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EXCLUSIVE: Dinner, with a Side of Ethics Violation

Is this guy even old enough to drink?Ah, how quickly they forget the rules when there is free food! Last week, the Federal Communications Bar Association held their annual FCC Chairman's Dinner to roast and then listen to the incredibly young-looking Kevin Martin (sample one-liner: "Kevin looks so young even Mark Foley would throw him back"). But what Kevin probably didn't know is that some of the companies sponsoring the event were playing a little fast and loose with the ethics rules that night.


So, since the FCBA is a non-profit and the event would be considered "widely-attended" (meaning it wasn't only lobbyists and Hill staff, and was reasonably policy-related), it was completely fine under House and Senate ethics rules for Hill staffers to accept the FCBA's invitations to attend. However, it is completely violative of those ethics rules to accept an invitation from a dinner sponsor to sit at their table (since those seats costs hundreds of dollars, it's considered an illegal gift).

For those not wise to the way these things work, companies and firms "buy" tables for thousands of dollars and leave a couple of seats unfilled for the host of the event to fill with Hill staffers (which is allowed). But lobbyists, being competitive types, prefer to have the most senior staff at their tables and aren't necessarily as concerned as the host with the event being ethics-compliant. And so it happened that a couple of competitive and (apparently) ethically-challenged phone company lobbyists went to all their favorite Hill staffers to invite them to the event directly -- which is a direct violation of ethics rules for the companies to do and the staffers to accept.

Naturally, those seats didn't go empty that night. And, sadly, the only people likely to face any punishment are the poorly-paid Hill staffers that accepted the invitations. But, I'll bet they served filet mignon! Yummy! Welcome to the new "ethics" environment: keeping Hill staff away from free food and Congress Members rolling in campaign cash since 2007!

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin Roasted, Then Jabs At Cable [Multichannel News]

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Deleted Comments: We Gave God The Banhammer

The Commentczar's In Town

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Yr Wonkette has been getting quite a few visits from trolls lately, although most of the infestations have been incredibly tiresome and not at all worth discussing here. We're talking, like, not even as good as ol' Turgid Love Muscle Guy. Come to think of it, we haven't seen him in a while; hope he's OK. At least health-wise.

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In 2006, Bob Casey Jr., then the Pennsylvania state treasurer, defeated Rick Santorum and took his seat in the US Senate; presumably only after having it steam cleaned. Not that Casey wanted anything much to do with Dan Savage, the columnist who had helpfully made the alternative definition of "Santorum" one of the best demonstrations of the power of trolling for the prior three years. But in '06, Casey's campaign actually declined a donation from Savage; Casey's finance director thanked him, but suggested maybe Savage could give the money to a group working against Santorum so Casey wouldn't get flak for taking the donation. That was back when Dems were happy to talk about civil unions but frightened of gay marriage, and Casey just plain wussed out on the chance to bring a "weeks-long debate about feces, lube, and assfucking" to the Senate race, as then-Wonket Dave Weigel put it. But Bob Casey has come rather a long way since then, and he now supports marriage equality. He might still be a bit shy about a full-on embrace of buttsechs talk, however.

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