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K Street: Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort
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K Street: Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort

Chamber Is Coy on Campaign Effort After publicly vowing earlier this year to raise and spend more than $30 million to help elect business-friendly candidates and push legal reform in the 2002 elections, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become more tight-lipped about the effort. Chamber President Thomas Donohue stressed in an early-October address that the chamber "is committed to challenging the class-action trial lawyers on all fronts." But the Institute for Legal Reform- the chamber affiliate that runs the electoral project called the Litigation Fairness Campaign-declined to say how much was being spent on advertising and get-out-the-vote operations in judicial and attorney general races around the country, or for efforts to sway Congress into passing legislation on class-action reform, medical malpractice, and asbestos liability. "We're not discussing any plans whatsoever," Michael Schick, the institute's director of communications, told National Journal. Several sources familiar with the campaign, however, say that a joint fundraising drive by the chamber and the Business Roundtable has raised about $20 million so far. That's a smaller amount than was expected, though hardly a number to sneeze at. The money is being spent to bolster Supreme Court and attorney general candidates in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas, sources said. Judicial candidates in a few other states such as Ohio and Wisconsin may also get some help. The campaign is now being coordinated in part by Stanton Anderson, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery who has worked in the past for Donohue and the chamber. Anderson came aboard after Jim Wootton decided recently that he would step down as the institute's president after Election Day. Wootton is still actively involved, sources said, but not quite as much as he had previously. Wootton, a lawyer, is still considering options for the future, including moving to Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, a law firm whose client list includes the chamber. Meanwhile, another pro-business group that played a role in judicial elections in 2000, Citizens for a Sound Economy, has pulled back from the judicial sphere this year. CSE says it is focusing instead on bolstering pro-business turnout in the Senate races in New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Texas. -Peter H. Stone and Louis Jacobson

10/12/2002
The Endangered Species Act Reform Project
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Press Release

The Endangered Species Act Reform Project

Dear Mr. Moshofsky,

10/11/2002
White House, Fed Must Tout Tax Cuts
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Press Release

White House, Fed Must Tout Tax Cuts

© 2002 Copley News Service, 10/10/2002 The economy is at a standstill and perhaps even headed for yet another contraction, with 43,000 jobs lost last month and stocks in the worst bear market in 30 years. Business investment fell an average of 4.1 percent in the first two quarters of this year, and current data indicate there is no investment recovery in sight during the second half of the year. Meanwhile, Congress, the administration and the Federal Reserve Board stand around in paralysis, each waiting for the other to act, all fearful of taking action themselves.

10/10/2002
They Simply Don’t Have a Plan
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Press Release

They Simply Don’t Have a Plan

Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) President Paul Beckner challenged Democratic Congressional Leaders to either offer a specific fiscal and economic plan to get the economy moving, or to stop criticizing the President’s plan. “The President submitted a specific budget. House Republicans passed it. The Democrats don’t even have a budget blueprint. They simply don’t have a plan.

10/10/2002
FCC Rejects EchoStar Hughes: Et tu, Powell?
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Press Release

FCC Rejects EchoStar Hughes: Et tu, Powell?

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously, 4-0, to block the merger of satellite operators EchoStar and Hughes Electronics. The merger would have created the nation’s largest multichannel programming provider, pending the outcome of the AT&T Broadband-Comcast merger. CSE filed comments earlier this year to urge the FCC to approve the merger. The following statement can be attributed to CSE Staff Economist Jason M. Thomas:

10/10/2002
Graham Is the Taxpayer's Champion
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Graham Is the Taxpayer's Champion

BY Barbara Cole

Does anyone think he is undertaxed? While many Democrats think so, U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., knows that most of us are severely overtaxed. Mr. Graham knows that the only way to limit government and cut wasteful spending is to reduce the flow of money flooding into Washington. Furthermore, he also knows a free people and a prosperous economy are only possible when taxes are low. Mr. Graham's outspoken support for tax cuts is no election-year ploy, and no cheap trick to fool the electorate. Ever since his election to Congress in 1994, Mr. Graham has been leading the charge for lower, simpler taxes. For his efforts, he's been called a "taxpayer hero" by the National Taxpayers Union and a "friend of the taxpayer" by Citizens for a Sound Economy. To Mr. Graham, no federal tax program should be exempt from the knife. He supports cutting marginal income-tax rates and the capital gains tax. He favors eliminating the estate tax and the marriage penalty. He backs increasing both the Individual Retirement Account contribution limit and per-child tax credit. Many Democrats think Americans need to fork over more of their incomes to the tax man. They should set an example by voluntarily paying more on their returns -- though this is as likely as Osama bin Laden surrendering himself to federal authorities. The rest of us will do the right thing and make Lindsey Graham, the taxpayers' champion, our next U.S. senator.

10/10/2002
Social, and Political, Security
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Social, and Political, Security

BY Juliet Eilperin

It seems that every week another political debate erupts over the future of Social Security. Yesterday, it was the partial privatization of the retirement system that prompted a war of words, as two dueling groups are pushing to put lawmakers on the record before the Nov. 5 election. While Democratic congressional leaders are pressuring candidates to oppose creation of individual savings accounts, several GOP interest groups want them to support it, even though, in the face of a plummeting stock market, GOP strategists have quietly urged candidates to play down privatization. A new nonprofit group, Social Security Choice.Org, is launching a $ 500,000 advertising campaign to promote the accounts. Funded by groups including Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Taxpayers Union and 60 Plus, it has already signed up 20 congressional candidates who back such a plan. President Bob Costello said the group was gearing up for next year's legislative fight over Social Security. But Democrats are not standing idly by. Yesterday, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) attacked Costello's group on the floor by name, saying "a coalition of right-wing organizations" is having GOP candidates sign their pledge "in order to give them cover on the issue of privatizing Social Security." Gephardt and Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) will offer a counterpledge at a news conference today with the Campaign for America's Future. It, unsurprisingly, would commit candidates to oppose individual accounts. Gephardt called for a vote on privatization before leaving for the year. "Let's conduct a free and fair debate in the open, in the sunshine, in the public about the consequences that will be caused by the privatization of Social Security."

10/09/2002
The Stranglehold on American Commerce
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Press Release

The Stranglehold on American Commerce

"We now have a new dock boss. His name is George W. Bush. Will the workers listen to Boy George? I don't know." Richard Mead President, Local 10 San FranciscoQuoted in the New York Times

10/09/2002
Staffer Masks Diamond Ring in Dinner Mints
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Staffer Masks Diamond Ring in Dinner Mints

BY Crystal Bozek

Love must be in the air in the Cannon Building office of Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-Colo.). Three staffers have gotten engaged in the past year, one last month, making the subject of wedding plans a hot topic by the water cooler. Two years after meeting at a bar through mutual friends, Schaffer's legislative assistant, Aaron Johnson, 24, decided it was time to propose to Laura Hauck, 23. "I had told him I kind of wanted to get engaged before two years went by," said Hauck, a Wilmington, Del., native who works for Settlement Planning Associates in Rosslyn, Va. "There were two weeks left before the two years were up, and the last week my parents were visiting," Hauck said. "It was this past weekend or nothing." Even Johnson's co-workers teased him about proposing. "He was always talking about her and we were like, 'Will you just shut up and ask her to marry you already?'" said Brandi Graham, Schaffer's chief of staff. Johnson, a Colorado native, invited Hauck to dinner at his apartment, and she was surprised to see what he had in store for her. "He set up a tent and hung up glow-in-the-dark stars," Hauck said. After dinner of fondue, s'mores and wine, Johnson pulled out a tin of dinner mints and offered her one. "He told me the only thing that would top off the night would be a dinner mint. I was exhausted and I really didn't want one. I wanted to go home, but then he kept telling me how good they were and how much I would enjoy it," Hauck said, laughing. When she opened the tin, she saw the diamond ring. Then, he asked her to marry him. Chief of Staff Graham, 29, also has a romantic tale to tell about her engagement to Shawn Pensoneau, 33, who works for the International Air Transport Association. After five years of dating, Pensoneau took Graham to their favorite spot on North Carolina's Outer Banks for her birthday on Aug. 10. He wanted to propose to her where two currents, warm and cold, come together. Thanks to their pets, it just didn't work out that way. "A guy that looked like Tony Soprano got out of his car when we were standing there and started asking about our dogs. The guy just wouldn't leave him alone. Then all these fishermen pulled in and the dogs were going to get caught in their lines," Graham said. So, they left the perfect spot without a proposal. Pensoneau ended up proposing later that night on the beach, under the stars. Graham admits she doesn't quite remember how it happened because she was too shocked. They plan to marry next August in Colorado, when Congress is not in session. "We know we've been working too long on the Hill when we plan our wedding by the congressional calendar," Graham said. Erika Lestelle, 24, a legislative assistant for Schaffer, and Heath Heikkila, 24, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, met while in college in Washington state. She was the president of the college Republican club, and he was visiting to speak on behalf of Citizens for a Sound Economy. "Our first date was at a political convention," Lestelle said. He proposed to her at the Dumbarton Oaks gardens in Georgetown, surrounded by daffodils, her favorite flower. "I knew it was coming because he brought a gym bag with us," Lestelle said. "He pulled a bouquet of daffodils out of the bag and on one stem was a ring." They will also live by the congressional calendar, marrying after the November elections back in Washington state.

10/09/2002
It’s Raining Special Interest Politics
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Press Release

It’s Raining Special Interest Politics

This Week- The major action for this week in both the House and Senate will be the joint resolution as requested by President Bush to allow the use of force on Iraq. The House expects the resolution to take up to 20 hours of debate. In addition to this resolution the House will also be considering dozens of suspension bills. They also may consider a bill to help investors by allowing them to write off more of their stock market losses and giving them more flexibility to manage their retirement savings.

10/08/2002

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