Wonk Wire: What most people would call lobbying now falls outside of its legal definition.
Jack Abramoff: “Whether you’re a company, a union, or an individual, to get your bennie–your perk–into a bill, the first thing you need to do is find a bill that’s going to get signed by the president. Ninety-nine percent of what’s proposed in Congress doesn’t make it to the White House, so you’re looking for one of the few bills that’s going to make it all the way through the House, the Senate, the conference committees, and wind up on the president’s desk. We call that a moving train. If you’re a lobbyist pushing something like this, you want your moving train to be a 2,000-plus-page bill. You want to find a way to sneak your bennie into a teeny boxcar in the back that nobody’s going to notice.”
Rosie Gray: “Unlike the Washington firms hired directly by foreign governments,
Ukraine’s leadership has slipped its American agenda through an
increasingly popular loophole in the federal law intended to regulate
foreign activity in the United States, allowing it to follow the minimal
disclosure practices required of domestic corporate lobbies, not the
extensive ones demanded of registered foreign agents. It’s a loophole
now used by a range of post-communist governments, in particular, with
money to burn and no particular love of transparency. And it offers a
path to the end of a disclosure regime put in place in 1938, amid
American concern over the effects of Nazi propaganda.”
Jim Messina defends Organizing for Action in a CNN piece saying it’s “an issue advocacy group, not an electoral one. We’ll mobilize to support the president’s agenda, but we won’t do so on behalf of political candidates. The president has always believed that special interests have undue influence over the policymaking process, and the mission of this organization is to rebalance the power structure…”
“But just as the president and administration officials deliver updates on the legislative process to Americans and organizations across the ideological spectrum, there may be occasions when members of Organizing for Action are included in those updates. These are not opportunities to lobby — they are briefings on the positions the president has taken and the status of seeing them through.”
First Read: “In other words, these folks will be able to meet with the president. Here’s another thing to consider: While OFA won’t take corporate money, nothing is there to stop, say, a particular CEO from writing a $500,000 check. This op-ed was clearly intended to calm down the critics, but other than eliminating the possibility of corporate donors, it doesn’t get to the larger criticism that campaign-finance advocates are upset about.”
The Denver Post reports Coloardo state Rep. Cheri Gerou (R) filed an ethics complaint against gun lobbyist Joe Neville “after an encounter in which she admits telling Neville to “fuck off” and he responded by saying: “You just earned yourself another round of mailers in your district.”
President Obama’s political team “is fanning out across the country in pursuit of an ambitious goal: raising $50 million to convert his re-election campaign into a powerhouse national advocacy network, a sum that would rank the new group as one of Washington’s biggest lobbying operations,” the New York Times reports.
“But the rebooted campaign, known as Organizing for Action, has plunged the president and his aides into a campaign finance limbo with few clear rules, ample potential for influence-peddling, and no real precedent in national politics.”
New Republic: “Once upon a time, the only way for a pol to cash in like that was to leave elected office in order to become a lobbyist–a nice living, but one that carries with it a stigma that would likely kill any future ambitions for high office. By contrast, a gig at Heritage, the main voice of the conservative movement, could be a good launching pad for a potential 2016 presidential bid. Candidate DeMint could run as a man of ideas, not another pol out shilling for his donors.”
“The problem with that wholesome image… is that think-tanking and lobbying have come to look more and more alike. Just like lobbyists, think tanks can frame policy debates and generate political pressure–for the right price.”
According to a Washington Post examination, “more and more foreign governments are sponsoring all-expenses-paid trips to countries for lawmakers and their staffs, though an overhaul of ethics rules adopted by Congress five years ago banned them from going on most other types of free trips.”
“This overseas travel is often arranged by lobbyists for foreign governments, though lobbyists were barred from organizing other types of congressional trips out of concern that the trips could be used to buy favor. The overseas travel is covered by an exemption Congress granted itself for trips deemed to be cultural exchanges.”
Roll Call: “If a lobbying campaign is war, then opposition research is the equivalent of elite special forces. K Street deploys all sorts of quiet, behind-the-scenes tactics and troops to influence legislation and policy. The most clandestine and high-risk is the use of political-style operatives to dig up dirt on foes.”
Tim Pawlenty “has been chosen as the new head of The Financial Services Roundtable, a lobbying group, Politico reports.
“The group lobbies on behalf of large banks, insurance companies and other major players in the world of finance. The decision is expected to be announced Thursday morning.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee owns the rights to the Web domain name “jackabramoff.com” and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff wants it, Politico reports.
“Abramoff called the DCCC last week to ask — very politely — if they would be so nice as to give up the name. But the DCCC has no intention of doing so.”
Abramoff has now threatened legal action.
Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff told CNBC that as many as a dozen members of Congress and their aides “took part in insider trading based on foreknowledge of market moving information on Capitol Hill.”
He said that “many of those members of Congress bragged to him about their stock trading prowess while dining at the exclusive restaurant he owned on Pennsylvania Avenue… Abramoff declined to name the members of Congress.”