As Congress begins wrestling with the Bush administration's financial industry bailout legislation (and Sen. Christopher Dodd's alternative), perhaps it's worth asking who are these folks who may well be deciding the economic fate of the nation? In this post (which took me about five hours longer to put together than I'd anticipated; hint to Labs: we need to design a tool to do this stuff faster), we take a look at the Senate Banking Committee and the House Finance Committee. Specifically, we look at how much of the campaign cash raised by members of those committees ...Continue reading
Financial Bailout: Who does Dodd see at his fundraisers?
Among Sen. Christopher Dodd's top career donors are employees, their family members and PACs of the following players in the nation's financial meltdown: Citigroup ("written off and lost $53.6 billion through the credit crunch so far, which is more than any other bank or broker,") Bear Stearns ("Bear Stearns's mortgage business, a big driver of profits, has been eviscerated,"), SAC Capital Partners (vehemently denies charge that they helped bring down Bear Stearns), American International Group (saved by an emergency $85 billion rescue), Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley (each of which are morphing into bank holding companies ...Continue reading
How confusing are earmark disclosures?
When Rep. Neil Abercrombie requested an earmark in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill to fund "Saddle Road Phase 5," he listed (on page two of that mega file courtesy of Taxpayers for Common Sense), the "U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, located at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii" as the entity that was the recipient of the funds. Search the spread sheet Taxpayers compile for the list of earmarks in that bill, and only one Abercrombie request turns up: a $9 million earmark for "Access Road, Ph 1" in Pohakuloa TA.
The only thing that connects the two is the ...Continue reading
Does the EPA collect SF-LLLs?
Browsing through the 2008 Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill on the Taxpayers for Common Sense site, I noticed that one of the largest amounts ($11 million) was earmarked to the National Rural Water Association a non-profit organization that provides training and technical assistance and gives out sub-grants to water providers in rural areas. They receive grants from the USDA and the EPA.
Earlier in our search of the elusive SF-LLL forms, I had sent out a FOIA request to the Environmental Protection Agency asking for:
Any and all forms SF-LLL (as required by 31 U.S.C. 1352) filed ...Continue reading
FHWA discouraging FOIA requests from potential contractors?
Here's a little information on something we started looking into last February:
When a federal agency needs a contractor, it publishes a presolicitation notice on a site called FedBizOpps to alert businesses that a formal solicitation is coming. These presolicitation notices -- here's one -- describe what the contract would call for, often adding that additional information can be gotten through the Freedom of Information Act:
Any requests for business information not posted should be requested under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidance.
There are several variations on the theme -- this one tells bidders, "All FOIA requests for the previous ...Continue reading
Earmarks: Tip of the Iceberg?
Three paragraphs jumped out at me from the final chapter of Robert G. Kaiser's excellent Washington Post series, Citizen K Street:
Cassidy helped change Washington by shaping the culture of congressional earmarks that became so important in the last dozen years. Earmarks directly transfer the government's money to particular institutions and interests. He and his original partner helped invent the idea of lobbying for earmarked appropriations -- an idea that made Cassidy rich and fed a system of interdependence between lobbyists and Congress that thrives today.
And, later in the piece...
Cassidy and his original partner, Kenneth Schlossberg, demonstrated ...Continue reading