For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565

CREW Releases Analysis of Credit Card Execs' 2008 Electoral Cycle Political Giving

WASHINGTON - In light of President Obama's meeting with credit card executives
last month - and the administration's restrictive new rule on
registered lobbyists seeking stimulus funds - Citizens for
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) analyzed those industry
executives' 2008 election cycle donations to illustrate the influence
they wield in government.

Last month, CREW, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the
American League of Lobbyists (ALL) urged the White House to rewrite the
new rule on registered lobbyists seeking Recovery Act funds, because
the rule will not result in the transparency the administration seeks.
The rule restricts the ability of only registered lobbyists to
influence decisions related to stimulus funds, but the influence game
is played by more than lobbyists - it is played by CEOs and other top
executives.

On April 23, 14 credit card company executives met with President
Obama "to discuss the impact of the current crisis on consumers."
CREW's study found that the attendees - only one of whom is a
registered lobbyist - personally donated roughly $50,000 to federal
candidates, while employees of their companies contributed $14.5
million, and their companies' political action committees contributed
$8.6 million. In addition, during the first quarter of 2009 alone,
these companies spent almost $15.5 million on lobbying fees in an
effort to influence legislators.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, "In light of the
amount of money these corporate titans and their companies have poured
into campaign coffers, are we really to believe lobbyists hold more
sway than they do? Shouldn't the public be just as concerned that these
heavy hitters can influence policy at least as much as their lobbyists
can?"

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Sloan continued, "While CREW applauds the president's efforts to
improve transparency, the ban on lobbyists is little more than window
dressing."

A stronger option, endorsed by CREW, the ACLU and ALL, would be to
require disclosure of all communications - by non-lobbyists and
lobbyists alike. This would more effectively target the backroom deals
about which Americans are legitimately concerned. Only full
transparency will allow the public to decide who is unduly influencing
our country's policy and root-out corruption.

Click here to read CREW's summary and analysis, or view the file in the Related Documents section on the right.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.

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