Sen. Charles Schumer, who in every way but title -- he is vice-chair of the Senate Democrat caucus -- now ranks in the top tier of leaders in the Senate, isn't having anything to do with Sen. Joe Lieberman. This is particularly so as the Connecticut Democrat looks to push his Congressional ethics reform legislation in the coming months.
Schumer, who agreed to retain the chairmanship of the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee for another two-year stint, does not want any hardcore ethics legislation passed on his watch. That's what he has told Senate majority leader Harry Reid, according to Democrat leadership aides.
Last year, Lieberman co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Susan Collins that would have established an independent Office of Public Integrity. While the Senate ethics committee would have oversight, the office would have had the flexibility to investigate ethics complaints and vet filings and lobbyist activities in the Senate. A similar bill was introduced in the House.
Schumer was able to leverage his New York ties to the financial markets and big business to competitively raise money with the Republicans. According to a leadership source, he's not sure he'd be able to do that again under tightened lobbying guidelines.
First of all, I know Democrats don't have the greatest reputation for party discipline, but its still pretty hard to believe that Democratic Legislative aides are trash-talking DSCC head Schumer two weeks after the Democrats took back the Senate in upset fashion. To the "Clinton is a Drug Dealer" American Spectate*. It just seems pretty unlikely (unless the "aide" in question is the new Lieberman Leaker-in-Chief, Marshall Wittmann).
Second, check out the second paragraph. For the record, the head of the DSCC has no role in legislation and no legislation is passed "on the watch" of the DSCC head. Also, no matter how much juice Schumer earned by heading the DSCC while it was shocking the world, that doesn't put him remotely close to being able to dictate policy to the Senate Majority Leader.
Those first two points are fishy, but the third one is where the story become down-right impossible to believe. The article seems to be implying that Schumer is against the provision because he is scared that, if it passes, it will severely hurt his fundraising ability (not just the article, but a "leadership source"!). The problem? That particular provision creates the Office of Public Integrity, but has no effect on campaign donations.
But Schumer seems to be dead-set against it, right? Enough to tell Harry Reid that it will not pass on his watch? It may be a tough sell to Reid, however, being as how Reid introduced the lobbying reform legislation that included the creation of the OPI. Especially coming from someone who Co-sponsored the legislation!!! You read that correctly. Schumer co-sponsored legislation that the Spectate is claiming he is fighting to prevent.
Finally, the idea that Lieberman would have anything to do with legislation that cut off lobbyist money from campaign coffers is a joke - In the last six years, he received over $5,300,000 in donations from lobbyists!
Frankly, as long as we are talking about the integrity of our elected officials and their commitment to shining sunlight on previously hidden activities, I would love to hear where the $387,000 in undocumented petty cash distributions went and who they went to. Would the Office of Public Integrity have anything to say about that?
There is a lot for Progressives and clean and open government advocates not to like about Senators Lieberman and Schumer. But, if you are going to attack (one of) them (you know, the one who doesn't carry your water) for something, it might be nice to not just mail it in.
Update:Here is a link to a more complete description of the Lieberman-Collins OPI provision. Note that it has no relevance at all to campaign contributions from lobbyists, which was the premise of the article.
*I know they have a right to name themselves, but so does the DSCC and since the Spectate can't seem to grasp the difference between an adjective and a proper noun, then I will confuse a proper noun with a verb.
The Prowler, Shifting Times, The American Spectator, November 27, 2006.
Murray Waas, Behind the Clinton Cocaine Smear, Salon, March 26, 1998.
Jeffery Birnbaum, Ethics Office for Hill Rejected, The Washington Post, March 3, 2006.
The Raw Story, Dem aides upset Lieberman hired former GOP spokesman, The Raw Story, November 27, 2006.
S. 2180, January 20, 2006.
S. 2180, Co-sponsors, January 25, 2006.
The Truth About Joe, FACT SHEET: LAMONT PLAN vs. LIEBERMAN RECORD ON LOBBYING/ETHICS, Undated.