July 6, 2012

Virginia Democratic Party Chair, Subject of Our Reporting, Ends His Job As For-Profit College Lobbyist

In May, Republic Report approached Virginia Democratic Party chairman Brian Moran and asked him if there was a conflict of interest between his role in the party — advancing the goals of President Barack Obama — and his job as a for-profit college lobbyist for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), which has specialized in battling Obama’s attempts to hold the industry accountable to students and taxpayers.

He blew us off, saying that our reporting was “totally unfair” and that there was “absolutely not” any conflict between being chair of the Democratic Party and being a corporate …

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July 5, 2012
Rep. Don Parsons (R). He may be smiling because lobbyists keep buying him great free dinners.

Georgia Lawmaker Calls Lobbying Gift Cap Silly, But Gets Hundreds Of Dollars In Meals From Lobbyists

Momentum continues to grow in the state of Georgia, as both tea partiers and progressives are pushing hard to enact a lobbyist gift cap that would cap lobbyist gifts to lawmakers at $100.

Recently, Rep. Don Parsons (R) called the cap “silly,” and refused to sign on to a pledge to push for such a reform. Parsons has good reason to find this reform silly — it would cut off a major gravy train for him.

According to records released by the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Parsons has received hundreds of dollars in …

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July 3, 2012

On Independence Day, Remember That The Founding Fathers Revolted Against Big Money

Tomorrow is Independence Day, the holiday where Americans celebrate declaring independence from the British Empire. And the joy of hot dogs and fireworks.

But Independence Day shouldn’t just be a day where we’re all glad we drive on the right side of the road and perplexingly still don’t use the metric system. It’s also a holiday where we should reflect on the roots of the American idea that the Founding Fathers fought for.

For example, everyone knows that the Founders revolted against their British rulers to make America an independent country, and that one of the starting points for this revolution was …

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June 26, 2012

Northrop Grumman Lobbyist On Staff With Armed Services Committee Also Owns Stock In His Former Firm

Republic Report has broken a series of stories this month showing that a surprising number of high level congressional staffers either maintain a financial relationship with a lobbying firm, or were paid six-figure bonuses by lobbying firms shortly before becoming staffers last year. We’ve reported on Senator Marco Rubio’s chief of staff, Speaker John Boehner’s policy director, and Thomas MacKenzie, a former Northrop Grumman lobbyist who was paid nearly $500,000 in bonus pay just before being tapped by the House Armed Services Committee as a senior staff member.

As other media outlets take interest in the story, it …

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June 22, 2012
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) wants to clamp down on U.S. government officials lobbying for foreign governments.

Foreign Lobbying Ban Advances In The House Of Representatives

Earlier this year, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) introduced the Foreign Lobbying Reform Act, which would prohibit federal government officials such as Members of Congress from lobbying for foreign governments until ten years after they have left office.  “I am very serious about this,” said Wolf at the time. “It is not put in for just discussion purposes.”

Wolf has made good on his words as yesterday the ban was inserted into the markup of a 2013 Financial Services spending bill in the House of Representatives. “For those who hold such prominent positions in government service, we must set a high …

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June 21, 2012
Stephen Colbert outside of the FEC

As More Political Money Becomes Secret, Which Agency Will Step Up To Enforce Disclosure?

An OpenSecrets investigation revealed that non-profits, which don’t have to disclose their donors, have become the real heavyweights in the 2012 election cycle, outspending their Super-PAC counterparts 3 to 2 on political expenditures. Ninety percent of these shadowy groups never reveal their donors.

The Obama administration has made positive steps towards calling for disclosure of secretive nonprofits that are now spending incredible amounts on political ads. Of course, much more could be done. The Obama administration has allowed a significant executive order, which would clean up much of the mess, to languish without action.

An alphabet soup of regulators are …

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June 21, 2012
Former Senators Blanche Lincoln and Evan Bayh now work in the lobbying business.

The Senate Ethics Rules Are A Joke, And Here’s One Reason Why

Can Congress effectively police itself and stop corruption? We visited the Senate Ethics Office, and found a pretty blatant example of how lawmakers exploit a loophole in a rule designed ostensibly to stop revolving door bribery.

In 2007, in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, in which it became obvious that many lawmakers and staff sold favors in exchange for high paying jobs on K Street, Congress passed sweeping ethics rules. Republic Report has detailed how this revolving dynamic still exists, with many members of Congress doling out benefits to specific companies, only to take jobs at those same …

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June 14, 2012

Obama’s Second Term Agenda: Why Not Focus On Campaign Finance Reform?

Ryan Lizza’s much buzzed about recent piece in The New Yorker investigates what Barack Obama might focus on in a second term. Obama could focus on immigration reform, on clean energy and the environment, on shoring up healthcare reform to future attacks from Republicans, on foreign policy. These are all issues that candidate Obama promised to work on in the 2008 election.

But Lizza’s article doesn’t mention another one of Obama’s big 2008 promises. Here he is in 2008, promising to work on getting big money out of politics:

Let me be clear — this isn’t just about ending the …

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