In Broad Daylight: Your Own Personal Cell Phone Towers

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Senators get their own cell phone towers installed, don’t pay for it. Rep. Tim Mahoney continues to sink in yet another installment in “When Sleeping Around Goes Wrong.” Rep. Rick Renzi tries to get the 35 criminal counts against him dismissed. This is today’s news:

The Washington Post released an excellent investigative piece showing that Verizon and AT&T were both working to install cell phone towers to provide service for Sen. John McCain’s Sedona, AZ ranch beginning last year, at a time when McCain’s presidential hopes seemed dim. Sen. McCain sits on the Senate Commerce Committee and the installation of free cell phone towers by corporations under the oversight of that same committee certainly counts as a conflict of interest. Also troubling is the ability of the McCain’s to hide this seeming in-kind contribution from their personal financial disclosures because it was ostensibly made at the request of Sen. McCain’s wife, Cindy. The Senator and his wife keep their finances separate and thus he does not have to fully disclose her financial activities on his annual personal financial disclosure. While the two telecommunications giants eventually abandonded the idea of permanently installing towers, they both provide portable towers at no-cost to the Senator’s ranch.

Rep. Rick Renzi, under indictment on 35 counts related to a land swap, accused the government of taping conversations with other members of Congress and bringing the corruption indictment against him for political reasons. Renzi also filed for a dismissal of the charges against him on the grounds that they violate the Speech and Debate Clause. Renzi is under indictment for allegedly using his position in Congress to push through a land swap that eventually netted him $700,000. Apparently, the congressman abides by the motto of the William Jefferson school of congressional corruption, “If you do it in an official capacity, they can’t investigate.” I don’t think that the Speech and Debate Clause was enacted as a way to make congressional offices into corruption safe rooms.

In worsening news for Rep. Tim Mahoney, an FBI investigation into his affairs is expanding to include the second affair with a high level county official, which Mahoney admitted to today, to determine whether he steered federal emergency funds to her county. An aide close to his campaign also announced that Rep. Mahoney may not seek reelection. If this is the case, all replacements should quickly be vetted to make sure that they don’t carry on the Foley-Mahoney curse.

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  • Mary

    Apparently the Washington Post thinks it has an ethics violation to hold against Cindy McCain, wife of GOP presidential candidate John McCain. The Post is trying to claim that Cindy McCain somehow illicitly got a portable cell tower delivered to her remote Arizona ranch so that their phones would work there. The truth is, however, the Secret Service ordered up the portable cell tower, not Cindy McCain.

    Even the words the Post uses to report the story prove somewhat weasely because, as the Post can’t find any actual wrong doing, the story relies on vague ways of implying wrongdoing without actually saying it. In the end, there doesn’t seem to be much there, there, but I suppose the Post had to justify the money it spent by publishing this non-story anyway.

    The story starts right in with the vague verbiage of implied wrong doing. After saying that Cindy McCain sought to improve the cell reception around her “remote 15-acre ranch near Sedona, Ariz” and that she did so “just as her husband launched his presidential bid,” the Post tried to imply that it was all at undue costs. (bold mine)

    “””Over the past year, she offered land for a permanent cell tower, and Verizon Wireless embarked on an expensive public process to meet her needs, hiring contractors and seeking county land-use permits.”””

    “Embarked on an expensive public process”? what can this be but a weasely way to imply that obscene costs are involved here and that maybe, just maybe these obscene costs are done just because Cindy McCain is privileged? But, let us be reminded that this “expensive” cost would have been at the expense of a private corporation. The government is not paying for this. So, if Verizon wanted to build a cell tower for the McCains, isn’t it their right to do so?

    This article is also a thinly veiled effort to paint McCain as an elitist. The Post is engaging in class warfare at its worst with this piece. It’s the old she’s-rich-so-she-gets-more-than-you argument…

    http://conservablogs.com/publiusforum/2008/10/16/wapo-tries-to-claim-cindy-mccain-unethical-for-erection-of-cell-phone-tower/

    The Cindy McCain Cell Tower Story is Bogus. Of Course.

    http://www.sundriesshack.com/2008/10/16/the-cindy-mccain-cell-tower-story-is-bogus-of-course/

    Much ado about nothing, but the Post will STILL try to make it into “something.”

    Getting a cell phone tower somewhere doesn’t require hugh political connections. Heck, even churches are putting these in their steeples these days to get a little extra revenue.

    Cindy offered her land FOR FREE for the cell tower. So, I’m sure Verizon thought that it might be feasible financially to embark on the public approval process (which isn’t that expensive). Cell companies often pay $12K per year in rent to landowners, so Verizon was getting something in the deal. When environmentalists got involved, that’s when it became expensive and Verizon dropped their plans. Now there is a temporary tower because the Secret Service requested it for security reasons.

    Any landowner can approach a cell company and see if they are willing to put up a tower on their land. If the company wants to, they will embark on the “expensive” process of getting government approval to place a tower there. Washington Post is just plain stupid because they don’t understand how the real world works.