Why did 94 Dems change their position on telco spying immunity?

Maplight.org digs deeper into the 94 Dems who changed their position on telco immunity on the FISA bill, in the time since it was rejected by the House in March:

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.

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 full list is available at the link Maplight’s web site.

This is a perfect example of what Obama is up against when he talks about changing Washington. He’s up against moneyed interests and weak-willed Democrats, who won’t take a stand on tough issues.

No one doubts Obama is running an above-board campaign, and the small donors that fuel his campaign bolster him against special interests. But part of “changing Washington” isn’t just keeping your own house in order. It’s about providing leadership, and it’s about providing political cover — would some of these Congressional Reps have changed their vote if Obama had come out loud and strong against the FISA bill when we first started hearing about a compromise deal?

Changing Washington means changing the behavior of those willing to trade away our rights for campaign donations.


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