Transparent Lawmakers Win
In January of 2007, freshman Democratic congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand became the first member of the House of Representatives to post... View ArticleContinue reading
In Broad Daylight: Rangel’s Disclosure Discrepancies
Like a man sinking in quicksand, Rep. Charles Rangel continues, with every flailing day, to sink further as more discrepancies... View ArticleContinue reading
Full Ring Indictment
The full indictment of lobbyist Kevin Ring is available here part 1, part 2 (via Letter of Apology). As I... View ArticleContinue reading
Yet Another Abramoff Crony Indicted
The Justice Department unsealed a ten-count indictment today against Kevin Ring, a lobbyist and former staffer to Rep. John Doolittle,... View ArticleContinue reading
Another One Bites the Dust
The era of Abramoff appears to be nearing conclusion in Washington. Bob Ney is serving time behind bars; Tom DeLay forced to resign; Sen. Conrad Burns and Reps. Richard Pombo and J.D. Hayworth defeated in the 2006 elections; numerous lobbyists and officials now have prison records. Today, under pressure from Republican leaders, Rep. John Doolittle will drop out of his race for reelection in his northeastern California district. Rep. Doolittle was one of the few remaining members of Congress suspected of making illegal deals with the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and is under investigation by the FBI. Let's recap Doolittle's history as an Abramoff apparatchik with a little help from Congresspedia.Continue reading
Congressional Transparency on a Map
"We can never understand [a House member’s] Washington activity without also understating his perception of his various constituencies and the home style he uses to cultivate their support " states Richard Fenno in Home Style: House Members in Their Districts. Fenno understands that the work of members of Congress is more than committee meetings and votes but is also people they meet with from the district. The work in the district builds trust constituents need to send them to Washington and to accept the decisions they make there. Fenno’s makes the point that the work of lawmakers done in the district is not an exhibition but the yang to Washington’s Ying.
This trust that lawmakers create in the district extends to who they meet with in Washington. The Punch Clock motto has always been “Members of Congress work for us, and we should know what they do every day.” Fenno made this point a different way, “Trust is, however, a fragile relationship. It is not an overnight or one-time thing. It is hard to win; and it must be constantly renewed and rewon. "
In this spirit, Sunlight has decided to help out by creating a trust-building tool. This tool, the Punch Clock Map, is a Google map mashup with corresponding RSS feeds that lets citizens see for themselves just how elected officials spend their time and how they serve their district’s needs.
Jack’s Back and The Mayor of Capitol Hill Pleads Guilty
And you thought it was safe? Today, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and violate federal lobbying laws and to making false statements. Ney, formerly known as the Mayor of Capitol Hill, is the first lawmaker to plead guilty in the ongoing investigation into the activities of uberlobbyist Jack Abramoff. (Please read TPM Muck's Tribute to Bob Ney.) This guilty plea comes one day after the House passed a miniscule earmark reform, a lame replacement for lobbying and ethics reform. Not long ago the Washington Post wrote this, "Some lawmakers and political analysts believe that voters could punish incumbents during the November elections if Congress passes a minimalist ethics bill. The chances of such a backlash could rise, these critics say, if there are more indictments or guilty pleas later this year." Polls are already showing that individual lawmakers involved in the Abramoff scandal are suffering in their chances for reelection.Continue reading
Doolittle Family Cashing In on Donations
A story in today’s Roll Call (subscription required) notes that California GOP Congressman John Doolittle’s wife is earning more money than ever this year from fundraising activities on behalf of her husband.
It’s been reported earlier – including in a blog here last week – that she’s been collecting a 15 percent commission on all contributions to her husband’s leadership PAC. Julie Doolittle runs a fundraising business out of the family home in Oakton, Virginia – though it doesn’t advertise and she is apparently the only employee.Continue reading
Doolittle’s Leadership PAC Pays Wife
What a deal. Your husband is a member of Congress. You’re his spouse and you start up a business raising money for his leadership PAC, and collecting a 15% commission on every dollar the PAC raises.
That’s the essential scenario for Congressman John T. Doolittle (R-Calif) and his wife Julie, and the details are spelled out on the front page of today’s Washington Post. The story also dwells on expensive gifts that Doolittle’s PAC – the Superior California Federal Leadership Fund – spent money on, but I’d like to focus today on that fundraising commission.Continue reading