The mid-term elections are over and the people have decided that they want their corrupt members of Congress to come back home. In a Bloomberg article today, Rep. Rahm Emanuel states that eight seats flipped due to the corrupt activities of the current, or recently resigned/indicted/plead guilty, occupant. After reviewing the Bloomberg article and the members of Congress tied to congressional scandals it seems that Rahm has presented a lowball number of congressmen sent home. So let’s take a look at these members of Congress who will no longer be wearing the congressional uniform of solid blue suits, American flag lapel pins, and an unfailing arrogance of power.Continue reading
Instapundit links to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that suggests that curtailing earmarks is Americans top priority for their congressmen to do in this legislative session:
Among all Americans, a 39% plurality say the single most important thing for Congress to accomplish this year is curtailing budgetary "earmarks" benefiting only certain constituents.Following on "earmarks" heels is immigration at 32%. Now don't get me wrong I think that earmarking has gotten completely out of control over the last decade, but I have my doubts about this poll. It looks like it might be like those polls that show that the vast majority of Americans believe that the majority of Congressmen and Senators are corrupt, but not the man or woman representing their district or state. The actual quote from the poll is "Prohibiting Members of Congress from directing federal funds to specific projects benefiting only certain constituents". That sounds pretty bad, but when lawmakers tout their ability to steer money to their home district they get a lot of credit from constituents. Check out this article today about Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) from today's Ashville Citizen-Times titled "Taylor controversial but effective in U.S. House":
As a 16-year veteran of the House of Representatives, Charles Taylor has generated his fair share of controversy, but he’d much rather talk about money he’s generated for projects in Western North Carolina. “It has been my privilege to secure millions of federal dollars for these efforts through my position on the House Appropriations Committee, and I will continue to do so,” Taylor, a Brevard Republican first elected to Congress in 1990, said in a statement.Taylor is not afraid to talk about his ability to use earmarks for his district. If this poll showed that curtailing earmarks is the top priority of Americans, as it intends to do, then why would Taylor go around talking like this. Wouldn't he be flopping around trying to play to the polls like every lawmaker is doing right now over gas prices? Just my two cents. Continue reading
- 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.
Two Congressmen are taking political heat for allegedly unethical behavior:
- Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post's The Fix analyzes Alan Mollohan's (D-WV) response to allegations that he has seen his personal finances skyrocket over the past few years thanks to earmarks that he has provided to a business partner of his in North Carolina.
Mollohan has smartly sought to cast the complaint filed by the NLPC in partisan terms. "The NLPC has in the past targeted Democrats with charges that later proved to be without merit," Mollohan said in a statement released by his campaign. "Obviously I am in the crosshairs of the National Republican Party and like-minded entities, such as the NLPC." In a letter sent to Reynolds and Hastert, Mollohan wrote that calls for him to resign from the Ethics Committee reveal "the entirely partisan, political nature of the attack that has been made upon me, and the reason this attack has been made." He added: "The reason is...that I strongly opposed efforts by the Republican leadership that would have seriously undermined the ability of the Ethics Committee to perform its basic function of enforcing House rules and standards."
- Over in Western North Carolina Charles Taylor (R-NC) is being challenged over his connection in the Jack Abramoff scandal, according to the Ashville Citizen-Times.
Abramoff’s firm threw the congressman a fundraiser on April 11, 2003, that scored thousands of dollars in donations for his campaign. That included a $2,000 contribution from Abramoff and $1,000 from the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, which wanted federal money for school construction.
A month later, he and a U.S. senator wrote a letter challenging the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ resistance that the Saginaw shouldn’t quality for the federal money, The Associated Press said in a report Tuesday.The tribe donated $3,000 more to Taylor a month after the letter.
E-mails obtained by the Associated Press indicate how Abramoff’s team used the lure of campaign contributions to obtain an earmark for a school construction project desired by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan
Abramoff’s team worked with Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow to get the Senate Democrats, then in control of the Senate, to request the money. Abramoff also turned to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) to write the earmarked provision for the money. The plan hit a snag when a lone GOP House staffer, Joel Kaplan, objected to the money. That is when the e-mails become of interest:
Aside from the Republican Party getting involved in Abramoff's contribution-for-action scheme two specific lawmakers come up for scrutiny in the e-mails:
A staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Jonathan Poe, suggested Abramoff's team compile a list of tribal donations, comparing Republicans with Democrats, to help make the case for lawmakers to overrrule Kaplan, the e-mails state.
Poe's "suggestion for me was to have a list of money contributed by tribes broken down 'r' to 'd' so that I can make the cleanest argument that we are about to let the Senate Democrats take credit for the biggest ask of the year by the most Republican-leaning tribes," Abramoff lobbying associate Neil Volz wrote.
Abramoff's team obliged, creating a tally that showed his tribal clients overwhelmingly donated to Republicans — $225,000 compared with $79,000 for Democrats.
The Abramoff team's pressure came the same day the NRCC, the GOP's fundraising arm for Republican House candidates, held its major fundraising dinner with President Bush. The Saginaw were a dinner sponsor, donating $50,000.
Nothing is coming up Burns these days. Continue reading
In early 2003, Kaplan's new boss, House subcommittee chairman Charles Taylor, R-N.C., ended any problems in the House when he signed onto the Saginaw money. Burns' office took up the fight in the Senate.
Both oversaw subcomittees that controlled Interior's budget, and the two lawmakers wrote a letter in May 2003 in an effort to overcome resistance inside Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, which was arguing the Saginaw shouldn't qualify for the school program.
The blunt letter has caught federal investigators' interest because it referenced correspondence that had been drafted inside Interior but never delivered. Federal agents are investigating whether an Interior official leaked the draft to Abramoff's team so it could be used by the lawmakers to pressure the department.
In addition, both Burns and Taylor got campaign money around the time of their help.
A month before the letter, Abramoff's firm threw Taylor a fundraiser on April 11, 2003, that scored thousands of dollars in donations for the lawmaker's campaign, including $2,000 from Abramoff and $1,000 from the Saginaw. The tribe donated $3,000 more to Taylor a month after the letter.
Burns, likewise, got fresh donations. Several weeks before the letter, Burns collected $1,000 from the Saginaw and $5,000 from another Abramoff tribe. The month after the letter, the Saginaw delivered $4,000 in donations to Burns.