Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wanted -- Video Of Mitch McConnell Answering The Question “Who’s blocking S. 223?” Reward -- $1,000

You would think that requiring Senators to file their campaign disclosures electronically would be something most Senators would support. They have to file their disclosures anyway and converting documents to pdf isn't hard these days. Russ Feingold's S.223 - Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act merely "amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to require Senate candidates to file election-related designations, statements, and reports in electronic form." Since newly filed reports would already be in electronic format the bill would require "the Secretary of the Senate to forward a copy of any electronically filed designation, statement, or report to the Federal Election Commission within one working day (instead of the current two working days) after receiving it." With 40 co-sponsors you would think the bill would be a good government slam dunk.

Not so fast. For reasons not entirely clear the Republican leadership has been quietly trying to block the bill for months.

The most recent developments in the saga of S. 223 are recounted by Paul Bloomenthal of the Sunlight Foundation.

Senate Republicans under the stewardship of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried their hand at a parliamentary trick to add poison pill amendments to S. 223. When Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to move S. 1, the Senate' lobbying reform package, to conference committee Sen. Bob Bennett attempted to add S. 223 while reserving the right to add another amendment. Bennett likely wanted to slip in the same amendment that he tried to add to S.223 when it was in committee. That amendment would allow party committees, like the RNC or the DSCC, to coordinate campaign activities with candidate committees. Bennett's amendment is widely opposed by the majority Democrats and would not only make S. 223's passage impossible in conference or in the House of Representatives, but would endanger the entire lobbying and ethics reform package. Reid scuttled this parliamentary trickery by objecting to Bennett's proposition. The Senate went into convulsions and recessed without advancing S. 1 to conference committee. (There are some conflicting accounts of exactly how this proceeded.)) has just promised to pay a $1000 reward to anybody who submits the first video of Sen. McConnell answering (or refusing to answer) the question, “Who’s blocking S. 223?” Go to the Website for contest rules. The contest expires July 6, 2007. If you are in DC or Kentucky and have a video camera you to can be a legislative bounty hunter.

If this all seems a little inside Congress for you, remember this site is called "Watching Those We Chose."