K Street Files: Hard Time

Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:32pm

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) is hunting for co-sponsors for legislation that would restrict the lobbying and political activities of mischievous corporations.

[IMGCAP(1)]McCollum’s bill, the Against Corporations Organizing to Rip-Off the Nation Act, would ban corporations “from receiving any federal contracts, grants, or funds— from the Department of Defense or other federal agencies for five years after a felony conviction. It would also ban “federal employees or contractors from promoting corporate felons for five years.—

The bill, dubbed the ACORN Act, comes in response to recent GOP fire against another ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The government-backed group, which registers voters and provides housing assistance in poor areas, was the subject of a recent sting by conservative activists who documented ACORN workers on videotape detailing how sex workers could skirt the law.

In response, both chambers recently voted to defund the group. Now, McCollum is saying, what’s good for ACORN is good for the nation’s largest corporations.

“If ACORN broke the law, it should be punished; however, Congress also needs to crack down just as rigorously on the contractors who take an even larger share of taxpayers’ money and have committed far more, or far more egregious, acts of misconduct,— she said in a statement.

McCollum’s bill would also prohibit wayward corporations or “any applicable individual— from giving campaign contributions to federal candidates, as well as limit “the corporation or any applicable individual to no more than $1 million annually for lobbying Congress or federal officials for a five-year period.—

McCollum outlined her plan Tuesday in a “Dear Colleague— letter.

While perhaps good politics, campaign finance lawyer Jan Baran, a Republican, called McCollum’s legislation laughable and doubted she’ll have any luck finding Members to sign on. One underlying problem? Federal law already bars corporations from making any campaign contributions, and corporate political action committees are funded by employee contributions, not by the company itself.

“Maybe she should add convicted labor unions as well as corporations, and maybe add a new tax … then she can name it the New Urgent Tax to You Act — or NUTTY, for short,— Baran joked. “I look at it and just think that it’s silly. It’s a form of protest and really not a very good attempt at legislation — or humor.—

The Congresswoman’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

K Street Moves. Ex-Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin has been hired by Patton Boggs. Martin will work in the firm’s technology and communications practice.

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