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Lobbyists Rush to Address Earmark Ban, 'Shrek'-hater Prison Bound and More in Capital Eye Opener: March 12


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Your daily dose of news and tidbits from the world of money in politics:

jeffflake.jpgLOBBYISTS SCRAMBLE TO FILL EARMARK VOID: Faster than Rep. Eric Massa could resign his congressional seat, members of the House of Representatives are this week engaged in a game of one-upmanship centered on who can slap more limits on congressional earmarks, which have delivered billions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts to thousands of companies and organizations. First, Democrats nixed earmarks for for-profit entities. Now, House Republicans promise they won't stuff spending bills with earmarks at all. Given Congress' insatiable appetite for earmarks and years-long resistance to curtailing them -- see the Center for Responsive Politics' recent earmarks project created in conjunction with Taxpayers for Common Sense -- it'll certainly be curious to see whether this is election year grandstanding or durable change. It's certainly a huge change for lobbyists. The New York Times' Eric Lichtblau reports this morning that "lobbyists and military contractors who have long relied on lucrative earmarks from Congress were scrambling Thursday to find new ways to keep the federal money flowing." And politically speaking, this may just be the greatest day in the life of Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), given that the smiling politico in part built his career on a quest to rid Congress of earmarks.

monicaconyers.jpgREP. JOHN CONYERS' WIFE SENTENCED TO PRISON TIME: Monica Conyers, a former Detroit City Council member and wife of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), appears headed to prison for 37 months after pleading guilty to bribery charges. (Monica Conyers says she will appeal the sentence.) The bombastic ex-politico admitted to taking bribes in connection with a vote on a $1.2 billion contract before the Detroit City Council. Monica Conyers had long been one of Detroit's most outspoken politicians, even long before the infamous "Shrek" incident that enshrined for eternity her reputation as a political firebrand. Roll video, please: 

CRP, IN THE NEWS: Anne C. Mulkern of Greenwire, via the New York Times, cites our earmarks study produced with Taxpayers for Common Sense in this piece today about how energy- and water-related earmarks flow to politicians' campaign donors ... Other publications citing our work during the past day include the Washington Examiner, BloombergCongressional Quarterly, Investor's Business Daily and the (Olympia, Wash.) Olympian.

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