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Wake Up Call

This guy wasn't much into politics until he started to look into the corrosive influence of money on elections and government. Then he cashed in his savings and made a documentary, Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington, about the dirty underbelly of campaign finance. Check out the site for a preview of the film, background, and clips.

There Goes The Neighborhood

Well, here's one way to keep the Washington, DC housing market booming: lobbyists are buying up Capitol Hill townhouses left and right to maintain quick and easy access to Congress and, most importantly, host nightly fundraisers.

Writes Jeff Birnbaum at the Washington Post:


I pledge allegiance to...

whoever's in power?


Roll Call reports today on the unsurprising fact that industries that had given most of their donations to Republicans are starting to switch sides and cozy up with the Democrats. Donations are how these folks buy access and influence and they can do that best with the party in power.


Going Halfway

The Politico raises an eyebrow at presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards' claims to not take contributions from federal lobbyists, asking how far this prohibition extends -- just to lobbyists? To employees of lobbying firms? The whole article really illustrates the futility of hairsplitting when it comes to talking about money's influence on elections: either we get big money out or we don't. Anything else feels equivocal.

Less Than Impressed

Democrats are getting pretty well eviscerated for the watered down lobbying and disclosure bills they're pushing in Congress. Next in line with scalpels are The Politico and The Philadelphia Inquirer both wondering what it takes to break the gridlock and get a strong bill through.

Stalled, But Not Forgotten

Well it seems the initial wind has gone out the sails of the lobbying reforms Democratic leaders in Congress pledged to pass after the mid-term elections. Different versions of the bills in the House and Senate to regulate lobbying activity and promote greater transparency have yet to be reconciled and at the center of the debate is that sneaky arrow in the quiver of big money: bundling.


Outside and Inside Chances

The Politico delves into Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign finance disclosures and comes up with a list of bundlers from the business sector and the lobbying sector. Though positioned as an outsider to Washington politics, Romney appears to have made fast friends with some of K Street's big names.


Truth in Lobbying

This Hartford Courant article on the (ever) acclerated pace of fundraising by members of Congress looking to keep their jobs features several moments of candor from lobbyists who acknowledge the important role campaign contributions play in facilitiating their work.


Tough Spot

Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged he wouldn't take money from federal lobbyists in his bid for the White House, a promise that puts him in a tough spot: just who qualifies as a lobbyist, and what qualifies as lobbyist money? Moreover, with the fundraising wars just beginning, how do you mount a serious campaign for the Presidency while promising to change the system?


Quacks Like a Duck

If he looks like a lobbyist, and talks like a lobbyist, and acts like a lobbyist, but doesn't call himself a lobbyist on campaign finance disclosure reports...then presidential candidates can take his money without having to look like they're taking lobbyist cash, right? The Hill exposes the K Street equivalent of your mother writing "from Santa" on your Christmas presents.