- Yesterday the House Homeland Security Committee held hearings on a contract that was awarded to Shirlington Limousine, the limo service allegedly used to ferry prostitutes to [sw: Duke Cunningham] and others, and discoverd that Cunningham had pressed the Department of Homeland Security to ink a contract with the company and that Shirlington had offered its services to DHS prior to receiving a contract. Homeland Security states that they can not find the letter of recommendation from Cunningham. Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker reports that a grand jury is looking into Shirlington's DHS contract. Ken Silverstein connects the multiple appropriations scandals in one sentance: "Recall also that Jerome Foster, one of the company's directors, is another defense contractor who was represented by the same lobby shop as Brent Wilkes—the firm of former congressman Bill Lowery (who, coincidentally, is very close to Congressman Jerry Lewis, currently under federal investigation, )."
- The Democratic caucus voted 99-58 to strip Rep. [sw: William Jefferson] (D-Lou.) of his seat on the Ways and Means Committee, a move prompted by revelations that he allegedly solicited bribes in a wide-ranging conspiracy to use his position in Congress to illegally broker deals with African countries. The "no" votes were comprised primarily of the Congressional Black Caucus with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus joining to vote against the Minority Leader's push to remove Jefferson. Minority Leader [sw: Nancy Pelosi] (D-Calif.) stated: "This isn't about proof in a court of law. It's about an ethical standard ... what is acceptable public behavior for a public servant."
- The City of Redlands, California is considering dropping Copeland Lowery as their lobbying firm after having their records subpoenaed in the federal investigation into the practices of the lobbying firm and the practices of Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.). Meanwhile, the City of San Bernardino is mum on whether they have been served a subpoena in the investigation. So far, eight subpoenas have been confirmed by cities, municipalities, and a university.
- Yet another local government has been issued a subpoena in the federal investigation into Rep. [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA). According to the San Bernardino Sun, the "clerk of Yucca Valley confirmed Tuesday her office has been subpoenaed for records pertaining to Copeland Lowery and Lewis in connection with a criminal investigation being conducted by the FBI, the federal Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the IRS."
- The Los Angeles Times reports on the details of Rep. [sw: William Jefferson]'s (D-LA) deals with the Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Jefferson, in a meeting with the FBI informant Lori Mody, provides this classic quote about Abubakar: "He's a very, well, the word might be … corrupt." The new affidavit also reveals that on one trip to Abubakar's home Jefferson's driver was actually an undercover FBI agent.
- The House Minority Leadership of [sw: Nancy Pelosi] (D-CA) and [sw: Steny Hoyer] (D-MD) invited Jefferson to make his case to the Democratic Steering Committee on why he should remain on the Ways and Means Committee. Pelosi and Hoyer have both publicly stated that Jefferson should be removed from the committee with Hoyer stating "he had $90,000 found in his freezer ... I think he's got a tax problem". The main support for Jefferson comes from the Congressional Black Caucus who have nine members on the Steering Committee. Roll Call reports that a vote on Jefferson's committee seat will show whether the CBC is in open revolt against the leadership or is split itself.
- The Houston Chronicle reports on the end-of-week exit of [sw: Tom DeLay] (R-TX) from Congress. DeLay says that he has no regrets and that he "fight[s] for what I believe in". We'll have more on what DeLay believes in at the end of the week.
- According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, more items that belonged to [sw: Duke Cunningham] will be up for sale tomorrow. If you are around Los Angeles why not go buy a piece of history.
- And finally, The Hill reports that defense lobbyists are rethinking how they do business in Washington in the wake of Cunningham's perp-walk and imminent earmark reform. You see, they need to find a way to get appropriations that doesn't involve bribing members of Congress with hookers. But seriously, this shows that sunlight, and even the threat of more sunlight, causes these guys to, like vampires, alter their behaviors.
Justin Rood examines why Congress, the House in particular, has devolved into chaos. Rood, looking at the Majority Republicans, states that a mixture of the loss of Tom DeLay (R-TX), who clearly was amazing at his job as partisan enforcer, the disastrous drop in public opinion of President Bush, and the steady stream of corruption investigations and guilty pleas has sent Republican members into a frenzy. Without any clear, strong leader and with Feds snooping around claiming that campaign contributions can be seen as bribes these members are, rightfully, unsettled. The lack of a strong charismatic figure is terrible for the Republican caucus. Since the 1994 revolution they have always had a strong and determined conservative leader, whether it be Newt Gingrich, DeLay or the President, who has led them in lock step support of conservative issues. It should be noted that DeLay was the one who put Dennis Hastert (R-IL) into the Speakership while he ruled the House from the Whip and Majority Leader post. The combination of Hastert, John Boehner (R-OH), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) has not been able to stop Republican hemmoraging.
This disorder and caucus revolt even bleeds over to the Democratic side where Rood states that they should be "placing advance orders for champagne and cigars and slapping each other on the back". The Congressional Black Caucus, a powerful 40-plus member gourp in the Democratic caucus, is in open revolt against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over her public effort to remove the discredited William Jefferson (D-LA) from the Ways and Means Committee. The CBC has had problems with the Democratic leadership for some time now and now that the leadership refuses to support Jefferson those problems are becoming even more strained. So why is Congress in such disarray? They feel that they are besieged and the walls have been breached. As Rood writes:
It should have been no secret to those on the Hilll that Hastert -- and the 30-plus other members who did legislative favors for Jack Abramoff and his clients -- would draw at least a passing query from the Justice Department. But as long as they were asked quietly and off the front pages, the situation was manageable.Members are besieged by the press, distrusted by their constituents, and the Justice Department is invading their territory. It is no wonder that they have turned inward and begun to devour each other. Continue reading
Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) publicly asked the embattled Democrat William Jefferson (D-LA) to resign from his post on the House Ways and Means Committee. Jefferson refused her request and will remain on the Committee. It's been pretty clear for a little while that the Democratic leadership would just love to cut Jefferson loose but due to ongoing feuds with the Congressional Black Caucus, which supports Jefferson, it cannot. Jefferson isn't going anywhere unless the CBC cuts him loose. My only guess is that Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are trying to do whatever they can to get the CBC to side with them against Jefferson. Meanwhile the conservative blogosphere is outraged at the House Republican reaction to the FBI raid and what they perceive to be a missed opportunity to highlight Democratic hypocrisy on their "culture of corruption" meme. John Podheretz calls Hastert a "blithering idiot"; Ed Morrisey says, "Hastert and Boehner do not argue against an imperial presidency, but rather they are arguing for an untouchable political elite, where our elected officials risk nothing by taking bribes and selling their votes to the highest bidder"; streiff at RedState titles a post bemoaning Hastert's statements: "I Give Up".Continue reading
So let me get this straight. If you are a private citizen the police are free to search your car without your consent and use whatever they find against you in court; give you a few seconds to open your door before kicking it down if they SUSPECT you might destroy evidence, like a joint, before they enter; take your possessions to fund their police department whether you are guilty of a crime or not; and essentially pull you out of your house and arrest you with little to no evidence at all if they are arresting you on drug charges. And now Congress gets all testy when one of their members gets his office raided by the Feds after he is caught on tape accepting $100,000 in cold, hard cash. Speaker Dennis Hastert is demanding that the FBI return the files that they took:
"We think those materials ought to be returned," Hastert said, adding that the FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that (case) just for the sake of the constitutional aspects of it."And Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling the raid an abuse of executive power:
"Not anyone here is above the law," Pelosi told reporters Tuesday, as she prepared to meet with the House speaker. But, she added, "I think you've seen abuse of power of the executive branch over this weekend."Maybe the Congress needs to read up on how the modern police force acts and how they use forceful measures to instill fear and reactivate power. These kind of raids -- and in some communities they are done in a paramilitary fashion -- are common in parts of this country. Perhaps instead of complaining about how they are being treated Congress should recognize that they are being treated in the manner that they decided that the rest of the populace ought to be treated. Continue reading
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for an ethics investigation into the budget reconciliation bill that passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the President despite a typo that made the House and Senate versions different, according to The Hill newspaper. A bill cannot become a law if the House and Senate versions differ. A private citizen in Alabama has already filed a lawsuit challenging the bill in court. The Democratic Leader brought a “privileged resolution to put Republicans on the record defending their leadership's decision not to bring the bill back to the floor for a fix.” Republicans claim that a typo does not matter and that the President has already signed the bill.Continue reading
Rep. Tom DeLay’s staff scaled back the luxuries after the indictment and fall from grace of the former Majority Leader. The staff is holding an office party today at “Bullfeathers, a favorite House-side dive,” according to Roll Call. The less expensive Bullfeathers is no Signatures or Capitol Grille costing each person $38 each. Many former and current staffers cannot even imagine paying for their own meals. While DeLay staffers party the House GOP has scheduled a vote on banning former members from the House gym. Democrats Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) do not see lobbying in the gym as a problem. Reid: “I’ve never been lobbied in the gym. Of course, I’m pretty ugly naked. So maybe that’s why.” Pelosi claims that this proposal exhibited the “smallness and pettiness” of the GOP lobbying reform proposals.Continue reading