Newsletter November 2011

The Monthly Newsletter of CREW  //  November 2011  //  Issue No. 55

SPOTLIGHT: Investigate Rep. Jean Schmidt for Lying to Investigators

Jean SchmidtspacerIn Washington the cover-up is often worse than the crime. The latest to learn this lesson: Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH). Earlier this year, the House Ethics Committee cleared her of lying on her financial disclosure forms and violating House gift rules after she failed to report receiving almost a half a million dollars in free legal services. Rep. Schmidt told investigators she would have paid, but never got a bill (the same excuse once offered up by the late Sen. Ted Stevens). Her lawyers disagree. They say it was always clear to the congresswoman that she wouldn’t be responsible for the bills.

Lying to investigators is serious offense, so we’re asking both the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the FBI to take a closer look at the congresswoman’s conduct. It’s no wonder she made our list as one of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress.

Melanie Sloan Named One of the Top Grassroots Lobbyists in Washington

Melanie SloanspacerBuilding a better Washington requires the tenacity to stand up against corruption, as well as strategic and effective leadership.  That’s why we’re lucky to have Melanie, who was recently named one of the top grassroots lobbyists (even though she isn’t actually a lobbyist) by Capitol Hill’s influential political newspaper The Hill.

The Hill put it best: “The aggressive watchdog isn’t afraid of going to the courts to take on members of Congress, and has clashed with the Obama administration on releasing records.”

CREW Calls on Congress to Reject Plans to Weaken the FCPA

CongressspacerCorrupt foreign officials shouldn’t have friends in Congress. Yet, the US Chamber of Commerce is throwing its weight around Capitol Hill in an attempt to gut the main tool prohibiting corporations from making under the table payments to foreign officials: the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure corporations can’t resort to bribery to gain a competitive edge. We’ve told Congress to stand up for honesty and integrity, and vehemently oppose any changes to the law. If anything, we need a stronger FCPA, not one that looks the other way.

Super Committee Members Cash In During the Third Quarter

spacerShortly after the super committee was created, CREW called on its members to stop fundraising activities to ensure that the tough decisions they have to make don’t just reflect the interests of their biggest donors. Only one member, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), heeded our call and stopped holding fundraisers.

The others didn’t bat an eyelash. To the shock of no one, five of the 12 super committee members have now taken in more money than they did in 2009. Collectively, the PACs affiliated with super committee members saw a 62% increase when compared to what they took in in 2009. Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R) lapped the field with an increase of almost 1000% in PAC fundraising.

The super committee is expected to deliver its recommendations in a few weeks, so we’ll soon be able to examine the report and see exactly what all that money bought.

DOD Failing to Track Domestic Violence, We Offers Solutions

spacerIt’s hard to fix a problem you’re not monitoring. Through a series of lawsuits, CREW discovered that despite a 1999 law compelling the Department of Defense (DOD) to monitor domestic violence, the military has been ignoring the directive.

With soldiers returning from combat, many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, addressing domestic violence is more important than ever. We filed a series of requests under the Freedom of Information Act and were shocked to discover no statistics have been kept.

Our recently released report details the problem and provides recommendations on how DOD can get up to speed.

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