There’s something calming about the seasons changing. Nature’s regrowth, the budding of new life, temperatures that make walking outside tolerable – it’s a time of flux. One thing that isn’t changing? Corruption. That one sticks around, summer be damned. That’s why we’re here, too, ready to give you the top corruption stories from around the country.
As you head into summer, here’s what you need to know:
Who Wrote The Health Care Bill? Senators Swimming In Industry Cash.
The group of 13 senators who drafted the proposed Obamacare replacement received almost double the insurance and pharmaceutical industry contributions compared to senators not writing the bill.
There’s little question that the future of health care has become the biggest issue facing Congress this year. After the House passed a health care overhaul in early May, the Senate has been focused on writing its own version. Actually, scratch that. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries’ top donation recipients have been tasked with drafting the bill. As you can see, the senators in this group have received an average of $214,000 per person – almost double what other senators got. Insurance lobbyists were even able to meet with Senate staffers about the proposal, while other senators were left in the dark. In the words of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski: “I am not a reporter, and I am not a lobbyist, so I’ve seen nothing.”
The bottom line: When the politicians in the drafting room have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry their bill would affect, and then consult lobbyists instead of colleagues, it reeks of corruption.
You Can Count The Number Of Lobbyists Working In The Administration On…27 Hands
A new report found dozens of former lobbyists now in the executive branch are apparently working on matters they used to lobby, a violation of ethics rules.
Things still look pretty murky in the swamp. According to a new report by Public Citizen, 133 members of the executive branch have worked as lobbyists in their careers, with 37 of those officials handling issues they were previously paid to lobby. If that sounds like a conflict of interest, it’s because it is – President Trump’s executive order on ethics requires appointees to pledge not to “participate in any particular matter” or the “specific issue area” they attempted to influence in the last two years. The administration has released a handful of waivers that allow former lobbyists to break with the directive, but, as the report shows, there are dozens of appointees who continue to work in violation of the order.
The bottom line: Special interests and their lobbyists have too much say in our political system. Allowing one-time lobbyists to work on their former issues doesn’t help – in fact, it only serves to further the corrupt status quo.
Gerrymandering Set To Be A Big F’ing Deal As Supreme Court Takes On Partisan Gerrymandering Case
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after a federal district court panel found Wisconsin’s legislative maps were drawn to unfairly hinder Democrats.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Supreme Court will hear a case dealing with partisan gerrymandering. The basics: in November 2016, a federal three-judge panel found Wisconsin’s legislative districts were drawn to make it harder to Democrats to win office. The case, which will be heard later this year, will allow the highest court to rule on that decision. If the court finds the lines biased, the case could present a legal standard for determining where politicians are choosing their own voters. This is a problem around the country, and it’s not just one party over another – Democrats in Maryland did the same thing to maximize their congressional advantage over Republicans.
The big picture: Politicians should not be allowed to pick their voters. This case offers the Supreme Court a major opportunity to prevent that from happening.
Former Lobbyist Once Convicted Of Corruption Is Back To Lobbying
Jack Abramoff, a former lobbyist who spent years in prison for corruption, tried to set up a meeting between President Trump and the president of the Republic of Congo.
There’s corruption, and then there’s corruption so egregious they make a movie about it. The lobbyist at the center of that film, Jack Abramoff, is back at it again! He recently filed paperwork to register as a foreign agent after attempting to broker a meeting between President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo and President Donald Trump. Lest we forget: Abramoff served more than three years in federal prison for corruption and fraud charges related to his lobbying work, but later became an outspoken critic of special interests in the capital. The change of heart doesn’t appear to have been permanent.
The big picture: We have lobbyist and foreign agent registration requirements for this very reason: to see who is attempting to influence our elected officials. In this case, it’s none other than America’s most infamous lobbyist.
That’s it for this week, folks. Did you read a story you’d like to see highlighted in the future? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.