Friday, October 31, 2008

29 voter volunteer opportunities on All Things Reform!

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.

As General Election Day- Tuesday, November 4th- approaches, many public interest groups have stepped up to serve we, the people- the voters. This nation has already seen allegations of abuses from both major political parties. These volunteer jobs available right now address many types of election problems and help voters enjoy a smooth, trouble-free voting experience.

All Things Reform has a list of these volunteer opportunities in the lefthand column of this blog. Just find what you are most interested in, and go to those web sites for instructions on how you can help. Most voters will cast their ballots on Tuesday, but our help is needed right now for early and absentee voters, and to prepare for helping on General Election Day.

Get involved now, and above all, vote! Thanks

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Voter Checklist

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.
From: The Reform Institute

Presented by the Reform Institute
Be Informed and Prepared for Election Day – Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Know where your polling place is in advance
o Find out in advance by contacting your local elections office, by checking your voter registration card, or by calling 877-GOCNN-08 (877-462-6608) toll-free and using the hotline’s automated polling place locator. Voting at the correct polling place is important to ensuring that your vote is counted.

Confirm your voter registration before heading to the polls
o Check your most recent voter registration card to confirm the information is current and correct. If in doubt, contact your local elections board to confirm that you are registered to vote. Most state elections authorities provide websites where voters can check their registration status or get contact info for doing so. You can also connect to your local elections office through the 877-GO-CNN-08 hotline.

Know your ballot in advance
o Knowing the candidates and any initiatives on the ballot will speed the voting process. Many local newspapers will have a voter guide, and most state or local elections offices provide at least a sample ballot, and sometimes even biographies or statements of candidates and information on ballot initiatives – check their website to see what your local office provides. Many non-profit organizations such as the League of Women Voters also provide non-partisan voter guides.

Bring identification with you where necessary
o Several states now require voters to present ID when they vote, and all states require most first time voters who register by mail to provide identification. ID requirements vary by state. A governmentsponsored photo ID with your address is best if you have one, though most states accept various forms of identification. Contact your state or local elections board to learn your state’s ID requirements, if any. Information on state ID requirements can also be retrieved from the National Conference of State Legislatures at

Try voting during non-peak hours or consider alternative means of voting
o The longest lines and wait times at the polls traditionally occur before and after work and during lunch time. Voting at other times will ease congestion during peak hours and reduce wait times. Some states allow early voting or in person absentee voting before Election Day. Contact your local elections office to determine when polls are open and if you qualify to vote absentee or if early voting is possible.

Ask to vote a provisional ballot if you are not allowed to vote a regular ballot
o If you arrive at the polling place where you believe you are registered and your name is not on the voter rolls, you can always vote a provisional ballot, which allows you to cast a ballot while you are there, and allows elections officials to set it aside to determine after Election Day if it should be counted. The officials should provide you with information on how to determine if your vote is counted.

Have the 877-GO-CNN-08 number handy
o Call 877-GO-CNN-08 (877-462-6608) to report any problems at the polls.
Many state and local elections offices have websites that provide voters with important information such as polling place location and hours and voter registration status. Resources such as contact info and links for state and local elections boards, state voter ID requirements, and polling place hours can also be obtained from the National Association of Secretaries of State at

The Reform Institute (, a non-partisan public policy organization, is a proud partner in presenting the toll-free 877-GO-CNN-08 national voter assistance hotline. InfoVoter Technologies, Inc. is the technology provider. The hotline is active now through November 4.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have you been expecting an Economic Stimulus check and/or tax refund this year and haven't received it yet?

Internal Revenue ServiceImage via WikipediaGovernment reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.
From: IRS - Internal Revenue Service

IRS Seeks to return $266 Million in undeliverable refunds and Economic Stimulus Payments to taxpayers

IR-2008-123, Oct. 23, 2008

Listen in: Audio file

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is looking for taxpayers who are missing more than 279,000 economic stimulus checks totaling about $163 million and more than 104,000 regular refund checks totaling about $103 million that were returned by the U.S. Postal Service due to mailing address errors.

“People across the country are missing tax refunds and stimulus checks. We want to get this money into the hands of taxpayers where it belongs,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We are committed to making the process as easy as possible for taxpayers to update their addresses with the IRS and get their checks.”

All a taxpayer has to do is update his or her address once. The IRS will then send out all checks due.

Stimulus Checks

It is crucial that taxpayers who may be due a stimulus check update their addresses with the IRS by Nov. 28, 2008. By law, economic stimulus checks must be sent out by Dec. 31 of this year. The undeliverable economic stimulus checks average $583.

The “Where’s My Stimulus Payment?" tool on this Web site is the quickest and easiest way for a taxpayer to check the status of a stimulus check and receive instructions on how to update his or her address. Taxpayers without internet access should call 1-866-234-2942.

Regular Refunds

The regular refund checks that were returned to the IRS average $988. These checks are resent as soon as taxpayers update their address.

Taxpayers can update their addresses with the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on this Web site. It enables taxpayers to check the status of their refunds. A taxpayer must submit his or her social security number, filing status and amount of refund shown on their 2007 return. The tool will provide the status of their refund and in some cases provide instructions on how to resolve delivery problems.

Taxpayers checking on a refund over the phone will be given instructions on how to update their addresses. Taxpayers can access a telephone version of “Where’s My Refund?” by calling 1-800-829-1954.


Taxpayers not sure of which type of check they may be due should check on a potential economic stimulus check first because of the looming deadline. See instructions above.

For Most People

The vast majority of checks mailed out by the IRS reach their rightful owner every year. Only a very small percent are returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable.

Through September 2008, the government distributed 116 million economic stimulus payments with only about 279,000 checks being undeliverable. Meanwhile, the IRS has distributed more than 105 million regular refunds this year with only about 104,000 being undeliverable. In both cases, well under one percent of refunds or stimulus checks were undeliverable.

Avoiding Future Problems

The IRS encourages taxpayers to choose direct deposit when they file their return because it puts an end to lost, stolen or undeliverable checks. Taxpayers can receive refunds directly into personal checking or savings accounts. Direct deposit is available for filers of both paper and electronic returns.

The IRS also encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically because e-file eliminates the risk of lost paper returns. E-file also reduces errors and speeds up refunds.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

US House of Reps. candidates raise 79% of their campaign monies from outside their districts

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and...Image via WikipediaGovernment reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.

"Remote Control" - House raises 79% of funds from out-of-district

As U.S. House members crisscross their districts looking for votes, they fail to mention that a shocking 79% of their campaign funds come from outside of the districts where their voters live. released our new report, "Remote Control," this morning, revealing this and other stunning findings:

  • 91 House members raised 90% or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts.
  • Only 13 House members, three percent, raised more than half of their funds from in-district, where their constituents live.
  • Of the top 20 Zip Codes contributing to U.S. House members, 15 are in Washington, DC and the surrounding area.

View a map of contributions to your House member:
map of campaign contributions

Our Remote Control report was featured yesterday evening on the National Public Radio show Markeplace, which reaches 4.5 million listeners each week. In the Marketplace story, Representative John Tanner (D-TN) defends raising 99% of funds from outside his district by saying, "In this town you have to raise money to participate in the system. I don't like the system, but that is the system that we deal with."

When elected officials like Rep. Tanner try to disassociate themselves from our broken money and politics system, it paves the way for change. Make a contribution to and support our research so we can continue shining a light on the connection between money and politics.

See our full report on out-of-district campaign contributions, including maps and figures for your Representative, at: Remote Control.

Please help us spread the word about our broken money and politics system--forward this email to a friend. Thank you for your support.

Dan Newman
Dan Newman
Executive Director

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All Things Reform now features top government reform news on top of our lefthand column

In an endeavor to stay abreast of expanding government reform news, All Things Reform has added top stories in the lefthand column. These news feeds cover all four areas of government reform: electoral reform, campaign finances, government ethics and government finances.

Now, every time you visit any page of All Things Reform blog, you have instant viewing of both our Twitter feed- which includes our Action Alerts- and top news in government reform.

We will continue to blog news and commentary articles as reform developments occur.

David Weller

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Action Alerts will now be posted exclusively on All Things Reform's Twitter feed, located on this blog's sidebar and at our Twitter account page

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseFrom now on, All Things Reform will give most Action Alerts only on its Twitter feed, which is continuously updated near the top of this blog's lefthand column. You are, of course, welcome to follow my Twitter posts directly, at; and, it has its own RSS feed- the URL is located at the bottom of the Twitter page.

Each tweet will include a link to the actual campaign's web page and a description of the call for action; the campaigns will more fully describe why there is an action alert, and they will give the quick, easy steps you may take to make a difference.

Thank you for your continued active interest in government reform; All Things Reform will continue to post regularly, right here, on political reform news and commentary.

David Weller

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More voter volunteer opportunities! Get involved!

All Things Reform now has even more voter volunteer opportunities in its lefthand column. A second list for it was made, because, the host blog service from Google, has broken feed modules. Nevertheless, there are still links in the lists that take you right to the volunteer opportunities.

General Election Day is coming upon us- it will be on Tuesday, November 4th, next week. Above all, please vote; the volunteer opportunities listed here include tweeting your voting problems and video recording and uploading your experience. There are many more opportunities that you can engage in, the most important of which is being a poll worker (please sign up soon!) and poll watcher.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Government reform news from around the web

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.

Washington State “Top-Two” Primary Data Shows Ballot Access Barrier Averages 32% Voter Support
Ballot Access News

Because Washington state is using the “top-two” system this year, no one may appear on the November ballot (for all state office, and for Congress) unless that person placed first or second in the August primary. This year’s August primary election returns reveal that the median 2nd-place finisher polled 32.41% of the vote.

Therefore, one may conclude that the ballot access barrier for the November ballot in Washington state this year is 32.41%, on the average. In other words, one may not appear on the November ballot without a prior showing of public support of almost one-third of the electorate. This fact lends strength for the pending lawsuit, Washington State Republican Party v Washington state, which will have a trial in U.S. District Court next year. The Libertarian Party, a co-plaintiff in that lawsuit, will probably take the lead, since the Libertarian Party is in a position to complain about the ballot access aspects of the “top-two” system. Prior decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court on ballot access make it clear that access to the general election ballot is protected for candidates who hold the constitutional qualifications, and who are not “sore losers”, and who have a modicum of support. “Modicum of support” has been interpreted to be 5%, a far lower level than 32%.

[BAN article accepts comments]

Why Aren't Candidates Talking about the Foundations of Prosperity?
Government Bytes! - National Taxpayers Union

During election season, candidates make a lot of promises about how they are going to make people better off. The importance and value of the American worker has been mentioned in a couple of debates. Yes, American workers contribute to societal prosperity, but they are not the essential feature. Our workers could not be prosperous in the absence of certain foundational institutions (for an international example: communism didn’t fail because Russians weren’t good workers). America has many vital institutions that have helped make us prosperous. One that certainly has not been given enough (or any) coverage this election season is the Rule of Law.


[NTU article accepts comments]

Dr. Ned Feder: Ethical Problems at NIH - The Struggle Continues
POGO Blog - Project on Government Oversight


Transparency and public disclosure are not a cure for the NIH's problems, but they are a good first step. A climate of openness is part of the tradition of science at its best. It would also reassure taxpayers if NIH policies were subject to scrutiny and public criticism by scientists inside the NIH. These scientists are the people best acquainted with the NIH's defects. But even if more liberal rules on public discussion are announced at NIH, it is hard to be optimistic that there will soon be a genuine climate of openness in which criticism can thrive.

[POGO article accepts comments]

Rinse and Repeat: Oversight Subcommittee Still Needs to Scrub MMS
POGO Blog - Project on Government Oversight

Last month we called for the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policy to conduct more oversight of the Minerals Management Service (MMS). We pointed out the Committee's Oversight plan for this Congress promised that the Subcommittee would "conduct oversight in many long neglected areas of domestic policy" like MMS. While we've commended Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for the Subcommittee's oversight of MMS in the past, the Subcommittee still has yet to conduct a single hearing on the matter in this session.


[POGO article accepts comments]

Deficits Do Matter
Taxpayers for Common Sense

This week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke observed that it is "appropriate" to consider a "significant" stimulus. Of course, the Chairman's comments that Congress "limit longer-term effects on the federal government's structural budget deficit" didn't get the same amount of attention.


[Taxpayers for Common Sense article accepts comments]

CAGW Names FCC Chairman Kevin Martin October Porker of the Month
Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin its October Porker of the Month for using FCC funds to sponsor a NASCAR driver from his home state.


For using taxpayer funds on an unnecessary project, diverting focus from more important telecommunications concerns, recklessly spending without consulting with his peers, and attempting to use his influence to shore up his own political prospects, CAGW names FCC Chairman Kevin Martin its October 2008 Porker of the Month.

Details on Mahoney Affair Get Seedier
TPM Muckraker

The Tim Mahoney story just keeps getting worse and worse.

First it was a settlement over an alleged affair; then it was a second alleged affair; then it was admitting to multiple affairs and now it's seedy details behind the settlement with Mahoney's former mistress.


[TPM Muckraker article accepts comments]

Palin appointed friends and donors to key posts in Alaska, records show
CREW - Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington


University of Alaska historian Steve Haycox said Palin has been a reformer. But he said she has a penchant for placing supporters, many of them ill-prepared, in high posts. He called it "cronyism" far beyond what previous governors have done and a contradiction of her high-minded philosophy.

Terrence Cole, an Alaska political historian, said Palin had in some cases shown "a disrespect for experience."

Administration officials disputed such criticism.


House Chairs Must Pay Party its Due
Voter Blog - Public Campaign


... the Democratic chairmen and women of high-powered committees must give at least $500,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).


[Public Campaign article accepts comments]

And he's gone!
All Things Whistleblower - GAP - Government Accountability Project

Yesterday, the White House decided to remove Special Counsel Scott Bloch. And GAP is pretty happy about it. From the Washington Post:

The OSC is supposed to be a haven for federal whistleblowers and disgruntled employees. But the tables turned under Bloch, who previously worked at the Justice Department's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Bloch came under fire shortly after joining the whistleblower unit in 2004. Employees claimed that he engaged in political bias and improperly handled scores of cases. By his own account, White House officials twice had asked him to resign, but he refused.

Said GAP Legal Director Tom Devine: “Mr. Bloch had the same impact as Special Counsel that President Bush has had as President – utter disaster.”

GAP has been a persistent critic of Bloch during his tenure at the Office of Special Counsel. To read GAP’s detailed testimony on this issue from a July 12, 2007 oversight hearing on the office, click here.

[GAP article accepts comments]

Silver Lining to the Financial Crisis
Budget Blog - OMB Watch


It shows precisely why Free Market® policy usually ends up not really working out as planned. Organizations do not have self-interest. The people that run corporations, however, do. And when executives are rewarded handsomely (AIG, Lehman, Merrill Lynch, etc.) even when their leadership ruins the firm, then one should hardly be shocked when executives engage in the sort of risky behavior that ultimately destroys the business and trashes shareholder equity.

Bailout Contracts Blacked Out
The Sunlight Foundation Blog - Sunlight Foundation

If I remember correctly, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson sat in a committee hearing and pledged transparency in the operation of the ongoing bailout of the nation’s financial sector. After initially proposing a plan that would have had no oversight or transparency, Paulson reversed course under committee grilling and promised transparency. That promised transparency must be so good because I sure can’t see it.

Bailout watchers report that bailout contracts written by Treasury are redacted, including how many bailout bucks banks are set to receive. Other contracts for accountants are also riddled with redactions. The Treasury Department needs to fulfill its promise of transparency by not redacting its contracts and loans during this incredibly expensive time for taxpayers.


[Sunlight Foundation article accepts comments]

Why an Independent Financial Markets Commission Is Needed Now
The Heritage Foundation


Public policy commissions can be useful to develop information, overcome structural barriers, and build consensus for politically divisive reforms. A Financial Markets Commission could contribute in all three areas...


Agricultural Dept. Fails To Handle Complaints of Discrimination, Says GAO
ACSBlog - ACS - American Constitution Society

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s process for handling discrimination complaints from minority workers is woeful, says a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Washington Post reports that the GAO report, released yesterday, slams the USDA’s efforts for resolving the complaints of discrimination, saying its credibility “has and continues to be undermined by faulty reporting of data.” The newspaper notes that African American USDA employees “have long complained of discrimination in hiring and promotions.”

[ACS article accepts comments]

Blagojevich Acting Shady
Government Bytes! - National Taxpayers Union

IL Gov. Rod Blagojevich won't tell taxpayers how much of their money he's spending on state-subsidized health care:

First, Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave out state-subsidized health care without permission.

Now, he won’t tell taxpayers how many people are participating, how much tax money has been spent, or even which state account he’s using to keep funds for the program.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ rejection of The Associated Press’ request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act amplifies the mystery surrounding Blagojevich’s FamilyCare program and the administration’s reputation for secrecy after promising open government.

[NTU article accepts comments]

DoD Fails to Control “Controlled Unclassified Info”
Secrecy News - FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Pentagon officials say that the Department of Defense and its contractors are failing to adequately protect “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) that may have significant military or technological value to adversaries or competitors.


[FAS article accepts comments]

The Price of Freedom (of Information)
CREW - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

About a month before Governor Sarah Palin was picked by Senator John McCain to be his running mate on the Republican ticket for his presidential bid, I filed a public records request with the governor’s office. My request asked for emails to or from Governor Palin and several of her staff members regarding the Alaskan candidates for the U.S. House and Senate (and, for fun, regarding her nemesis Andrew Halcro). Since Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell was running against Congressman Don Young in the Republican primary, I wanted to see if there was any politicking happening that was on state time or with the state’s resources (something Palin was found to have been doing during her last year as mayor of Wasilla).


DEFENSE: IG Hopes Report Will Just Go Away
PaperTrail - The Center for Public Integrity

The Pentagon’s inspector general attempted a quick disappearing act late this week. The IG officially rescinded an audit released this spring on the protection and oversight of classified Joint Strike Fighter information handled by BAE, a UK-based defense contractor. The audit found that classified information "may have been compromised." The audit, Report on Security Controls Over Joint Strike Fighter Classified Technology, was yanked from the IG’s website, according to an October 23 letter from the IG to the Defense Security Service.


[CPI article accepts comments]

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Government reform news from around the web

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.

Small Businesses Lose Again…and Again
POGO - Project on Government Oversight

Small businesses received two pieces of bad news in recent days. The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the federal government missed its 23 percent small business contracting goal, awarding 22 percent ($83.2 billion) to small businesses in FY 2007. Although the award total was higher than in FY 2006, few agencies met their small business goals, and the overall goal was missed. The scorecard shows that many agencies, including DOD, NASA, Education, Justice, and USAID, fell well short in numerous categories.

To make matters worse, recent reports have suggested that these numbers might not be very reliable. The Washington Post did an analysis showing that many agencies made "mistakes" by categorizing large companies as small companies in federal contracting reports. In fact, small business data has been a problem for many years, with the SBA often at the forefront of the debate and questions raised about manipulation of the numbers to increase small business totals.


Citizen Tim takes on Obama himself
CIR - Center for Investigative Reporting

The one form of political advertising that's completely unregulated and free is the speech of an individual citizen, even when money amplifies that speech by putting it on the airwaves. Tim D'Annunzio, who describes himself as a "concerned North Carolina businessman," is doing just that.


U.S. Election Will Cost $5.3 Billion, Center for Responsive Politics Predicts
OpenSecrets.Org - The Center for Responsive Politics

WASHINGTON -- The 2008 election for president and Congress is not only one of the most closely watched U.S. elections in years; it's also the most expensive in history. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics estimates that more than $5.3 billion will go toward financing the federal contests upcoming on Nov. 4.

The presidential race alone will cost nearly $2.4 billion, the Center predicts. Already the candidates alone have raised more than $1.5 billion since the election cycle's start in January 2007. This is the first time that candidates for the White House have raised and spent more than $1 billion, and this year's total is on track to nearly double candidate fundraising in 2004 and triple 2000.


Congress house members want iPhones!
Hardware2.0 -


The Chief Administrative Office (CAO), which oversees the communications systems for the House, has begun testing a small number of iPhones within its ranks to see if they are compatible with the working needs of lawmakers and staff.


What would you do with $534,000?
Citizen Vox - Public Citizen

* Action Alert *
Our country is facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. AIG, an insurance giant, recently received $123 billion of taxpayers’ money to rescue it from bankruptcy. But even though AIG executives knew their company was in danger of going broke, they continued the party, leaving taxpayers to deal with the hangover.


Votes Reportedly Flipping from Repub to Dem in TN!

Yesterday we reported the problems experienced at the Davidson County (Nashville), TN polls by Election Integrity filmmakers David and Patricia Earnhardt. Patricia, like so many others before, in so many elections past, saw her vote flip before her eyes on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen system from her intended candidate, Barrack Obama, to the Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney.

Last week, we noted voter reports from two different WV counties, Putnam and Jackson, both counties where the same ES&S iVotronic touch-screen machines (which are notorious for flipping and losing thousands of votes and costing at least one Democratic U.S. House nominee her rightful seat) similarly flipped votes away from Democratic candidates.

Earlier today, John Gideon reported on ES&S iVotronics in SC which fail to include a number of races on the final review screen. In at least one county in that state, during the Republican Primary earlier this year, the machines had failed to even turn on at all, leading voters to scramble to find scraps of paper to vote on. ES&S is the nation's largest supplier of voting machines.

Now, finally --- and thankfully --- we have a report of voters experiencing votes flipping from the Republican candidate John McCain, to the Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a second TN county. Does this mean someone can actually take some action to get these machines the hell out of service now?!...


Groups Call for Transparency In New President's Administration
Sunshine Week

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the one certainty is that there will be change. With an eye to that change, several groups are launching projects and reaching out to the candidates to ensure that government openness and Freedom of Information are priorities in the next administration.


Find Your Polling Place!
Declare Yourself!

So you're what? Two things, get informed and then find your polling place! Google has just released their polling place locater on Google Maps. Click here, then enter your address and the map will show you exactly where your polling place is!


NTU Launches New Website:
Government Bytes - National Taxpayers Union

* Action Alert *
As time wears on post-bailout, conservatives and libertarians will be engaged in a long battle with liberals to define the root causes of our current financial difficulties and their proper remedies. In an attempt to counteract the rapidly proliferating view that “deregulation and the excesses of capitalism” were the cause of our probems, NTU has joined with our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute to launch Our press release was sent today.

The purpose of the website is to educate about government’s role in our current financial difficulties and suggest reforms that address those root causes, but most of all, it’s an outlet for Americans to contact their Members of Congress and the Administration to express their frustration.


Agencies Counted Big Firms As Small

U.S. government agencies made at least $5 billion in mistakes in their recent reports of contracts awarded to small businesses, with many claiming credit for awards to companies that long ago outgrew the designation or never qualified in the first place, a Washington Post analysis shows.


Long Lines on Election Day: A Form of Voter Suppression?

Fogel is the director of FairVote. He said today: "FairVote surveyed 96 out of 134 Virginia city and county election officials and found that the state does not have a standardized method for allocating poll booths, which may cause long lines on Election Day. Long lines are often caused by an inadequate number of poll booths and have plagued voters, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, in the past several election cycles."


Groups Challenge Constitutionality of New Telecom Immunity Law
Advocacy Blog - OMB Watch

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has challenged the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments of 2008, which grants telecommunication companies retroactive immunity for helping with the government's warrantless surveillance program.


To Gut Species Protection, Interior Calls "All Hands on Deck"
REG WATCH Blog - OMB Watch

The Bush administration is moving at warp speed to finalize a rule that will allow big government projects to intrude on the habitats of endangered species.


Protect the Count Pt 1: Video the Precinct Tally Tapes: NEW Black Box Voting video: WHAT TO DO ON ELECTION NIGHT - Protect the Count!
Election Defense Alliance

While everyone's watching the VOTING, not enough people are watching the COUNTING! The action in this video is the #1 most important thing you can do to Protect the Count.


CCAGW and NTU Recommend Budget Cuts to Presidential Candidates
Citizens Against Government Waste

Dear Senators McCain and Obama,

In your series of Presidential debates, you have both expressed support for the idea of going through the budget “line by line” in order to root out waste and inefficiency. As watchdog organizations dedicated to the elimination of wasteful spending, the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) have spent years doing exactly that.

Both of our organizations maintain extensive lists of programs that could be cut or legislation that would reduce spending. We target programs that are either ineffective or duplicative, or activities best left to state and local governments or the private sector.


Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: A Preventable Homeland Security Catastrophe
The Heritage Foundation

A major threat to America has been largely ignored by those who could prevent it. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack could wreak havoc on the nation's electronic systems—shutting down power grids, sources, and supply mechanisms. An EMP attack on the United States could irreparably cripple the coun­try. It could simultaneously inflict large-scale damage and critically limit our recovery abilities. Congress and the new Administration must recognize the signifi­cance of the EMP threat and take the necessary steps to protect against it.


Bad Court Ruling Could End Checks on Industry Funded 'Science'
Watchdog Blog - Public Citizen

Yesterday, the Washington Post noticed a disturbing trend that we have been following for a long time – the corporatization of scientific research ostensibly conducted by unbiased and trustworthy sources like, in this case, the Food and Drug Administration. Science has been twisted to serve corporate ends for decades – see the tobacco industry's "studies" showing that smoking is not dangerous. Most of the time, these justifications for unhealthy or dangerous products are given precisely the credibility they deserve – none. Perhaps realizing this, the new trend is to funnel money behind the scenes to get disreputable science published by reputable sources.


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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Government reform news from around the web

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.

Open Senate Project Launched
SLA Government Information Division

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation has just launched a new project, the Open Senate Project.

Knowing we had a great opportunity to corner Sen. Ensign, who’s blocking a bill requiring electronic reporting for senators’ campaign contributions, we sent our intrepid staff to the National Press Club today, where he was holding forth on other matters. We asked Sen. Ensign why he continues to hold up S. 223., a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that illuminates the connection between money and politics, is proud to announce the launch of its new Comments Section. This online collaborative tool allows journalists, citizens, and non-profit groups to exchange information and ideas, and engage in meaningful debate.

Big Money Mitch Launches
Public Campaign Action Fund blogs

Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch launched a new site aimed at educating voters about Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) opposition to campaign finance reform and his favors for campaign donors.

Steal Back Your Vote!
NewsTrust - Election Reform - Top Stories

STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, the investigative comic book voter guide by Bobby Kennedy and me [Greg Palast] is now available to download for free free free at (That's thanks to your generous donations to date.)

Just $6 blogs

As Connecticut wraps up its first full cycle under Clean Elections, with three quarters of candidates voluntarily turning down special interest money in favor of public funds, the Hartford Courant has a story on the new program's success.

>All Things Reform Mobile: >Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (not toll-free) >US House/Senate Mobile: >Contact your reps tips: >Shortened All Things Reform URL:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remind your state election official that registered voters are still eligible to vote if in home foreclosure

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.
National Campaign for Fair Elections

[You own state's leader for election administration ultimately answers to we, the people. -David Weller]

Foreclosed? You can still vote

Imagine losing your home... then having your vote challenged too!

Protect the votes of those going through difficult foreclosures.

Contact your state officials - tell them to prepare for voter challenges on Election Day.

You've heard of predatory lending - well, another type of predator has emerged this election season.

According to recent reports, these predators are planning to illegally suppress turnout by challenging the voting eligibility of citizens going through foreclosures.

Imagine that: losing your home, and then having your vote challenged.
It's illegal, it's wrong, and we need your help to make sure it doesn't happen.

Tell your state officials to be vigilant about stopping this voter suppression tactic.

As the New York Times explained in an editorial last week, partisans are compiling lists of voters who've lost their homes so they can argue to poll workers that the foreclosed individual no longer has a local address and cannot vote in that community.

Many of our state elections officials are already working hard to make sure every voter can cast their ballot, and we thank them. But we need your help to make sure that every official in every state is taking these critical steps:

  • Widely advertise the law in their specific state, and let people who have lost their homes know how they can change their registration and vote.
  • Properly train poll-workers so that they know the law, and make sure there are enough of them to handle the confusion that could arise at the polls.
  • Remind local boards of election that the fact that a voter is involved in a foreclosure is not, by itself, sufficient basis for challenging his or her right to vote.

Election Day is just weeks away. We're running out of time - protect the right to vote by acting today!

Make sure YOUR state elections official is doing all she or he can to keep the mortgage crisis from turning into a democratic crisis. Send your letter today!

Once you've taken action, please take a minute to urge friends and family to do the same. Don't let people who have lost their homes lose their vote, too!

Thank you for all your work.


Jonah Goldman

National Campaign for Fair Elections
Legal Leader of the Election Protection Coalition

>All Things Reform Mobile: >Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (not toll-free) >US House/Senate Mobile: >Contact your reps tips: >Shortened All Things Reform URL:

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Bailouts deepen the already deep financial condition of the US government

A Medicare card, with several areas of the car...A Medicare card.
Image via Wikipedia
Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.
Facing Up to the Nation's Finances

[The deepening federal fiscal condition is receiving increasing alarm and entreaties from America's fiscal watchdogs. -David Weller]

More and more economists are arguing that a global financial crisis isn't the time to worry about the federal deficit. A wide range of budget expert and economists – even the ones who'd normally be considered budget hawks -- say the government has to do whatever it takes to stabilize the financial markets, get credit flowing, and mitigate the recession that's almost certainly upon us. If that means running deficits, they argue, then that's what we'll have to do.

And make no mistake about it: the federal government will run deficits over the next few years. The Congressional Budget Office projected deficits of more than $400 billion for the next two years, even before the global financial crisis hit. Since then, we've added a $700 billion bailout plan, and the next presidential administration will very probably add some sort of additional stimulus package to that. That could add up to an unprecedented $1 trillion deficit next year.

Despite any campaign rhetoric you may have heard, it's going to be almost impossible to balance the budget under those circumstances. You can't possibly cut spending enough or raise taxes enough to bring those figures into line without doing massive damage to vital programs or to the broader economy.

So, fair enough. When you're trying to put out a fire, you don't worry about how much water you're using. No one wants the U.S. economy to wind up like Japan in the 1990s. The real challenge facing us will be making sure the solution to the current crisis doesn't set us up for the next one.

It's absolutely true, there are times when running a deficit makes sense. And if the government only ran in the red during recessions and national emergencies, we'd be laughing. But in this country, we routinely ask more of the government than we're willing to pay for. The U.S. has run a deficit for 31 of the last 35 years, and we weren't in a constant state of crisis for those decades. Deficits are the default setting, and they make it harder to deal with real emergencies when they do crop up.

Secondly, the long-term outlook for the federal budget is very, very ugly. Every expert who looks at the long-term state of the budget uses the same word to describe it: unsustainable. The national debt has reached a staggering $10 trillion, and we've got another $53 trillion in liabilities ahead of us to pay for Medicare and Social Security for the baby boomers.

The national debt and those future liabilities could represent the next crisis, after this one. Unless we get the government's financial house in order, unless we find a way of paying for Medicare and Social Security, we'll be looking at a government debt crisis that could be just as painful – and just as avoidable – as the current financial meltdown.

The good news is that, unlike the global financial meltdown, we still have time to deal with the federal budget. Not much time, perhaps, but some. The key thing now is to cope with the current credit crisis and slumping economy without making our long-term budget problems too much worse. We probably can't avoid adding to the national debt to get through the current emergency. But we can at least make sure the money we're borrowing is used wisely: to stimulate the economy and make decisions that will strengthen us in the long run. And we can – we absolutely must -- start the hard work of fixing Social Security and Medicare before they get out of hand.

Otherwise, we may find a second fire has been smoldering while we're been preoccupied with putting this one out.

>All Things Reform Mobile: >Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (not toll-free) >US House/Senate Mobile: >Contact your reps tips: >Shortened All Things Reform URL:

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Ask your congress members and candidates to take a stand on Change Congress' four government reforms

Logo for Change CongressImage via WikipediaGovernment reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.
Change Congress

[We are in an important phase of Change Congress' project to bring the most important government reforms of today to Congress. Please help. -David Weller]

A democracy crisis

Just over 6 months ago, I agreed with Joe Trippi to help start a movement for fundamental reform in Congress. We understood that this was a long term project. But as we felt then -- and as the events of the last 6 months only confirmed -- we face, as Al Gore has put it, "a democracy crisis." And until we fix this, we won't fix any of the critical problems that face our society.

Many of you urged me to do this. And so I'm asking now for a favor in return. We've started. We've made important progress. But we need you now to help us make an important mark before this election comes to an end. Will you pester your member of Congress today?

Our first project has been to get Members of Congress as well as candidates for Congress to take a stand on our issues of reform. We don't demand that they agree with any particular reform (yet). We simply call upon them to have the courage at least to say where they stand.

The five people you see listed below are the first five Members of Congress to take a stand: Barney Frank (D-MA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and John Tierney (R-MA). Four Democrats, and one Republican have signed a pledge to support planks in our platform for reform. These 5 are joined now by over 200 challengers, meaning so far we have about a quarter of all candidates for Congress who have taken a stand.

That's a start. But it's not good enough. And so I'm asking again: please help us get Members and candidates to take a stand. You can join our "pester" campaign by clicking below, and we'll make it extremely easy for you to write, or call, or email members or candidates who have not yet taken a stand.

This should be a simple thing in a democracy: Tell us, candidate, what you believe. It should be a hard thing to hide. Yet in the politics of today, the simple thing is to hide. Help us make the simple hard.
Thank you,

Lawrence Lessig Founder,
Change Congress

>All Things Reform Mobile: >Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (not toll-free) >US House/Senate Mobile: >Contact your reps tips: >Shortened All Things Reform URL:

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A pro-con approach to whether congress members engage in insider trading

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.

[A bar graph covering the last couple of decades indicates that US Senators have enjoyed 11% more in stock market returns than the market average. -David Weller]

Should insider trading by Congress be prohibited?

This site presents in a simple, nonpartisan pro-con format, responses to the core question "Should insider trading by Congress be prohibited?" We have divided questions about the topic into the issues and sub-issues listed below.

Defining Insider Trading
Insider Trading Law and Regulation
Legal Loophole for Congressional Insider Trading

Legislation and Enforcement
Congress and the STOCK Act

Congressional Insider Trading
Information Advantage
Ethics and Transparency

Political Intelligence and Insider Trading
Political Intelligence Disclosure Act
Cases of Political Intelligence Use

Effect on Investors and the Market

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Wednesday, Oct. 22nd is the deadline on the Voters First pledge for Clean Elections

Government reform orgs. deliver news on major events within their areas of expertise.
Public Citizen

[The more congressional candidates sign the Clean Elections pledge, the greater the chance that a bill for it will be passed next year. -David Weller]

Count Down for Putting Voters First
October 20, 2008

Take Action to Put Voters First!

Support more accountability to voters!

Write Today!

We've followed up on the letter we sent to all congressional candidates back in early July that asked them to sign the Voters First Pledge, a simple statement of support for legislation for a new system of pubic funding for congressional campaigns. So far, nearly 220 congressional candidates have made the pledge to put voters first in their campaigns. But some candidates have still not told us where they stand.

You can help: Ask your member of Congress to take the Voters First Pledge today.

As the nation faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, now is the time for more accountability to voters. Wall Street and powerful financial interests should not be funding campaigns for Congress if we want a political system that truly works for the American people. Public confidence in Congress is at an all-time low, and most voters (rightly) assume that both incumbents and challengers are under the undue influence of special interests.

Having a commitment from members of Congress to support a change in campaign financing that puts voters before big campaign donors would be an encouraging first step toward real change in Washington.

With a new presidential administration in the New Year and the potential for change in this election season, the time is right to reform the business behind politics. Supporting public financing is a win-win for candidates because it shows a true commitment to change the business as usual in Washington and also is a proven way to free officials from the money chase and truly represent the best interests of their constituents.

We've asked candidates to sign the Voters First Pledge by this Wednesday, October 22.

Urge your members of Congress and the candidates in your home town to sign today! Then forward this e-mail to at least five of your friends and ask them to do the same!

Thank you for all you do,
Angela, Eric, & the rest of the Congress Watch Action Team at Public Citizen

>All Things Reform Mobile: >Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (not toll-free) >US House/Senate Mobile: >Contact your reps tips: >Shortened All Things Reform URL:

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