A new fight over immigration appears to be brewing, but it likely has more to do with the 2014 elections than with any real chance legislation will be passed.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared to close that door on Wednesday, when he ruled out any negotiations over the sweeping immigration law the Senate passed in June. On the same day, Organizing for Action, the dark money committee that grew out of President Barack Obama's campaign, sent an email to supporters calling on them to pressure Republican lawmakers to take up the immigration bill. The committee suggested targeting Rep ...Continue reading
As voters go to the polls in six states today, super PACs and other outside groups are playing an outsize role in some of the high profile contests, as incumbent members of Congress square off against other incumbents due to redistricting, special interests duke it out in one district, and Democrats try to avoid being beaten out by an indepedent for the fall ballot. Here's a rundown of some of the spending:
Sherman v. Berman
Thanks to redistricting, one of the most high profile contests pits two House Democrats against each other in California's San Fernando Valley, where ...Continue reading
In December 2009, Bristol Myers Squib, a biopharmaceutical company with international operations, told employees at two Indiana plants that 75 to 100 of them would need to seek other work. In February 2010, HSBC, the British financial firm that bills itself as the "world's local bank," laid off 20 full-time customer service representatives who processed loan modifications in a Kentucky town named, ironically enough, London. Some 125 workers who built and assembled truck cabs for 18 wheelers at Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio, saw their workplace shut its doors in April 2010.
A few hundred layoffs in a ...
Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Roll Call gets all Howard Beale in his editorial today:
In all my years of watching Congress, I have never seen anything quite like what we have now. It may be a cliché, and it may be a partisan attack term, but it is also true: There is a culture of corruption across Capitol Hill. It still does not encompass the majority of Members and staffers, most of whom come here to do the right thing and to stay on the path. It may be true that the numbers of offenders, at least those directly breaking the law, are still roughly the same as in other comparable peer groups. But the problem is palpably worse. While there is plenty of illegality here — and I believe a wave of indictments will hit in the coming months — it is not what is illegal that is the outrage, to use the old phrase, but rather what is legal.Ornstein goes on to list the honest graft through earmarking of [sw: Ken Calvert] (R-Calif.), [sw: Gary Miller] (R-Calif.), and [sw: Dennis Hastert] (R-Ill.) and the abuses of campaign contributions by Vito Fossella as recent examples of this corruption.
There simply is no ethical compass here. The fact that Hastert was responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of the House ethics committee makes his own real estate actions even more wrongheaded. I don’t want Members of Congress and staffers to live ascetic or penurious lives. Lawmakers (and judges for that matter) ought to be paid at least as much as second-year associates in big law firms. (Currently they are not.) Still, when I look at the eagerness of Members to score big perks from their lobbyist friends and to find ways to make big bucks by transactions that are related to their behavior inside Congress, I cannot find any justification in the large pay gap with their peers. Illegal or not, much of this behavior is unethical and repugnant. It underscores the deep need for a real package of ethics, earmarking and lobbying reforms—which in turn underscores the shameful and pathetic behavior of the leaders in both chambers who have failed to act and who are trying to sneak through a sham bill. They hope journalists will tire of these stories and that voters won’t notice. I hope they are wrong."I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!" Amen. Continue reading
- The Washington Post and The Hill finally run stories on [sw: Dennis Hastert]'s land deal in Kendall County, Illinois. The Post story looks at Hastert's land deal along side the land deals of Reps. [sw: Ken Calvert] (R-Calif.) and [sw: Gary Miller] (R-Calif.). Both Calvert and Miller made large sums of money off of land that they helped, through the earmarking process, become more profitable. Their stories are here and here respectively.
- New tax records show that Rep. [sw: Alan Mollohan] (D-W.Va.) steered $179 million in federal earmarks to companies that contributed to charities that he is associated with. According to Bloomberg, "The money went to 21 companies and nonprofit groups that contributed $225,427 to the Robert H. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation in 2004 -- almost half of the charity's revenue". Charities connected to politicians (or spouses of politicians) are a way for companies and interests to curry favor from a legislator out of the public eye. Numerous lawmakers have used their charities inappropriately including Senators Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). I'm sure that there are many more political charity abuses that go unnoticed.
- The Senate Indian Affairs Committee just released their final report on the Jack Abramoff tribal scandal, "Gimme Five -- Investigation of Tribal Lobbying Matters". The Arizona Republic reported this morning that the report is expected to "read more like a summer mystery novel with chapters missing than a tell-all account of former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff's corrupt influence in Washington." Since Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) refused to call members of Congress to testify before his committee those "missing chapters" will have to be filled in by the Justice Department and our courts.
- Most members of Congress do not read the bills that they vote on. Rep. [sw: John McHugh] (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee personnel subcommittee, did not know that a provision existed in a bill that he crafted that he "philosophically" opposed. Oops. Maybe we should pay attention next time. Or we could make bills available 72 hours before they are voted on (as Readthebill.org is pushing) so that maybe somebody else could have caught what John McHugh didn't.
The Hill reports that Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) “pushed for a provision in last year’s transportation bill that allowed the city of Rialto, Calif., to shut down its airport. By doing so, he paved the way for his business partner, Lewis Operating Corp., one of his top campaign contributors, to buy the land from the city and make plans to build Renaissance, a community consisting of 2,500 homes, parks and 80 acres of retail space on the former airport property and adjacent land.” The owner of Lewis Operating Corp. Richard Lewis and his employees contributed $19,000 to Miller’s campaigns since 1998, making them one of Miller’s top contributors. The airport is located in the district of Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) who is also a top recipient of Lewis money, raking in $19,000 this election cycle. The FAA did not support closing the Rialto airport and a spokesman stated, “This is the first time … an airport has been closed through the legislative process.”Continue reading