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We have rebuilt the Watchdog Blog to be smarter, stronger, and better looking.
The new blog covers all of Congress Watch's issues, has improved sydication options, and makes it easier to participate. Now it is the best place to get all of our updates and alerts. When ever Congress is practicing fishy ethics or the Bush Administration is impeding on our rights, this is where you can learn all about it and what steps to take to help stop it.
You can find it here: http://citizen.typepad.com/watchdog_blog/
There is a new film on the life and work of Ralph Nader -- An Unreasonable Man. I've seen it and can tell you that not only is it a compelling piece of history, it also is highly entertaining. As you probably know, this "Unreasonable Man" founded Public Citizen. While Nader is no longer involved in our operations, his work continues to inspire us.
But however inspirational, this film does not sugar-coat the Nader legacy - it's all there - Nader the hero and the spoiler, too.
The movie opens in cities around the country over the next couple months. To find out where you can catch it and to read more about it, go to the movie's website.
Even after the November elections when voters rebuked the GOP because of its scandal-ridden image and turned control of Congress over to the Democrats, the political scandals just keep on coming.
I attended the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this morning on eight federal prosecutors who were fired en masse following the 2006 elections in December by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the Bush Administration. The Administration initially gave no reason for the firings. The story of political intrigue and corruption that my Public Citizen colleague Linda Andros wrote about on TomPaine.com last week continues to unfold.
The hearing noted that all but one received exemplary performance reviews. The common thread among many of these firings appears to be political repercussions for prosecuting Republicans for corruption, such as the infamous Duke Cunningham, or not prosecuting Democrats fast enough before the elections. Never mind that all but two of the prosecutors are Republicans; the other two are Independents.
Today the House picks back up with its work to end the “culture of corruption” in Washington. The House Judiciary’s subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties is discussing the bill of comprehensive reforms passed by the Senate, S.1, in a hearing today. This is an excellent place to begin. But will the panel and House leadership make their bill match their promises to be the most "ethical Congress" in history?
Public Citizen submitted a letter today to the subcommittee and the other members of Congress, urging them to take a tough stand in some key areas. First, they need to shine sunlight on the secret fundraising done by lobbyists. As noted in a piece by Congress Watch Director Laura MacCleery posted on Commondreams.org, the public has a right to know who is involved in the practice of “bundling” gobs of campaign cash at lavish fundraisers or through lobbyist networks. These bundled contributions add up to influence and access for lobbyist bundlers and their clients.
The House also must slow the revolving door between K Street and Capitol Hill. Lobbying restrictions are supposed to prevent government employees from stepping through the revolving door between the Capitol and “K Street” and selling out the public by exploiting the contacts they made while in office. Developments in recent years have shown these laws need MUCH improvement. Check out our post on this blog on Zell Miller’s turn through the revolving door.
The public also needs to know who is funding “Astroturf” lobbying. Business journalist Gary Weiss lays it all out in “Astroturfing Congress” in Forbes.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity for the new House to put their stamp on real reform is to create an independent monitoring and enforcement entity. The House can best the Senate by making sure all of these new laws and rules actually get enforced.
Let’s hope the members of the people’s House fulfill their promise. This is their moment to make Congress more accountable and inspire confidence in a government for and by the people.