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Boehner's Offici-Leaks
June 14, 2013

Boehner's Offici-Leaks

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That's our term for when high-ranking officials from both parties talk policy on the record, as 20 of them did at BakerHostetler's 24th annual Tax, Budget, and Health Care Policy Seminar. Big topics included the NSA, healthcare, and Congress's relationship with American citizens.

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The recent NSA leaks are "frankly treasonous," says Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and "will hurt the security of our country." He says the NSA programs are constitutional, legal, and subject to "mountains of oversight" by House and Senate intelligence committees. They also help us in a big way to go after the terrorist threat. Boehner said he feels that "the trust between the American people and the government is at an all-time low."

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Freshman Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), formerly Virginia governor, made Senate history the day before by being the first to deliver a full speech on the floor not in English. Saying to us "yesterday I did something really fun," he explained that since the debate was about the immigration bill, he thought it was appropriate to explain it in Spanish, a primary language for 40 million Americans. He speaks fluent Spanish after time as a missionary in Honduras during a break from Harvard Law. Kaine acknowledged that he meets people every day who believe Congress may be broken, and said two big tests will prove whether the 113th Congress will be more productive than the 112th: the budget and immigration.

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Addressing a question about the NSA disclosures, Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said that as senators, "we all know what we know and we can't tell you what we know," though he's not one of the members on the intelligence committees, who are privy to even more information. With FISA, he says the NSA can get phone bill information, which the Supreme Court ruled to be public record, and if a number turns out to match a known terrorist, tap that phone number. He also addressed areas including the Senate's advice and consent role (confirmations shouldn't be turned into a political process), Medicare (it should be considered a contract that you've been paying into, not an entitlement), and tax reform (his goal is to clean up exemptions and move to a territorial system). He credits his speedy explanations to his time in the House (he filled Newt Gingrich's seat), where you have between one and three minutes to make a point.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) chairs the Senate energy & natural resources committee and a finance subcommittee on international trade, customs and global competitiveness, in addition to sitting on the Senate select intelligence committee. He and Sen. Mark Udall have recently received a lot of press for being advocates for privacy and trying to warn Americans about government surveillance. Other speakers included Sen. Pat Toomey, House Ways and Means chair Dave Camp, Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Fred Upton, and Rep. Paul Ryan.

Sotomayor at the Burton Awards

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For the past 14 years, the Burton Foundation has presented the Burton Awards to recognize excellence in the legal profession. This year, over 500 attended the Coolidge Auditorium and Great Hall of the Library of Congress. Justice Sonia Sotomayor received the Contemporary Book of the Year Award for her best-selling memoir, My Beloved World. After her remarks, she was interviewed by master of ceremonies Bill Press.

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Paul Weiss litigation partner Robbie Kaplan, above, reprised her Supreme Court argument representing Edie Windsor in the challenge to DOMA for a "Point Counterpoint" debate. From across the stage, Constitutional lawyer and law professor Ken Klukowski defended DOMA. Despite the high-profile legal folks in attendance (and an after-dinner performance from Tony nominee Vanessa Williams), the night's only standing ovation went to Major Jaclyn Grieser. She won the Public Service in the Armed Forces Award for prosecuting sexual harassment in Iraq as member of the JAG Corp. Other awards went to lawyers including Target GC Timothy Baer, FEMA chief counsel Brad Kieserman, Marriott GC Ed Ryan, and GSK GC Daniel Troy.

Here Comes Battle of the Bands

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Get ready to see lawyers rock out—for a good cause. Thursday, June 20, is the tenth annual Banding Together. Eighteen bands composed of legal types from more than 25 firms will compete to raise money benefiting Gifts for the Homeless. (Everything from rock to country, plus dance moves, too.) Every dollar—last year's total exceeded $250,000—goes toward buying new clothes for homeless men, women, and children. We snapped this last year of Perkins Coie's band The Perks: frontman and China managing partner and life sciences chair Michael Wise, Ryan Judy, Paul Smith, John Isacson, and Michael House. They'll be back at U Street's The Black Cat this year, along with bands from Latham, Akin Gump, Kirkland, McDermott, Hogan Lovells, Steptoe, and O'Melveny, and more.

Send story ideas to Roksana Slavinsky at Roksana@bisnow.com.

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