Stevens' Federal Indictment, CRS Reporting, Consumer Rights & Wal-Mart's Alleged Political Posturing

By Lyle Hickman and Billy Hallowell

Today’s Transparency Recap starts way up north with our coldest state, Alaska. According to Talking Points Memo’s, Republican Senator Ted Stevens was “arraigned last week on seven counts of false statements”. After a federal indictment, without stagnation, Stevens regrouped and organized a rally. According to Talking Points Memo:

At 9:30 AM AKDT today, Stevens held a rally at his campaign headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska. While his poll numbers have not flagged for the upcoming Alaska Republican primary, they have plummeted in general election polls. Stevens' likely Democratic opponent Mark Begich leads the incumbent Stevens (sub. req.) 56% to 35% according to a July 30-31 study.

Stevens, followed by a fleet of leather-draped motorcyclists, made a grand entrance warming the atmosphere in the typically cold climate of Anchorage, Alaska. Talking Points Memo quotes Senator Stevens before his supporters saying, "The primary is the goal right now. Help me win that primary and help me be the candidate for the Republican party. September will take care of itself."

In other news, Secrecy News penned an interesting piece about Congress' failure to adequately provide online access to CRS reports. According to the Secrecy News blog, the military judge handling Salim Ahmed Hamdan's case (bin Laden's taxi driver who was convicted yesterday for "material support of terrorism") referenced a CRS report that was published on the Federation of American Scientists' web site. Since Congress did not officially release the document, the judge utilized the FAS source by providing the link to the document in his footnotes. According to Secrecy News:

"Perhaps [the judge] . . . implicitly affirmed that FAS and other public interest publishers of CRS collections are helping to compensate for that continuing policy defect by providing the online access to CRS reports that Congress has denied."

According to OMB's RegWatch blog, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that was recently passed by Congress provides many improvements that will benefit the general public. In a market that is dominated by cheap imports, OMB claims that the act will potentially lead the Consumer Product Safety Committee to better regulate the market, while providing consumers with the protection they deserve.

Moving on to the American Constitution Society’s Blog, the “Justice Integrity Act,” introduced by Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), and Arlen Specter (R-Penn), is “a bill that would require the U.S. Attorney General to study racial and ethnic disparities in the judicial system... The measure, S.3245, would require the Attorney General to create advisory groups in ten federal districts to examine and determine the pervasiveness of racial and ethnic disparity in the criminal justice system.”

According to ACS Blog, this bill awaits the Senate Judiciary Committee. On an interesting transparency note, we were delighted to read that “the bill would require the Attorney General to make public the findings of the groups’ studies and recommendations on how to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities.”

Over at All Things Whistleblower, John McCain's support for nuclear energy is under scrutiny. According to the ATW blog:

"McCain supports the creation of over 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, but he has not come close to adequately addressing concerns about the safety or cost of further developing this energy source. When addressing the current and future energy crisis, America’s leaders have to be more creative and more responsible than that."

“Vote Republican – Save 10 Percent on All Purchases,” reads the title of www.opensecrets.org’s Capital Eye blog. According to the Capital Eye, the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, urged its employees to place their ballots for a Republican candidate, “arguing that Democrats would pass a harmful bill allowing labor organizations to unionize workplaces without secret ballot elections. “ Wal-Mart denies suggesting its employees vote republican, while referencing their financial contributions to both the Democratic and Republican parties by their political action committee. The Capital Eye states:

"This year the Big Box retailer, which has resisted being unionized, has given more to Democrats than ever before--$565,500, or 43 percent of its total contributions--when including both PAC contributions and individual donations. Wal-Mart employees have also given Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama $10,600 so far this cycle, compared to $6,850 to Republican opponent John McCain."