Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a former mayor who was, when he was elected in 1077 at the age of 31 to lead Cleveland, the youngest person ever elected to lead a major city, is now in his 8th Congressional term. In addition to Viagra his service on the Education and Workforce Committee and the Subcommittees on Health Employment Labor and Pensions, Workforce Protections, and Regulatory Affairs Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Kucinich is also, as it turns out, a ventriloquist.
It’s a great time of year: the NBA and NHL are both officially in playoff season! And while Washington basketball aficionados may have little to cheer for (let’s be honest, Wizards fans are used to it), Caps fans can revel in the fact that despite the game one loss, the 2nd Seed Capitals may have a legitimate chance at the Stanley Cup (assuming they can get it together and make it out of the first round).
Previous Lobby Blog posts have portrayed certain members of Congress as big sports fans. But if you’re hoping to cozy up to hockey fans Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)—who is often touted the biggest hockey fan in Congress, Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Pat Meehan (D-Penn.), or basketball guys House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Reps. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), you may want to re-visit the gift rules.
Except Braley, each of these Congressmen has a home state team in either the NBA Playoffs, the NHL Playoffs, or both (while Maryland doesn’t have a hockey team, the Caps’ broadcast ratings in Maryland, and the number of Maryland fans is high for the neighboring district team, so we’ll let Hoyer slide by claiming Caps fan constituency).
It is okay to give the following gifts to any of these Congressmen (or others) without fear of reproach:
- A baseball cap with the logo of the Congressman’s favorite team – a baseball cap is considered of nominal value, and is therefore an acceptable gift. T-shirts are also acceptable, even if the actual value of the t-shirt or baseball cap exceeds $10, these items are considered “gifts under $10.”
- “2011 Championship season” commemorative team books – books, publications, and software are permitted as long as they are sent to the Member’s office, do not require specialized reporting service, and are not sent for the Member’s unrestricted use. The Member should display the book in the office. These are not permissible under the home state exemption, unless the books are produced within the Member’s state (not likely).
Obviously, if there is a history of personal friendship around being lifelong Chicago Bulls fans, gifts are unrestricted under the personal friendship exemption, as long as the cost of the gift is not reimbursed by the employer.
We would steer clear of giving tickets to any games to Members or spouses, unless the personal friendship or Relative exemptions apply.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joins the ranks of the many Federal employees this morning thrilled over the averted government shutdown. Chamber president Thomas Donohue said the shutdown would have been “a pain in the neck” and would have stalled the already-reeling economy.
Donohue and his colleagues remain concerned about discussions around the debt ceiling, which the chamber argues must be raised to prevent stalled recovery hgh legal substitute and promote further economic growth. Chamber officials are among the scores of lobbyists for whom business may have improved with news of the pending shutdown. The National Treasury Employees Union, for example, was busy trying to guarantee retroactive pay for any employees furloughed, and many other groups were busy pleading the case for funding, as budget slashing continued in the process to negotiate a continuing resolution.
President Obama will have the opportunity to significantly skew the FEC when, at the end of this month, five of the six FEC commissioners’ terms will expire, but there is speculation that these posts will not be easily filled.
At this time, there are no nominations before the Senate for either the three commissioners whose terms have already expired or the two whose terms end at the end of the month, much to the chagrin of campaign finance reform advocates. Â The FEC has still yet to write policies to enforce the rulings from last spring’sÂ Citizens United decision, which could significantly impact the re-election campaigns and fundraising efforts of congressional leadership and the president himself.
As March Madness winds down and we are left with only four teams standing, we took a look at Roll Call‘s “Men’s March Madness in the House” bracket, which matches each school in the tournament with its House representative, to see which Congressmen (and issues) are coming out on top.
Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) fought his way out of the East. Not only is Chandler the representative for the University of Kentucky’s district, he also obtained his B.A. and J.D. from the school (in 1983 and 1986, respectively). Positioned on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, he is perched to address his concerns over national security and the fight against terrorism and reducing forces in Iraq and increasing economic development to maintain stability in Afghanistan. He will also influence further U.S. action in Libya and throughout the ever-crumbling middle East. The fourth term representative of Kentucky’s sixth district will be paired with….
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) in the playoff game to decide who will advance to the title game. Though Kentucky is a two-point favorite over U-Conn to win Saturday, Courtney, who graduated from the university’s law school in 1978, may not be ready to concede victory after only three congressional terms. Expect a tough fight from the school whose representative has been a strong advocate for healthcare, veterans, and small businesses.
In a time that is equally troubled by foreign conflict and a domestic economy that we desperately want to peg as recovering, it will be interesting to see which represented issue, er school, advances to the next round (of priority).
The two underdogs in the competition, VCU semenax in australia and Butler, are represented by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.). Scott, now in his 10th term, is a strong proponent of education and youth programs. He is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and sits on the Subcommittee on the Constitution (both under the Committee of the Judiciary), and is a member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. Education issues have been pushed out of the forefront of most conversations recently, apparent only in President Obama’s discussion of the budget (particularly, his desire to increase education funding while appropriators continue to push for cuts across the board, including to education spending).
Just as Scott’s legislative agenda is the underdog on the congressional slate, so is the school he represents, with Butler afforded a 2.5 point advantage on the books. However, expect a fight out of VCU (and Scott) as they prepare to go up against Butler, who has won each of its tournament games with a close margin. Butler has been great at rallying from behind (see Southeast regionals), and pulling out the win in the end. Carson, whose committee assignments are all related to financial matters — with seats on the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprise and the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade — will face a similar come-from-behind fight in Congress as he battles against budget-slashing zealots in the House. Even if he beats out Scott to advance to the title game, he (like Butler) is not favored to win a toe-to-toe stand down against House Republicans.
But you never know. That is, after all, the beauty of March Madness.
Absent intervention into campaign finance reform by the judicial branch, those hoping to put limits on what has been referred to as a”floodgate” of campaign funding made possible by last year’s Citizens United ruling have sought help from the Federal Communications Commission.
Media Access Project senior vice president and policy director Andrew Schwartzman argued last week that the FCC has long had the power to require political groups to disclose donors when running political ads. In a petition filed March 22, he calls on the agency “to amend and strengthen its rules to require on-air identification of persons paying” ’25% or more of the cost of an ad, according to the organization’s official press release.
Schwartzman said, “The FCC has repeatedly said that members of the public are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded, and it has stressed that this is especially important in the case of political messages. This petition simply seeks to update the FCC’s rules to fulfill its Congressional mandate.”
The petition points out what it believes to be “a fundamental policy…that ‘listeners are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded.”
This effort by the Media Access Project is the latest attempt by campaign finance reformers seeking to narrow the reach of theCitizens United decision. Several attempts have been made to urge the Supreme Court to re-define the judgement’s implications, but the Court has declined to hear these appeals.
The USOC will pair up with the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus today at 1pm to host a free-throw contest in room 2226 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The contest, which was scheduled to coincide with the beginning of March Madness, will raise awareness about US Olympic Committee programs and their impact on Team USA’s success.
Joining Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus founders and co-chairs Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) will be several Olympic and Paralympic champions.
Olympic gold winners Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track & field), Christian Laettner (men’s basketball), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Shawn Johnson (women’s gymnastics), Teresa Edward (women’s basketball), and Andy Yohe live sex free web cam (sled hockey) will join the Congressmen and staffers on the court. Paralympic track and field athletes April Holmes (gold), Marlon Shirley (gold), Lex Gillette (silver) and Carlos Leon (wounded veteran) will also participate, along with fellow paralympians William “Spanky” Gibson (USOC Paralympic Military Program Athlete), and Alana Nichols, who has won gold medals in skiing and basketball.
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said via the event’s official press release, “Olympians and Paralympians are a special type of people, committed to ideas like excellence, friendship and respect. I encourage anyone able, to come test their skills against some of America’s greatest role models.”
There has been some speculation about which Congressman will win the competition, but insiders say Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) has the competition locked up.