On Saturday, Nancy Pelosi said she and the Democratic leadership had changed their position on offshore oil and gas exploration.... View ArticleContinue reading
In the mercenary culture of Washington, discretion is often the better part of valor. There wasn't much of the former when Mark Penn, who at the time was the senior strategist for the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton and also chief executive of P.R. firm Burson-Marsteller, met with representatives of the government of Colombia. They sought passage of a trade deal that Penn's other boss, Clinton, had opposed on the campaign trail. Penn ended up a former top strategist. Over on Real Time, my colleague Anupama has unearthed a slightly more valorous lobbyist-turned-campaign official. Thomas Loeffler, a former member of Congress, a bundler for President George W. Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, and now co-chair of the McCain campaign, is a registered foreign agent (that is, a lobbyist) for the government of Saudi Arabia. Before joining McCain's campaign, Loeffler and his firm's employees averaged almost ten contacts a month with U.S. government officials (including Sen. McCain) during which they would promote the interests of the Saudi government. Since Loeffler joined McCain's campaign, those contacts have altogether stopped. But the payments from the Saudi government haven't. The Saudis have paid Loeffler's firm $3.5 million, even though it's had just one contact with federal officials since Loeffler joined McCain's campaign. Running for the White House in 2000, Sen. John McCain described an iron triangle of "special interests, campaign finance and lobbying." And also, "money, lobbyists and legislation." William Safire pointed out the two sets of three corners, but note the one in common: lobbyists. Even those like McCain (and more recently Sen. Barack Obama), who decry their influence seem to end up in the middle of the triangle.Continue reading
We've been wondering ourselves about possible money connections between the SuperDelegates and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And from the fast flying computers at the Center for Responsive Politics we learn some pretty interesting new facts about the money connections between Clinton and Obama and those SuperDelegates. Here are a few of their findings:
Elected officials who are SuperDelegates have received at least $890,000 from Obama and Clinton in campaign contributions over the last three years. Obama has given more than $694,000 to SuperDelegates from his political action committee, Hope Fund, or campaign committee since 2005. Of the 81 elected officials who had announced as of Feb. 12 that their SuperDelegate votes would go to Obama, 34 of them(40 percent) got money from from him in the 2006 or 2008 election cycles.
Clinton's PAC, HILLPAC, and campaign committee appear to have distributed $195,500 to SuperDelegates. Only 12 percent of her elected SuperDelegates -- 13 total -- have said they will back her.Continue reading
There was a really important money and politics story yesterday on the front page of The New York Times. It noted that the Democrats are now getting more money from the health care sector of givers than the Republicans. (Historically, health care has always given more to the GOP.) Candidate Clinton is getting the most of the dough. The Times, working with our friends at the Center for Responsive Politics, found the industry is giving to get an inside track with the potential next president.
No great surprise here and the story confirms the reason. It quotes an advisor to healthcare corporations: "For many people in the industry," he said, "these contributions are a defensive measure. Health care is the No. 1 domestic policy issue, and they want access, a seat at the table." And another quote: "Everybody in the industry knows that health care reform is on its way," said the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association. "You have only two decisions: sit on the sidelines or get on the field," he adds.
Maybe we need to start up a new site:how about Promisekeeper.com?Continue reading
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. Continue reading
This year has seen a whole sale rejection of campaign contributions provided by certain undesirables to campaign committees. Last December it was Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes, in January it was Jack Abramoff, Mike Scanlon, and the various Indian tribes they swindled, and then came Abramoff associates Neil Volz and Tony Rudy. The guilty pleas and investigations into these top donors was the equivalent of a political tsunami forcing congressmen and Senators to donate the dirty money to charity. The past few weeks, however, have brought some different stories about giving back campaign contributions. It isn’t always clear when a campaign should reject a contribution or by what measures it should take to ensure the political safety of said contribution.Continue reading