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Today’s Flickr photo

Oil platform off Newport Beach, Ca. Flickr photo by KrisFricke.

 

If you read one thing today . . .

The midterm elections might over but the GOP battle for the Senate is still going on strong. Remember Senator-elect Joe Manchin’s campaign commercial — the one where he’s shooting holes into Obama’s cap-and-trade legislation? Well, the GOP figures a guy who can handle a gun like that is on the wrong side of the aisle. According to a Fox News report, Republican leadership is offering Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, a choice committee position and support of a coal-to-diesel project in his home state.

Republicans believe Manchin is particularly susceptible to the overture because he is up for reelection in 2012 and will have to be on the ticket with President Obama, who is direly unpopular in West Virginia. Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Independent Joe Lieberman are the other two prime targets of Republican advances.

If Manchin, Nelson and Lieberman switched, it would leave the Senate in a 50-50 deadlock.

But Team Manchin, so far, is sticking with the campaign line that the two-term conservative governor is heading to Washington to change the way his party operates and to look for chances to work on bipartisan projects.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Republican leaders Eric Cantor and John Boehner. Flickr photo by TalkMediaNews.

If you read one thing today  . . .

Roll Call’s Matthew Murray would like to introduce you to the men and women behind the man — the K Street crew that likes to refer to itself as “Boehner-land.” This is the group of lobbyists who are in tight with the presumptive Speaker of the House John Boehner. Most of the denziens of Boehner-land are former members of Boehner’s legislative staff.

A prodigious fundraiser, Boehner has long nurtured his relationships on K Street, where the Ohio Republican’s pro-business, small-government platform was a natural fit with large corporations and small-business groups alike . . .

Republican sources interviewed for this story also described his K Street inner circle as chummy, with conversations more about politics than policy and a healthy dash of good-natured ribbing.

“It’s loyalty. It’s friendship. It’s alumni,” a Republican source said. “He can count on us.”

Overheard:

Apparently, any chance we had at catching our breaths after these midterms elections was just wishful thinking. As the WashPo points out, there’s a whole lot of political jockeying taking place with everyone positioning themselves for 2012.

“Right now, you have empirical and anecdotal evidence that President Obama is vulnerable. What you’ve seen over the last two years is a dismantling of the coalition he used to get elected in 2008,” said GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who is an adviser to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a probable 2012 contender.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

Groups demonstrate in front of U.S. Chamber
A lively demonstration was held in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week to protest the Chamber’s reported use of foreign money to pay for campaign attack ads. The Chamber is raising tens of millions of dollars to help Republicans take back Congress.

The Chamber fires back
The Chamber launched a broadside on Think Progress, which issued the above mentioned report about the Chamber using foreign money (more…)

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In light of Tuesday’s decision by the Senate Republicans to block the DISCLOSE Act, last week’s Netroots Nation panel discussion about overturning the  Citizens United ruling becomes even more important. The panelists, who included Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards and Alan Grayson, said that the Citizens United ruling, which opened the way for corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money to influence elections, has emboldened corporations and their lobbyists. Grayson said a corporate lobbyist “can walk into your and office, say ‘I have $5 million, and I can spend it for you or against you.’…this really is a threat to our democracy.”

The DISCLOSE Act, which was passed by the House, would have mitigated the damage from Citizens United by shining a light on the money behind campaign ads.  The act  would have required the front groups that pay for campaign ads to identify their major donors of $1,000 or more.

By not allowing the Senate to vote on the DISCLOSE Act, the GOP has set the stage for a corporate free-for-all in this fall’s midterm elections.

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Holman

Today in the U.S. Senate, partisan politics prevailed over the public interest as all Republican senators marched in lockstep to the orders of Republican party leaders and blocked a vote on the DISCLOSE Act (S. 3628). The failure of even a single Republican senator to vote for debate and consideration of the bill means there will be no disclosure of who is behind the expected onslaught of corporate spending in the 2010 elections – an onslaught created by the recent disastrous Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Voters will be left clueless as to who is funding the “independent” TV ads promoting and attacking candidates and how much these secretive funders are paying for these ads.

This lack of disclosure is exactly what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the national Republican Party want. This is partisan politics at its worst. (more…)

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Five justices on the U.S. Supreme Court – none of whom ever ran for election or served in elective office – reversed a century of political tradition and decades of legal precedents when they ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations may spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates in local, state and federal elections. This disastrous decision will both increase the premium on campaign dollars and the role of the wealthy in determining who gets elected to office. It vastly enhances the power of well-funded corporate lobbyists in extracting policy concessions from members of Congress and the executive branch.

The DISCLOSE Act (S. 3295), sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), is an important first response to this ruling. The legislation would close a gaping loophole in the campaign finance disclosure system. Under existing law, groups that pay for electioneering communications need not disclose their major donors. Most corporations will launder their political expenditures through innocuous sounding groups, such as Americans for Job Security, and thus hide their political activity. The DISCLOSE Act for the first time would require these outside groups to identify their major donors of $1,000 or more who are funding the campaign ads, and that identifying information would be posted on the Internet for all to see.

For the DISCLOSE Act to take effect in time for the 2010 general election, when a lot of this new political spending is expected to swamp the airwaves, it must be approved by the U.S. Senate before the August recess. For that to happen, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) filibuster to prevent a vote on the bill must be broken.

Public Citizen strongly encourages senators of all parties to stand up for opening the books on money in politics. The quality of our elections and the integrity of our government rides on this vote for the DISCLOSE Act.

Call your Senators and tell them to vote for more transparency in government: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

http://www.pledgefordemocracy.org/

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Last year, we got to wondering exactly how former Bush administration advisor Karl Rove juggled his government duties with his political ones. He wasn’t allowed to do political work on the government dime — those expenses should have been paid for by the Republican Party.  We were curious to learn more about how that whole reimbursement thing worked out.

So we filed a records request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the Office of Special Counsel, which is responsible for keeping people on the straight and narrow in by administering the Hatch Act. That law generally prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity.

We filed our request on Jan. 2, 2009. Under FOIA, the government had 20 days to respond.

(more…)

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