By Elana Schor - 09/28/07 06:08 PM EDT
Ensign refused to elaborate on which outside groups he believes are filing ethics complaints against senators for partisan purposes: “I’m just telling you, it’s becoming more and more of a problem,” he said. Ensign’s amendment would force groups petitioning the Senate Ethics Committee to disclose the identity of donors giving more than $5,000.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Rules Committee chairwoman who for months has sought to pass the electronic-filing bill unanimously, said she did not understand why Ensign had spurned her offer for a hearing on his proposal. Pushing a vote on the donor-disclosure ban would be “enough to take down that [e-filing] bill,” she said, attributing Ensign’s opposition to his role as the Senate GOP’s campaign chief.
“I don’t think they win with this,” Feinstein said of the NRSC. If the bill requiring quick Internet publishing of campaign disclosures stays blocked, she added, the NRSC would not “have to reveal who [its] late-in-the-campaign contributors are.”
Ensign deflected charges from watchdog groups that he is aiming to sink the bill. Contending on the floor that Senate ethics complaints “can be on a beverage napkin or written in crayon,” he contended that the lack of easy-to-move vehicles in the upper chamber make it imperative to seek a vote on his plan immediately.
Ensign added that he consulted with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) before deciding on his strategy, deeming the push for the amendment “something we did together … we discussed it. I felt it was a good idea for me to do it.”