Where are the Republicans in fighting corruption?

Joel Barkin, the Executive Director of the Progressive States Network, has a column today in (of all places) the New Hampshire Union Leader about cleaning up the on-going stench  in government/politics. What struck me the most in Barkin's writing was the absence of Republican or, to be fairer, conservative organizations sponsoring or taking part in a scheduled meetup to discuss the situation. Here a paragraph late in the column:

   "...Tomorrow, legislators from across New England will meet with citizens and non-profit advocates in Concord to discuss the best ideas for cleaning up state governments. Already, people from all over the Northeast (and even a few from across the country) have registered for this event that is open to the public. The conference is being co-sponsored by the Progressive States Network, Public Campaign, Common Cause, the Center for American Progress, Americans for Campaign Reform, MoveOn Civic Action, NH PIRG, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, and Democracy for New Hampshire..."

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch receives a positive mention, as does Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Where are the supposed civic-minded conservatives or Republicans? Is it simply a matter of the GOP being in charge nationally and nobody daring to ruffle the slimy underbelly of Karl Rove? That existing power translates into we-don't-need-no-stinking-change?

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Specter's Generosity

Working for Senator Arlen Specter sounds like a pretty sweet gig. You work for Specter, one of your relatives works as a lobbyist, and magically somehow, your relatives clients make out like bandits when it comes to federal money. Go figure. Back in February, Matt wrote about this emerging situation when CREW demanded that the Senate Ethics Committee investigate Specter.

At the time, it had become clear that Specter had pushed $48.7 million to American Defense International, a military contractor whose lobbyist, Michael Herson, is married to Vicki Siegel Herson, whom USA Today describes as "Specter's top appropriations aide." Typical of the Republican leadership, it seems that the only investigation into this matter thus far has been carried out by Specter's own office. The ethics investigation Specter "requested" from the Senate doesn't seem to have gotten off the ground.

The in-house investigation of the matter turned up one other case of Specter favoring an aide's relative's client. Specter helped lobbyist Eric Wallace, whose father Andy Wallace runs Specter's office in Scranton, get a $200,000 grant for his client, Impact Services. His response to this has essentially been to declare the case closed, saying that he and his office have tightened up their policies and are "living and learning."

But it seems a bit too convenient for me that Specter would be confronted with a charge as big as pushing nearly $50 million in pork to a connected lobbyist, respond by opening an internal investigation, and finding only one other, much smaller conflict. Much more likely in my mind is the possibility that this is just a token case thrown up to make Specter look responsible and get the critics off of his back. But that's an awfully small fire for so much smoke. I expect this story to get much worse for Specter before it gets better.

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Stories of two DC fundraisers and Conrad Burns

Today's report comes from the AP:

President Bush on Monday urged Montanans to vote for Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, who is locked in a tight race for re-election this year.

"I'm proud to stand by this man," Bush told a Washington audience of about 200 lobbyists, members of Congress and other supporters, some of whom had paid up to $10,000 to be there.

Attendees paid the Burns campaign at least $1,000 a couple for cocktails, light snacks and the chance to mingle with the president and the senator at a downtown hotel.

And then there is Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

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Congressional Black Caucus defends the lobbyists!

The horrible 'deficit reduction' bill passed the House 216-214, I read. I go to THOMAS to check on the guilty Dems concerned - and find an unexpected little horror.

Part of the (pretence at) post-Abramoff house-cleaning in the US let's not mention the ethics truce House is H Res 648, which removes the floor privileges from former members who are working as lobbyists. It passed 379-50, and Tom DeLay voted against (surprise, surprise!).

But 19 Dems voted against too.

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The Masterminds Behind The IP Protect Act Bring You The "Ten Strikes Bill"; YouTube Will Be Illegal

 

Isn't YouTube great? Better enjoy it while you can folks, because if this bill passes it won't exist in any recognizable form. The same big business lobbyists who masterminded the Internet Blacklist Bill are back. To be exact this bill (S. 978) will make it a felony crime to stream copyrighted content, like music in the background of a YouTube video, or a news clip, <a href="http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110601/01515014500/senators-want-to-put-people-jail-embedding-youtube-videos.shtml">TechDirt points out you could even go to jail for posting a video of your friends singing Karaoke:</a>

 

<blockquote>The entertainment industry is freaking out about sites that embed and stream infringing content, and want law enforcement to put people in jail over it, rather than filing civil lawsuits.... We already pointed to one possibility: that people embedding YouTube videos could face five years in jail. Now, others are pointing out that it could also put kids who lip sync to popular songs, and post the resulting videos on YouTube, in jail as well.</blockquote>

 

And here's the kicker, this new felony would hold criminal penalties worse than the crime of child molestation: 5-10 years in prison.

 

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