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Tag Archive: Dianne Feinstein

Verizon lobbyists host fundraisers for Intelligence Committee members

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Verizon logoLobbyists for Verizon Communications, which is refusing comment on a now-confirmed report that the telecommunications giant turned millions of its customers' records over to the National Security Agency, have thrown fundraisers for members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, records compiled by the Sunlight Foundation show.

According to the Political Party Time database, which tracks candidate fundraising events, lobbyists for Verizon Communications have hosted at least five fundraising events for Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. Louis Dupart, of the lobbying firm The Normandy Group, hosted at least three events, two for Mikulski and one for Collins, while Wayne Berman hosted two more for Collins, including a birthday reception in 2010. Both senators voted in 2008 in favor of  the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which shielded telecom companies, including Verizon, from lawsuits related to an earlier wiretapping controversy

Lobbyists for Verizon have also hosted a fundraiser for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., an ex officio member of the Senate committee, and Rep. Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

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Feinstein asks for McConnell’s help on S.223

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On Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to help her pass S.223, the Senate campaign finance electronic filing bill. McConnell has been abetting a Republican objection to the bill by refusing to reveal information about who in his party does not approve of this no-brainer legislation. While McConnell states that Republican Senators want to offer amendments to the bill he also refuses to identify and describe these amendments. Feinstein is committed to passing this bill and McConnell has said that he supports it. McConnell must meet with Sen. Feinstein to work together to pass this bill without poison pill amendments. Feinstein's letter asks for McConnell to identify to her the amendments that Republican Senators wish to offer. If they have the kind of support that S.223 has than they could be added. If they are controversial, they should go through the regular committee process. This is very simple and fair. Read the letter:

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Watch Bunning Block the Bill

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Don't forget to keep calling your Senators and ask if they registered an objection to S.223. Use this comment form to let us know what you find or leave them in the comment thread. Meanwhile, why don't you watch Sens. Feinstein and Feingold denounce the last week's objection right before Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) registers yet another anonymous objection.

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Lobbyists Eye Pork for Greasing, Lawmakers Eye Reform:

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The former chief of staff to Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) – now a lobbyist – is a master at greasing the wheels to get earmarks, for her clients from the Chairman, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Letitia White’s lobbying firm and their clients have contributed 37 percent of the $1.3 million raised by Lewis’ political action committee over the past six years while she has obtained numerous earmarks for her clients, defense contractors and California municipalities. Congress is eyeing reform of this practice as the federal budget deficit swells to unheard of proportions. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Trent Lott (R-CA); John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK); and Barack Obama (D-IL) all have varying proposals to reform the process. Meanwhile, The Hill newspaper reports that some lawmakers receive earmark requests via e-mail, making the process easier for both parties.

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Lawmakers Seek to Reel in Earmarks:

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Earmarks in Appropriations bills have ballooned from 4,000 a decade ago to over 14,000 today. Legislators from both parties are taking aim at these projects and are proposing various degrees of reforms. In a Bloomberg article conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is “threatening to slow the Senate's business to a crawl by forcing his colleagues to vote on each of the thousands of obscure, sometimes unusual pork-barrel projects.” He asks, “Should we be spending money in ways that are other than in the vital interest of the country?” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is joining Coburn in threatening to bring each earmark to a vote. According to the New York Times, Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have proposed a reform that “would allow senators to object to any earmarks added in the final stages of negotiations and force sponsors to win at least 60 votes to retain them … [and] require that the final version of legislation be available for at least 24 hours before a floor vote and that the sponsor of each earmark be included along with a justification.”

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