Audit D.C. Notes: A Deal Unravels, Vuvuzela Valentine, Senate Sport

Politico has some great reporting on the Democrats’ backroom maneuvering to pass the Disclose Act, which would increase disclosure requirements on special interest spending on campaign ads—and the way the whole thing fell apart in dramatic fashion.

The proposal is an attempt to counteract the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and the Politico story smartly shows how Democratic leaders have been tying themselves in knots, carving out loopholes and building odd coalitions, as they try to round up the votes.

There are good details about behind-the-scenes negotiations, and splits within Washington’s vast world of lobbyists and special interests. Check out this great line from the Chamber of Commerce’s top lobbyist, about the NRA’s wheeling and dealing:

“I would suggest to you that they have decided that protecting the Second Amendment right is their mission and cutting a deal on the First Amendment to ensure their capacity to protect the Second Amendment was more important to them, the result of which was to toss overboard roughly 100,000 other associations,” asserted Josten.

It’s a good story, and a good snapshot of the current Washington scene.

—It seemed cute, a few weeks ago, when NPR All Things Considered host Melissa Block interviewed sportswriter Stefan Fatsis about what to watch for in the World Cup. As Block explained to listeners, Fatsis, a regular NPR contributor, is her husband (and coach of their daughter’s soccer team), and there was something just this side of annoying in the way he provided an “idiot’s guide” to the tournament.

That was then. Now I think the piece was brilliant. It aired on May 26, and it’s the first time I heard about the vuvuzela, the now ubiquitous sound of soccer.

Mr. FATSIS: Man, those vuvuzelas are driving me nuts.

(Soundbite of horns)

Mr. FATSIS: You’re going to hear a lot of the vuvuzela. It’s a long horn and the South Africans are sort of a traditional instrument. There are going to be these plastic ones in all of the stadiums and it’s going to drive you nuts.

He was right.

—In more sports news, The Washington Post finds something really juicy in Sen. Jim Bunning’s financial disclosure statement. The retiring Kentucky Republican didn’t get much love from his teammates in the GOP. But his old baseball team was pretty nice to him.

The Philadelphia Phillies gave the Hall of Fame pitcher a World Series ring last year, to commemorate the team’s 2008 championship. As the Post notes:

Now, Bunning didn’t pitch a single inning for the team in 2008, but he did rack up 89 wins for the club during his career. And the ring must have been a nice treat, given that Bunning never got to pitch in the postseason during his 17 seasons in the majors.

To get the baseball bling, Bunning needed a waiver from the Senate Ethics Committee. And his disclosure form notes a few other benefits of baseball:

Bunning’s former profession paid off in other ways in 2009. His disclosure form reveals that he earned close to $20,000 in baseball-related income for the year, most of it for appearances at baseball card shows plus $1,250 for a “private baseball signing” in Michigan.

When he finishes his time on the Hill, Bunning won’t need anyone’s permission to receive jewelry. And he’ll have plenty of time for those private signings.

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at