PointofLaw.com
 Subscribe Subscribe   Find us on Twitter Follow POL on Twitter  
   
 
   

 

 

Occam's wallet



From Politico: "Dems Who Flipped On FISA Immunity See More Telecom Cash": "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."

From the American Tort Reform Association: "As Senate Debates FISA, ATRA Notes Trial Lawyer Political Giving": "So much of the media coverage of this developing story has, for months, all but ignored the obvious up-tick in trial lawyer lobbying and campaign contributions as they tried desperately to preserve dozens of potentially lucrative lawsuits against telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government in pursuit of terrorists after 9/11," began ATRA communications director Darren McKinney. "Reporters and editorial writers didn't hesitate to document the efforts of the telecoms to preserve in the legislation a degree of retroactive immunity from such lawsuits ....but a typical media consumer could have come away with the impression that such political activity was strictly one-sided."

Darren's media analysis -- especially if extended to the blogs -- is accurate. (You can read all of ATRA's release in the extended entry.) But having closely watched the politics of FISA, it's an unprovable leap to suggest campaign contributions changed minds, either direction. The House Democrats moved away from the position of no immunity for telecoms mostly because their Blue Dog cohort feared the political consequences of blocking effective surveillance.

Meanwhile, by a 80-15 vote, the Senate last evening voted to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act. AP story here.

UPDATE (9:55 a.m.): Some more thoughts, including on Sen. Hatch's legal analysis, are at the NAM's blog, Shopfloor.org, here.



As Senate Debates FISA, ATRA Notes Trial Lawyer Political Giving

Urges Media to review Good-Government Web Site's Data

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 25, 2008 - As the Senate prepares for a final vote on a bipartisan compromise to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the American Tort Reform Association noted for the benefit of reporters and editors a Web-based source offering details about campaign contributions to members of Congress made by interest groups with an interest in the bill.

"So much of the media coverage of this developing story has, for months, all but ignored the obvious up-tick in trial lawyer lobbying and campaign contributions as they tried desperately to preserve dozens of potentially lucrative lawsuits against telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government in pursuit of terrorists after 9/11," began ATRA communications director Darren McKinney.


"Reporters and editorial writers didn't hesitate to document the efforts of the telecoms to preserve in the legislation a degree of retroactive immunity from such lawsuits," McKinney continued, "but a typical media consumer could have come away with the impression that such political activity was strictly one-sided.

"But fortunately for media consumers and the reporters and editors who are preparing their coverage of the Senate's upcoming vote, a watchdog Web site has posted data about interest-group campaign contributions connected to the immunity-for-telecoms issue," he said.

MAPLight.org is an award-winning public Web site with data contributions from the Center for Responsive Politics. This link, http://maplight.org/map/us/bill/76861/8iY8Rv/votes/votedetail-339603, leads to data relevant to FISA reauthorization.

"As we've been pointing out for months," McKinney added, "the MAPLight.org data make clear that the plaintiffs bar and its allies have been as politically active as any other interest group on this FISA update, fighting to preserve speculative litigation against companies a Washington Post editorial called 'good corporate citizens,'" he concluded.

In February and March of this year, McKinney had letters to the editor on this subject published respectively in Politico and the Washington Post.

Related Entries:

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.