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Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’

Just two years after the Wall Street banks were bailed out and just three months after we passed a tough new law to rein them in, the Wall Street bankers want weak regulations so they can keep making risky bets with your money.

Because of the upcoming election, the banks apparently thought nobody would notice that they redeployed their horde of lobbyists to try to weaken the new rules as they’re being written.

They were wrong. We noticed. And we need your help to fight back.

Regulators with the Financial Stability Oversight Counsil are accepting public comments on the new law’s important “Volcker rule.” The rule is named for Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a vocal White House official who called on Congress to stop banks from making risky bets for their own profit while relying on taxpayer bailouts if the bets go bad.

Here’s how you can help:

1. Follow this link, and you’ll get to the page where you can submit a comment about the Volcker rule.

2. Next, cut and paste the SAMPLE COMMENT at the end of this post into the comment box. Fill out all the required information (First Name, Last Name, and Organization Name).

3. In the required field that asks for your “Organization Name” write “PUBLIC CITIZEN MEMBER.”

4. Click “Submit.”

The banks have already submitted their regulatory comments. Now it’s our turn! (more…)

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As campaign finance continues to cause heated debate amongst party leaders, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is quickly becoming the poster child for corporate influence on Capitol Hill.

On Saturday, The New York Times detailed the strong ties between corporate lobbyists and Boehner. His inner circle includes representatives from some of the biggest companies in the country, like R.J. Reynolds, Miller Coors and Goldman Sachs.

They have raised huge pots of money for him, of course. For instance, at least $340,000 donated to Boehner’s political campaigns came from the pockets of people closely affiliated with the tobacco industry. Boehner’s relationship with the tobacco industry dates back to 1996, when he was caught handing out checks from large tobacco companies to fellow Republicans on the of the House of Representatives.

Notable also is Boehner’s travel record. Over the past decade, the representative has taken approximately 41 trips, mostly to resort golf destinations – all sponsored by various corporations and industry groups.

Fundraising for Mr. Boehner is especially important to watch as he begins his campaign to be Speaker of the House if Republicans attain the majority after November’s elections. His “Boehner for Speaker” campaign, launched in June this year, has already raised almost $2 million.

“While many lawmakers in each party have networks of donors, lobbyists and former aides who now represent corporate interests, Mr. Boehner’s ties seem especially deep,” the Times wrote. “His clique of friends and current and former staff members even has a nickname on Capitol Hill, Boehner Land. The members of this inner circle said their association with Mr. Boehner translates into open access to him and his staff.”

While the concept of ‘Boehner may be a running joke in the representative’s large inner-circle, the idea is a nightmare to anyone who fears more corporate involvement in Congress.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • Amount political parties and outside groups have spent on ads this election season: $150 million
  • Amount political parties and outside groups spent on ads at this point in 2006: $109 million
  • Percent of those ads this election season that have been negative: nearly 80 percent
  • Source here.

Video highlights effects on real people of money in politics
A new video from FairElectionsNow.org features real people describing in their own words the profound impact of corporate corruption in Washington. The video shows how big agriculture, corporate coal and BP play the money game to make government work for them – not the American public. As long as members of Congress must rely on donations from corporations and lobbyists to fund their campaigns, wealthy corporate interests will continue to have an outsized role in crafting national policies.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: Three members of Congress still in hot water with ethics committee
Enough evidence of wrongdoing exists to continue investigating the link between fundraising events and votes made by three members of Congress, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics. The office is recommending further investigation of three members of the House of Representatives who held fundraisers just days before casting votes on financial reform legislation. The three are Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.). Five other members were cleared.

Texans rally against U.S. Supreme Court ruling
Despite a heat index of 104 degrees, folks in Texas rallied recently against the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the door for unlimited corporate spending to influence elections. Watch the video here.

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A new video from our friends at FairElectionsNow.org features real people describing in their own words the profound impact of corporate corruption in Washington. You can see from the video that big agriculture, corporate coal and BP are all playing the money game to make government work for them and not the American public.

As long as members of Congress must rely on donations from corporations and lobbyists to fund their campaigns, these special interests will continue to have a huge advantage over real people when it comes to finding policy solutions for the people’s problems.

After you watch the video, urge your members of Congress to end the political money chase by supporting public financing of elections via the Fair Elections Now Act at http://www.citizen.org/supportfairelectionsnow.

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When corporate lobbyists and CEOs hand over a wad of campaign cash to an officeholder, and then promptly receive a lucrative funding project for their company from the same officeholder, most of us know precisely what happened: The corporate executives and officeholder rewarded each other through the exchange of money, also known as a bribe.

But what we all know from common sense becomes clouded – and even denied – by the folly of our campaign finance system in which officeholders are required to raise campaign cash from the very same private interests that have business pending before them. The U.S.  Supreme Court codified this folly in its 1991 U.S. v. McCormick decision which said that the exchange of earmarks for campaign contributions cannot be assumed to constitute bribery because such conduct “in a very real sense is unavoidable so long as election campaigns are financed by private contributions or expenditures …”

So when Public Citizen pressed for the prosecution of Rep. Tom DeLay and others in the Westar bribery scandal – in which internal Westar Energy Company e-mails outlined the company’s plan to buy a “seat at the table” in a House energy conference committee by contributing cash to influential lawmakers in exchange for their support of a special regulatory exemption – neither the Department of Justice nor House ethics committee were willing to conclude it was bribery. Instead, the ethics committee concluded (more…)

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We’ve said time and again that the revolving door between the federal government and the industries they work with is spinning out of control. Well, between the government and the oil and gas industry, it’s spinning even crazier than ever.

The Washington Post wrote today that three out of every four — that’s right, 75 percent — oil and gas lobbyists worked for the federal government before switching over to the industry side of things.

Key lobbying hires include 18 former members of Congress and dozens of former presidential appointees. For other senior management positions, the industry employs two former directors of the Minerals Management Service, the since-renamed agency that regulates the industry, and several top officials from the Bush White House. Federal inspectors once assigned to monitor oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico have landed jobs with the companies they regulated.

Looking at BP’s lobbyists alone, 71 percent previously worked for the federal government, according to data released in June by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics.

No wonder there was such a cozy relationship that Big Oil was able to manipulate the former Minerals and Management Service (MMS) into getting just what they want: lax regulation.

Although it seems to be the worst with the oil and gas industry, it tends to be a trend among others, as well. The Center for Responsive Politics found that fewer than one in three registered lobbyists in 2009 had revolving door connections — less than half the oil industry rate.

Currently, 12 senators and 35 representatives are not seeking re-election to their current offices. Where will they work next? Help us make sure they don’t head for the private-sector industry they’ve already gotten to know so well.

Sign Public Citizen’s petition to stop the revolving door between government and industry.

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Robert Weissman speaks about oil companies' influence in Congress at a demonstration on Capitol Hill July 20.

We just got back from Capitol Hill where Public Citizen President Robert Weissman spoke about the powers of corporations in Congress and about shifting our economies to sustainable forms of energy.

Weissman noted:

The first step is to get the oil money out of Congress. We’ve got to clean up Congress. We need clean money in our elections.

The demonstration marked not just the three-month “anniversary” of the BP oil spill but also the 41st anniversary of the moon landing. Echoing similar speeches by former Vice President Al Gore, activist Ted Glick called for the United States to use the same motivating energy that (more…)

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