As one of the 12 members of a congressional “supercommittee’’ charged with developing a plan by Thanksgiving for cutting $1.5 trillion from the federal budget deficit, Senator John Kerry has the potential to influence huge decisions about the future of social and military spending.
For that reason, he and the other committee members are certain targets for lobbying by all manner of individuals and organizations.
Kerry says he will have none of it.
“I’m not meeting with a lot of lobbyists; I’m meeting with people I choose to meet with, who can inform me, assist in the process of crunching numbers and dealing with consequences, and so forth,’’ Kerry told the Globe last week in his first extensive interview about his committee membership.
The Massachusetts Democrat added for emphasis: “My schedule is tight and very managed and it does not include meeting with a whole bunch of lobbyists right now.’’
In the same vein, the committee members are facing calls from good-government groups to eschew fund-raising while they are serving on the panel, or to disclose the source of any donations they receive in real-time, rather than waiting for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual federal disclosure deadlines.
On the Democratic side, there is particular concern because on of the supercommittee’s co-chairmen is Senator Patty Murray. In addition to representing Washington state in Congress, she serves as chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Its goal is to elect Democrats to the Senate, and groups have expressed concern that Murray could leverage her supercommittee role to solicit donations to the DSCC as her party seeks to maintain control after the 2012 elections.
Murray has vowed not to resign either job, and in her opening statement at the supercommittee’s first meeting last week, she said, “As we move forward, I hope we can continue to not allow ourselves to be boxed in or pigeonholed by special interest groups, partisans, the media, or pundits – and we are allowed the room to come to a balanced agreement.’’
Kerry said he has already cancelled two fund-raisers and won’t raise any money during the committee’s work through Nov. 23.
“I will not fund-raise; I will raise no money,’’ the senator told the Globe. “I’m not raising any money while the committee is working.’’
Asked why, Kerry said: “Because I don’t want people to think that I’m being leveraged by contributions. I just don’t want want the appearance of money being associated with anything I do on this.’’