Rep. Jeff Flake has released a letter asking the Ethics Committee asking it to "specifically prohibit members from being able to certify having no financial interest in an earmark when they have received campaign contributions from the entity that would benefit from the earmark or those affiliated with it."
Essentially, Flake is asking the committee to hold that, for earmarks, campaign contributions create a conflict of interest in the same way that, say, being part owner of a company would create a conflict of interest: The more flush the company is with federal contracts gotten through earmarks, the better off ...Continue reading
Still waiting for FOIA reforms to surface
Roger Strother writes at OMB Watch's Fine Print blog about the latest noise coming out of the Office of Information Policy about the "sea change in the way transparency is viewed across the government." That sea change is supposed to lift a lot of FOIA requests that, unlike boats, seem to sink the bottom with incredible rapidity, then burrow down into the muck at the bottom. We've found that the only way to surface those FOIA requests is the application of vigorous effort (including regularly calling FOIA officers to make sure they haven't forgotten us). Waiting--for months ...Continue reading
Examiner calls for more transparency in TARP
They mention Anu's report of how difficult it was just to get the names of the folks manning the TARP desk. The editorial is here. Key passage:
Must everything be earmarked?
Columnist George Will argues that the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 -- the bailout bill that set up TARP, is unconstitutional because it delegates legislative power to the executive branch:
Congress did not in any meaningful sense make a law. Rather, it made executive branch officials into legislators. Congress said to the executive branch, in effect: "Here is $700 billion. You say you will use some of it to buy up banks' 'troubled assets.' But if you prefer to do anything else with the money -- even, say, subsidize automobile companies -- well, whatever."
FreedomWorks, a Washington-based libertarian advocacy organization, argues that ...Continue reading
A bad idea?
A colleague emailed this link with a subject line reading "Crazy! Non-profit papers?"
I wonder if AIG bonus recipients would care to advise newspapers of how calm and dispassionate members of Congress can be when they are legitimately criticized for their own actions. I wonder what the first newspaper whose specially conferred tax exempt status would be revoked, or threatened to be revoked. How many editors would be called on the carpet at congressional hearings and asked whether their columnists weren't intervening in political campaigns by criticizing incumbents?
Don't get me wrong--I think non-profit journalism is part of ...Continue reading