Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Poor House Republicans! They thought they were just making it easier for donors to be extorted, but found they were contributing to open government!


Just yesterday we caught up with Paul Kane's chronicle of John "Chipmunk Cheeks" McCain's historic return visit last week to the Senate. Now, in his latest "Capitol Briefing" post, Kane tells the hilarious story of how the Republicans' House campaign committee lit up a big smelly cigar that exploded right in its big fat collective face.

The kids thought they'd merely found a way to make life easier for the big-money donors they ritually extort: by regularly publishing lists of fund-raising events to which the donors are expected to haul those hefty bags o' cash. This way donors could always have enough bags ready, and know exactly where and when to haul them.

Talk about bad luck! It was embarrassing enough that they discovered they'd accidentally stumbled into a practice that--utterly unintentionally, surely--resembled open government! Then they discovered that these very lists could be used (gasp!) to interfere with House Republicans' perpetual quest for cash.

And if this isn't all funny enough, how can you not love a story that concludes with the ritual Republicrook disclaimer: "Both Republicans have denied any wrongdoing, saying they adhered to the law and internal House rules." The "both Republicans" in question are, first, the king of the Republicrooks, DWT fave Rep. Jerry Lewis, and, second, his intended recruit to the House Appropriations Trough, er, Committee, fellow California Rep. Ken Calvert.
House GOP Cuts Off the $un$hine

As the House was voting to spread a little sunshine to its K Street connections, a GOP campaign committee pulled down the shades to hide the fund-raising events hosted by House Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee abruptly stopped publishing lists of money events last week, as noted today by my alma mater, Roll Call. (Subscription required.)

Here at Capitol Briefing the NRCC had won kudos for its openness toward raising money, as the only such campaign committee to ever freely publish its list of events that House Republicans were hosting. The list used to include the fairly standard breakfast, lunch and dinner money events, hosted by lobbying firms and trade associations, as well as the out-of-the-ordinary events like golf fund-raisers in the Carribbean or ski junkets in the Rocky Mountains.

While done ostensibly to alert lobbyists and other special interests to pending events, it also served as a sunshine maneuver that not even the Democrats ever contemplated doing - even as they swore up and down the Capitol about the GOP's shady dealings with K Street.

Alas, the NRCC's web site is being remodeled, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) had always planned as "part of the process" of revamping the site to take down the link to upcoming events, according to Ken Spain, NRCC spokesman. "This was planned from day one."

The web site re-launch is still a few weeks away, meaning the elimination of the link to House GOP events happened in advance of the new web site rollout. Ironically, this decision came as the House overwhelmingly voted for further financial disclosure of lobbyists. The new lobbying bill approved last week would require lobbyists for the first time to reveal not just how much money they give to lawmakers but how much they bundle together from their clients and others for politicians.

Also, the money event link happened to disappear the same week that conservative blogger Erick Erickson, who has launched a campaign against the appointment of Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) to the Appropriations Committee, used the GOP events list to encourage conservative activists to protest a Calvert event.

Calvert's event had Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) as his special guest. Calvert has come under scrutiny for earmarks for projects located near property he owns, while Lewis is under federal investigation for steering tens of millions of dollars in earmarks to clients, such as defense contractor General Atomics, of a lobbying firm closely connected to the lawmaker.

Both Republicans have denied any wrongdoing, saying they adhered to the law and internal House rules.

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At 12:19 PM, Blogger Jennie Lanics said...

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