Congressman Mike Capuano is recognized as a progressive hero in the United States House of Representatives -- but he recently accepted a $5,000 campaign contribution from lobbyists for Citigroup, Inc. Now you can sign this online petition and tell Congressman Capuano to give the money back!
The "Crisis" is the near-extinction of full time reporters at the State House. This matters. Remember, that both the State Senate and the State House of representitives voted to exclude themselves from all "open meeting" laws and information law requests, and most "fair procurement" restrictions.
Back in 2003 the Press Room was bustling - phones ringing all the time, every desk full and fought over. I remember those days; that was back during the first indigent defense crisis and I was there a lot cadging information and pitching stories. Now there is one person in that room that used to be stuffed to the gills with what seemed to be two dozen or more. Cob webs. Dust bunnies - and no one to see or hear most of what goes on other than paid lobbyists - mercenaries of different causes, paid to seek set results with as little public attention as possible, most of them.
I happen to agree with Commonwealth Magazine that the loss of the 5th estate IS a crisis - and not one where blogs, and citizen journalism can substitute for a full time, knowledgeable, attentive presence.
There is not, after all, a RedMassGroup or BlueMassGroup desk in the Press Room on the 4th floor of the State House. Maybe there should be.
Now what if instead of making a bad bet on Casinos, the legislature actually cut back on giveaways?
Did you know 50% of potential state revenue is lost due to "giveaways, tax breaks for corporations, and grandfathered incentives"? Cleaning that up has real potential. The so-called "Tax Expenditure Budget", posted on the Department of Revenue's Website has some real whoppers. Here is where to eliminate the structural deficit. Not new taxes, but cut the cuts to "our" revenues that benefit special interests.
See Kaufman Cites Painful Cuts at Lexington Budget Forum. Kaufman stated that fully 50% of potential state revenues are lost due to these giveaways and loopholes. I heard him; I was there. This article details revenue the Commonwealth could have had, but gave away due to current and past lobbyist efforts and the effects on one town - Lexington. The article is noteworthy because it quotes Representative Kaufman, who is the Chairman of the Revenue Committee and who is heading a complete review of the the so called "Tax Expenditure Budget". The Tax Expenditure Budget is a list of all the giveaways and exemptions won by lobbyists over the last 40 years, some of them long forgotten but still bleeding the Commonwealth's budgetThe Tax Expenditure Budget lists all these giveaways, give backs, loop holes, and exemptions These Tax Expenditure Budget items are like permanent sap buckets tapping into state revenues forever.
Did you know that "we" give up 50% of the states potential revenue this way? Give it a look. which of these open arteries bleeding state revenue would you triage and close?
(Edited for "fair use" compliance. - promoted by DD4RP)
Congressman Mike Capuano, the unabashed progressive in the Democratic senate fight, has long been a Murtha ally. But by one's associates, one can learn much. Rep. Murtha, one of Congress's genuine hacks, operates under a cloud, in part because of his association with PMA, a lobbying firm. Capuano recently returned campaign donations he received through PMA.
Is this the kind of "insider" we want to send to the U.S. Senate to represent Massachusetts?
Ignoring the potential political liability for his US Senate race, Capuano made a brief appearance at a Boston fund-raising event for US Representative John Murtha, who has close ties to a lobbying firm under federal investigation for allegedly making illegal campaign contributions to the Pennsylvania Democrat and his colleagues in Congress.
Capuano, who works closely with Murtha in Congress, was the only member of the Massachusetts delegation to attend the event. The two are part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's inner circle. Murtha is known on Capitol Hill as one of the cardinals on the House Appropriation Committee, meaning he has the power to deliver federal funds to certain congressional districts.
Capuano, a six-term Democrat, recently returned $64,500 in donations he had raised through the Washington lobbying firm under investigation, PMA, which was founded by a former top Murtha staff member who remains close to the Pennsylvania lawmaker.
Capuano wants to send a message to all the players that he's loyal, a stand-up guy. In doing so, he's flicking voters in Massachusetts the middle finger.
Rep. Michael Capuano and former Rep. Marty Meehan are among those on a list of House members who allegedly sought earmarks in a Pentagon spending bill for clients of a controversial lobbying firm recently raided by the feds.
The FBI is reportedly probing campaign contributions involving the lobbying firm PMA Group, whose founder is a former House Appropriations Committee aide with ties to Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Committee.
According to Congressional Quarterly, PMA dished out about $1.8 million in campaign contributions since 2001 to more than 100 House lawmakers, some of whom secured spending earmarks in a Pentagon spending bill for PMA's lobbying clients.
The list includes Capuano, a Somerville Democrat, and Meehan, the former Lowell House member who left Congress two years ago to become head of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Once again, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are running a bill through Congress without giving members adequate time to review the legislation. But, fear not, for they have sent copies to lobbying firms on K Street. According to US News, congressional staffers are frustrated that they have not had access to the bill:
We’re receiving E-mails from Capitol Hill staffers expressing frustration that they can’t get a copy of the stimulus bill agreed to last night at a price of $789 billion.
What’s more, staffers are complaining about who does have a copy: K Street lobbyists. E-mails one key Democratic staffer: “K Street has the bill, or chunks of it, already, and the congressional offices don’t.
So, the Hill is getting calls from the press (because it’s leaking out) asking us to confirm or talk about what we know—but we can’t do that because we haven’t seen the bill. Anyway, peeps up here are sort of a combo of confused and like, ‘Is this really happening?’”
So, Mr. President, there is no room for lobbyists in your administration? I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "is", is.
Barney "he's so smart" Frank: Uncovered Lies On Fanny and Freddie.
The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disastrous scenarios. And even if there were a problem, the Federal Government doesn't bail them out.- Barney Frank, 2003
Deval Patrick Hypocrisy: Lobbyist Pay-to-Play Operation
Gov. Deval Patrick, touting his efforts to scrub state agencies clean of lobbyists, has no problem raking in thousands in campaign cash from those same special-interest groups - many of whom have business before his Corner Office.
Patrick tucked into his budget a provision banning state agencies from using lobbyists, while pocketing nearly $700,000 last year, mostly from Bay State power players, one of whose clients won a $400,000 state contract in January.
Sorry Punxsutawney Phil and your six-more-weeks-of-winter prediction, but if you live in New England and are a fan of Red Sox, a sure sign of spring has arrived -- Truck Day!
Red Sox fans joined the team's mascot, Wally the Green Monster (pictured, right), as well as legend Johnny Pesky to bid a safe voyage to the moving truck that has transported the team's spring training gear from Fenway Park to Fort Myers, Fla. since 1998.
Richard Vitale, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi's friend and former accountant, paid off $7,500 in legal debts accumulated by DiMasi's in-laws at a time when Vitale was working for clients seeking to win contracts and influence legislation on Beacon Hill.
"On Wednesday morning, Paulson briefed chief executives with the Business Roundtable in a conference call.
``Our lobbyists have been getting that message, from leadership on both sides, that industry needs to make the case for this with legislators,'' said John Mechem, spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Business groups that had stayed on the sideline began getting into the game, urged on by a trio of K Street heavy- hitters: Josten at the Chamber, Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, and Business Roundtable President John Castellani."
Whatever happened to the "party of responsibility?"
You guys had control of three branches of government, and yet one thing I haven't seen is Republicans saying man, we REALLY screwed up. Instead--it's all Clinton's fault. Or something.
After 8 years.
And you throw the blame elsewhere.
The buck doesn't stop here, does it.
How can it be our fault? How can anything be our fault? We're the GOP! We're the VICTIMS!
Meanwhile, and there's this.
Imagine. A McCain advisor up to his neck in Fannie and Freddie's money.
Isn't this what you were so peeved at Obama for? (Actually, was for less).
One advisor is on thw banks' payroll. One is on the nation of Georgia's. Tell me--who, on the McCain campiagn , ISN'T a highly paid lobbyist?
what a joke.
I know, I know, "big john was a POW for 5 1.2 years, blah blah blah,so leave him alone."
One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years.
Mr. Davis's firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.
They said they did not recall Mr. Davis doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee composed of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the coming midterm congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis's his firm, Davis & Manafort, was kept on the payroll because of Mr. Davis's close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who was widely expected by 2006 to run again for the White House.
Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis & Manafort for the duration of the campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to share in its profits.
A Freddie Mac spokeswoman said the company would not comment. The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. McCain's campaign has been attacking l Senator Barack Obama, his Democratic rival, for his ties to former officials of the mortgage lenders, both of which have long histories of cultivating allies in the two parties to fend off efforts to restrict their activities. Mr. McCain has been running a television commercial suggesting that Mr. Obama takes advice on housing issues from Franklin D. Raines, a former chief executive of Fannie Mae, a contention flatly denied by Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign. Freddie Mac's roughly $500,000 in payments to Davis & Manafort began immediately after Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in late 2005 disbanded an advocacy coalition that they had set up and hired Mr. Davis to run, the people familiar with the arrangement said.
Between 2000 and the end of 2005, Mr. Davis had received nearly $2 million as president of the coalition, the Homeownership Alliance, which the companies created to help them oppose new regulations and protect their status as federally chartered companies with implicit government backing. That status let them borrow cheaply, helping to fuel rapid growth but also their increased purchases of the risky mortgage securities that were their downfall.
On Sunday, in an interview with CNBC and the New York Times, Mr. McCain responded to a question about Mr. Davis's role in the advocacy group by saying that his campaign manager "has had nothing to do with it since, and I'll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it."
Such assertions, along with McCain campaign television ads tying Mr. Obama to former Fannie Mae chiefs, have riled current and former officials of the two companies and provoked them to volunteer rebuttals of what they see as the McCain campaign's inaccuracy and hypocrisy. The two officials with direct knowledge of Freddie Mac's post-2005 contract with Mr. Davis spoke on condition of anonymity. One is a Democrat and the other a registered independent. Four other outside consultants, three Democrats and a Republican also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that it was widely known that Mr. Davis was being paid though his firm.
As president of the Homeownership Alliance, Mr. Davis got $30,000 to $35,000 a month. Mr. Davis, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have characterized the alliance as a coalition of many housing industry and consumer groups to promote homeownership, but numerous current and former officials at both companies say the two mortgage companies created and bankrolled the operation to combat efforts by competitors to rein in their business. They dissolved the group at the end of 2005 as part of cost-cutting in the wake of accounting scandals and, at Freddie Mac, a lobbying scandal that forced out its former top Republican lobbyist.
On Monday, the McCain campaign accused The New York Times of bias for reporting the payments to Mr. Davis from the mortgage giants. Mr. Davis said that had worked not for the two companies but for the advocacy group, which included other nonprofit organization as well.
Mark Buse, Mr. McCain's chief of staff for his Senate office, also is a Freddie Mac alumnus. He and his former lobbying employer, ML Strategies, registered to lobby for the company in July 2003, and received $460,000 before the association ended after 2004
Ehhh, what do you care. So long as the White People's Party--yes, I saw the Convention--maintains power....
Today's Eagan & Braude show featured an amusing inquiry -- Jim Braude asked the listeners to bet who would be gone first: Hillary Clinton or Sal DiMasi.
Braude is betting that DiMasi will resign the Speakership before Hillary quits the Presidential race.
I love Jim Braude.
Of course, yesterday DiMasi went public to express his indignation that anyone would question his integrity, reiterating his dubious insistence that his personal accountant, former campaign treasurer and current private banker never once mentioned to him that he was being paid by the ticket resellers to influence legislation on scalping.
His timing could have been better -- With Vitale having registered as a lobbyist with Galvin's office for 2008 only, and even then claiming he was doing so for no good reason other than to get Galvin off his back (because, he insisted, he never was a lobbyist!), his claim might have maintained a gossamer-thin patina of plausibility.
But alas, the ticket brokers group didn't get the Dummy Up Memo. They filed with Galvin too -- only they registered for 2007 too, which suggests that someone among them recognized that even if Vitale didn't actually do what he was paid to do, they were at least paying him thinking that he was.
Now Sal's protestations may indeed be entirely true. It's possible that his friend/accountant/treasurer/banker did indeed keep him completely in the dark about whatever it was he was being paid not to do. And it is possible that the friend/accountant/treasurer/banker registered as a lobbyist for 2008 when in fact he has not and will not be a lobbyist. And it's possible that his disillusioned clients registered as having employed this non-lobbyist lobbyist (without disclosing, as required, the extent of the payment)just to cover their collective stubs.
But there's really only one way to vindicate DiMasi's integrity.
Start sprinkling subpoenas, put people under oath, and see what they say.
There is an interesting detail behind this brewing scandal over the ticket scalping legislative shenanigans.
First, let us all agree that one of the forces driving the effort to reform the anti-scalping law was that the individual fan was being victimized by both the scalpers and the law. Need a ticket, bend over. Got an extra ticket, either bend over or go to jail. The general consensus was that the average customer ought to be able to sell his extra ticket on the street to make himself whole, and not risk arrest. On that I think all parties agreed.
First it was the software deal for his pal's client.
Then it was the behind-the-scene casino arm-twisting.
Now it's his personal accountant and lender working as an unregistered agent for ticket brokers to get legislation passed in the House that allows ticket resellers to charge any price they can. The story is almost beyond belief.
Let's take a look at two sides and see how they might match up.
(Kaufman is well known in Mass GOP Circles, and has used his political influence to both help the GOP and his lobbying business. Interesting that him playing both sides of the governmental fence (electing officials and lobbying them) has become an issue in itself. - promoted by Cool Cal)
Mitt Romney was badgered by a reporter asking questions about Ron Kaufman. As Romney was appearing in a Staples office supply store in SC he commented that his campaign is not run or beholden by lobbyists. At that point a reporter questioned him about Ron Kaufman, who has been a long time advisor to Romney and is the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Dutko Worldwide, a lobbying firm. Romney blew his top and the two traded words for minutes.
When the exchange was done, Eric Fehrnstrom (traveling Press Secretary) told the reporter he "was out of line" and told him "not to be argumentative with the candidate".
God Almighty - it sounds just like Hillary Clinton's campaign....
Let the Republican & Democrat activists beat each other up, right? "Together We Can" takes on a whole new meaning now. There's no such thing as partisan politics when you're one of the beautiful people.