The title from the Texas Monthly political obit of Tom DeLay.
Hilarious article by Buster Gunning on the empty luxury suites at Washington Nationals games since "king of lobbyists" Jack Abramoff's fall from grace. Here's a key graph:
Washington Nationals' officials are scrambling to figure out a way to fill the expensive suites. One idea that saw marginal success was the “Adopt a Politician for a Day” campaign where various politicians in need of kickbacks lined up outside of the stadium in hopes of being auctioned off to the highest bidder who would then purchase one of the many lavish suites available.
An appeals court judge has thrown out a conspiracy charge brought against Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) but has maintained the more serious charge of money laundering, according to the Associated Press. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker writes, "The appeals court's decision clears the way for a trial date being set. The main event shouldn't be far off -- I'd expect it sometime in late summer." They have the indictment if you'd like to read it.
- Coming off of the Dow Jones Wires an FEC report released along with the announcement of a $3.8 million settlement with Freddie Mac notes that Freddie Mac's top lobbyist R. Mitchell Delk had a "bold and unprecedented" political model for Financial Services Chairman Michael Oxley (R-OH). Delk's "bold" plan went something like this, "we proposed to Chairman Oxley a political model that was bold and unprecedented. We offered to use our fundraising model to marry his interests as Chairman with our interest in assisting committee members supportive of the continued strength of America's housing finance system..." That's about as out in the open that you can get about your intents.
- Pharmaceutical companies are costing the federal government billions of dollars by lobbying against bipartisan legislation that would "speed the approval of new generics," according to the Washington Post.
- Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) fights back in today's Ashville Citizen-Times against charges that he accepted money from Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm in exchange for favorable action on the Saginaw Chippewa school construction earmark
- Pennsylvania lobbyist and ex-aide to former Governor Tom Ridge (R) pled guilty to felony charges of mail fraud and embezzlement, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Kansas City Star reports that the Missouri House is considering a lobbying and campaign finance reform bill that would create more transparency in the state capitol. The bill requires lobbyists report all gifts and spending on lawmakers, including when they give to groups of lawmakers. It would also require lawmakers to post electronically all campaign contributions so that they can be audited by the State Ethics Commission. Inaccuracies and mistakes in lobbyist disclosure forms and lawmaker campaign contribution receipts would be posted online by the Ethics Commission.
- The Hill takes a look at the new DefCon ad that focuses the Jack Abramoff scandal.
- Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington has filed a complaint against Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) alleging that he accepted bribes from a San Francisco defense firm in exchange for his support of earmarks that benefited the company.
TPM Muckraker Paul Kiel has a great post on David Safavian's e-mails with Jack Abramoff. Apparently, they contain the itinerary for the infamous Scotland gofing junket... excuse me, the trip to see Scotish Parliamentarians and visit the British Parliament. As Kiel notes, I bet Bob Ney didn't think that these e-mails would get out.
If you're going to accuse a politician of improperly spending money or you are questioning disparities in their statements you should really think about what you are talking about before you shoot your mouth off. You might get embarrassed:
When Jim Barnett tried to raise eyebrows about a Bernie Sanders television ad buy last week, Sanders' campaign had a ready response. A Sanders spokesman said the campaign had spent about $30,000 on the ad buy. Records at South Burlington TV station WCAX showed him spending only $13,668, said Barnett, the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. "Right now, there is a $16,000 gap in the facts," said Barnett. "U.S. Rep. Sanders needs to explain where the rest of this money was spent." That's easy, said Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager. "There's more than one broadcast station," he said.
When I was at the Center for Public Integrity, we once asked the Pentagon for some financial disclosure forms and were told that yes, they had the forms on file, but no, we couldn't see them, because these disclosures were not to be dislcosed to the public.
This "kissing your sister" form of disclosure, as I thought of it then, came to mind as I read some of the disclosure provisions in the Executive Refrom Act, particularly those that call for federal procurement officials to disclose all job offers made to them or their family members by contractors (see page 13 of the PDF).
- Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), under fire for possible connections between his skyrocketing finances and earmarked provisions, aimed to rebut the charges by detailing his finances in an interview with the Charleston Daily Mail.
- An energy industry lobbyist whose company Xcel Energy is facing an EPA lawsuit attended a controversial fundraiser in Colorado headlined by the current EPA chief administrator Stephen Johnson, according to the Denver Post.
- Soon to be retired Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) brought in $484,475 in campaign contirbutions between February 15th and March 31st which he can now convert over to his legal defense fund, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Congratulations to the Washington Post and the San Diego Union-Tribune/Copley News Service for their Pulitzer Prize wins! The Post's reporters James Grimaldi, R. Jeffery Smith, and Susan Schmidt won for their coverage of the Jack Abramoff scandal and the U-T/Copley won for uncovering the corruption of now imprisoned former Rep. Duke Cunningham. Hopefully this encourages more journalists to dig deeper into what members of Congress are up to.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), who has come under fire for his connections to Jack Abramoff and his wife's job as a fundraiser, is hiring a lawyer. Doolittle's lawyer is David G. Barger "the former president of the Virginia Bar Association's criminal law section and a former assistant U.S. attorney, who later was an associate of Starr's in the Whitewater investigation." Barger is perhaps best known for his prosecutorial harrassment of a 52-year old single mother in connection to unsubstantiated claims made by Kathleen Willey that former President Bill Clinton groped her.
This Washington Post story from over the weekend provides a good look as to why Doolittle is hiring a lawyer this week.