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Tag Archive: John Ensign

Sunlight for Senate Campaign Contributions

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For the past year, the Sunlight Foundation has worked to get a bill passed that would require Senators to file their campaign finance contribution reports electronically, allowing that information to be more readily available before elections than it is now. Passage of the bill has been blocked by Republicans, specifically Sen. John Ensign, for this same amount of time. We aren't going to give up on our fight to get S. 223 passed and intend to keep the pressure on this year. To kick things off we've made this video to explain the issue and keep the attention on Sen. Ensign and his unreasonable hold on the bipartisan bill:

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Sen. Ensign Still Opposes Transparency

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Sen. John Ensign continues to block the campaign finance electronic filing bill that Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Russ Feingold have been attempting to pass all year. The bill, which the Sunlight Foundation has fought hard to get passed, has 41 cosponsors including 16 Republicans (including Sens. Bob Bennett, Lamar Alexander, and John Cornyn among others). Despite this not being a partisan issue, Ensign insists on blocking consideration of the bill by offering an irrelevant and controversial amendment, which initially came from the offices of Sen. Mitch McConnell, to require outisde groups filing ethics complaints to disclose their funding sources. This has been noted as unconstitutional law and is an absurd requirement to demand.

Is the Senate Ethics Committee truly overburdened with cases? Sen. Ensign says that complaints in the Senate can be written "on a beverage napkin or written in crayon." I'm not sure what number of ethics complaints are submitted by drunks and children (or some combination of the two) but it can't be that high. In fact, the only known ongoing Senate Ethics Committee investigation was started by the Senate Republicans when they filed a complaint against Sen. Larry Craig for pleading guilty to possibly, maybe, perhaps being gay. Ellen just linked to a list of potential ethical issues facing a number of Republican Senators that could be investigated. If outside groups can file these complaints so easily - in crayon and on a beverage napkin - why isn't the Ethics Committee investigating anything?

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Call for Ensign to Stop Obstructing Electronic Filing Bill

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Going on eight months now the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, requiring senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically, has been held up by proceedural maneuvers from the Republican side. After a series of secret holds placed on the bill were thwarted once secret holds were banned (Senators with secret holds must reveal their identity after 72 hours) Sen. John Ensign blocked the bill by offering a poison pill amendment that lacked relevance to the bill. Ensign's amendment, revealed on this blog to have originated from the offices of Mitch McConnell, requires outside organizations filing ethics complaints to reveal their donor list. For months now, this irrelevant, poison pill amendment has blocked a simple change in how Senators file their campaign finance reports that would help make the data more readily accessible to the voting public. Now a coalition of groups, including a number of conservative groups, has formed to ask Ensign to drop his amendment and allow the electronic filing bill to pass. The groups include:

Alliance for Justice
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty
The American Conservative Union
James Bopp Jr., General Counsel James Madison Center for Free Speech
Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest
The Free Speech Coalition
Gun Owners of America,
National Center for Public Policy Research
OMB Watch

The full letter is after the jump.

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