Posts Tagged ‘Earmarks’
Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Vbhotla
In one of Howard Marlowe’s first acts as president of the American League of Lobbyists, he decried President Obama’s State of the Union remarks as being “inflammatory,” saying “The President’s State of the Union remarks were especially disheartening, because they were made in a speech that was focused on unifying, not dividing our nation.”
Obama has been notably harsh on lobbyists in his speeches, beginning even with the primary campaign leading up to the 2008 election. Despite these remarks, there have been multiple reports that he has consulted lobbyists on several matters, including the budget proposal on which he is currently working. Marlowe mentioned the president’s not-so-quiet history of working with lobbyists, saying “The Administration often reaches out to representatives of industries, labor unions, and other ‘special interests’ to get their advice.”
He goes on to retort that professional lobbyists provide an invaluable service to citizens, legislators and regulators in addition to the clients they represent. Marlowe also argues, in what seems to be in response to Obama’s assertion that “lobbyists have rigged the tax code,” that “When members of Congress weigh the information provided by professional lobbyists, it is they and not lobbyists who have the votes to decide what is in the best interests of their constituents and the nation.”
Marlowe called on Congress to not cede the authority to review, examine and adjust the budget proposals that are submitted by the executive branch. He states, “ALL is opposed to any action that limits elected officials from fully representing their constituents,” which he contends earmarks help them to do. Read Marlowe’s full statement on the League’s facebook page.
Tags: American League of Lobbyists, Earmarks, howard marlowe, Obama and lobbyists, SOTU, state of the union, state of the union address
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on American League of Lobbyists reacts to State of the Union address
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 by Vbhotla
In last night’s State of the Union address, anti-lobbying rhetoric was relatively low. Sure, there was the jab that “a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code,” and the statement that constituents “deserve to know when [their] elected officials are meeting with lobbyists,”but all in all, no real lobbying talk. And really, it’s not a bad thing for citizens to know that lobbyists are working on their behalf to make concerns known in Congress.
One thing that many in the profession could have anticipated, but were probably still less than thrilled to hear was President Obama’s decree that “If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” This idea is not unique to the president; there has been talk of a ban on earmarks all through the most recent campaign cycle. And while there is currently no ban on earmarks in either the House or the Senate rules, it is worth noting that the Republican Conference rules do ban them.
This was a great departure from the emphasis on special interest groups the president put on last year’s address, and lobbyists should be cautiously optimistic about what this means for opportunities for them to effectively do their jobs. If there’s one thing that lobbyists can learn from President Obama, it’s his ability to organize and effectively carry out a grassroots campaign. Prior to the primaries leading up to the 2008 election, many people did not even know who he was. It was his ability to organize and rally people behind him that launched him into the public spotlight and then the White House.
What does this mean for you? In this no-earmarks climate, one of the most effective lobbying tactics will be grassroots and grasstops efforts. In a session Monday before over 60 attendees, Dom Ruscio, of Cavarocchi, Ruscio, Dennis & Associates, LLC, and the Podesta Group’s John Scofield emphasized this point as being one of the best ways to lobby the budget and appropriations process, and indeed it is universally true.
A new study by the Partnership for a More Perfect Union and the Congressional Management Foundation indicated that the number one way to sway a Congressperson’s mind on an issue if (s)he has not already taken a firm position is in-person constituent visits. Take the opportunity to organize lobby days with key constituents set to appear. (Be careful to limit the visits to five people per visit, in consideration of space limitations within Congressional offices.) Go often and make the message clear. Because despite the talk, lobbying is not dead in this Administration nor in this Congress. It may just simply need to embrace one of the key themes in Obama’s speech last night: reinvention.
Tags: Earmarks, earmarks ban, President Obama, SOTU, state of the union, state of the union address
Posted in From the Eyes of the Editors | Comments Off on SOTU aftermath: lobbying is not dead
Friday, January 14th, 2011 by Vbhotla
There has been a lot of discussion of “changing Washington” in the months leading up to the transition from 111th to 112th Congress. Obviously, some of that was simply rhetoric, and some of it will be pursued with vigor (at least in the first session; enthusiasm may die down once the freshman class realizes some of the proposed changes will get in the way of effectively doing their jobs, just as high school and college freshmen realize by the second semester that things will not go exactly as anticipated).
Earmarks – You should know that the ban on earmarks is not in the House nor Senate rules. It is, however, in the Republican Conference rules (which point to the House rules for guidance on defining earmarks). As the definition of earmarks and what will and won’t be permissible is worked out, it is safe to assume if it was considered an earmark within the last five years, it will be considered an earmark moving forward.
However, experts argue that the current talk of an outright ban doesn’t make policy sense and will eventually reveal itself as allowing too much to the discretion of the Executive Branch. New members of the House, in particular, are expected to tone down the rhetoric once they realize an all-out earmark ban would tie their own hands.
Transparency – Electronic texts have newly been added to the House rules regarding accessibility of legislation to the American people. Though Congress has traditionally been concerned with the security implications of making legislation accessible online, this is expected to be the new standard as electronic media becomes more and more prevalent in society.
“Budget Czar” – Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will have the power to unilaterally set policies regarding certain budgetary decisions, including the spending aggregate. He may also decide to sub-allocate funds to advance the conservative agenda.
Tags: 112th Congress, budget czar, Earmarks, electronic bills, electronic text, paul ryan, Transparency
Posted in Congress Views, Earmarks | Comments Off on Important to Note in the 112th
Friday, August 6th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The amendment to the Lobbying Disclosure Act catches the eyes of the fine folks over at OMB Watch. “Bill Would Create a Task Force for Enforcing the LDA.”
PMA Group President Paul Magliocchetti was indicted on 11 counts in a federal court on Thursday. According to Politico’s report on the indictment, Magliocchetti “sought to enrich both PMA and himself by increasing the firm’s influence, power and prestige — both among the firm’s base of current and potential clients as well as among the elected public officials to whom PMA and its lobbyists sought access.” A good round-up of stories on the charges is at Political Activity Law. The Department of Justice’s press release is here, “Lobbyist Indicted for Orchestrating Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme.” Look for our story on the PMA Group in our free bi-weekly regulatory alert email, the Government Relations Alert, on Monday.
This spring’s Republican moratorium on earmarks leads to … wait for it … less earmarks! From The Hill,
“Self-imposed Republican moratorium leads to drop in 2011 earmark spending.”
Rep. Waters wants in on the ethics trial thing too! Well, more accurately, she at least wants her name cleared before November’s elections. Politico’s latest story is here, “Waters asks for release of allegations.”
State & Federal Communications’ Compliance Now newsletter is now available. State & Fed has also started an excellent blog, “Lobby Comply.”
Other political law and campaign finance newsletter updates:
Womble Carlyle’s Political GPS
Holtzman Vogel’s Political Law Update
Quote of the Week:
“The [anti-special interest] rhetoric is BS… Every time the president talks about it, we get a client.” – unnamed “lobbyist,” Roll Call, 8/1/2010
Tags: Earmarks, Holtzman Vogel, LDA amendments, OMB Watch, Paul Magliocchetti, pma group, Rep. Maxine Waters, State and Federal Communications, Womble Carlyle
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up
Friday, July 30th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The Congressional Cigar Association got some (probably) unwanted attention from the Huffington Postlast week.
Former Bush White House Spokesman Dana Perino has joined a lobbying firm. Perino is listed on the lobbying disclosure form for Hamilton Place Strategies. She’s listed on the form for Mina Corporation, which, according to their form, is interested in “Congressional Investigation” and “Department of Defense Contracts.” Although, also according to their form, the firm is making less than $5,000 on the contract.
Roll Call reports on ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring, and the impact of his trial on the future of Honest Services suits. (Roll Call subscription required).
Ethics (or lack thereof) update: Rep. Charles Rangel has been charged with 13 counts of violations against the House ethics rules. Read about it at Roll Call, or read the statement from the Ethics Committee here. (PDF)
DISCLOSE fails in the Senate. Will Harry Reid bring it up again after the August recess? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you can get your fix of stories on the final cloture vote here at Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog.
Politico reports on Sen. Richard Shelby’s earmark policy, and staffer connection to those earmarks.
The American League of Lobbyists and the Sunlight Foundation are teaming up to lobby on getting the 20% threshold lowered. OMB Watch blog notes the development, and it’s referenced in this Politico story, “Lobbyists call bluff on ‘Daschle exemption.'”
Quote(s) of the Week:
A little legal humor for you: “While the statute does not speak of business before a particular committee (as opposed to the House generally), it bears noting that the one committee that touches everyone is the Ways and Means Committee. There being no committee on death, the only other certain thing in life is covered within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee.” – Ethics Committee on the accusations regarding Charlie Rangel, 7/29/2010
Tom Daschle, you’re ruining it for everyone: “You don’t know what they’re doing, and they have an incredible amount of power and access that no average American would ever have and that no average American can find out about either. It’s a double whammy.” – Dave Levinthal, Center for Responsive Politics, on lobbyists who aren’t registered, Politico, 7/26/2010
And this is why the public does not trust lobbyists: “One corporate lobbyist who worked as a regulator, asked whether he believed he had an inside edge in lobbying his ex-colleagues, said: ‘The answer is yes, it does. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to justify getting out of bed in the morning and charging the outrageous fees that we charge our clients, which they willingly pay.’ … The lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about alienating government officials, added that “you have to work at an agency to understand the culture and the pressure points, and it helps to know the senior staff.” – New York Times, 7/27/2010
Tags: American League of Lobbyists, Congressional Cigar Association, corporate lobbying, CRP, Dana Perino, Dave Levinthal, DISCLOSE Act, Earmarks, Hamilton Place Strategies, honest services, Kevin Ring, Sen. Richard Shelby, Tom Daschle
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up
Monday, June 7th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The Office of Congressional Ethics turned over its files relating to an ongoing investigation of the PMA Group, a now-closed earmarks lobbying firm. The OCE’s investigation generated more than 250,000 pages of documents. The Hill reports that the OCE’s turnover of data may indicate that its findings uncovered illegal activity in the course of its investigation.
The firm was under a cloud after allegations of earmark fraud and pay-for-play activity among the clients of PMA and certain members of the House Appropriations Committee, and closed its doors in 2009.
Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) requested that the OCE release to the public evidence collected in its investigation of PMA, but the OCE refused to grant the request, citing the “circumstances of this case and the risk of prejudice to any pending criminal investigation, among other concerns.” The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics Committee) had been investigating seven Representatives in connection with the affair, but cleared them all in February.
Washington Post reports that the main point seized on by the investigators regarded providing campaign funds to lawmakers – “In one e-mail exchange, a McLean defense contractor seeking an earmark complained that he didn’t want to go to a wine-tasting fundraiser hosted by PMA for Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) because he didn’t drink. His boss responded: ‘You don’t have to drink. You just have to pay.'”
The Hill article is here, and the Washington Post article is here.
Tags: Earmarks, ethics committee, jim moran, pma group
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Lobbying Firm Files Sent to DOJ