The silence of the Ross UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The silence of the Ross UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Lefty blogger tries to get comments from U.S. Rep. Mike Ross on health legislation. Stonewalled. We feel his pain. Ross seems to have taken us off his list, too. Thanks, Jason, for the tip.

SPEAKING OF MIKE ROSS: Paul Barton weighs in from Washington with a bit more intelligence on lobby favor-building with the congressman. Quid pro quo? Major polluters poured money into Ross' campaign coffers in two separate parties. Days later, he votes against climate change legislation. No, he doesn't want to talk to us about it.

By Paul Barton

Utility and energy industry lobbyists sent out invitations in June for two fund-raisers to benefit Rep. Mike Ross, shortly before Ross voted against climate change legislation, the Sunlight Foundation reports on its Web site –


The foundation, devoted to disclosing behind-the-scenes connections that influence policy, recently initiated a new project called “Party Time” where it collects invitations sent out to various fund-raising events involving members of Congress.


Entergy Corp., the parent of EntergyArkansas, is listed as the host on invitations for fund-raisers on June 10 and June 25 to help Ross. Among others represented: American Electric Power PAC, American Gas Association PAC, the Nuclear Energy Institute PAC and the Power PAC of Edison Electric Institute.


Ross is also listed as having a June 17th fund-raiser hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington


On June 26, Ross became one of 44 Democrats to vote against the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill passed 219-212.


Ross’s office did not immediately return several calls that the Arkansas Times placed to it Wednesday afternoon.


Nancy Watzman, coordinator of the Sunlight Foundation’s project to keep up with fund-raisers, said such invitations are “an open secret in Washington” and that she would favor some kind of mandatory disclosure of fund-raising events to the public. The Sunlight Foundation has to depend on what she considers “very good sources” to relay copies of fund-raising invitations.


The public needs to know who is hosting these events. “There should be disclosure of all aspects of fund-raising,” Watzman said.


Naomi Seligman, spokesman for another watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Ross should not have had fund-raisers with such groups so close to an important vote on climate change legislation.


“It wasn’t the brightest idea, and that in itself is problematic,” Seligman said.



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