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Ethics, lobbying, bundling, the SOTU, and more in today’s political law links

LOBBYING AND THE SOTU. The Hill. “President Obama took aim at K Street in his State of the Union Tuesday night, calling on Congress to limit the campaign fundraising activities of lobbyists.”

SOTU EXCERPT. “I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad — and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let’s take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress; I will sign it tomorrow. (Applause.) Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa — an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.”

ETHICS REFORM AND THE SOTU. Politico. “President Barack Obama hadn’t even left the Capitol yet when lawmakers began pouring cold water on his call to limit ‘any elected official from owning stock in industries they impact.’”

LOBBYING REFORM AND 2012. Roll Call. “The lawyer who a decade ago advised Newt Gingrich on how to engage in advocacy without officially becoming a ‘lobbyist’ is now working to close the loopholes that enable the former Speaker and other Members to avoid public disclosure.”

THANKING WARREN AND BROWN. The Post. “Even if the dam ends up springing a few leaks, they deserve credit for trying. Good for them.”

SECOND GINGRICH CONTRACT RELEASED. News here. “Though the contract with The Gingrich Group — the speaker’s former company — excludes lobbying, Gingrich advised the company’s chief lobbyist, Mitchell Delk, about ‘business and public policy issues.;”

GINGRICH AND LOBBYING ALLEGATIONS. The Washington Times. “Notably, during his work at Freddie Mac, Mr. Gingrich dealt directly with the agency’s chief lobbyist, Craig Thomas, who was identified as “project director” in Mr. Gingrich’s contract. In other words, he was working for the agency’s lobbying shop.”

THOMPSON EARNINGS. Story here. “Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson has earned more than $8.5 million in compensation since 2005 from a web of private sector companies that includes a prominent Washington lobbying firm, a medical device manufacturer and a globally recognized consulting firm, according to public filings and reports.”

SUPER PAC GROUND GAME. The Post. “They’re hiring field directors, setting up phone banks, building get-out-the-vote teams and crafting a message strategy worthy of a presidential candidate.”

SUPER PAC FL BUY. Story here. “A super PAC supporting former House speaker Newt Gingrich has made a $6 million ad buy in Florida, underscoring the new dynamics of the presidential race.”

NYT CONFUSION. Hans von Spakovsky writes here. “If a huge corporation such as Microsoft or Exxon was allowed to contribute directly to a federal candidate, the limitation would still apply.”

CONGRESS AND SUPER PACS. Editorial here. “In light of the political muscle the super PACs have shown early in this presidential election year, the voters need more than judicial reassurances to secure a level, transparent playing field for campaign funding.”

FORMER SENATE AIDE IN THE NEWS. The Post. “A former aide to Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran convicted in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal is facing 10 weekends in jail after bringing a steak knife to a halfway house.”

SCANLON REQUEST DENIED. Story here. “A federal appeals court denied a request from the former business partner of convicted Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoffto reduce the $20 million restitution order against him for scamming Indian nations out of more than $80 million.”

GA. ETHICS REFORM? Story here. “Currently, Georgia has no caps on gifts from lobbyists, and the annual tab comes to about $1.6 million; most of it is spent on food, trips and event tickets for legislators. Every state surrounding Georgia has some sort of cap or ban on lobbyist gifts.”

EDITORIAL SUPPORTS NY REFORMS. Here. “Publicly financed campaigns could help level the playing field. Gov. Cuomo should push to make that happen this year.”

PRISON SOUGHT IN MA CASE. Story here. “Federal prosecutors yesterday asked a US judge to sentence Boston developer Arthur Winn to six months in prison and fine him $200,000 for funneling illegal campaign contributions to politicians to get public subsidies for his ultimately failed Columbus Center project.”

WALKER RECALL FUNDRAISING. Story here. “Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign announced Tuesday it has raised more than $4.5 million in recall funding throughout the last five weeks, including millions in contributions from out-of-state donors.”

CAMPAIGN FINANCE ACROSS THE WORLD. CNN. CNN looks at aspects of campaign finance law in Nigeria, Norway, Russia, and other nations.


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