Cast a vote in favor of Bush backed telecom immunity and electronic eavesdropping and you will get larger campaign contributions. While some may have genuinely cjhanged their position on the issue, I am sure that this played a part.
(The Politico) House Democrats who flipped their votes to support retroactive immunity for telecom companies in last week’s FISA bill took thousands of dollars more from phone companies than Democrats who consistently voted against legislation with an immunity provision, according to an analysis by MAPLight.org.
In March, the House passed an amendment that rejected retroactive immunity. But last week, 94 Democrats who supported the March amendment voted to support the compromise FISA legislation, which includes a provision that could let telecom companies that cooperated with the government’s warrant less electronic surveillance off the hook.
The 94 Democrats who changed their positions received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008, according to the analysis by MAPLight, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the connection between campaign contributions and legislative outcomes.
Retroactive immunity could squash about 40 lawsuits pending against telecommunication companies that helped the government monitor the telecommunications traffic of Americans without warrants. The telecom industry has lobbied hard to insure that the provision is included in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act update Congress is currently considering.
Nick Papas, spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus, said, “Many members of the caucus opposed the earlier version of this legislation and ultimately supported better legislation that was the product of bipartisan negotiations. Months of hard work, not campaign contributions, earned the support of many members.”
MAPLight executive director Daniel Newman agreed that there are many factors that affect a lawmaker’s vote but, unlike pressure from constituents, campaign cash is not a “democratic influence.”
The 116 Democrats who remained opposed to telecom immunity received an average of $4,987 from the telecoms during the three-year period, the analysis showed.
“Regardless which way the legislators’ vote, the fact is most of them get money from the telecom industry and that buys access even if it doesn’t buy a favorable result for telecom,” Newman said.
The members who voted yes on June 20 received, on average, $9,659 from the big three phone companies while those who opposed the bill received an average of $4,810, MAPLight found.
MY TAKE: Nice to know that everything has a price. It appears in this instance that the price of obscenely amassing and unchecked executive power, a derelict congress in its duties of checks and balances, and possibly the fourth amendment of the constitution costs $8,359 over the course of three months.
Meanwhile, unlike Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-Ill), some senate Democrats seem to be standing strong against the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), states he might not bring forth the telecom immunity bill, and even if he does he will vote against it.
Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) have indicated that they would mount a filibuster to thwart the FISA legislation’s passage. Supposedly Senators Joeseph Biden (D-Del)and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have said they would support such an effort.
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