September 4, 2009
AUTO DEALERS SPENT $776,000 ON LOBBYING IN SECOND QUARTER Auto dealers spent $776,000 lobbying for the Cash for Clunkers program and other causes in the second quarter, according to the Associated Press.
The McLean, Va-based National Automobile Dealers Association, which represents more than 20,000 franchised new car and truck dealers, also sponsored lobbying on the repeal of the "death tax," excise taxes and labor issues during the April-June period, according to a report filed by the House clerk's office.
ASHCROFT AIDE AVOIDS TESTIFYING AGAINST LOBBYIST
A top aide to former Attorney General John Ashcroft may take the Fifth to avoid testifying against a GOP lobbyist involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Politico's John Bresnahan reports that David Ayres, who served as Ashcroft's chief of staff, helped Abramoff obtain $16 million in Department of Justice grants for one of his lobbying clients, the Mississippi Choctaw tribe.
Abramoff was paid millions by the tribe, owners of a hugely successful casino. In return, he sought help from numerous lawmakers in winning federal funds for them.
HEALTH CARE REFORM ADVOCACY TO INTENSIFY THIS MONTH Interest groups on both sides of the health-care debate plan to step up their lobbying efforts as lawmakers return to Capital Hill from the August recess, the Associated Press reports.
The AARP will unveil an 8 million-piece direct mail campaign in favor of the overhaul, while the US Chamber of Commerce plans to send lawmakers a letter signed by 2,800 companies and business organizations opposing the measure.
Television airwaves played more than $28 million worth of health care ads in August and may be even more inundated this month, said Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group.
"It's not just a couple of big players, this is coming from all corners, large and small," said Tracey, who said over 60 groups have advertised on the issue so far, more than he's seen on past issues. "This has only one way to go, and that's up.
September 3, 2009
HUNDREDS OF FORMER CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS NOW HEALTH CARE LOBBYISTS Analysts at the LittleSis Blog have identified more than 450 former congressional staffers who now work as health care lobbyists.
According to LittleSis' findings, many of the lobbyists were once on the payroll of the "Gang of Six" --- Montana Sen. Max Baucus led the list with 12 staffers and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley came in second with ten.
A large number of the lobbyists have previously worked for the Senate Finance Committee (where the current bill is stalled), the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Department of Health and Human Services.
These folks are making heavy contributions to the Democrats: 45 lobbyists on our lists have made private donations to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Another 42 donated to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Perhaps not surprisingly, third place in this category went to the Blue Dog Political Action Committee.
The blog also features a comprehensive list of the lobbyists and their backgrounds.
-- Jenna Staul
BLANCHE LINCOLN IS THE QUEEN OF CASH FROM THE HEALTH INDUSTRY The Sunlight Foundation's Paul Blumenthal reports that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) has taken more money in campaign contributions from the health industry than all but one of her Democratic peers in 2009. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Lincoln benefited from $325,350 in contributions from the health industry in the first half of 2009.
"The large amount in contributions underlies a constantly shifting position by the senator on health care reform," notes Blumenthal. Lincoln sits on the Senate Finance Committee, the lone panel that has so far failed to get its act together on health care reform legislation.
Lincoln told the Huffington Post's Ryan Grim in May that she was open to a public option. "We're looking at that option to see if it's going to be competitive and, you know, if it's going to be productive," she said. "I'm still open minded."
On Tuesday, Lincoln revealed that her mind had apparently closed. "I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can't afford that," she said, according to Arkansas News.
The Sunlight Foundation's got the goods on the tangled web of staffers-turned-lobbyists who help the industry funnel money to Lincoln and her colleagues. For more, including a helpful chart, go here.
Correction: This item originally reported that Lincoln had taken more money from the health industry than any Democratic senator. In fact, Harry Reid has taken more. (Lincoln is still the queen.)
-- Arthur Delaney
ENVIRONMENTALISTS SPEND MORE ON ADVERTISING, LESS ON LOBBYING
Environmentalist groups are pouring money behind advertising -- not direct lobbying, in support of a measure to curb green house gases, reports USA Today's Fredreka Schouten.
Backers of climate change legislation have spent $8 million this year in television advertising, while opponents of the measure spent just $7.4 million.
But those figures pale in comparison to what other special interest groups typically invest in lobbying.
Even so, the ad blitz by environmental and liberal groups stands in contrast to lobbying patterns. Oil and gas interests have spent more than $82 million in lobbying during the first six months of this year, according to federal data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. By comparison, environmental groups spent $9.8 million.
A senate panel plans to unveil their plan for the measure later this month.
-- Jenna Staul