Obama Opts Out, Lobbyists Hold Back, and Nuke Components Missing, Among Other Transparency News

Welcome to the Friday edition of the Transparency Recap. Since we last published, the political arena has been bustling with news and happenings. Since it's been a few days since the last recap, we'll try to cover the most impactful events that occurred during the course of the week.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest issues this week has been the privatization of Obama's campaign finances. According to OpenSecrets' Capital Eye blog, Obama has forgoed more than $80 in public financing "…making him the first major party nominee to reject the taxpayers' grant since the program began in 1976." While Obama insists that the system if broken, McCain (who plans to use the public financing system) is accusing Obama of going back on his word to stay within the public system.

On this same issue, Democracy 21 issued a pointed statement about Obama's decision to privatize:

"We had hoped and expected that Senator Obama would stick with the public pledge he made to accept public financing and spending limits for the presidential general election, if he was nominated, and if his Republican opponent also agreed to accept public financing and spending limits for the general election. These conditions have been met."

This morning, Capital Eye shifted gears and posted a piece that focuses on two of the nation's biggest lobbying firms. These firms -- Cassidy and Associates and Van Scoyoc Associates -- will not "…attend either political party's gathering, sponsor parties or donate to the host committees that organize the four-day fetes." Sure, these big-wigs aren't participating in the aforementioned terms, but the money flow is still coming through:

"What these lobbyists lack in convention participation, they make up for in campaign contributions to federal candidates, committees and parties. Among lobbying firms, Van Scoyoc Associates is the third-ranked contributor in this election cycle, associated with at least $583,000. Cassidy and Associates is right behind with campaign contributions totaling $490,300. Both firms have favored Democrats with about 60 percent of their employees' total contributions."

And if that's not hair-raising enough, according to the Judicial Watch blog, the U.S. military has lost nuclear missile components. According to Judicial Watch,

"A British international business newspaper disclosed this week that a Pentagon investigation found that the Air Force could not account for more than 1,000 sensitive components previously included in its nuclear inventory."

Over on the Sunlight blogs, Ellen Miller coins her own phrase: "Tweetalogue." Over the past few days, she and Rep. John Culberson have been twittering back and forth. The issue at hand? Ample time for government officials -- and citizens -- to read bills before they are voted on. According to Miller (and VoterWatch mirrors this sentiment),

"Sunlight thinks if bills and amendments were actually posted online in advance of votes citizens would have an opportunity to get on the act too."

Over at All Things Whistleblower, John McCain is taking heat for his energy proposal that calls for 45 nuclear energy plants over the next 22 years. From pricing to safety, some individuals have serious problems with the construction of more nuclear power plants. With this said, others see this plan as a step in the right direction -- away from America's current reliance on fossil fuels.

On the POGO blog, focus is centered upon the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008. Signed into law by President Bush on Tuesday, this law "requires foreign subsidiaries of federal contractors to be treated as American companies for tax purposes." Due to the changes it is expected that $850 million in tax revenues will be generated over the next 10 years:

"Some contractors have been creating subsidiary companies in jurisdictions with advantageous tax laws, such as the Cayman Islands, without even conducting any operations there. American workers are technically employed by these subsidiaries, allowing the contractor to avoid paying payroll taxes.  These taxes are used to fund programs such as Social Security and Medicare, so other taxpayers end up assuming the burden."