Photo: Rahm Emanuael
Senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein are drafting an amendment to legislation pending in the Senate to protect reporters from either disclosing their sources or being fined or going to jail. They want to exempt WikiLeaks from protection of what are called “media shield” laws and make sure the courts know that these laws should only protect traditional news gathering material rather than websites that post documents.
A recent investigation by DCBureau.org into a New York State lawmaker’s apparent conflict of interest is renewing calls for tougher standards of disclosure for officeholders. The situation stems from State Sen. George Winner’s endorsement of industry-drafted revisions to gas drilling laws at the same time his law firm represented the state’s largest natural gas producer.
Winner acknowledges his firm has done real estate deals with a gas producer, but denies a conflict of interest.
Lawmakers who are also attorneys are not required to disclose their client list to the Ethics Commission. Former law partner to Winner, Christopher Denton, said, “Now if you’re a legislator and there is a lot of legislation being proposed to you and you represent companies that are proposing that legislation, that ought to be fully disclosed.”
A U.S. Senate compromise bill, offered by Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Democratic Senator John Kerry, would cut greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. The legislation faces a challenge for passage in the Senate this year, having garnered no Republican sponsors.
The legislation also provides incentives for offshore drilling, but in light of the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, includes protection for states that do not want drilling off their shore. Incentives for an expansion of nuclear power generation are also included.
The bill aims to support promises President Obama made to world leaders in December that the U.S. would finally be determined to concentrate on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
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