A new series of political ads by SEIU, a powerful liberal union, targets four Republican Senators up for re-election in 2016. Carefully crafted as "issue ads," the expenditures don't have to be disclosed like normal campaign advertisements.Continue reading
Open Government: idling in the driveway
Sigh. I feel like a disappointed parent. When the details of the Open Government Directive were announced early last December... View ArticleContinue reading
News for the Afternoon:
- Roll Call reports that the lobbying reform bill is "stuck in limbo" thanks to the inclusion of 527 reform in the House reform package. Does anybody think that this bill is going anywhere? No. It doesn't matter much since the reforms that are included in the bills fall far short of what is needed to fix the problems in Congress. It does demonstrate that even after such high-profile guilty pleas and investigations that the leaders in Congress refuse to fix the inherent problems in the system that led to those abuses and guilty pleas.
- Glenn Reynolds provides a Pork Busters update at Instapundit. He provides links to a Heritage Foundation report on reforming the budget process, the new-fangled Pork Busters site, and to a group that has the name Sunlight in its name.
- If Homeland Security is supposed to be so important (and personally I think not getting blown up and emergency disaster assitance are pretty important things) then please explain why everyone wants to cash out of the Department. The New York Times wants to know too:
"If homeland security is the central concern of the Bush administration, one wonders how it managed to create a department in which so many of the top brass were so eager to quit the crusade so soon and cash in so efficiently. But the worst effect of this kind of take-the-money-and-run mentality is on the people left behind. How many of them, having watched others land lucrative jobs as lobbyists, will temper their own judgments about what systems to buy and what consultants to use with an eye on their own private-sector prospects?"
- The San Bernardino Sun keeps reporting on the lobbying and earmarking scandal surrounding their local congressman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.). San Bernardino County released 3,500 pages of documents related to their contacts with Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White, the lobbying firm in question in the scandal. The documents reveal that San Bernardino used the lobbying firm to develop "strategies to get federal funding," work on "problems with endangered species," and "arranging meetings with senator and Congressmen". The key question is why on earth did a county represented by Lewis need to hire a lobbying firm to make contact with their representative. This should be completely unnecessary and it looks rather peculiar.
- And finally a noted conservative opponent of earmarking, [sw: Mike Pence] (R-Ind.), defended his own earmarks to CongressDaily. Pence, who has been a vocal opponent of earmarking and pork-barrel funding, was forced to defend two earmarks that he placed into the recently passed Transportation-Treasury appropriations bill. Pence's spokesman stated that the congressman, "stands by his earmark requests." Pence also stated that he supports earmark reform but does not wish to do away with the process entirely. Of course, his defense of his own earmarks sounds much like the defense given by so many others who have been criticized.
Daylight Weekend Round-Up:
- The print media in Illinois continues to run with [sw: Dennis Hastert]'s land deal, a story that Bill Allison started here at Sunlight. The Chicago Tribune ran a big article over the weekend that included denials of wrongdoing by Hastert and his partners that centered around the incorrect distance of 5.5 miles from the proposed freeway to the land (maps show that the distance is between 2.5 and 3 miles, a distance that Hastert's partner Dallas Ingemunson confirms). The key point in the Trib article comes towards the end where we learn that Hastert has purchased 126 acres in Kendall County with the same business partners. Looks like he intends on receiving continued profits from the federal projects that he is pushing.
- At least 90 former Homeland Security officials from DHS and the White House's Office of Homeland Security left their government jobs to earn millions as lobbyists, executives, and consultants for companies seeking funds from these agencies, according to the New York Times.
- The Department of Homeland Security found the missing letter that [sw: Duke Cunningham] sent to urge the issuance of a contract to Shirlington Limousines. Defense contractor Mitchell Wade's plea agreement contained allegations that Shirlington was hired by Brent Wilkes, alleged Cunningham briber, to ferry prostitutes to the now jailed congressman as payment for his earmarking services. A grand jury is investigating Shirlington's connections to the Cunningham case and their government contracts.
- The lobbying firm at the center of the ethics cloud surrounding Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA) is breaking up, according to the San Bernardino Sun. The two Democrats who are partners at the firm are bolting due to the investigations into two of the three Republican partners. No more shall we refer to the firm as Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. The firm will now be referred to as Lowery Denton & White. Soon it will probably be called Denton.
- Yesterday the House Homeland Security Committee held hearings on a contract that was awarded to Shirlington Limousine, the limo service allegedly used to ferry prostitutes to [sw: Duke Cunningham] and others, and discoverd that Cunningham had pressed the Department of Homeland Security to ink a contract with the company and that Shirlington had offered its services to DHS prior to receiving a contract. Homeland Security states that they can not find the letter of recommendation from Cunningham. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker reports that a grand jury is looking into Shirlington's DHS contract. Ken Silverstein connects the multiple appropriations scandals in one sentance: "Recall also that Jerome Foster, one of the company's directors, is another defense contractor who was represented by the same lobby shop as Brent Wilkes—the firm of former congressman Bill Lowery (who, coincidentally, is very close to Congressman Jerry Lewis, currently under federal investigation, as I have previously discussed)."
- The Democratic caucus voted 99-58 to strip Rep. [sw: William Jefferson] (D-Lou.) of his seat on the Ways and Means Committee, a move prompted by revelations that he allegedly solicited bribes in a wide-ranging conspiracy to use his position in Congress to illegally broker deals with African countries. The "no" votes were comprised primarily of the Congressional Black Caucus with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus joining to vote against the Minority Leader's push to remove Jefferson. Minority Leader [sw: Nancy Pelosi] (D-Calif.) stated: "This isn't about proof in a court of law. It's about an ethical standard ... what is acceptable public behavior for a public servant."
- The City of Redlands, California is considering dropping Copeland Lowery as their lobbying firm after having their records subpoenaed in the federal investigation into the practices of the lobbying firm and the practices of Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.). Meanwhile, the City of San Bernardino is mum on whether they have been served a subpoena in the investigation. So far, eight subpoenas have been confirmed by cities, municipalities, and a university.
Not Reading the Paper:
Last night President Bush proposed a National ID card to help identify legal citizens and control illegal immigration. Garance Franke-Ruta at TAPPED asks if Bush's speechwriters read the New York Times before writing this part of the speech:
Whoever wrote this speech obviously hasn't been reading The New York Times lately, or he'd have known that the reason we don't have a tamper-proof card already is because of the self-dealing ways of a certain Kentucky Republican known to his local paper as "The Prince of Pork".That "Prince of Pork" happens to be Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), notorious for his earmarking:
Instead, the road to delivering this critical antiterrorism tool has taken detours to locations, companies and groups often linked to Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who is the powerful chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget. It is a route that has benefited Mr. Rogers, creating jobs in his home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes. The congressman has also taken 11 trips — including six to Hawaii — on the tab of an organization that until this week was to profit from a no-bid contract Mr. Rogers helped arrange. Work has even been set aside for a tiny start-up company in Kentucky that employs John Rogers, the congressman's son. "Something stinks in Corbin," said Jay M. Meier, senior securities analyst at MJSK Equity Research in Minneapolis, which follows the identification card industry, referring to the Kentucky community of 8,000 that has perhaps benefited the most from Mr. Rogers's interventions. "And it is the sickest example of what is wrong with our homeland security agenda that I can find."The Washington Post previously reported on Rogers' homeland security largesse. The congressman had gotten funds for Reveal Technologies, his largest PAC contributor, to provide small and medium sized explosion-detection scanners to airports through funds in the Transport Security Administration budget. The scanners wound up running at a quarter of the speed of larger machines. So, if you're upset about the lack of movement on a National ID card (as the President ought to be considering his speech last night) or if you are standing in a long line while somebody's bags get searched by a slow machine you can always raise your fist and shake it at Rep. Hal Rogers. Continue reading