Monday, July 10, 2006

NEWS & NOTES --

Further disclosure of Abramoff visits to the White House: "The appointments included a meeting with a domestic policy aide to Vice President Cheney and a meeting in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives attended by about 40 people. The logs also reflect that Abramoff attended one or more social events, as well as a gathering of Indian tribal officials and state legislators at which President Bush appeared." See also USA Today.

Grover Norquist, the conservative uber-powerbroker, has seen his influence decline since he was implicated in the Abramoff scandal: "'People were willing to cut him a lot of slack because he's done a lot of favors for a lot of people,' said J. Michael Waller, a vice president of the right-leaning Center for Security Policy who for several years was an occasional participant at Norquist's Wednesday meetings. 'But Grover's not that likable.'"

Speaking of lobbying NYT ed board decries the trend in local governments' retention of lobbyists to help them obtain federal earmarks: "In this case, lobbyists are shopping themselves as gifted middlemen for mayors and school boards. And localities are biting, having seen the sorry evidence that lawmakers tend to deliver earmarks more readily for Beltway lobbyists than for hometown nobodies."

Jeffrey Birnbaum uncovers a big payday for one congressional staffer: "The 40-year-old congressional staffer last year collected nearly $2 million in severance payments from his former employer, a lobbying firm that specializes in winning benefits from the committee he now serves. Many longtime Washingtonians are shaking their heads in disbelief over the payout's enormous size, its ad hoc method of calculation and the fact that Shockey received it while working as a senior congressional aide."

The AP reports that there has been little or no movement in the Jefferson corruption probe while the parties tangle of the Speech & Debate Clause: "Prosecutors and investigators building a bribery case against Rep. William Jefferson have been unable to examine the documents and computer files seized in a search of the lawmaker's Capitol Hill office."