August 9, 2012
Who did Pete Hoekstra influence peddle on behalf of? We may never know.

Who Did Pete Hoekstra Lobby For? We May Never Know

Last night, former congressman Pete Hoekstra won the Michigan GOP Senate primary, securing his spot as the party’s nominee. He will be competing the Senate seat this November.

In between his stint as a congressman and this current race, Hoekstra raked in nearly half a million dollars as “a senior adviser with Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a legal and lobbying firm.” In this role, Hoekstra all but certainly helped the firm’s corporate clients advance their government agendas. But because he spent less than twenty percent of his time on lobbying, he had no obligation to officially register as a lobbyist. Thus …

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August 8, 2012

Another Chamber of Commerce Member Is Caught Bribing Foreign Governments

In late 2010, the foreign-funded U.S. Chamber of Commerce, perhaps Washington’s most powerful corporate front group, unleashed a lobbying blitz to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA is designed to punish U.S.-based corporations that bribe foreign officials abroad.

Earlier this year, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart — which is a Chamber member —  in Mexico was caught bribing officials, funneling millions of dollars through that country. Now, another Chamber member, Pfizer, has been fined for its role in foreign bribery:

As promised, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Pfizer with violating …

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August 7, 2012
John Katzman wants to figure out how to make as much money off your kids' education as possible.

Education Profiteers Gather In New York To Cheer Privatization Of American Schools

Reuters has the scoop on an event that took place earlier this week where nearly a hundred education profiteers — ranging from executives at testing companies to private equity moguls eager to invest in education technology — met at a swanky Manhattan club to cheer on the privatization of the U.S. education system:

The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant Rob Lytle was happy to oblige. Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as …

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August 6, 2012
Jon Bumstead

Michigan Representative Introduces Prison Privatization Bill, Top Donor Is Private Prison Exec

In Michigan, State Rep. Jon Bumstead (R) introduced a bill that would send the state back down the path of prison privatization. House Bill 1574 would re-open a private youth prison that was operated by GEO Group (then Wackenhut) that was shut down in 2005 and allow it to house adult inmates. The bill would once again give GEO the right to operate the prison.

This proposal has faced fierce protests from civil liberties and civil rights groups, which note that the prison was one of the most expensive to operate in the state when it was previously operated …

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August 3, 2012
A path forward for stopping corporate influence in elections?

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Calls For Divestment From Corporations That Funnel Dark Money Into Politics

As the campaign against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has shown, sometimes the best way to tackle corporate influence in our politics is to name and shame corporations that are secretly financing front groups to manipulate our democracy. Dozens of corporations have left ALEC thanks to this tactic.

On a recent national call with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), leading campaign finance reformer Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) endorsed a version of this tactic to tackle dark money in our elections. He referenced the anti-Apartheid movement, which called for divestment from funds that supported South Africa, and suggested this …

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August 3, 2012
A portrait of Gore Vidal

What Gore Vidal Said About The Corrupting Influence Of Money In Our Politics

Earlier this week, celebrated author, playwright, and activist Gore Vidal passed away. “Mr Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right,” editorialized the New York Times upon his death.

In 2000, Vidal authored the foreword to Money and Politics, a Boston Review New Democracy Forum published in book form by Beacon Press. This is what the legendary author noted about the cost of elections at that time:

Some nuts and bolts. Of the billions now spent each election cycle, most is donated …

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August 1, 2012

Georgia Voters Of Both Parties Revolt Against Corruption

Imagine if lobbyists could give virtually anything they wanted to lawmakers, ranging from a gift basket of cookies to a Mercedes Benz.

This isn’t some dark fairy tale. In Georgia, it’s reality. Lobbyists can give virtually whatever gift they want to lawmakers.

But in recent month, a rowdy coalition of tea partiers and progressives have been campaigning to place a modest cap on these gifts that lobbyists can give to legislators — $100 value per gift.

Last night, in the statewide primary election, voters in both parties overwhelmingly approved of non-binding ballot questions approving of such a lobbyist gift cap. Here’s a

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August 1, 2012
Kaplan CEO Andrew S. Rosen

The Washington Post Won’t Tell Congress How Much Money Kaplan’s CEO Makes

Some Members of Congress are stepping up to increase oversight over the for-profit college industry, which is heavily subsidized by taxpayers but which continues to abuse our veterans and other students.

As a part of this effort, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sought to report about the salaries of top executives at these companies. Keep in mind that more than 86 percent of the funds for 30 major for-profit colleges studied by Congress come from taxpayers. So that means that these execs are essentially living large on the public dole.

One major company, Kaplan, which is owned by the Washington Post, refused …

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