The Daily Muck

Approps Lobbyists Fear Effect of Lewis Probe
Lobbyists who specialize in winning earmarks for their clients are nervous about the effect of the federal probe into House appropriations chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and the Copeland Lowery lobbying firm, Roll Call reports. One lobbyist told them that the investigation could have a more chilling effect on their business than the Jack Abramoff scandal, or the Cunningham fiasco:

After all, this lobbyist said, Abramoff’s scheme of charging clients millions of dollars to do grass-roots work and maintaining a secret partnership with Michael Scanlon is not something most lobbyists do. But raising money for Members and then asking them for appropriations is routine.

“If you have clients who want earmarks, get earmarks and then contribute to the Congressman — that’s everybody,” this lobbyist said.

Why – why – if a fella can’t swap an earmark for a contribution, government money might get spent based on merit and need, not on free-market favoritism! One shudders to think it. (Roll Call)News Flash: House GOP Leaders Want Lobbying Reform “Really Bad”
So, the congressional lobbying reform package is stuck — it was supposed to be done by February, but, well, there were other important bills, and then the dog needed to be walked, and then I had to wash my hair. . .

But now, Roll Call tells us via an anonymous Republican Hill source, House GOP leaders are frustrated by the lack of progress. “Obviously, House leaders want it really bad, and many Senators don’t,” this source told the paper. Another House aide confirmed to Roll Call that the issue was first among those confronting House and Senate negotiators.

Really? Which House GOP leaders really want this reform? Not Tom DeLay — he’s not a leader anymore, thanks to his involvement in numerous pay-to-play Hill scandals. Maybe Speaker Dennis Hastert, who recently made a bundle on a land deal thanks to two longtime campaign donors? Or the powerful Jerry Lewis, chair of the House appropriations committee, who’s currently under investigation for illegal deals with lobby firm Copeland Lowery? Perhaps they mean House Armed Services chair Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a longtime porkbarreller who took Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes’ money and did him favors. Or maybe they’re referring to Rep. Bob Ney, the former Administration Committee chair and “Mayor of Capitol Hill,” who’s been under federal scrutiny for so long relating to Abramoff that he probably doesn’t remember what the sun looks like anymore.

Maybe it’s a stop-us-before-we-kill-again kind of thing. (Roll Call)

Fees to Lewis’ Stepdaughter Hit $44K
“The stepdaughter of House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) received another $6,800 in commissions and reimbursements last month from a political action committee with close ties to a now-disbanded lobbying firm under federal investigation. Julia Willis-Leon, a Las Vegas-based fundraiser for the Small Biz Tech PAC, has now received almost $44,000 in commissions and retainer fees in the 16 months that the group has been operating, with another $7,100 in reimbursement expenses paid to her, according to Federal Election Commission records.” (Roll Call)

City Papers Reveal Agenda of Scandal Lobby Firm
“Strategies to get federal funding, problems with endangered species and arranging meetings with senators and Congressmen were among the issues handled by a top Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, according to about 3,500 pages of documents released Monday by San Bernardino County.” (SBSun)

FBI Erred Widely in Moussaoui Probe
A report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found “numerous systemic problems” within the bureau, which kept the FBI from understanding Moussaoui’s role in the planned Sept. 11, 2001, attack. (WPost)

Lawyer Asks if U.S. Eavesdropped on Her
“A civil rights attorney convicted of aiding terrorists last year wants the federal government to reveal whether any warrantless or illegal electronic surveillance was conducted on her or anyone involved in her case.” (AP)

Former Cheney Aide Mary Matalin Plans Pricey Libby Bash Tuesday

“Conservative political strategist Mary Matalin will host a reception Tuesday night at her home in Alexandria to help augment the defense fund of indicted Cheney aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.” (Raw Story)

The Companies They Keep: Congressman Jefferson, Family, and Friends
Over at Harper’s, Ken Silverstein uncovers clues of other deals involving Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) family members, particulary in the African island nation of Sao Tome. (Harper’s)

Police Group Wants McKinney Scuffle Probed
Just when you thought it was over. Now police labor officials want the House ethics committee to review Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s (D-GA) famous episode. (AP, The Hill)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) Opens Up About Earmarks
“Hunter, whose committee authorizes the defense budget, bristles at criticism of the earmarking process. ‘There’s a little thing called the Constitution,’ he said. ‘It says Congress shall equip the military, not the Pentagon. The Pentagon proposal is just that.’ He challenged the “presumption that the Pentagon’s bill is correct in all respects and any departure is somehow a mistake.'” (WaPo)

2 Brokers Indicted for Bribery in Ohio
“Two investment brokers were indicted Monday on charges that they bribed a former top official at the Ohio workers’ compensation fund with the use of their Florida Keys condominium in exchange for state business….They were the latest people charged in a yearlong political scandal in Ohio that has shaken the state’s Republican-dominated government and led to ethics charges against Gov. Bob Taft, who pleaded no contest to failing to report gifts.” (AP)

Many Wives Receive Jewelry, But She Gets National Park
Step inside the earmarking machine of ascending appropriator Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH), a possible replacement for Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), should he fall. (KR)

Disclosure Doesn’t Stop Corruption
“Sunlight may be the best disinfectant, but it won’t cure what’s afflicting Congress today.” (Op-Ed, The Hill)

Montana Science Program Found A Black Hole – The Budget
“Here’s a good example why it’s a mistake for Congress to dole out money with special “earmark” provisions.
Legislative auditors are signaling possible criminal violations involving former University of Montana administrators at the head of a project supposedly working to promote space privatization, funded largely with federal money funneled to the group by Sen. Conrad Burns.” (Missoulian)