Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Schumer v. Lieberman?

There are several things that smell wrong in this American Spectator post about Senators Schumer and Lieberman's alleged scuffle over ethics rules, but its probably worth a post:

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.


Anonymous said...

"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!"

I can't hope but notice that you didn't source the bill, or seem to know anything about it. Maybe you should read it, it may surprise you.

Anonymous said...

Lieberman sponsors an ethics reform legislation? Lieberman - ethics -- just what are they drinking?

Anonymous said...

oh this is rich, after promising to clean up the allegedly "most corrupt congress" in history the Democrats now adopt the Emily Litella persona

"Never mind".

I wonder who's going to look more ridiculous, the good government types who bought the con game from Howard Dean and co. and provided the volunteers and votes to catapult the Dems back to pwoer, or newspapers like the NY Times and the Courant, who will insist in 2008 on the continued eradication of local Republicans in favor of the duplicitious Democrats they shill for.

Gabe said...

Anon 1:13 - It isn't a bill, but a provision of a bill that was stripped out, as such, its a little hard to find in a linkable format - everything out there seems to be descriptions of what was removed.

But you certainly sound knowledgable about it, please provide a link!

Gabe said...

Anon 6:28 - I'm not sure exactly where you are getting your implication from. Sen. Majority Leader Reid has introduced S. 2180 and will do so again. Take a look at the co-sponsors; there is a majority of Democrats (including Sen. Schumer and Lieberman). Its just flat wrong to imply that the bill (or any other lobbying/ethics reform bill) implicates campaign contributions.

Anonymous said...

If it is a ridiculous post, why give it life here? Just so you can continue to shill for your boy? And show some respect for your opponent. They have a name. Use it. Don't bastardize their name because you think you are, oh, so clever.

Gabe said...

Anon 9:21 - I gave it life here, because to not do so would let it go undebunked. Also, Chuck Schumer is, without question, NOT my boy. I don't even really like him. That said, there are things to attack him for without resorting to making stuff up.

I will show the American Spectator the same respect with regards to their name as they showed to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Respect is a two way street.

Anonymous said...

Gabe, the head of the DSCC may not technically be a "floor leader" with legislative agenda, but it is one of the most important elected leadership posts in the Senate. The DSCC has a seat at the leadership table and on discussions of policy and legislative agenda.

Gabe said...

Anon 9:40 - I don't disagree with you, but the implications of the article, one that as head of the DSCC Schumer has a policy portfolio, and two that being a successful head of the DSCC somehow will allow Schumer to dictate policy to the Seante Majority Leader is absurd. He has a seat at the table, not a throne.

Throw in the fact that the Majority leader that he is allegedly dictating to introduced legislation creating the OPI, and that Schumer co-sponsored the legislation, and you have a very difficult to swallow argument.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Gabe and D-R are the same, minus the party label. They put up a post and then argue with the commenters at length aterwards. Hmmmm......

cgg said...

Sadly I think we're in for a lot more of this type of anonymous sourcing. If Lieberman does have higher ambitions, well CT voters already know how he operates.