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AIG: Will we Solve the Underlying Problem?

Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Change Congress, discusses the need to remove special interest money from congressional campaigns on The Huffington Post.

If it wasn't nailed down, it was for sale

On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article with the subhead, "Blagojevich's arrest may be the final straw that shatters Illinois' political culture of 'pay to play'."

But the solutions listed in the article don't go far enough. While campaign contribution limits might be a start, that doesn't get to the root of the problem. Under our current privately financed system, campaign cash has become the currency of our democracy.

Ad Up

In light of the Wall Street downturn, incessant bailout talk, and John McCain's decision to "suspend" his campaign and jump in to the bailout negotiations, Campaign Money Watch, a project of Public Campaign Action Fund, has a new ad that reminds Sen. McCain of own ethically wobbling history with the financial and real estate industries and asks the Senator to throw his weight behind Fair Elections legislation instead.

New Reform Venture

Stanford law professor and noted copyright law expert Lawrence Lessig launched his new venture today,, designed to track the position of members of Congress on key reform issues, and put them on the record in support of things like the Fair Elections Now Act, which would publicly finance congressional campaigns. Read more about his project here.

One Bad Egg Rots the Whole Pork Barrel

The push to eliminate earmark spending for a one year period failed spectacularly in the Senate yesterday, despite support from unlikely corners. Indeed stories of bribed legislators and Bridges to Nowhere weren't enough to dissuade Senators from the pork barrel spending that's the bread and butter of reelection. While the impetus behind the proposed moratorium was a good one, it's going at the problem the wrong way.

Signs of Progress

Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times writes on the need for reform in Congress that takes on the fundamental link between campaign contributions and legislation: full public financing, in the Clean Elections model, for congressional elections.


Outsourcing Oversight

Among the reforms being considered by the Democratic leaders of the incoming 110th Congress is an independent ethics oversight panel, an apparent acknowledgement that Congress is no longer able to police itself. Yet, despite this interest in investigating new ethical breaches no major overhaul is being considered that would mitigate existing conflicts of interest.


What Will Change?

Time magazine's Massimo Calabresi speculates on the potential lobbying reforms that may come about when Democrats take control of Congress in January. Balancing campaign promises to clean up Washington against a newly favorable environment on the K Street lobbying corridor, what changes will Democrats bring?


Systematic Reform

The New York Times ran this piece on Sunday suggesting that (surprise!) the earmarking issue is a birpartisan problem - despite the legacy of Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff and others, the soon-to-be Democrat-controlled Congress seems less than enthusiastic about shutting off the pipeline of pork.


Rotten at the Core

The Washington Post bids farewell to Rep. Bob Ney, and makes the excellent point that without substantive changes to the system that bred this corruption, one lawmaker's punishment is a band-aid on a gaping wound.