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A Washington watchdog group is inviting you to engage in some "CSI" work, which, in this case, means "Campaign Spending Investigation."
The Center for Responsive Politics is asking the public to help them figure out which Capitol Hill lawmakers are pulling the strings behind the scenes of about 30 "mystery" fundraising political action committees.
Under current rules, these politicians do not have to disclose their control of their so-called "leadership PACs," which they use as vehicles to give themselves campaign cash or reward fellow legislators with donations — often as a way to curry future favor for their own political ambitions.
So the watchdogs hope you can help them unmask who's behind these "mystery PACs," which include Penguin PAC (which gave $35,000 to Democratic lawmakers last year), Serving America's Citizens PAC (source of $31,000 to Republicans), and Dam PAC ($21,000 to Republicans).
The full list is at www.opensecrets.org. Send your findings, along with documentation, to MysteryPACs(at)crp.org.
Looks like Walter Reed Army Medical Center won't be closing anytime soon. Doomed by the 2005 base-closing commission, the landmark facility was given what could be a decade-long stay when Congress slipped in a provision in the Iraq war funding bill last week postponing its closure until new facilities are built and fully equipped at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in nearby Maryland and Fort Belvoir over the Potomac in Virginia.
Given the pace of planning for those projects — and the significant local opposition due to traffic and sprawl concerns — the premier hospital for the war wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan should remain in business long after its 2011 shutdown date.
Sharpen your elbows for pitched combat over the armrests this summer, which the Air Transport Association forecasts will see a record 209 million passengers taking to the skies on vacations from June through August. That would be a 3 percent jump over the same time last year.
Good and bad news on the highways: Preliminary stats from the U.S. Transportation department show there was a slight drop in overall road deaths nationally last year: 43,330 in 2006 compared to 43,443 in 2005. Injuries dropped 6 percent; pedestrian fatalities fell slightly, from 4,881 to 4,768; deaths from large truck crashes were down nearly 4 percent. But alcohol-related deaths climbed more than 2 percent.
(Reach Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)shns.com. For more news go to scrippsnews.com)