Here's more information on the Center for Public Integrity's upcoming report on congressional travel sponsored by third parties. The Center has put together a database and a package of stories and analysis looking at the sponsors and the travelers--both elected representatives and their staff. As I mentioned below, I suspect that we'll find that Congress is flying as frequently on the dimes of special interests as it did in the past, although I'm curious to see whether the sponsors have changed all that much. When CPI looked at that same phenomenon for the 1998 book The Buying of the Congress by Charles Lewis, we analyzed a year and a half of travel disclosures--from 1996 and the first six months of 1997. Back then, we found, among the top 20 sponsors, the Aspen Institute, the Nuclear Energy Institute, AIPAC, the Securities Industry Association, the Florida Sugar Cane League, the Edison Electric Institute, the Tobacco Institute, and the National Cable Television Association, to name a few.Continue reading
Here's an interesting bit from a weekend Washington Post article on the increased pace of investment in ethanol producing plants in Iowa (and elsewhere):
"Every time a plant is built," said Bill Horan, "that's 500 more ethanol supporters in a congressman's district. And they really care. It's not just Ma and Pa on the farm. It's their dentist son in Chicago who's interested in his inheritance, and his sister in San Francisco."Now why would ethanol producers need the support of members of Congress?
... suppose the price of oil declines -- if, for example, the economies in China and India slip, the global oil market grows calm and a booming ethanol supply outstrips demand. Suppose Congress supports President Bush's recent call to eliminate the tariff of 54 cents a gallon on plentiful Brazilian ethanol. Continue reading