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Tag Archive: Dick Durbin

Legislation Web 2.0 Style

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Senator Dick Durbin is crafting a bill online this week on universal broadband policy. I don't know if this effort is a first of its kind but I think it might well be.

Today I'm writing to invite you to participate in an experiment -- an interactive approach to drafting legislation on one of the most significant public policy questions today: What should be America's national broadband strategy? . . . There are two reasons I'm asking for your help and participation. The first is because I think we need more public participation and transparency in the way Congress crafts significant legislation. This is an approach to legislation that has never been tried before. If it's successful -- as I believe it will be -- it may become the way lawmakers approach drafting bills on other issues like education, health care, and foreign policy.

Now this is lawmaking in the sunlight!

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The Problem with Earmarks:

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Everywhere you look there seems to be another congressman writing earmarks for campaign contributors. This time we have Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL):

Firefly Energy, a three-year-old Peoria firm, received a significant boost when U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood earmarked $2.5 million in federal defense funds for it last fall. A member of the House Appropriations Committee, LaHood also helped direct $26 million in defense funds to Caterpillar Inc., the largest employer in his district. In addition, he steered $200,000 to Peoria's Proctor Hospital. What LaHood, R-Peoria, did not mention when touting the federal funds he brought home to his district was that lobbyists for all three businesses were at the same time raising money for his campaign.
Earlier in the year LaHood had told the 23 lobbyists that organize fundraisers for him to stop holding them so that he could avoid the "perception of a special relationship." After crunching the numbers LaHood found out that 8 of the 23 lobbyists had raised $99,655 for his campaign, or a third of all his campaign contributions. And as it turns out one of those lobbyists, Bill Lane, lobbies for Caterpillar, Inc. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) - who has affirmed his support for earmarks - helped secure the Caterpillar funding on the Senate side. However, Capterpillar lobbyists have never held a fundraiser for him.

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Republican Senator Considers Public Financing:

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Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), the Ethics Committee chairman, is considering proposals for the public financing of elections, according to The Hill newspaper. The proposals are set to come from the joint efforts of Democratic Senators Chris Dodd (CT) and Dick Durbin (IL). Voinovich stated, “Maybe it is the answer. Too much of our time is spent raising money, time spent campaigning, time buying TV ads. When everyone’s out there trying to raise money, dialing for dollars ... until we deal with this issue you’re going to continue to have problems.” Durbin believes that “the heart of the lobbying reform question is still money.” Voinovich and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ethics Committee ranking member, also released last week correspondence from the Justice Department asking the Committee not to investigate Senators tied to Jack Abramoff.

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Two Democrats Seek Public Financing of Elections:

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Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) stated that they will push for the public financing of elections in the wake of congressional bribery and lobbying scandals, according to The Hill newspaper. In the House, David Obey (D-WI) and Barney Frank (D-MA) have introduced a bill to allow for the public financing of elections by creating a national campaign fund, funded voluntarily by taxpayers and a tax of one-tenth of one percent of all corporate profits over $10 million. Durbin and Dodd have not suggested what their proposal would look like but have expressed concern that lobbying reform proposals will not fix the source of the corruption, which is the need to fundraise due to the high cost of running elections.

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