- Florida Today asks Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) why he won't "disclose his funding requests for the coming year". Weldon has been criticized for his earmarking of funds to a company, Map Roi, with ties to a Tom DeLay crony and Jack Abramoff associate Ed Buckham.
- According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) is losing support among Democrats after he was implicated in a second guilty plea in a federal bribery investigation. Both House Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), called for an ethics investigation of the embattled lawmaker.
- The Boston Globe reports on limiting donations to political charities, which can often serve as another way for lobbyists or favor-seekers to curry favor with lawmakers. Continue reading
- According to Florida Today, Florida Congressman Dave Weldon (R) said that "he had no idea that Edwin Buckham" had a stake in Map Roi when he wrote a $1.55 million earmark to Florida Tech, of which $500,000 went to Map Roi. The original Los Angeles Times story quoted a university newletter that pronounced, "U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon was instrumental in bringing Map Roi to Florida Tech."
- The Washington Post reports on a taxpayer funded junket that Senators Arlen Spector (R-PA) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) are on right now to visit "the actual birthplace of the matzoh ball." Okay, they're also talking about drug interdiction, guest worker plans, and global warming but it's Passover so I had to go with the matzoh ball angle.
The dirt keeps piling up for ex-DeLay chief of staff Ed Buckham. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Buckham got Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) to insert a $1.55 million earmark for the Florida Institute of Technology which then turned around and signed a lobbying client and business partner of Buckham to do the work.
With the assistance of Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), a DeLay political ally, Buckham had $1.55 million set aside in late 2003 in a federal appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Labor to fund a program for small businesses. The money was awarded to the Florida Institute of Technology, which promptly signed a contract with Map Roi Inc., a client and partner of lobbyist Buckham. At the time, Buckham's lobby company, Alexander Strategy Group, held options on 500,000 shares of Map Roi stock, records show.Map Roi, a Guam-based company, enjoyed success after securing the FIT contract attracting $3 million from a group of venture capital firms. Buckham had encountered Map Roi through his dealings with Jack Abramoff in Guam. The FIT earmark was not the only one sought by Map Roi. There was an effort to obtain $20 million in earmarks from the federal government that strikes current Abramoff lightening rod Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT):
In a May 13, 2003, speech to Guam legislators and other officials, Gutierrez's successor as governor of Guam, Felix P. Camacho, said that a $20-million pact with Map Roi was in the works. In the speech, he credited Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) with pushing for the appropriation. A Burns spokesman said the project was never funded.Continue reading