Tuesday, July 31, 2007

while I'm preparing Parts II and III

of the US Attorneys series (yes, I worked verrry hard on it this past weekend), here is a surprisingly non-surprising little brief on how our congress is pursuing something known as "ethics reform":

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has been having a few problems of late. Most recently, he became the first Senator in the history of our country to have his home raided by federal agents. After sneaking out the backdoor of his Senate office building, an intrepid CNN reporter spied him skulking away. She gave chase, Stevens (despite his decrepidity) tried to get away. Upon catching up to him, she asked him several times for a comment, and was finally rewarded with this piece of gold:
STEVENS: Can you understand English? That's the only statement I'm going to make.

[CNN Correspondent] BASH: I do understand that sir, but obviously this is a very important issue, when federal agents and IRS agents come to the home of a U.S. senator.

STEVENS: I understand you're recording this, but I told you again I made the statement. It's issued, that's what my lawyers told me to say, and that's all I'm going to say.
Nice. The current leaders of our esteemed Fourth Estate (meaning: TeeVee News) don't often seem real big on investigating corrupt Republican politicians and operatives, finding the facts, and blasting the stories out over the airwaves (see, e.g., [well, nevermind. I started to put examples, but there's too many to list here, and this ain't about that anyway]), but, boy, when federal agents (!!!) are involved, CNN and their ilk literally RUN after the story.

But Senator Ted got something done before he scurried away from his office. He apparently told a meeting of top Republicans that he would place a "hold" on the ethics reform bill currently pending in the Senate. This bill is a companion to the bill just passed by the House by a 411-8 margin. Major parts of the bill would:
require lobbyists to disclose more of their activities, including the campaign contributions they raise from clients, friends and relatives, a key source of their influence.

It would require lawmakers to disclose the special-interest items they slip into bills — a process, known as earmarking, that has figured prominently in congressional scandals.

And it would deny congressional pensions in the future to lawmakers turned felons.
I'm guessing Senator Ted reaaallly didn't like that last bit.

UPDATE: If you're wondering how one Senator can block consideration of a measure all by his/her lonesome, well so was I. This wikipedia article explains that this maneuver, known as a "secret hold", is a longstanding part of the Senate's rules. Although the article isn't perfectly clear on the subject, it implies that the tactic rarely actually keeps a measure from coming up for a vote. It is designed to delay so that a senator with an unusually strong interest in something can take time to study it.

The article goes on to point out a particularly ironic use of the secret hold. It was used to block a vote on a law called "Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006". So, some meathead Senator used a secret, anonymous tactic to block passage of a bill requiring more openness and transparency in government. Funny.

But the kicker is: that Senator was later outed, and his name was none other than....

Ted Stevens.


TXsharon said...

What I want to know is why He was given warning by the DOJ the day before the search?

"Stevens said in a statement that his attorneys were advised of the impending search yesterday morning."

Gleemonex said...