Fourth Amendment: December 15, 1791 — July 9, 2008

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Damn it’s done. The Senate overwhelmingly approved neo-FISA by a vote of 69-28.

41 votes? What the??? At least our Senators voted against it.

And so the telecoms are popping the corks, and here’s my fantasy of Pelosi and Reid explaining to us why the Fourth Amendment had to go the way of the dodo:

Harsh? Well, MAPlight.org did a striking analysis after the House vote last month:

Last week, on June 20, the House of Representatives approved a compromise bill to …effectively shield telecommunications companies from lawsuits resulting from the government’s warrantless eavesdropping on phone calls and viewing emails of private citizens in the U.S.

…On March 14 of this year the House passed an amendment that rejected retroactive immunity for phone carriers who helped the National Security Agency carry out the illegal wiretapping program without proper warrants. Ninety-four House Democrats voted in favor of this measure–rejecting immunity–on March 14, then ‘changed’ to vote in favor of the June 20 House bill–approving immunity.

MAPLight.org’s research department compiled PAC campaign contributions from Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint and correlated them with the voting records of all House members who voted on last week’s FISA bill. (The analysis used data from CRP; contributions were from January 2005 through March 2008). Here are the findings:

Comparing Democrats’ Votes (March 14th and June 20th votes):

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint gave PAC contributions averaging:

$8,359 to each Democrat who changed their position to support immunity for Telcos (94 Dems)
$4,987 to each Democrat who remained opposed to immunity for Telcos (116 Dems)

88 percent of the Dems who changed to supporting immunity (83 Dems of the 94) received PAC contributions from Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint during the last three years (Jan. 2005-Mar. 2008).*

The pot hasn’t been exactly empty for the leadership, either:

Telecom Contributions – 2006

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House
Time Warner $13,200
AT&T Inc $13,000
Comcast Corp $10,000
Communications Workers of America $10,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
Total Pelosi $56,200

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chmn. Sen. Intell. Cmte.
AT&T Inc $16,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $16,000
BellSouth Corp $14,900
Total Rockefeller $46,900

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-CA), House Majority Leader
AT&T Inc $12,000
Comcast Corp $10,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $10,000
Time Warner $10,000
Total Hoyer $42,000

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader
BellSouth Corp $31,050

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader
AT&T Inc $22,000

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Leader
NelNet Inc $19,600

*FYI, the NY flippers were
Meeks NY-6
Crowley NY-7 (!!)
Engel NY-17
McCarthy NY-4
Bishop NY-1
Lowey NY-18
Arcuri NY-24
Higgins NY-27
Gillibrand NY-20

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