Via The Washington Independent
Supporters of the spying bill received twice the contributions as those against it.
When scores of House Democrats joined Republicans last week to reauthorize a controversial White House spying program, many critics attributed that support to election-year jitters. But as liberal voters continue to bash Democrats on the issue, some campaign finance reformers charge that political contributions from the telecom industry, which benefited handsomely under the bill, probably also swayed votes.
In an analysis released Tuesday, Maplight.org, a nonprofit campaign finance watchdog group, found that lawmakers voting Friday in support of the wiretap deal averaged roughly twice the donations from the nation's leading telecoms - Verizon, Sprint and AT&T - over the last three years as those voting against it.
The figures might not have raised eyebrows except that the proposal contained a gift for the industry, effectively granting retroactive legal immunity to the telecoms that enabled the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program. The immunity provision - blasted by civil libertarians for putting industry concerns above Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure - rescues the companies from the roughly 40 lawsuits pending against them. Some money-in-politics watchdogs say the connection between the contributions and votes is no accident.
"This is all part of the abuse of power that we've seen out of this White House, as well as Congress' refusal to stand up and perform its constitutional duty to check the executive branch," said Boyle of Common Cause. "Congress is complicit here."
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