Countrywide Financial Scandal Boils Over, While Soft Money and Earmarks Come Back With a Vengeance

A few days have passed since our last Transparency Recap. If you're a regular reader, you probably recall seeing Ellen Miller's coverage of the soft money and its role in the 2008 campaign in our last edition. I was happy to learn that the issue hasn’t gone away. Today, the Capital Eye blog continues the coverage streak:

"Like a fly that refuses to buzz off, soft money seems to have found its way back into the campaign contribution mix. After the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act banned soft money, or unlimited contributions to parties that could then be doled out to candidates, it should have been gone for good."

Clearly, this is an issue that screams public interest, so continued coverage is more than welcome. Explore the article further for some prime examples of companies who are contributing to the conventions this year.

Over on the Free Government Information blog, discussion is centered upon this past Wednesday's hearing on H.R. 6193, The "Improving Public Access to Documents Act." The FGI blog has reprinted Patrice McDermott's testimony, which sheds some intriguing light on the current state of transparency:

"The problem for the public is that we have “translucence, not transparency, i.e., transparency within the network, but opacity to those outside.”* The "need-to-share"" cannot be limited to agencies within governments and defense and homeland security contractors; it also must include, to the greatest extent possible, sharing relevant information with the public."

And on the scandal-ridden front, it turns out that Barack Obama's (former) advisor -- Jim Johnson -- isn't the only politician who is connected to the Countrywide Financial Corp. scandal (following disclosure of his alleged ties to the company, Johnson resigned from an advisory post within the Obama campaign). Others who have allegedly used the V.I.P. loan program are Christopher Dodd, Kent Conrad, and Richard Holbrooke (Jimmy Carters assistant Secretary of State), among others.

As per Paul Blumenthal on the Sunlight blogs:

"Dodd and Conrad were listed as “Friends of Angelo,” after Countrywide’s CEO Angelo Mozilo, and “received better deals than those available to ordinary borrowers.” It is unclear whether Dodd and Conrad were aware of the special treatment as “Friends of Angelo,” “weren’t told exactly how many points were waived on their loans,” unless they asked."

Over at Common Cause's Common Blog allegations against the Bush Administration are raging. On Tuesday, Common Cause hosted a panel to discuss the alleged violations. While reporting on the panel's topical coverage, blogger Mary Jo Cittadino penned the following:

"The Administration has disregarded the rule of law through over-broad assertions of executive power, abuse of signing statements, and policies that arguably flout the Constitution regarding interrogation, detention, and intelligence gathering."

And as usual, All Things Reform is making surfing the blogosphere more productive, more proactive -- and much simpler! In addition to regularly reading the Transparency Recap, we recommend that you check out the ATR site for updated feeds from a plethora of government reform organizations.

Over on OMB Watch's budget blog, be sure to check out today's fiscal policy report for information on unemployment, earmarks and taxes. To recap: earmarks are making a (less than stylish) comeback, unemployment isn't looking too good, and multi-million dollar increases to the national debt could potentially be on the horizon.