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A Note From Our (Lobbyist) Sponsors

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- After a brief welcome speech that reporters were allowed to watch, President Bush fielded questions behind closed doors from House Republicans. You'll get an update a bit later on Bush's speech and members' reaction to it. But first, a note on this retreat's sponsor.

As Bush stood in the banquet room addressing the assembled lawmakers, projected onto a giant screen next to him were the words "Congressional Institute." That was a plug for the longtime organizer of these GOP retreats, a non-profit group "dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve the nation and to helping the public better understand public policy debates and the operations of the national legislature."

The group is run by a high-powered board of Republican lobbyists, all of whom presumably value the entrée into Congressional affairs the institute provides. The organization puts up at least some of the money to hold the retreat each year -- how much exactly is not publicly available -- while members pay most of their individual costs either out of their campaign accounts or their own pockets.

Until a couple of years ago, the institute's board of lobbyists would always come to these retreats, often hosting happy hours for the members and getting invaluable access in a relaxed, private setting. But the Jack Abramoff scandal ended that practice, and now lobbyists don't actually attend the retreats anymore, though they still foot some of the bill.

This year, Republicans are in the midst of a big internal discussion about how to further curb earmarks, thereby lessening the influence of special interests on the legislative process. That debate is occurring at an event at least partially funded by lobbyists. Capitol Briefing leaves it to his wise readers to decide whether that constitutes irony.

By Ben Pershing  |  January 25, 2008; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
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Next: Bush Presses for Action on Stimulus, Surveillance



Posted by: ccatmoon | January 25, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

There should be no second-term for any Congressional seat, Senate seat, or President, ALL should be 3-years-and-out. Supreme Court Justices should be limited to 9 years. National Elections should be a national holiday, and only paper ballots. And Public funded campaigns for all. No more electoral-college, popular vote only, and all elections should be administered as Instant-Run-off elections where 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices matter. Do all those things and 'problems solved' and Democracy restored. End of nonsense. You know it; I know it; we all know it; So why hasn't it happened?

Posted by: BloggerRadio | January 25, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The whole problem could be solved so easily.
There should really be enforced term limits for Lobbyists.

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