NE-02: Co-sponsor my plan to reform Washington

You've probably seen stories in the press lately about Congressman Terry and lobbyists.

Truth is, you don't need to look any further than his legislative record to see that his connection with Washington lobbyists and special interests is too close for comfort. Terry and politicians like him spend too much time cozying up to the special interests. It's time for that to change.

We need 1,000 people to co-sponsor my plan to reform Washington - click to be one.

Here's what we need to do to start reforming Washington:

  • Transparency in campaign spending. In the wake of the recent Citizens United court case, we need new campaign finance regulations to ensure transparency and accountability. We cannot let activist courts turn our elections into auctions.
  • End the cozy relationships with lobbyists. Post the attendees and subject matter of all meetings between lobbyists and government officials on a publicly-available website. Close the revolving door by prohibiting individuals from going back and forth between government jobs and corporate lobbying jobs within a 5 year timeframe. Ban corporate lobbyists from giving gifts and providing free travel to officials.
  • Ban corporate earmarks, and make members of Congress publicly own up to their earmark requests.
  • Cut and freeze salaries for members of Congress until they do their job and balance the budget.

In the Legislature, I passed a bill to put the state's checkbook online so Nebraskans can see how their money is spent. I took on special interests that wanted sweetheart deals in the tax code, and I won. In Congress, I won't back down from fighting for reform.

Join me by helping us get 1,000 co-sponsors of my reform plan this week. Together, we'll make Washington work for the people, not the powerful.

Thanks for all you do,




Our Birds of a Feather Congress

It is hard at times to distinguish a member of Congress from a trained parrot. I suspect that parrots are of higher intelligence and don't sell themselves to the highest bidder. These other birds of a feather who allegedly represent us in Congress certainly flock together in the most unusual of ways. From the New York Times:

In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care, the speeches of many lawmakers echo with similarities. Often, that was no accident.

Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world's largest biotechnology companies.

E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.

The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress.

Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points -- 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists.

In an interview, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: "I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was." He said he got his statement from his staff and "did not know where they got the information from."

Members of Congress submit statements for publication in the Congressional Record all the time, often with a decorous request to "revise and extend my remarks." It is unusual for so many revisions and extensions to match up word for word. It is even more unusual to find clear evidence that the statements originated with lobbyists.

The e-mail messages and their attached documents indicate that the statements were based on information supplied by Genentech employees to one of its lobbyists, Matthew L. Berzok, a lawyer at Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli & Berzok who is identified as the "author" of the documents. The statements were disseminated by lobbyists at a big law firm, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

In an e-mail message to fellow lobbyists on Nov. 5, two days before the House vote, Todd M. Weiss, senior managing director of Sonnenschein, said, "We are trying to secure as many House R's and D's to offer this/these statements for the record as humanly possible."

Human is not a word I associate with our Congress critters when I read stories like this. These are parrots who can't even write their own speeches or think for themselves.

There's more...

Coal Lobbyist To Become The Next US Trade Rep

Last week I got concerned about news reports that President-Elect Obama had narrowed the list of potential candidates for Secretary of Transportation to two people, one of whom was former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk. Luckily, it appears that Kirk is not going to be nominated for the DoT position. But today comes word that Kirk is going to be the next US Trade Representative.  Kirk is one of the last people progressives should want in this position.

There's more...

Understanding the Dieageo/Hotline poll

As other commenters on this site seem to be wondering about this, the Diageo/Hotline presidential poll of 10/8 has caught my attention. I am trying to understand some of the numbers behind their determination that, even after all this bad economic news, Obama leads McCain by only 45-44% among likely voters. I am not questioning the methodology of the poll (others are more qualified than myself to do that), but after some analysis of the numbers being reported, my suspicions have been aroused. Therefore, some investigation into who is actually conducting the poll is what I am concerned with. Here is a link to the PDF of the poll itself: ts/diageohotlinepoll/DiageoHotlineTracke r100808release.pdf

The poll shows that since last week, Obama's numbers have dropped on EVERY MEASURE, even after a disastrous week for the economy, which the poll itself clearly states is the number 1 issue for 62% of voters. In fact, the poll declares Obama and McCain TIED at 42% on who would do the best job handling the economy, which seems to run completely against every other poll I've seen. This includes poll numbers coming out of the 10/7 debates.

There's more...

Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK)- Good for Alaska or good for lobbyists?

Ted Stevens:

Tacking on extra planes to the defense budget - beyond what even President Bush requested - to the tune of $468 million dollars. That's taxpayer dollars.

His brother-in-law's firm handled the lobbying, and collected the lucrative lobbying fees.

The taxpayer in the end foots the bill.

What did Presidential candidate John McCain have to say about this deal? ""Unnecessary, Unwanted, Unauthorized, Unmitigated Pork""

That says it all.

Ted Stevens: good for lobbyists, good for pork-barrel spending, BAD for Alaska.

There's more...


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