Here's an experiment occasioned by the excellent report by John Solomon of the Washington Post on spouses of members of Congress who lobby. Solomon identifies 6 lawmakers married to registered lobbyists (listed below). Is it possible, after reading the lobby disclosure reports that list these spouses (I've linked the results page in the Senate Office of Public Records page for each of them, making it easy to find the reports) to determine whether the member votes for the spouse's clients' interests?Continue reading
We've gotten some great feedback on planning the next round of our Congressional Family Business investigation, both from inside the office, from some of the folks who made the first round such a success, and from some smart observers (thanks to David Cohn for posting that at Digg!). We're starting to design phase two now (what this means in practice is that I get to keep bothering our Sunlight Labs geniuses with questions that begin with cringe-inducing phrases like, "How quickly could you..." or "How hard would it be to..." or "Would it be possible to..."). I'm really excited about round two; and even though we won't be able to incorporate all the excellent suggestions we've gotten right away, this step will include some of your ideas while also giving us the building blocks to do some never-before-seen investigations, like figuring out whether spouses work for companies or organizations that have gotten federal contracts or grants (something our friends at OMB Watch have made possible through FedSpending.org), or for firms that lobby or hire lobbyists to influence Congress.Continue reading
USA Today, and its reporters Matt Kelley and Peter Eisler, have an astounding story out that today that really advances our knowledge of the extent of insiderism on Capitol Hill, and how Congress really has become a family business. And as you read the next few paragraphs, remember that they looked at two committees--JUST TWO COMMITTEES--the House and Senate Appropriations Committees--to get their totals. Think what we'll turn up when we've done the whole Congress!
Members of Congress and their staffs are barred from using their positions for personal profit. But their spouses and other relatives can — and often do — cash in when lawmakers spend taxpayer dollars. Continue reading
While we're wrapping up the last loose ends of the first part of our Is Congress a Family Business? investigation, I'd like to share a few suggestions for what we do next, solicit as many suggestions as possible for alternatives, and get people thinking about how we could better design the tools for going forward. A few notes: I'd like to continue looking at family members of members of Congress, and I'd like to do so systematically--that is, focusing on Congress as an institution rather than digging into just one or two members. Here we list 19 members of the House who pay their spouses salaries and wages directly from their campaign treasuries, adding money donated to their campaigns to their family budgets. There are also members with close relatives that are registered to lobby Congress (here's a partial list compiled by the Associated Press) or who represent foreign interests. I would like us to develop as comprehensive an index as possible on family members of Congress who are in the business of electioneering or influence.Continue reading
From the miracle of Nexis comes this list compiled by Chuck Neubauer, Judy Pasternak and Richard T. Cooper of the Los Angeles Times in June 2003 of Sen. Ted Stevens official actions in the U.S. Senate that have benefited the clients of his son, state Sen. Ben Stevens. Regrettably, that article (part of a two-part series the Times did looking at congressional offspring who became lobbyists) is not available online; this is a small chunk of it.
The Stevens connection The special interest: Cook Inlet Region Inc., (CIRI), a Native Alaskan corporation created by federal legislation sponsored by Sen. Stevens Continue reading