Chuck Schumer's general counsel, once a Goldman Sachs lobbyist, won't disclose the names of 95% of his former clients

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/13/vampire-squid-democrats.html

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#2

We really, really, need term limits for both the House and Senate

I don’t care if they are the greatest policy maker in the world and saved millions of people somehow.

They all get corrupt sooner or later and it’s the only way to guarantee the crud is swept out routinely.

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#3

Well, you know what they say - I’ve you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.

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#4

His opaqueness would become more translucent if he were sliced thin enough.

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#5

Term limits are meaningless. The root of the problem is private money in politics. We have reached a point where the only way you could convict a U.S. Senator or Representative of bribery was if you had a video of someone passing them a bag labeled with dollar signs while saying, “I am bribing you,” while the congressperson in question would have to acknowledge this by clearly replying, “I am being bribed.” Even then, you’d be unlikely to get a conviction out of this.

Why is it that Schumer and Pelosi can’t seem to get anything useful done in Congress? Are they just too weak and/or stupid?

Hardly. Rather, they’re accomplishing exactly what their wealthy donors – or by antiquated standards, bribers – want them to accomplish, which is to say, nothing of value to 99.99% of the American people.

Granted, billionaires are as varied a subspecies as any group of humans, so they span the spectrum from ridiculously evil to fairly benign. But the very fact of being a billionaire represents significant pathology, and remaining a billionaire for any amount of time suggests a fundamental devotion to the status quo. The wealthy donors controlling Senator Schumer’s behavior may or may not be evil, but they clearly not on our side.

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#6

Are lawyers supposed to publicize the list of their clients? That sort of sounds wrong to me, but IANAL.

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#7

just another case of a traditional Dem that has to go

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#8
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#9

No, you really, really don’t. Term limits are a bad idea that sounds like a good idea, that’s why they keep popping up. But the problem is, legislation is actually a complicated job, and experience matters a lot.

With term limits, there is a constant churn of new representatives who don’t know the ropes, and the older ones are constantly being termed out as they’ve accumulated some experience. As a result, there’s a massive loss of institutional and individual legislative experience, which is a bad thing. As another result, it’s the unelected staff, as well as lobbyists, who become the well of experience, increasing their influence over the elected representatives. And for a third result, the knowledge that you’ll be termed out whether you do a good job or a shit job, whether you look out for your constituents or spend your final term giving payouts to your donors and every industry that’s lobbied to you, makes representatives less accountable and more corrupt. And where do the termed-out representatives move? To no small extent, they become lobbyists, worsening the problem.

Tl;dr: Term limits are not a good idea. They’re superficially appealing, but they don’t actually solve the problems people suggesting them want to solve, and actually make many of those problems worse.

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#10

Could it be that, until recently, they were both minority leaders in the Congress, and could only get anything useful done if they could peel off Republicans to vote alongside the Democrats?

Pelosi’s now the House Speaker, and Democrats have a majority in the House, which is good, but they have barely gotten started. And the Democrats are still in the minority in the Senate, which places serious limitations on what they can’t achieve.

So again, tl; dr: It’s not that they’re weak or stupid, and it’s not that they’re corrupt; it’s that the composition of the House and the Senate matters an awful lot, and until the Democrats have majorities in both chambers (or the Republicans return to sanity), their ability to get things done has some stark limits.

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#11

Very much no. At least not without their permission.

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#12

I agree with everything you just said. This is perhaps the greatest time in history to be in the United States government, from the standpoint of personal enrichment. They’re engaged in this never-ending theatrical budget showdown that allows them to backseat all the things that actually matter (healthcare, environment, civil rights). It’s exactly what the donors want to see.

Also, I’m beginning to understand how proper graft works in the 21st century. You have a lawyer with whom you have attorney-client privilege, and that lawyer has other clients who pay him enormous consulting fees for work which may or may not actually happen.

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#13

Came here to say the same thing, would be a major ethics violation.

#14

In the UK, we have a fairly toothless requirement to register if you lobby the government for pay and it’s not done incidentally to your main activity which is not lobbying.

Exactly when a law firm is required to register vs. occasionally addressing government people on behalf of their clients is blurry but if you are required to register that includes disclosing who you are lobbying for.

That supersedes client confidentiality for solicitors.

http://registrarofconsultantlobbyists.org.uk/guidance/requirements-to-register/exemptions-from-registration/

In his case, I couldn’t say from the description on the old website whether that involved lobbying or whether it is what it says - advisory work.

The Intercept and Cory’s summary give a rather distorted picture by prominently mentioning his Goldman Sachs lobbying without making it clear that the clients he is declining to disclose are not in relation to his time at Goldman Sachs.

He was at Goldman Sachs 2004-2008.

There may be plenty to criticise him for but declining to disclose details of who he acted for as a lawyer is not one of them.

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#15

So this is one of those threads where the original poster should know better, and people who don’t know what’s going on get all heated up with righteous anger?

#16

I think this should be repackaged as a “There Oughta Be a Law!” thread. And the law would be that if you are a lawyer for an elected official, you must disclose who your other clients are. Or perhaps elected representatives may only use state or federal attorneys for all matters, public or private, and may not work with or make agreements with private sector attorneys while in office.

#17

Yeah as opposed to the great job he was doing for years before that. Ugh. He’s always been one of my least favorite senators.

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