campaign contributions

Convening at the Convention

All this week the media's critical eye will be trained on the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Barack Obama and his newly minted running mate Sen. Joe Biden as they make their case for the White House. Today that means a raft of stories dissecting the role that corporate money and the ever-present big donors play in this multi-day spectacle.

Conventional Practices

The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are nearly upon us, and in and amidst the rampant VP speculation and who-invited-who gossip it bears repeating that conventions are a major vehicle for corporations and lobbyists to pour cash into lavish parties for political VIPs. Campaign contributions may have a few limits on them, but when it comes to these schmooze-fests, the sky's the limit. Champagne waterfalls all around.

Sounding More Like a Spy Novel Every Day

The story of Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) conveniently timed contributions from the oil industry gets another rather odd chapter today, courtesy of this story in the Washington Post which details why the McCain campaign was forced to return $50,000 in contributions bundled by oil executive Harry Sergeant III.

The donors whose checks Sergeant bundled seemed like decidedly non-traditional donors:

 

McCain's Lobbyists

Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch project debuted a new website today. McCain's Lobbyists analyzes data from the Center for Responsive Politics to show the vast amount of money lobbyists and their clients have poured into McCain's campaign, and how donations from the clients of lobbyists tied to the McCain campaign have influenced policy. Click on a lobbyist to see how money goes both ways.

Report is Reported

There's more coverage on Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch report on the money Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has taken for his presidential campaign from the oil industry, and how it coincided with key policy statements on offshore oil drilling.

Talking Points Memo has covered the findings of the report, specifically the donations from the Hess Corporation and Hess family:

 

Pumped Full of Cash

The oil industry is reporting record profits as consumers empty their wallets at the pump, so why is Senator John McCain (R-AZ) suddenly backing policies like offshore oil drilling that do nothing to help gas prices today (or the environment tomorrow), but stand to make Big Oil a handsome profit down the road?

McConnell Hurts Miners

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao seem to be collaborating on blocking laws that would make work a little safer for coal miners. Depressing, but hardly surprising: McConnell is far and away the favorite Senator of the coal mining industry. They've given him over $100,000 in campaign contributions in the last year alone, nearly $20,000 more than any other Senator according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Tokens of Appreciation

The Washington Post is doing a series all this week on the oil situation: rising demand, rising prices, environmental concerns, the whole messy debacle. Right next to the first article in that series was this piece about some fishy timing around Sen. John McCain's (R) reversal on the offshore oil drilling ban, and an influx of campaign contributions from the oil industry.

Let's Take Those Indictments Off Your Hands

The Senate just passed the FISA bill, passed by the House last month that gives telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for their involvement in government wiretapping of their customers without a warrant. Why the eagerness in Congress to hand over a big "get out of jail free" card to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint?

Identifying the Threat

Breaking news: not all lobbyists are evil people. In related news, "lobbying" signifies so many different types of activities undertaken in pursuit of so many goals that to vilify or exonerate the whole profession is a useless enterprise. Instead, let's get after the real danger here: big campaign contributions from lobbyists (and their clients) that come in around about the same time key legislation is being debated and voted on. Lobbying isn't wrong, legalized bribery is.