Daily Media Links 1/3: Md. legislative panel recommends closing loopholes, raising campaign contribution limits, New D.C. ethics group names general counsel, and more…

Disclosure
 
Daily Caller: Disclosure as political armament 
By Paul H. Jossey
Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), unhappy with recent increases in political spending, have proposed sweeping new regulations to the federal campaign-finance system. The duo casts its prescription as an altruistic elixir designed to spare Americans from the anguish of too much political speech.    
 
SCOTUS/Judiciary
 
Washington Post, LTE: The real restriction on campaign contributions 
By Rodney A. Smith
The real curse in American politics is the Supreme Court’s 1976Buckley v. Valeo decision, which severely restricts the amount of money a candidate can receive except from his or her own pockets. Unless candidates have deep pockets, they are like a starving army — vulnerable to defeat when attacked by forces with superior resources.  
 

Candidates, Politicians and Parties

 
Time: The Cost of Romney’s Government-Assisted Transition: $8.9 Million  
By Katy Steinmetz 
One of the less scintillating milestones of the 2012 election was marked by the General Services Administration, when Mitt Romney became the first candidate to take advantage of the Presidential Transition Act of 2010. The Act, spearheaded by former Sen. Ted Kaufman, provides resources for major candidates to start planning for their presidency long before Election Day. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, TIME acquired documents from the GSA that show the scope–and cost–of this unprecedented government-assisted transition. 
 

Lobbying and Ethics

 
Washington Post: In Congress, relatives lobby on bills before family members 
By David S. Fallis and Dan Keating
The Post analysis shows that the interests of lawmakers and their relatives have overlapped to varying degrees on bills before Congress. In the past six years, for example, 36 congressional relatives — including spouses, children, siblings, parents and in-laws — have been paid to influence 250 bills passing through their family members’ congressional committees or sponsored by the members.  
 
CNN: Congressional ethics investigators could soon be silenced 
By Scott Bronstein, Joe Johns, and Rahel Solomon,
It is one of the most important watchdogs in Washington. That’s because the OCE is the only quasi-independent government body whose sole mandate is to formally investigate members of Congress. 
 
Boston Globe: Countrywide loan probe ended by House panel with no action taken  
Allegations surrounding mortgage loans to House members and staffers through Countrywide Chief Executive Officer Angelo Mozilo’s ‘‘Friends of Angelo’’ initiative or other so-called VIP programs are either too old or involve people no longer employed in the House, the Ethics Committee’s Republican chairman and ranking Democrat said in a statement Thursday.  
 

FEC

 
Washington Post: The toothless watchdog FEC 
Editorial
IT IS HARD to identify a federal agency in Washington more dysfunctional than the Federal Election Commission. Terms have expired for five of the six commissioners, and by next spring, the entire commission will be a lame duck if nothing is done. The number of enforcement actions — at the core of the FEC’s mission — has fallen to an all-time low. Created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, the commission now behaves as an immobilized observer while campaigns are swamped with a tidal wave of hidden cash.  
 
State and Local
 
District of Columbia –– Washington Post: New D.C. ethics group names general counsel
By Catherine Ho
The D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, the body created earlier this year as part of new ethics laws adopted in the wake of investigations of misconduct by city officials, has named Stacie Pittell to be its lead attorney.  
 
Maryland –– Associated Press: Md. legislative panel recommends closing loopholes, raising campaign contribution limits 
The Commission to Study Campaign Finance Law says the state should close loopholes that have allowed donors to contribute large amounts of money to campaigns through multiple limited-liability corporations.  

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