstructure of our current election law. Specifically, the court ruled that giving and spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech. I find it interesting that Schumer and company would go down this route since the likelihood for success is very small. In order to become law, the measure would have to go through a gauntlet of debates and votes, including winning two-thirds of the votes of Congress, and winning ratification of three-quarters of the states within seven years. Not very realistic.

Let me be clear. I understand the motivation to overturn Buckley. It's long been the big maple tree in the middle on the campaign finance ball field. But most reformers have accepted that it's not going away anytime soon and they've learned to play around it. One way of doing that is to create a campaign finance system that offers a voluntary system of full public financing. When the process is nearly impossible to pass a constitutional amendment, why not consider that route, which is appearing more and more achievable.

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Earmark of Aquarius Defeated

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Just got word, via Ed Frank of Americans for Prosperity, that an earmark to fund a museum near Woodstock that was requested by both Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Columnist Robert Novak noted some campaign contributions in connection with the earmark, which promised $1 million to the Bethel Museum. Novak wrote,

Bethel typifies the earmark epidemic because political insiders are often found pushing pork. The museum is funded principally by billionaire Alan Gerry's foundation, which has annual investment income of $24 million. Federal Election Commission records show that Gerry has donated at least $229,000 to political campaigns, and his wife, Sandra, has contributed $90,000 over the past 10 years (including $26,000 in the last election cycle to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, headed by Schumer). On June 30, the Gerrys gave the maximum $9,200 to Clinton's presidential campaign, three days after the two New York senators put the Bethel earmark into the Labor-HHS bill.
Sen. Tom Coburn and Sen. Jon Kyl sponsored an amendment that diverted the funds from Bethel to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program. Incidentally, the Bethel Museum earmark is still up for grabs on EarmarkWatch.org, as are many others. The Earmark of Aquarius isn't the only sketchy one in there, and EarmarkWatch.org gives you the tools to find them.

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Congressional Staff Need to be Transparent Too

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Writing in the Washington Post, Paul Kane explicates the fine print on a fundraiser flier sent out by Sen. Charles Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and finds that the draw for prospective lobbyist fundraisers will be congressional staff members -- not members of Congress:

Officially, lobbyists are asked to give or raise $2,000 to be a "host" or $1,000 to be a "DSCC friend" in order to meet "individuals representing" Senate Democrats. That's code word for chiefs of staff and staff directors of committees, according to lobbyists who received the fundraising pitch. The image of the invite that was e-mailed to Capitol Briefing included the file name of "chiefs invitation".

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Senate Votes to Ban Gifts, Meals; Schumer Holds up Reform:

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The Senate voted to ban lobbyists from providing lawmakers and their staffs with meals and gifts, according to the New York Times. The meal ban was attached to broader reform legislation and was approved unanimously by voice vote. Aside from the meal and gift ban the reform legislation would require members to disclosure all privately financed travel, double the “cooling off” period for legislators turned lobbyists from one year to two years, and allow members to challenge individual earmarks. The most contentious part of the reform legislation would “require, for the first time, the disclosure of big, paid grass-roots lobbying campaigns aimed at influencing government officials.” The Family Research Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the ACLU oppose this reform. Meanwhile, Roll Call reports that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in an attempt to block the United Arab Emirates from taking over control of numerous US ports, attached an amendment to the lobbying reform legislation that would block the controversial port deal that is supported by the Bush administration. This has thrown the reform process into disarray as Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) filed for cloture to block Schumer’s amendment.

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