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The AP reports, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has fulfilled a unique campaign promise. At end of each day, his office posts a schedule of what he did and with whom he met.
Constituents can see how much time he is in the gym or who is joining him for lunch. For instance, at 2:15pm on January 30, 2007, he met with with Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post for an interview.
Such transparency is a remarkable step forward for government accountability and helps put pressure on other senators to open up about how they spend their time. They are, after all, our public servants and unless they have something to hide, they ought to follow his lead.
Wondering why your senator doesn't do the same? Why not ask?
Click here to find your Senators' phone number, or call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Let us know what you hear by commenting to this blog below.
Alaskans voted to unseat two-term incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) in the Republican primary yesterday, according to the Washington Post. Murkowski came in third, with under 20 percent. Alaskans have been critical of many of the governor's decisions, including his appointment of his daughter Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to the U.S. Senate and his purchase of a state jet after the state Legislature and the federal government denied his request.
In the News:
Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is not the only senator up for re-election who has been accused of making racist comments. The Washington Post reports that Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) has repeatedly joked about the immigration status of the Latinos who work on his house. Burns is also taking a lot of heat for his connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who steered more than $130,000 in campaign contributions to Burns. And Republican Wisconsin candidate for the House, Paul R. Nelson, called for racial profiling at airports. When asked how one would identify Muslims, he said "Well, you know, if he comes in wearing a turban and his name is Muhammad, that's a good start."
The New York Times writes that while the Democrats are taking a step in the right direction by placing the more diverse states of Nevada and South Carolina in the front of the presidential primary season, along with the traditional states of Iowa and New Hampshire, more work needs to be done. With a front-loaded, fast-paced primary season, voters who do not live in one of the earlier states are ignored by many of the candidates, the Times argued.
Sen. Conrad Burns just can’t seem to get his reform act together.
You’d think the guy who took more money from clients of felon-lobbyist Jack Abramoff than any other member of Congress would be a little bit circumspect about consorting with lobbyists, but apparently not. Because, to celebrate his 71st birthday, the Montanan has agreed to allow himself to be feted at a fundraiser sponsored by – you guessed it – a D.C. lobbying firm!
Call us wild-eyed idealists, but in the midst of the largest congressional corruption scandal in decades, we believe this kind of behavior just doesn't cut it any more. So Public Citizen is challenging the senator to live up to some of his own expressed reform ideas. We are further calling on him to move beyond those modest proposals, and recognize that his birthday fundraiser highlights some of the most deeply entrenched problems that have brought on the current lobbyist corruption scandal.
In particular, we are calling upon Burns to honor the spirit of the lobbyist reform legislation he himself has sponsored, by promptly disclosing the amount collected at the fundraiser and how much is being contributed by individual lobbyists, as well as disclosing which of the lobbyists attending have come through the “revolving door” between government and lobbying firms. The firm sponsoring the event, Cassidy & Associates, has been the top pure lobbying firm in D.C. for three years running. And it has made its business by exploiting revolving door connections to the hilt: 48 of its 49 current lobbyists once held jobs in the federal government, including folks like Gregg Hartley, a former top aide to Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt of
We are also calling upon Burns to limit the amount of money he accepts from lobbyists – this is one of the key reforms demanded by the new ethics coalition here in
(We also encourage any Montanans reading this blog to contact Sen. Burns at 202-224-2644, and let him know he needs to clean up his act!)
Burns is also getting bashed back home, as
As it turns out, Burns met with a Marianas official, who was working closely with Abramoff, in the weeks before Burns received an Abramoff-related $5,000 contribution -after which, Burns reversed himself on a bill to vote with Abramoff clients who wanted to defeat the legislation. (And talk about peeling back layers of the onion: The Los Angeles Times has reported that the Marianas official in question, who is now cooperating with federal prosecutors in the corruption probe, won his bid for speaker of the Marianas House with the help of Abramoff's lobbying partner, Michael Scanlon, who has himself pled guilty to charges of bribery.)
In any event, Burns claims that his shifting votes had nothing to do with the money he received through Abramoff’s clients.
Just to be clear, as of this moment Burns has not been charged with a crime in the corruption probe. And we are not claiming to know that Burns sold his vote on the
But for goodness sake, Senator, people are entitled to draw a few conclusions without benefit of a criminal conviction. Someday a jury may get a chance to render its opinion, but for now, in the court of public opinion, if it walks like a duck and looks like a duck….