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lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:12 PM
It seems that many who run for public office have an inate inability to distinguish between the Public Interest and the politician's own Private Interests.

This thread is for posting info / articles / opinions regarding those politicians who profess to serve the public but at the same time use their elevated status to fill their own pockets...

lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:13 PM
Senate Leader Explains His Sale of a Stock That Then Plummeted

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK&inline=nyt-per)
September 22, 2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/22/politics/22frist.html?ei=5088&en=b2091d67b4be89cf&ex=1285041600&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 - Senator Bill Frist offered an explanation on Wednesday for the timing of his sale in June of his stake in HCA, the giant hospital company that his family founded, as its shares reached a peak and began a steep slide.

An aide to Mr. Frist, majority leader of the Senate and brother of the HCA chairman emeritus, disclosed the sale on Monday in an interview with Congressional Quarterly.

The senator's spokesman, Bob Stevenson, said Wednesday that Mr. Frist "made a conscious decision to divest himself of all HCA assets" so he could pursue an ambitious agenda of health care legislation free of any appearance of self-interest.

Since joining the Senate, Mr. Frist had been dogged by accusations about conflicts of interest from his HCA holdings, including "no fewer than 19 instances" of articles or other public accusations, Mr. Stevenson said.

Mr. Frist, who has said he will not run for another term as Tennessee (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/tennessee/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) senator, is widely considered to be weighing a presidential bid. That may give him another incentive to put some distance between himself and the company.

"Good fortune, isn't it?" asked Prof. John C. Coffee, an authority on securities law at Columbia.

Professor Coffee said such well-timed sales in the families of top executives were a red flag of possible insider trading and often drew regulatory inquiries, although just a small fraction of such instances lead to formal investigations.

The question, Professor Coffee said, is whether Mr. Frist received private information about the company performance from his brother or other insiders.

"There is no prohibition against a family member's dumping his stock in a company, unless it can be shown that the family member was tipped as to material nonpublic information," he said. "That seems to be the missing link."

Five years ago, the company pleaded guilty to 14 criminal counts for filing fraudulent Medicare reports and paying doctors kickbacks for referrals. It eventually paid $1.7 billion in fines and penalties in connection with the case.

Mr. Frist's brother Thomas F. Frist Jr. had left the management and was vice chairman. But he returned as chief executive to help HCA recover. He remains its largest individual shareholder and chairman emeritus.

The stock bottomed out under $20 a share in 1999 in the federal fraud investigation, but it climbed back steadily. Over the first six months of this year, the stock rose, from about $40 a share to more than $58 at its peak in June.

Top executives took advantage of the run-up to exercise options and sell shares worth $165 million in the first six months of the year, with the heaviest selling in February and April, according to data from Thomson Financial, which tracks insiders' sales. Thomas Frist did not have any significant transactions.

Senator Frist had reported this year that he owned $7 million to $35 million in assets, including his HCA shares, that were in blind trusts managed by others to reduce the appearance of conflicts. Although more than $10 million of the initial holding of the trusts was shares in HCA, Mr. Frist's spokesman said Wednesday that he could not determine how many shares remained.

On June 13, his spokesman said, Mr. Frist told the managers to sell all his shares. The stock hit its peak at $58.22 a share nine days later, on June 22. By July 8, all the shares held by Mr. Frist and his wife and children were sold, his spokesman said, adding that Mr. Frist did not control the exact timing.

Five days after that, on July 13, HCA announced that its second-quarter earnings would fall below Wall Street projections because of lower than expected hospital admissions and higher than expected numbers of patients lacking insurance. Its stock fell 9 percent, to $50.05 a share, that day on the New York Stock Exchange, and closed on Wednesday further down, at $47.41 a share.

Also on Wednesday, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights of Santa Monica, Calif., said it sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking for an investigation of the sale.

lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:14 PM
The view from some financial experts ...

Frist Stock Sale Raises Questions on Timing

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 22, 2005; A10

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/21/AR2005092102065_pf.html (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/21/AR2005092102065_pf.html)


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has maintained for years that his stock holdings in the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain posed no conflict of interest for a policymaker deeply involved in health care matters. He even received two rulings in the 1990s from the Senate ethics committee that blessed the holding of the stock in blind trusts.

So when Frist decided in June to dump all the stock, and later cited as the reason his desire to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, eyebrows went up among ethics experts and congressional watchdogs. Why did he do it at that time?

Precisely a month later, after the stock was sold, its price tumbled 9 percent when executives in the company -- HCA Inc., which was founded by Frist's father and on whose board Frist's brother serves -- disclosed that hospital admissions of insured patients were lower than expected, depressing profits in the second quarter.

The timing thus raised questions about whether Frist had somehow traded on information he obtained in advance from the company. "Frist has been in the Senate for many years now, and the conflict is not new," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Why did he decide to sell it then? Why not years ago? What's changed? Did he know that the stock was about to take a fall?"

Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said yesterday that Frist "did not have any conversations with HCA executives about HCA stock when he was making the decision to divest." Asked more generally whether he had discussed the company's performance with its executives, she replied, "No."

She said Frist's decision was based "purely on wanting to avoid any future appearances of conflict" while pursuing new health initiatives, and said he had no way of knowing -- under the rules of the blind trusts -- how quickly the stock would be sold. Call promised to provide recent examples of criticism directed at Frist's stock holdings, but all those she eventually cited occurred before May 2004.

Until the sale, Frist's holdings in HCA formed a significant source of his wealth. His political career was launched in part by a loan secured by the stock; in 1994, he valued his holdings at $13 million, and the following year he placed them in a blind trust. In 2000, he transferred the HCA stock into a new blind trust, a transaction that could have given him insight into its value.

Frist's signed financial disclosure statements indicate that the overall value of his blind trusts did not substantially change from 2003 to 2004. As one of the Senate's multimillionaires, Frist has other non-HCA-stock holdings outside of the trusts.

Several ethics experts and watchdogs said they found it odd that Frist could intervene to order such a sale when the HCA stock was ostensibly out of his reach in blind trusts. Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, said, "The notion that you have a blind trust but you can tell your trustee when to sell stock in it just doesn't make any sense. It means you have a seeing eye trust and not a blind trust. It's ridiculous."

Larry Noble, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, agreed that the arrangement "seems to defeat the purpose of a blind trust. Somebody else is supposed to have control over it to avoid potential conflicts of interest. If you can just reach in and sell stock, it seems it defeats the whole purpose."

A sample agreement for blind trusts published by the Senate ethics committee staff on its Web site states that there should be no "direct or indirect communication" between senators and trustees unless the senator is directing the trustee "to sell all of an asset . . . [which] creates a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof due to the subsequent assumption of duties" by the senator.

Jan W. Baran, a Republican ethics expert at Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, said, "That's the question, 'What changed?' " to compel Frist to sell his stock when he did.

According to Senate ethics rules, Baran said, Frist "can tell somebody to dispose of all of an asset that was initially placed into the blind trust. As a matter of Senate ethics rules, he is in compliance. The question that remains is, why did he sell the stock at that time? What conflicts arose in June that did not exist beforehand?"

"For the Securities and Exchange Commission," Baran added, "the answer is probably very important."

According to Thomson Financial, a reporting service, seven senior HCA executives sold 574,882 shares worth $19,942,610 between May 17 and June 10. A company spokesman, Jeff Prescott, said the executives are entitled "like other stockholders [to] make personal decisions . . . about when to sell." He said the executives complied with "blackout restrictions" imposed by the SEC to prevent dealing within a certain period prior to restatements of earnings.

An SEC spokesman said it is the commission's policy not to comment on investigations, and would neither confirm nor deny that it is probing insider trading at HCA.

Researcher Richard Drezen, in New York, contributed to this report.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:15 PM
HCA subpoenaed, may involve Senate leader

September 23, 2005
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050923/bs_nm/hca_dc_1&printer=1;_ylt=AnXcnWWbdomEm4KiQqQAAGmb.HQA;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE


HCA Inc., operator of the largest chain of U.S. hospitals, said it received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York requiring it to produce documents.

HCA said it believes the subpoena relates to the sale of HCA stock by Senator William H. Frist, the Republican Majority Leader. The company said it intends to cooperate fully.

lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:16 PM
Another rat ...

Leader of the F.D.A. Steps Down After a Short, Turbulent Tenure

By ROBERT PEAR (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ROBERT PEAR&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ROBERT PEAR&inline=nyt-per) and ANDREW POLLACK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ANDREW POLLACK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ANDREW POLLACK&inline=nyt-per)
September 24, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/24/politics/24fda.html?pagewanted=print

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 - Lester M. Crawford, the commissioner of food and drugs, resigned abruptly on Friday, causing further upheaval at an agency that has been in turmoil for more than a year.

Dr. Crawford, who was confirmed just two months ago, on July 18, after serving as acting commissioner for more than a year, did not say why he was stepping down.

Senior officials at the Food and Drug Administration said they were stunned to learn of the resignation in an e-mail message from Dr. Crawford, who also sent a letter to President Bush stating that he was resigning "effective immediately."

A government official said the resignation was related to the fact that Dr. Crawford had not fully disclosed information about his finances to the Senate before his confirmation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing Dr. Crawford's privacy.

Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, accepted the resignation and thanked Dr. Crawford for his service.

Christina Pearson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Leavitt, refused to say whether Bush administration officials had asked for the resignation.

"I can't comment," Ms. Pearson said. "This is a personnel issue."

In recent weeks, consumer advocates and scientists inside and outside the agency had said scientific decisions were being warped by politics.

On Thursday, a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine titled "A Sad Day for Science at the F.D.A." said that "recent actions of the F.D.A. leadership have made a mockery of the process of evaluating scientific evidence," disillusioned many scientists, "squandered the public trust and tarnished the agency's image."

Mr. Bush said he intended to name Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute, to be acting commissioner of food and drugs.

Dr. Crawford, a veterinarian and expert on food safety, was named deputy commissioner of the agency in early 2002 before his tenure as acting commissioner. In that time the agency has been rocked by disputes over many issues, including the safety of painkillers like Vioxx, the regulation of heart defibrillators and other devices, and delays in deciding whether to allow over-the-counter sales of an emergency contraceptive.

The director of the agency's Office of Women's Health, Dr. Susan F. Wood, resigned three weeks ago to protest delays in approving over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill Plan B.

Critics, including members of Congress from both parties, say the agency has not provided the public with enough information about the risks of drugs and devices.

"In recent years the F.D.A. has demonstrated a too-cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and an attitude of shielding rather than disclosing information," said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/iowa/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/maryland/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), said the agency had been "politicized and degraded" under Dr. Crawford, whose leadership she described as "tepid and passive."

Before the Senate confirmed Dr. Crawford, a Senate committee looked into accusations that he was having an affair with a woman who worked in his office and that he had wasted government money by taking her on official trips when she was not needed. An anonymous letter also suggested that Dr. Crawford had helped the woman secure a promotion to a higher-paying job.

An inquiry by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services found some contradictions in statements by Dr. Crawford and the woman. Investigators found a close personal relationship between them but no evidence of an extramarital affair.

The committee chairman, Senator Michael B. Enzi, Republican of Wyoming (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/wyoming/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), said at the time that the inspector general had found no merit to the charges leveled at Dr. Crawford. No senator wanted to pursue the issue then.

In his message to colleagues on Friday, Dr. Crawford said that after three and a half years in top positions at the agency, "it is time, at the age of 67, to step aside."

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/illinois/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), who voted against Dr. Crawford's nomination, said Friday: "The Food and Drug Administration is facing nothing short of a crisis in leadership. The controversy surrounding Vioxx and other pharmaceuticals has exposed weak oversight, conflict of interest and poor management at the F.D.A."

Ira Loss, senior health analyst at Washington Analysis, which studies federal issues for investors, said he had been told by someone in the White House that Dr. Crawford had been asked to resign for a reason not yet known to the public.

"Something new has arisen that has led to this," Mr. Loss said. It was not the controversy over the morning-after pill, he said, because Dr. Crawford "did what they wanted on Plan B."

Under Dr. Crawford, the agency was buffeted by fierce debates over drug safety.

Critics, including many in Congress, said the agency had tried to stifle one of its own scientists who had found evidence that the use of antidepressants could cause children and teenagers to become more suicidal.

The agency was also criticized as slow to recognize that Vioxx and similar pain medicines could increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market a year ago and is facing thousands of lawsuits from people who say they were harmed by the drug.

Under pressure, Dr. Crawford and the agency have started to release more information about potential safety problems of drugs and devices, rather than waiting, as in the past, until they had a fuller picture.

"I think he started to lift the veil on how the F.D.A. does business, which was long overdue," said Peter Pitts, a former associate commissioner under Dr. Crawford.

While many critics say drugs are approved too quickly, the F.D.A. has also come under fire from pharmaceutical companies and some patient advocates for not approving drugs quickly enough.

Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies had generally welcomed Dr. Crawford's appointment, partly because of his long experience at the agency, but also because they wanted a full-time commissioner. Many industry officials say that under an acting commissioner, the agency tends to put off difficult decisions.

The agency has had a full-time commissioner for only about 18 months out of the four and a half years that President Bush has been in office.

The president's first appointee, Dr. Mark B. McClellan, did not take office until November 2002 and then left about 16 months later to run the Medicare program.

It now appears that the agency will be without a permanent commissioner for some time. Experience shows that it is difficult for any nominee to obtain broad support in the Senate, because the agency handles so many volatile issues.

Dr. von Eschenbach has been director of the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, since January 2002. Before that, he had a long career as a doctor and executive at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, which represents biotech companies, described Dr. von Eschenbach as an "excellent choice" who would provide strong leadership.

Mr. Greenwood had no comment on Dr. Crawford's resignation. Nor did the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents big drug companies.


Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:20 PM
Bush's Choice for F.D.A. Chief to Keep Other Job

By ROBERT PEAR (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ROBERT PEAR&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ROBERT PEAR&inline=nyt-per) and ANDREW POLLACK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ANDREW POLLACK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ANDREW POLLACK&inline=nyt-per)
September 25, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/politics/25fda.html?ei=5090&en=8b1c7cfa86148ed9&ex=1285300800&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=print


WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 - The man chosen to run the Food and Drug Administration said Saturday that he would keep his job as director of the National Cancer Institute while serving as interim chief of the drug agency.

In an interview, the official, Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, said he had a "100 percent commitment" to both jobs.

As director of the cancer institute since January 2002, Dr. von Eschenbach has worked closely with patients and their advocates. At the F.D.A., he said, he would use that experience to ensure that patients gain swift access to the fruits of biomedical research.

Promising new drugs, he said, should be made available "as rapidly as possible," especially to patients with life-threatening diseases, who he said were often willing to accept greater risks than people with less serious illnesses.

Dr. von Eschenbach, a urologic surgeon, is a cancer survivor himself, having had melanoma, prostate cancer and basal cell carcinoma. He said his experience at the cancer institute would inform his work as the chief regulator of drugs and medical devices.

But he could find conflicts between the two roles, because the cancer institute serves as a sponsor of many applications seeking permission from the F.D.A. to test cancer drugs in humans. Moreover, a nationwide network of researchers created by the institute generates some of the data included in drug companies' applications to sell cancer drugs.

In the interview, Dr. von Eschenbach said he would strike "an appropriate balance" in evaluating the risks and benefits of drugs.

President Bush said Friday that Dr. von Eschenbach would become the acting commissioner of food and drugs. He replaces Lester M. Crawford, who resigned on Friday, with no explanation, just two months after being confirmed by the Senate.

The resignation of Dr. Crawford left the agency adrift as it considers major changes in drug regulation, to monitor and publicize the hazards of drugs on the market. Critics inside and outside the agency said Dr. Crawford had allowed politics to trump science by repeatedly delaying a decision on whether to allow over-the-counter sales of an emergency contraceptive, the morning-after pill, known as Plan B.

Paul Goldberg, editor of The Cancer Letter, a Washington newsletter that has been critical of some of Dr. von Eschenbach's policies, said he suspected that if given free rein, Dr. von Eschenbach would relax standards on drug approvals.

"He is revered by people who want to loosen the criteria for approval of cancer drugs," Mr. Goldberg said.

But much of the criticism of the F.D.A. in recent years has centered on its handling of drugs for less serious ailments, like Vioxx and other painkillers.

Scientists say the selection of Dr. von Eschenbach comes at a time when the pendulum at the F.D.A. has swung toward an emphasis on drug safety. That shift has caused concern among some cancer specialists.

"The excessive emphasis on safety, particularly for patients with life-threatening diseases who have limited therapy options, could slow the whole process of drug development for these individuals," said Dr. Richard L. Schilsky, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

In an interview, Dr. Schilsky, a cancer researcher who is active in the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said he believed that Dr. von Eschenbach "would evaluate the risk-benefit ratio for drugs from his perspective as an oncologist."

At the cancer institute, Dr. von Eschenbach has declared a goal of "eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by 2015." The idea is that prevention, early detection and new drugs, while not curing cancer, would make it more of a chronic disease like diabetes.

Many cancer experts say such a timetable is wildly unrealistic and might undermine the credibility of the cancer program.

"A lot of people feel very uncomfortable about that," said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a professor and oncologist at Emory University, who was an assistant director at the cancer institute from 1996 to 2001. But if viewed as a direction for research rather than as a specific deadline, Dr. Brawley said, "the concept is not nearly as bad as it initially sounds to a lot of people."


Gardiner Harris contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

lofter1
September 25th, 2005, 01:57 PM
Abramoff Probe May Threaten Leading Republicans as It Expands

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=aQ0cOXwe1TLk&refer=top_world_news


Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The widening investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff is moving beyond the confines of tawdry influence-peddling to threaten leading figures in the Republican hierarchy that dominates Washington.

This week's arrest of David Safavian, the former head of procurement at the Office of Management and Budget, in connection with a land deal involving Abramoff brings the probe to the White House for the first time.
Safavian once worked with Abramoff at one lobbying firm and was a partner of Grover Norquist, a national Republican strategist with close ties to the White House, at another. Safavian traveled to Scotland in 2002 with Abramoff, Representative Robert Ney of Ohio and another top Republican organizer, Ralph Reed, southeast regional head of President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who once called Abramoff ``one of my closest and dearest friends,'' already figures prominently in the investigation of the lobbyist's links to Republicans. The probe may singe other lawmakers with ties to Abramoff, such as Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana, as well as Ney.

``These people all shared transactions together,'' said former House Democratic counsel Stan Brand, now a partner in the Washington-based Brand Law Group. ``That's always something that worries defense lawyers.''

Nervous Republicans

Some Republicans acknowledge they are nervous. ``Sure there's a concern,'' said former Representative Jack Quinn of New York, who's now president of Cassidy & Associates, a Washington lobbying firm. ``But like everyone else, we have to wait and see where the investigation goes.''

Abramoff, 46, a top fund-raiser for Bush's re-election campaign, is under investigation by a government task force consisting of the Justice Department's public integrity section, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Interior Department's inspector general. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is conducting another inquiry.

Safavian, 38, who in the 1990s worked with Abramoff at the Washington-based lobbying firm of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, was charged Sept. 19 by the Justice Department with making false statements about whether he had any dealings with the lobbyist in the course of Abramoff's attempts to obtain government land. He was also charged with obstructing an investigation. His lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, told the Washington Post he would vigorously contest the charges.

Safavian took the Scotland trip three years ago aboard a chartered jet. Abramoff was paying for the plane, Safavian said in an e-mail to the ethics office of his employer at the time, the U.S. General Services Administration.

Abramoff's Network

Abramoff's web of connections runs deep in the Republican Party. DeLay, 58, has participated in at least three overseas trips he sponsored; Democrats have demanded that the House ethics committee investigate whether DeLay violated House rules prohibiting lawmakers from accepting trips financed by lobbyists.

One of those trips was to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. DeLay has opposed legislation requiring the Marianas to follow U.S. minimum wage and labor laws. Abramoff was lobbying for the Marianas at the time.

Two former DeLay aides, spokesman Michael Scanlon and deputy chief of staff William Jarrell, worked with Abramoff. Jarrell later was part of Bush's transition team focusing on the Interior Department, the parent agency for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at a time when Abramoff was representing casino-owning tribes. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is investigating Abramoff's and Scanlon's work for the tribes.

Diverted Funds

Abramoff diverted funds paid to him by Indian tribe clients that were supposed to be used on lobbying activities to a variety of personal projects, according to testimony and e-mails released at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. The personal projects ranged from an Orthodox Jewish academy to an Israeli sniper school; some money also went to pay off a personal debt, according to the testimony and e-mails.

Abramoff and Scanlon took in more than $66 million in fees from 2001 to 2004 from tribal clients, according to Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Indian affairs panel. In one e-mail released by the Senate committee, Abramoff wrote to Scanlon, ``I have to meet with the monkeys from the Choctaw tribal counsel.''

Abramoff also has a relationship with Ney, the Ohio congressman. Ney's former chief of staff, Neil Volz, worked with Abramoff at the Miami-based law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Reopening a Casino

Ney, 51, in 2002 agreed to insert language in federal legislation to allow an Abramoff client, the Tigua Indians of El Paso, Texas, to reopen a casino closed by state authorities. The provision didn't make it into the final measure.

In 2000, Ney placed two statements in the Congressional Record in support of Abramoff's purchase of SunCruz Casino Ltd., a casino ship company. Abramoff was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in August on wire fraud charges in connection with the purchase.

Burns, 70, who is up for re-election in 2006, has been the subject of an advertising campaign by the Montana Democratic Party criticizing him for receiving $136,500 in donations from Indian tribe clients of Abramoff and Scanlon from 2001 to 2004. Burns in 2003 pushed for a wealthy Michigan Indian tribe, one of Abramoff's clients, to receive a $3 million federal grant.

Two former aides of Burns, Will Brooke and Shawn Vasell, went to work with Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig.

Burns spokesman Grant Toomey said the request for the grant came from the Michigan congressional delegation.

An Offer to Meet

Ney spokesman Brian Walsh said, ``The congressman has sent two letters to the House ethics committee as far back as last year offering to meet with them. To date, there has been no response.'' Walsh said there have been no inquiries from the Justice Department ``on any matter related to Mr. Abramoff.''

DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said the majority leader has asked the ethics committee ``to look into everything in order to exonerate him.''

Norquist declined through a spokesman to comment. Reed didn't respond to a request for comment.

Ed Patru, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Abramoff won't be an issue in next year's mid-term congressional elections. ``No member of Congress has ever been kicked out of office because of an allegation against another member or another lobbyist,'' Patru said. ``Democrats are trying to nationalize the 2006 elections. Their approach has been to throw everything up against the wall and hope something sticks.''

Gambling in Alabama

Abramoff's links to the party go beyond lawmakers. He worked with Reed, a former director of the Republican-oriented Christian Coalition, and Norquist to kill an effort to bring legalized gambling to Alabama.

At Abramoff's behest, one of his tribal clients, whose casino could have been hurt by the competition, sent money to Norquist's anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform, which in turn wrote a check to help Reed's effort.

One of Norquist's former partners in another venture was Safavian. The two men worked at Janus-Merritt Strategies LLC, a Washington lobbying firm that was later sold to a Richmond, Virginia-based law firm, Williams Mullen.

``Safavian is a small fish, but in combination with Abramoff and his ties to Norquist and DeLay, it presents a very inviting target to Democrats,'' said Ross Baker, a political scientist who studies congressional politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Safavian was one of three former Abramoff associates who joined the Bush administration. Another was Patrick Pizzella, assistant secretary of labor for administration and management. The third was Susan Ralston, special assistant to White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

Last Updated: September 22, 2005 00:05 EDT

lofter1
September 26th, 2005, 12:04 AM
According to Congressional ethics rules, the votes of our elected officials are never tainted by "personal pecuniary interests".

Yeah , right...



Blind Trusts Get New Look After Sale by Frist

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK&inline=nyt-per)
September 26, 2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/26/politics/26frist.html?pagewanted=print


WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 - Federal investigations into a stock sale by Senator Bill Frist are calling new attention to the blind trusts that he and many other government officials use to deal with potential conflicts of interest.

Federal ethics laws make it virtually impossible for members of Congress or top White House officials to set up trusts fully beyond their knowledge or control. While officials may choose to set up a conventional blind trust under the control of an independent administrator, ethics laws require the annual public disclosure of its contents.

So the laws provide for the creation of special "qualified blind trusts" like Mr. Frist's that are exempt from public disclosure. The laws strictly limit communications between the trustee and the beneficiary, but they also mandate disclosure of the original holdings and notification to the beneficiary whenever an original asset is sold.

And the rules give beneficiaries like Mr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/tennessee/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and the Senate majority leader, the power to order the sale of all of a stock or other asset at any time in the name of eliminating a potential conflict.

"That doesn't really sound very 'blind,' does it?" asked Celia Viggo-Wexler, vice president for advocacy of the group Common Cause.

The ethics laws that set rules for such qualified blind trusts apply to White House officials as well as members of Congress, but the trusts have become especially popular among the growing number of millionaires in the United States Senate (at least 45, according to the last count by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call).

In addition to Mr. Frist, other senators with blind trusts of one kind or the other include the Democratic Senators Jon Corzine of New Jersey (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/newjersey/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barbara Boxer of California (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/california/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), Herb Kohl of Wisconsin (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/wisconsin/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/westvirginia/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/massachusetts/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) as well as the Republican Senators Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/rhodeisland/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/wyoming/index.html?inline=nyt-geo).

Elected officials cite their creation of blind trusts as insulation against conflicts of interest. When asked about the influence of his multimillion-dollar stake in HCA, the hospital company his family founded, Mr. Frist often said his blind trust kept him ignorant of how many shares he owned. Occasionally, he even said, "I don't know if I own HCA," as he told The National Journal in an interview two years ago.

Though choosing to create a blind trust might help candidates politically, ethics rules do not require one. Many other government officials and members of Congress own or even trade stocks directly.

In the highly regulated health care industry, for example, 32 senators have disclosed stakes in pharmaceutical or medical device companies, 24 in companies that sell malpractice insurance and 27 in hospital companies or health care providers, according to a recent survey by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

In the case of Mr. Frist, the federal investigations center on the timing of his decision to sell his HCA stake in June, just as the shares hit a new peak and right before the company announced disappointing earnings that caused a sell-off. At issue is whether Mr. Frist, whose brother is the company's chairman emeritus, received nonpublic information before ordering the sale.

A spokesman for Mr. Frist has said he had no such information. The spokesman, Bob Stevenson, said Mr. Frist ordered the sale to minimize accusations that the shares created a potential conflict of interest, the same reason he created the blind trusts in the first place.

The resulting attention, however, has brought into new focus how much Mr. Frist knew about the trust. Public filings made to the Senate ethics committee show several letters from his main trustee, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., president of the Equitable Trust Company in Nashville, informing Mr. Frist that certain assets had been sold or, in at least one case in 2002, that shares of HCA had been added. (An aide to Mr. Frist said he had inherited them and transferred them into his existing trust.)

Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, Calif., said members of Congress should either divest their holdings in an industry or recuse themselves for legislation affecting it. With blind trusts, he said, "Senators have wanted to have it both ways."

When the foundation complained to the Senate Ethics Committee last year about Mr. Frist's stake in HCA, the committee responded by citing Senate ethics guidelines: "Votes cast by senators and congressmen are predicated on their perceptions of the public interest and the public good, not on personal pecuniary interests."





Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

lofter1
September 26th, 2005, 11:37 PM
If CBS is correct then this is about as "conflicted" as they come...

CBS News says Michael Brown rehired as FEMA consultant

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/CBS_News_says_Michael_Brown_rehired_as_FEMA_consul t_0926.html

Click here for CBS video clip (http://rawstory2.com/other/RawStoryFEMA.wmv)


CBS News' Bob Schieffer just announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rehired ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown -- as a consultant to evaluate the agency's response to the disaster!

From CBS's Katrina blog (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/09/22/national/main878583.shtml?CMP=ILC-SearchStories): "Sept. 26, 2005 /6:44 p.m. (CBS) — CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's [sic] response following Hurricane Katrina."

CBS says they've confirmed Brown had been rehired. Brown resigned after taking heat when a Time Magazine article revealed that he had padded his resume with bogus jobs.

The Associated Press, however, tells the story (http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGBBHC6D3EE.html) differently: "Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks, said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke."

Brown had been shopping his resume in Washington. Wrote U.S. News' Washington Whispers (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/articles/050926/26whisplead.htm) last week: "Ex-FEMA Administrator Michael Brown seems to be doing for his career what he did for the beleaguered agency. Less than a week after FEMA's dismal Hurricane Katrina response forced Brown out of the agency, he has been shopping his resume to headhunters and Washington PR firms. And it's not working. "He's radioactive," said one exec. An ally of Brownie in the PR world said he should have waited a month before starting his job hunt. "It's just a bad play."

lofter1
September 27th, 2005, 11:34 PM
I've got my fingers crossed ...

DeLay Probe Winds Down; Charges May Loom

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
September 27, 2005

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050928/ap_on_go_co/delay_investigation


A Texas grand jury's recent interest in conspiracy charges could lead to last-minute criminal indictments — possibly against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — as it wraps up its investigation Wednesday into DeLay's state political organization, according to lawyers with knowledge of the case.

Conspiracy counts against two DeLay associates this month raised concerns with DeLay's lawyers, who fear the chances are greater that the majority leader could be charged with being part of the conspiracy. Before these counts, the investigation was more narrowly focused on the state election code.

By expanding the charges to include conspiracy, prosecutors made it possible for the Travis County grand jury to bring charges against DeLay. Otherwise, the grand jury would have lacked jurisdiction under state laws.

The Associated Press spoke to several lawyers familiar with the case, all of whom requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly. DeLay, R-Texas, said Tuesday that prosecutors have interviewed him. He has insisted he committed no crimes and says Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, is pursuing the case for political reasons.

The disclosure came as congressional officials said top House Republicans were quietly considering how to respond if an indictment were issued.

House GOP rules require any member of the elected leadership to step down temporarily if indicted, and it would be up to the rank and file to select an interim replacement. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., could make a recommendation, whether choosing to elevate another member of the leadership or tapping an alternative to reduce the possibility of a struggle if DeLay were cleared and then sought to reclaim his post.

Asked what he had heard of any late developments, DeLay said Tuesday, "Not a word."

He also said he earlier "had an interview" with prosecutors, adding, "everybody knows that."

The 11-term congressman has served as No. 2 in the House GOP leadership for three years, credited with maintaining iron discipline within the party and keeping Republicans in control of the chamber. He has retained the loyalty of most party members despite running into ethical problems last year. In a rare rebuke of a House leader, the ethics committee admonished DeLay three times for pressuring a fellow congressman, involving the Federal Aviation Administration in a political dispute and discussing energy legislation with lobbyists at a golf outing.

The grand jury's finale coincides with a wide swath of political trouble for the GOP. Ethical questions have been raised about stock sales by the Republican leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, R-Tenn. And President Bush, an uneasy ally of DeLay, faces the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.

The Texas grand jury has charged that corporate donations given to Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee — formed by DeLay — were used to support state candidates in violation of state law. Texas law prohibits corporate money to be used to advocate the election or defeat of candidates; it is allowed only for administrative expenses.

Once DeLay helped Republicans win control of the state Legislature in 2002, the majority leader engineered a Republican redistricting plan that gave the state's U.S. House delegation a 21-11 majority in the current Congress. The effort helped Republicans increase their House margin by five seats this year.

Three of DeLay's political associates, the PAC itself, several corporate donors and a Texas business organization have been indicted so far — but not DeLay himself.

On Sept. 13, the grand jury re-indicted two of the associates, Jim Ellis and John Colyandro. The new charges included the criminal conspiracy counts.

The legal sources said that if the case had remained solely under the state election code, DeLay could only be indicted in his home county, Fort Bend.

The grand jury has charged that Texans for a Republican Majority and the Texas Association of Business worked together to circumvent the election code and funnel "massive amounts of secret corporate wealth" into campaigns, said Earle, the Travis County prosecutor.

The conspiracy charges were brought against Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee — Americans for a Republican Majority — and John Colyandro, former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority. They had previously been indicted on charges of laundering $190,000 in corporate donations.

The conspiracy counts against Ellis and Colyandro could bring a punishment of 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.

___

EDITORS — Associated Press Special Correspondent David Espo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved

lofter1
September 28th, 2005, 12:38 PM
DELAY INDICTED

FOR CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY

"House Majority Leader Tom DeLay indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy by Texas grand jury, according to Travis County clerk's office."

12:30 PM 9/28/05

CNN has just reported that an indictment against Delay: 1 criminal count for "conspiracy" has just been handed down...

CNN: "Very Serious"

House Rules demand that he must step down following indictment

More info to come

lofter1
September 28th, 2005, 12:44 PM
DeLay Indicted in Campaign Finance Probe

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
9.28.05

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050928/ap_on_go_co/delay_investigation&printer=1;_ylt=AvSxKZdnUgkzr_wK9yHtJDqMwfIE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.

DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program. House Republican Party rules require leaders who are indicted to temporarily step aside from their leadership posts.

However, DeLay retains his seat representing Texas' 22nd congressional district, suburbs southwest of Houston.

DeLay has denied committing any crime and accused the Democratic district attorney leading the investigation, Ronnie Earle, of pursuing the case for political motives.

Democrats have kept up a crescendo of criticism of DeLay's ethics, citing three times last year that the House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his conduct.

lofter1
September 28th, 2005, 01:11 PM
The Indictment:

http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2005/images/09/28/delay.indictment.pdf

TLOZ Link5
September 28th, 2005, 01:36 PM
Pride cometh before a fall. In due time, Tom DeLay will go from saying "I am the government" to saying "I am the Federal Bureau of Prisons."

lofter1
September 28th, 2005, 01:41 PM
^^ Oh , yeah .. He'll be the poster boy!

Can't wait for that day.

Hope this brings this rat down HARD.

TLOZ Link5
September 28th, 2005, 02:58 PM
CNN
DeLay indicted, will step aside as majority leader
Texas Republican, 2 associates charged with criminal conspiracy

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.

DeLay, 58, was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

"I have notified the speaker that I will temporarily step aside from my position as majority leader pursuant to rules of the House Republican Conference and the actions of the Travis County district attorney today," DeLay said. (Watch CNN initial reporting on indictment -- 3:38)

GOP congressional officials said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties. Some of the duties may go to the GOP whip, Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. The Republican rank and file may meet as early as Wednesday night to act on Hastert's recommendation.

Criminal conspiracy is a state felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The potential two-year sentence forces DeLay to step down under House Republican rules. (Watch CNN's Jeffrey Toobin's explanation of charge -- 2:59)

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the president still considers DeLay a friend and effective leader in Congress.

"Congressman DeLay is a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people," McClellan said. "I think the president's view is that we need to let the legal process work."

The indictment accused DeLay of a conspiracy to "knowingly make a political contribution" in violation of Texas law outlawing corporate contributions. It alleged that DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee accepted $155,000 from companies, including Sears Roebuck, and placed the money in an account.

The PAC then wrote a $190,000 check to an arm of the Republican National Committee and provided the committee a document with the names of Texas State House candidates and the amounts they were supposed to receive in donations.

The indictment included a copy of the check.

"The defendants entered into an agreement with each other or with TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee) to make a political contribution in violation of the Texas election code," says the four-page indictment. "The contribution was made directly to the Republican National Committee within 60 days of a general election."

The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury's term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.

Kevin Madden, DeLay's spokesman, dismissed the charge as politically motivated.

"This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat," Madden said, citing prosecutor Ronnie Earle, a Democrat.

Madden later added: "They could not get Tom DeLay at the polls. They could not get Mr. DeLay on the House floor. Now they're trying to get him into the courtroom. This is not going to detract from the Republican agenda."

The grand jury action is expected to have immediate consequences in the House, where DeLay is largely responsible for winning passage of the Republican legislative program. House Republican Party rules require leaders who are indicted to temporarily step aside from their leadership posts.

However, DeLay retains his seat representing Texas' 22nd congressional district, suburbs southwest of Houston. He denies that he committed any crime.

Democrats have kept up a crescendo of criticism of DeLay's ethics, citing three times last year that the House ethics committee admonished DeLay for his conduct.

"The criminal indictment of Majority Leader Tom Delay is the latest example that Republicans in Congress are plagued by a culture of corruption at the expense of the American people," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

As a sign of loyalty to DeLay after the grand jury returned indictments against three of his associates, House Republicans last November repealed a rule requiring any of their leaders to step aside if indicted. The rule was reinstituted in January after lawmakers returned to Washington from the holidays fearing the repeal might create a backlash from voters.

DeLay, 58, also is the center of an ethics swirl in Washington. The 11-term congressman was admonished last year by the House ethics committee on three separate issues and is the center of a political storm this year over lobbyists paying his and other lawmakers' tabs for expensive travel abroad.

Wednesday's indictment stems from a plan DeLay helped set in motion in 2001 to help Republicans win control of the Texas House in the 2002 elections for the first time since Reconstruction.

A state political action committee he created, Texans for a Republican Majority, was indicted earlier this month on charges of accepting corporate contributions for use in state legislative races. Texas law prohibits corporate money from being used to advocate the election or defeat of candidates; it is allowed only for administrative expenses.

With GOP control of the Texas legislature, DeLay then engineered a redistricting plan that enabled the GOP take six Texas seats in the U.S. House away from Democrats -- including one lawmaker switching parties -- in 2004 and build its majority in Congress.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/09/28/delay.investigation.ap/index.html

lofter1
September 28th, 2005, 09:55 PM
Another aspect of "playing both sides" ...

Coming Out Strong

In the wake of DeLay's indictment, one
of his likely replacements may face
attacks from within his own party.

By Jan Frel (http://alternet.org/authors/6614/), AlterNet (http://www.alternet.org/). Posted September 28, 2005 (http://alternet.org/ts/archives/?date[F]=09&date[Y]=2005&date[d]=28&act=Go/).

http://alternet.org/story/26140/


It's being reported everywhere: "A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post." And with that, joy on the faces of thousands of activists and organization leaders who have poured millions of dollars into taking the House Majority Leader down. The face of Republican scandal may soon be framed in a mugshot resting on Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle's desk.

And as DeLay retreats, who will "temporarily" replace him as Majority Leader of the House? It looks like a triumvirate (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,170681,00.html) will share DeLay's responsibilities: Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), with Blunt holding DeLay's title, and the other two carrying additional responsibilities. Blunt, Cantor and Dreier are your typical corrupt House Republicans. Dreier though, is a close ally of DeLay's (Blunt has had some scuffles with DeLay in the past), and he has been a stalwart defender of DeLay in his time of need: Dreier donated $5,000 (http://rawstory.com/exclusives/byrne/slaughter_dreier_ethics_delay_412.htm) to DeLay's legal defense fund, and in his capacity as House Rules Committee Chair Dreier recently sent a letter to House members indicating that he plans to further obstruct the unweildy ethics complaint filing process.

But Dreier also represents another archetype of the dark side of the GOP: The closeted gay man. If ever there were an opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of the Grand Old Party on gay issues, it is now.

Dreier was outed by activist blogger Mike Rogers of BlogActive (http://blogactive.com/), and John Byrne of Raw Story (http://rawstory.com/). Long-time gay rights author Doug Ireland nailed the story down with an article in L.A. Weekly (http://www.laweekly.com/ink/04/44/news-ireland.php).

It is widely assumed that Dreier's partner is none other than his chief of staff, Brad Smith. Janice Nelson, Dreier's Democratic opponent in 1998 and 2000, was aware that Dreier and Smith were living together at the time, saying, "Brad was like an invisible presence. They really have the routine down slick." As Byrne of Raw Story discovered, Smith makes $156,000 a year -- only $400 less than Andrew Card, who runs George Bush's shop in the White House. It's also been reported that Dreier and Smith traveled to 25 countries together using taxpayer funds. Doug Ireland provided a corollary to this kind of arrangement: "New Jersey Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey was recently forced to resign when it was about to become public that he had put his boyfriend on the public payroll at a salary slightly less than the one which Dreier pays Smith."

Is it right to out a closeted gay politician? Doug Ireland follows the openly gay Democratic Congressman Barney Frank's (D-Mass.) rule: "Outing is only acceptable when a person uses their power or notoriety to hurt gay people."

And David Dreier's record fully qualifies him for public exposure. Ireland writes:



He opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have banned discrimination against gay people in hiring; voted for the gay-bashing Defense of Marriage Act; voted for banning adoption by gay and lesbian couples in the District of Columbia (3,000 miles away from Dreier's district); voted to allow federally funded charities to discriminate against gays in employment, even where local laws prohibit such bias; and voted against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Informed of Hastert's recommendation, Doug Ireland told me, "Because the corporate media, with the exception of Frank Rich of the New York Times, have consistently refused to cover the outing of a rather significant number of Republican leaders, Dreier has been able to get away with the hypocrisy of being in the closet as a gay man, while continuing to vote against legal equality for gay people.

"If Dreier is elevated to Majority leader, it simply means that the Republican Party is comfortable with the hypocrisy of its closeted gay leadership."

When I asked Mike Rogers, former development director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and editor of PageOneQ.com (http://www.pageoneq.com/), he was effusive. "This is an exciting moment in American history," he said. "Having a gay man assuming responsibilties of the Majority Leader -- one who opposes the Federal Marriage Amendment, no less -- is a coup for the gay community as it all but nails shut the coffin of amending the constitution to same-sex civil marriage equality."

Just think, how can the party of Family Values explain to its only grassroots bulwark, the Christian Right, that it will punish the "homosexual agenda" when it has a gay man co-managing the third-most powerful organ of our federal system? We'll find out soon enough. As Rogers put it, "Thanks to Denny Hastert for looking beyond the extreme members of his party to elevate a gay man to help lead the House."


Jan Frel (jan@alternet.org) is an AlterNet staff writer.

Ninjahedge
September 29th, 2005, 08:54 AM
I think the Blind Trust sellout is worse than the paid plane tickets and hotel.

Amazing how we can only convict guys like Capone on Tax Evasion, isn't it?

lofter1
September 29th, 2005, 10:11 AM
http://www.light-to-dark.com/canonization.jpg

http://www.light-to-dark.com/canonization.jpg

Some other great stuff at this site: http://www.light-to-dark.com/Stephen_Pitt_Cartoons.html

BrooklynRider
October 5th, 2005, 09:33 AM
Gay Community Still Divided Over 'Outing' By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer
Tue Oct 4, 2:53 PM ET



Though decried by many gay-rights leaders, "outing" — the practice of exposing secretly gay public figures — is expanding into new terrain as Internet bloggers target congressional staffers, political strategists, even black clergy whose sermons and speeches contain anti-gay rhetoric.

Few issues are as divisive within the gay community. Numerous gay organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Log Cabin Republicans, staunchly oppose outing, yet many other activists support it when the targets are public figures — or their aides — who work against gay rights or condemn homosexuality.

"It's not the gay thing that's the problem — it's the hypocrisy," said Michael Rogers, creator of a Web log that has been at the fore of several recent outing campaigns. "I'm going to be calling out the politicians who vote against us and work against the interests of the very community they come from."

Christopher Barron, political director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said he understands the anger that activists such as Rogers feel but believes they are wasting their energy.

"Outing is not an effective tool," Barron said. "I don't know a single vote on gay-rights issues that was changed because of outing. ... Folks should be focusing on the hard work that needs to be done and not get bogged down in personal attacks."

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said outing can backfire by distracting attention from more substantive political issues or by prompting conservative politicians to harden their anti-gay views after aides and associates are outed.

Two black gay-rights activists are now taking aim at prominent black pastors who — in the activists' view — have gone too far in assailing homosexuality from their pulpits. In a campaign begun on their Web sites last week, activists Jasmyne Cannick and Keith Boykin are soliciting information about the pastors' private lives — including whether some might be gay.

So far, the pair has collected only uncorroborated "tips," not any solid information that any of the pastors is gay, but Cannick defended the campaign. "We know there are people who preach one thing and do another," he said. "There's nothing wrong with investigating."

Many other recent outing targets have been Republican politicians and operatives. Among the cases:

_A GOP congressman from Virginia, Edward Schrock, dropped out of his re-election race last year shortly after allegations were published on Michael Rogers' Web log that he solicited sex with another man on a gay phone dating service. Schrock, a married ex-Navy captain, was an outspoken foe of gays in the military and supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. He did not comment specifically on the allegations.

_In 2003, U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (news, bio, voting record), a Florida Republican, called a news conference to denounce a report in an alternative newspaper that he is gay. Foley declined to answer questions about the subject, saying his sexual orientation was irrelevant to his political duties. He contended the story was circulated to derail his U.S. Senate campaign, which he abandoned four months later.

_The GOP mayor of Spokane, Wash., James West, faces a recall election prompted by newspaper articles accusing him of offering City Hall jobs, sports tickets and cash to young men he met in an online gay chat room. West, who as a state legislator often opposed gay-rights bills, acknowledged poor judgment but denies doing anything illegal.

Not all outing campaigns gain traction. A cadre of activist bloggers and alternative-media journalists have been contending for more than a year that another Republican congressman is gay and yet has often voted against gay-rights legislation. Thus far, the mainstream media — both national outlets and those in the congressman's home region — have declined to report on the campaign, although the effort is common knowledge among political reporters and on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Barney Frank (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., who in 1987 became the first member of Congress to voluntarily make his homosexuality public, said he does not know if the targeted congressman is gay or not. However, Frank contended that the perception that the congressman might be gay had damaged his standing with some fellow Republicans in the House — and Frank said this issue of bias should be aired publicly.

"I think he's wrong to be silent about this," Frank said of the congressman. "You should not cover up this act of prejudice."

Frank is now one of three openly gay members of Congress, and there are about 300 openly gay elected officials nationwide, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. The president of the fund, which recruits out-of-the-closet gay and lesbian candidates to run for office, has mixed feelings about outing.

"If we ever outed anyone, we'd lose our credibility with the people we work with," said Chuck Wolfe. "On the other hand, who can condemn people for using whatever weapons they have to fight for equality and point out hypocrisy? It seems exactly why we have a democracy."




Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

BrooklynRider
October 6th, 2005, 09:32 AM
The Bush administration supports freedom and democracy...maybe not...shades of Venezuela come to mind


October 6, 2005
U.S. Threatens to Shun Nicaraguan Business if President Is Ousted
By JOEL BRINKLEY
MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Oct. 5 - Robert B. Zoellick, the deputy secretary of state, warned business leaders here on Wednesday that they should not continue supporting the political parties that are trying unseat Nicaragua's president if they hoped to continue doing business with the United States.

"Your opportunities will be lost," Mr. Zoellick said he told the businessmen.

On the second day of a visit here, Mr. Zoellick also met with politicians who said they intended to oppose the parties trying to unseat President Enrique Bolaños.

In his meetings, he raised the level of the warnings he issued to Nicaraguan leaders over the consequences of trying to unseat the president before a regularly scheduled election next year.

"I am only telling the truth," he said.

Former President Daniel Ortega, a leftist who is a longtime opponent of United States policy in Latin America, has been allied with Arnoldo Alemán, a conservative former president who has been convicted of embezzling $100 million from the Nicaraguan treasury. Their partnership, known as "the pact," has been working to try to force Mr. Bolaños from office so they can can gain power.

Mr. Zoellicks's threats and entreaties appear to be bearing fruit. In an interview, senior members of Mr. Alemán's governing Constitutionalist Liberal Party said they were backing away from their alliance with Mr. Ortega's party, the Sandinistas, and would vote to keep Mr. Bolaños in power until the presidential election in November 2006.

"To create more chaos now, in an election year, would not allow us to have stability and not allow us to succeed against the Sandinistas in elections next year," said Carlos Noguera, a senior party member.

Mr. Zoellick said in an interview, "The political ground seems to be shifting." The party leaders told him the same thing, he said, "and I was encouraged by the statement, but we will have to see where it is headed."

The Sandinista party controls the national electoral commission. Nicaraguan and American officials said they were certain that the Sandinistas would try to manipulate election laws and voting results in their favor. Mr. Zoellick announced that the United States would provide more than $4 million to two private American organizations so they could serve as election monitors next year.

Mr. Zoellick also met with several politicians from the Sandinista and governing parties who told him they were pursuing "a third way," an electoral movement that tries to take advantage of the obvious popular disgust over the current state of political affairs.

"I think there is a genuine public movement that suggests that a wide spectrum, a large number of people, have reacted quite negatively to the pact," he said. "But whether democracy will be allowed to work here, that is a different question."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

lofter1
October 8th, 2005, 08:14 PM
Talk about two-faced ...



http://www.mystolennation.com/files/swamp_delay.png

*****

lofter1
October 11th, 2005, 04:58 PM
It looks like Cheney could be playing just one side ... HIS !

Cheney's Halliburton stock options rose 3,281% last year, senator finds

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Cheneys_stock_options_rose_3281_last_1011.html


An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) can reveal.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney's options -- worth $241,498 a year ago -- are now valued at more than $8 million. The former CEO of the oil and gas services juggernaut, Cheney has pledged to give proceeds to charity.

http://rawstory.com/images/other/halliburtongraph.gif

The above graph released by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) charts the value of the Vice President's holdings in Halliburton in the past year.


“Halliburton has already raked in more than $10 billion from the Bush-Cheney Administration for work in Iraq, and they were awarded some of the first Katrina contracts," Lautenberg said in a statement. "It is unseemly for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it. The Vice President should sever his financial ties to Halliburton once and for all.”

Cheney continues to hold 433,333 Halliburton stock options. The company has been criticized by auditors for its handling of a no-bid contact in Iraq. Auditors found the firm marked up meal prices for troops and inflated gas prices in a deal with a Kuwaiti supplier. The company built the American prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The Vice President has sought to stem criticism by signing an agreement to donate the after-tax profits from these stock options to charities of his choice, and his lawyer has said he will not take any tax deduction for the donations.

However, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) concluded (http://lautenberg.senate.gov/documents/domestic/financialties.pdf) in Sept. 2003 that holding stock options while in elective office does constitute a “financial interest” regardless of whether the holder of the options will donate proceeds to charities. CRS also found that receiving deferred compensation is a financial interest.

Cheney told "Meet the Press" in 2003 that he didn't have any financial ties to the firm.

“Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest," the Vice President said. "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years.”

Cheney continues to received a deferred salary from the company. According to financial disclosure forms, he was paid $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004.

lofter1
October 11th, 2005, 05:22 PM
AP: Frist Accumulated Stock Outside Trusts

By LARRY MARGASAK and JONATHAN M. KATZ,
Associated Press Writers
October 11, 2005

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051011/ap_on_go_co/frist_stock&printer=1;_ylt=Agw7RpIvkS1YD0jcJ8jElQGMwfIE;_ylu=X 3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-

Outside the blind trusts he created to avoid a conflict of interest, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earned tens of thousands of dollars from stock in a family-founded hospital chain largely controlled by his brother, documents show.

The Tennessee Republican, whose sale this summer of HCA Inc. stock is under federal investigation, has long maintained he could own HCA shares and still vote on health care legislation without a conflict because he had placed the stock in blind trusts approved by the Senate.

However, ethics experts say a partnership arrangement shown in documents obtained by The Associated Press raises serious doubts about whether the senator truly avoided a conflict.

In that case, the HCA stock was accumulated by a family investment partnership started by the senator's late parents and later overseen by his brother, Thomas Frist. The brother served as president of the partnership's management company and as a top officer of HCA. Sen. Frist holds no position with the company.

The senator's share of the partnership was placed in a Tennessee blind trust between 1998 and 2002 that was separate from those governed by Senate ethics rules. Frist reported Bowling Avenue Partners, made up mostly of non-public HCA stock, earned him $265,495 in dividends and other income over the four years.

Edmond M. Ianni, a former Wilmington, Del., bank executive who established blind trusts for corporate executives, questioned why the senator's brother was able to manage assets "when the whole purpose of a blind trust is to ensure lack of not only conflict of interest — but appearance of conflict of interest?"

Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, said she doesn't believe the Senate trusts or the Tennessee trust insulated Frist from a conflict because the senator or his brother were advised of transactions and could influence decisions.

"What I find most appalling is the Senate calls it a qualified blind trust when it's not blind," Clark said. "Since the Senate says it's OK, the Senate has made it a political question. It's up to the voter. But there's no doubt it's a conflict of interest."

Frist's interest in Bowling Avenue Partners and the Tennessee blind trust were listed on the annual disclosure reports he filed with the Senate. Thomas Frist's ability to influence HCA stock decisions in the partnership was detailed in separate trust and partnership documents obtained by the AP.

Those documents show Thomas Frist was listed as the "general partner" and "registered agent" of Bowling Avenue Partners. He also was listed as president of the partnership's management company.

Thomas Frist founded HCA, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, with his and the senator's father. He currently is the company's chairman emeritus.

Frist advisers confirmed the senator's brother could influence investment decisions in the Bowling Avenue partnership and said the partnership was placed in a Tennessee trust because Senate ethics rules didn't allow the non-public HCA shares to be included in Senate-approved trusts.

"His interests in the family partnership were not held by his Senate blind trusts because Senate rules did not permit it. Senator Frist did not control the assets in this partnership and he annually disclosed his interests to the public as required," Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said.

Thomas Frist did not return repeated phone calls to his office at HCA seeking comment.

Bowling Avenue Partners' HCA shares became marketable securities when the estate of Frist's mother was settled in probate. Frist then began transferring those shares in stages from the Tennessee blind trust to the Senate-approved trusts in 2001 and 2002.

The value of all the transferred shares, calculated on the dates they went into the Senate trusts, was between $775,000 and $1.57 million, according to letters the trustees sent to Frist and the Senate. That stock was on top of millions of dollars in various investments Frist already owned in the Senate blind trusts.

With his background as a heart surgeon as well as majority leader, Frist has been at the forefront of legislation that would affect the hospital chain. Among the issues: a Medicare prescription drug benefit and limits on medical malpractice lawsuits.

Frist kept HCA stock in Bowling Avenue Partners and the Tennessee blind trust — but outside the Senate-approved trusts — between 1998 and 2002.

His investments in Nashville-based HCA are being investigated by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission after an AP report that the senator had asked administrators of his Senate blind trusts to sell his HCA holdings.

Frist ordered the stock sold June 13 and all sales were completed by July 1. HCA stock peaked on June 22 and then gradually declined. On July 13, it dropped 9 percent.

Reports to the SEC showed insiders sold about 2.3 million shares of HCA stock worth at least $112 million from January through June 2005.

Frist has denied having insider company information when he ordered the stock sold in June. The profit the senator made from the sales is not known.

The Bowling Avenue name came from the street of the Frist family home in Nashville.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

lofter1
October 13th, 2005, 02:01 AM
SEC Issues Subpoena To Frist, Sources Say

Records Sought On Sale of Stock


By Carrie Johnson and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 13, 2005; Page A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/12/AR2005101202286.html


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records and documents as federal authorities step up a probe of his July sales of HCA Inc. stock, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The Securities and Exchange Commission issued the subpoena within the past two weeks, after initial reports that Frist, the Senate's top Republican official, was under scrutiny by the agency and the Justice Department for possible violations of insider trading laws.

Ninjahedge
October 13th, 2005, 08:57 AM
You mean to tell me that politicians usually make decisions in their own best interests??!?!?


OMG!!!!

And that Republican office holders are making money off of their policy changes and administration decisions!!!!!?!



Who knew.

BrooklynRider
October 13th, 2005, 02:16 PM
Say what you want, but the people in Nebraska are safer from terrorist attack.

lofter1
October 13th, 2005, 02:29 PM
SEC Issues Subpoena To Frist, Sources Say

Records Sought On Sale of Stock

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has been subpoenaed to turn over personal records and documents as federal authorities step up a probe of his July sales of HCA Inc. stock ...The Securities and Exchange Commission issued the subpoena within the past two weeks, after initial reports that Frist, the Senate's top Republican official, was under scrutiny by the agency and the Justice Department for possible violations of insider trading laws.

HCA Warns 3Q Profit Will Miss Estimates

October 13, 2005

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051013/ap_on_bi_ge/hca_outlook_10&printer=1


Hospital operator HCA Inc. warned Thursday that its third-quarter profit will miss Wall Street expectations because of costs related to the recent hurricanes and an asset impairment charge.

But HCA raised the low end of its outlook for the year and announced plans to buy back up to $2.5 billion worth of its stock.

Its shares rose 74 cents to $47.43 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

HCA has recently been in the spotlight as regulators probe Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's decision to sell off shares of the company — founded by his family — shortly before the stock plunged in July.

The company, which will release its quarterly report on Oct. 25, said it expects earnings will range from 61 cents to 63 cents per share. That compares with the average estimate of 66 cents per share from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

The quarterly results were impacted by expenses amounting to $33 million, or 5 cents per share, from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as an impairment charge of 2 cents a share, HCA said. Those items were mostly offset by a 5-cent-per-share tax break from the repatriation of foreign earnings.

Quarterly revenue is expected to total about $6 billion for the quarter, just shy of analysts' consensus view of $6.03 billion. Revenue at facilities owned at least a year grew 4.6 percent, the company said. Adjusting for discounts provided to uninsured patients of $238 million, same facility revenues increased 8.8 percent.

Provision for bad debt is estimated at $618 million, or 10.3 percent of revenue, compared with $688 million, or 11.9 percent, the year before. Same-facility admissions of uninsured patients is projected to be about 15 percent higher.

In last year's third quarter, HCA earned 47 cents per share and posted revenue of $5.79 billion.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

lofter1
October 15th, 2005, 10:47 PM
DeLay Uses Website to Attack Prosecutor

By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 15, 6:05 AM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051015/ap_on_go_co/delay_indictment_campaign;_ylt=At.QG0owre_gLI.wJsA lLv6s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--


WASHINGTON - Stung by his recent indictment in Texas, Tom Delay is trying to turn his legal woes into a financial boon for his re-election. The former House majority leader is using his congressional campaign to distribute to voters derogatory information about the prosecutor who brought the charges against him and to solicit donations for his re-election.

...Legal experts said DeLay's use of congressional campaign donations to attack Earle likely was permitted under campaign law, though it could lead to legal questions about whether he is trying to influence potential jurors for his trial.

"He clearly is aiming at the jury pool and aiming at voters, hoping to generate as much sympathy as he can," said Larry Noble, the government's former chief election enforcement lawyer. "And it shows DeLay never misses a beat when it comes to fundraising — no matter how dark things get."

Bruce Yannett, a former Iran-Contra prosecutor, said DeLay's campaign effort might raise questions of trying to taint the potential jury pool but the legal standard for making such a case is hard to prove.

Nonetheless, Yannett said he could not imagine President Reagan overtly using his campaign to attack prosecutors during the 1980s investigation of the Iran-Contra affair. "I would not recommend his campaign do it. It does seem a little unusual," Yannett said.

BrooklynRider
October 18th, 2005, 09:46 AM
October 18, 2005
Rumsfeld Strikes Less Severe Tone in China
By THOM SHANKER
BEIJING, Oct. 18 -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld landed in the Chinese capital Tuesday with words inviting China to play an increasing role in global economic and security affairs, while also urging the communist leadership here to fully explain the growth in military spending that has powered a significant arms build-up.

Mr. Rumsfeld's initial comments struck a tone noticeably less severe than during his June keynote address on Asian security delivered in Singapore, which was criticized by Chinese delegates in attendance as an attack on China's right to defend its national interests.

Prior to landing for his first visit to China as President Bush's defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld was asked to describe the relationship between the two powers today. He listed a series of complementary characteristics defining modern China: "China is an important country in the region. It's a country that's increasingly important in the world. Its economy is growing at a smart clip. They are active worldwide. And it's a country that we would like to see engage the world as they are in a peaceful and constructive way."

But Mr. Rumsfeld warned that China must deal with what he said are evident tensions between its desires for sustained economic growth and restrictions imposed by the communist government that limit openness and the free-flow of information.

"Those of us in the United States and in other countries around the world, free countries, hope that the choices they make are choices toward a more open society, a more transparent society," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

With a conscious nod to Chinese sovereignty, the defense secretary said that "obviously, it's up to the People's Republic of China to make its decisions how it wants to arrange itself from a political and economic and a security standpoint." But he noted that as China makes those decisions, the world will be watching, "and makes judgments about it."

During his visit to China, which comes in advance of a trip here by President Bush next month, Mr. Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet with President Hu Jintao and with defense ministry officials.

Mr. Rumsfeld's staff had requested that the defense secretary be allowed to visit the Western Hills military complex outside of Beijing, described as China's real Pentagon, but the request was denied by the Chinese government. "It tells something about them," Mr. Rumsfeld said of the decision.

But he will be the first American defense secretary to visit the headquarters of China's strategic missile fleet. This is a return visit to the Chinese capital for Mr. Rumsfeld, who first visited Beijing in 1974, when he was serving as chief of staff for former President Ford, and he has returned several times since then.

In comments enroute to Beijing, Mr. Rumsfeld denied that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader counter-terrorism mission distracted American attention from Asia. And he said he likely would have visited China sooner had military-to-military ties not been ruptured by the April 1, 2001, collision between a Navy surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter in international airspace over the South China Sea.

The crash resulted in the death of a Chinese pilot and the detention of the 24-member American crew for 11 days after the aircraft made an emergency landing on Hainan Island. Chinese officials will no doubt be waiting to see whether the messages Mr. Rumsfeld delivers on Chinese soil are the same he delivered to them long-distance at the Singapore security conference over the summer. In that speech, Mr. Rumsfeld said Beijing's military spending was viewed by nations across Asia as threatening a delicate security balance in the region.

At the same time, though, he also invited China to emphasize political freedom and open markets, and said it would be greeted as "a friend and a welcome partner."

The Pentagon's annual study of Chinese military power, required by Congress, reported over the summer that China faces no direct military threat, yet has the third-largest military budget in the world.

The report, released in July, criticized Chinese national security spending as opaque, arguing that large military expenses are hidden in accounts outside the Defense Ministry and the armed services, and so Chinese military spending is larger than reported officially by the Chinese government. The Pentagon's report said China is modernizing its military and emphasizing preparations "to fight and win short-duration, high-intensity conflicts" over Taiwan. It acknowledged that China's conventional military force remains unable to threaten the territory of the United States, although China is modernizing and expanding its arsenal of nuclear missiles capable of reaching American soil.

In particular, the Pentagon report said China's military build-up makes Taiwan's self-defense more difficult, and also complicates American military planning should the Defense Department be ordered to respond with military force to a crisis in the region.

China has deployed increasing numbers of short-range ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, and its arsenal recently gained jet fighters and two guided missile destroyers from Russia.

Of particular concern, the report said, was the Chinese decision to increase the size of its submarine fleet, which the report said was designed to slow the advance of American aircraft carriers sent to a crisis.



Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

lofter1
October 19th, 2005, 06:12 PM
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4990/1180/1600/bushmastercard.jpg

TLOZ Link5
October 19th, 2005, 10:49 PM
Arrest Warrant Issued for Tom DeLay
Former House Majority Leader Due in Court Friday
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, AP

AUSTIN, Texas (Oct. 19) - A state court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday for Rep. Tom DeLay, requiring him to appear in Texas for booking on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

The court set an initial $10,000 bail as a routine step before the Texas Republican's first court appearance Friday.

DeLay, R-Texas, could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step.

Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Craig Brady said arrangements were being made to bring DeLay to the sheriff's office in his home county sometime Thursday for booking and fingerprinting.

The process was expected to take between 45 minutes and an hour. Brady said a specific time has not been set, but Sheriff Milton Wright was contacted Wednesday by DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin.

DeLay's court appearance will be in Austin.

The warrant, known as a capias, is "a matter of routine and bond will be posted," DeGuerin said.

DeLay has stepped down as U.S. House majority leader - at least temporarily - under a Republican rule requiring him to relinquish the post if charged with a felony.

Two grand juries have charged DeLay and two political associates in an alleged scheme to violate state election law, by funneling corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits use of corporate donations to finance state campaigns, although the money can be used for administrative expenses.

The indictments charge that a DeLay-founded Texas political committee sent corporate donations to the Republican National Committee in Washington, and the national party sent funds back to the state for 2002 campaigns.

DeLay has denied wrongdoing and accused Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle - a Democrat - of having partisan motives. Earle has denied the accusation.

Earle did not ask for the arrest warrant for DeLay, but approved the court's request, his office said Wednesday.

DeLay's Republican fund-raising in 2002 had major political consequences, allowing the GOP to take control of the Texas Legislature. The Legislature then redrew congressional boundaries according to a DeLay-inspired plan, took command of the state's U.S. House delegation and helped the GOP retain its House majority.

Associated Press writer Pam Easton in Richmond contributed to this report.

10/19/05 20:51 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

lofter1
October 19th, 2005, 11:26 PM
Arrest Warrant Issued for Tom DeLay

DeLay, R-Texas, could be fingerprinted and photographed, although his lawyers had hoped to avoid this step.

Fort Bend County Chief Deputy Craig Brady said arrangements were being made to bring DeLay to the sheriff's office in his home county sometime Thursday for booking and fingerprinting.
I bet I won't be the only one checking http://www.thesmokinggun.com/ tomorrow looking for Delay's mug

BrooklynRider
October 19th, 2005, 11:40 PM
I do seem to remember Republicans scaring everyone up with "healthcare rationing" under Hillary Clinton's plan that never saw the light of day. Here is the current Republican Plan - I mean POLICY.

October 20, 2005
U.S. Gives Florida a Sweeping Right to Curb Medicaid
By ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - The Bush administration approved a sweeping Medicaid plan for Florida on Wednesday that limits spending for many of the 2.2 million beneficiaries there and gives private health plans new freedom to limit benefits.

The Florida program, likely to be a model for many other states, shifts from the traditional Medicaid "defined benefit" plan to a "defined contribution" plan, under which the state sets a ceiling on spending for each recipient.

Children under the age of 21 and pregnant women will be exempt from the limits.

The Florida plan says, "The state will set aside a specific amount of money for each person enrolled in Medicaid," based on the person's medical condition and historic use of health care. {My Note: I guess healthcare privacy protections are out the window}

Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, approved the proposal 16 days after it was formally submitted to him, with strong support from Gov. Jeb Bush.

After meeting here on Wednesday afternoon with Governor Bush, Mr. Leavitt said: "Today will be remembered as a day of transformation for the Florida Medicaid program. Florida's framework will be helpful to other states."

Joan C. Alker, a senior researcher at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University, said: "Florida's proposal is one of the most far-reaching and radical proposals we've seen to restructure Medicaid. The federal government and the states now decide which benefits people get. Under the Florida plan, many of those decisions will be made by private health plans, out of public view."

Vernon K. Smith, a former Medicaid director in Michigan who is now a consultant to many states, said: "Florida's program is groundbreaking. Every other state will be watching Florida's experience. South Carolina has developed a similar proposal. Georgia and Kentucky are waiting in the wings."

In his state of the state speech to the Florida Legislature in March, Mr. Bush called for transforming Medicaid, saying it was unsustainable in its current form.

"Over the last six years," he said, "Medicaid costs have increased an average of more than 13 percent annually. State revenues grew an average of 6 percent a year."

The plan, to be put into effect over five years, will significantly increase the use of managed care. Questions and answers prepared by federal officials say that a principal aim of the Florida program is "to bring predictability to Medicaid spending and to reduce Medicaid's rate of growth."

President Bush has proposed similar changes at the federal level for several years, but Congress has not accepted those ideas. In Congress, Democrats and some moderate Republicans resisted the president's proposals on the ground that they would have allowed states to reduce coverage for very poor and very sick people. On Wednesday, Mr. Leavitt waived many provisions of federal law, letting Florida make the changes in a demonstration project.

Under the waiver, Florida will establish "a maximum per year benefit limit" for each recipient and fundamentally change its role. The state will largely be a buyer rather than a manager of health care.

In an interview, Alan M. Levine, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, estimated that no more than 5 percent of Medicaid recipients would hit their annual limits. At that point, Mr. Levine said, "the health plan will still be responsible for providing services to the consumer, but the state's reimbursement would be limited to that amount."

Asked whether the beneficiary would be responsible for paying costs beyond the limit, he said: "That can happen today. There are arbitrary limits and caps embedded in the state Medicaid program, limits on home health services, doctors' visits, prescription drugs."

For each beneficiary, Florida will pay a monthly premium to a private plan. Insurance plans will be allowed to limit "the amount, duration and scope" of services in ways that current law does not permit.

The Florida Medicaid director, Thomas W. Arnold, said he believed that insurers would tailor benefits for different groups like people with AIDS and children with chronic illnesses. About half of Medicaid recipients in Florida are children, but they account for less than 20 percent of the costs.

The Florida program includes these features, approved Wednesday by the federal government:

¶If a recipient does not choose a private plan, the person will be automatically enrolled in one that the state selects.

¶Medicaid recipients can "opt out" of Medicaid altogether and receive subsidies to help pay the employee's share of the premium for employer-sponsored health insurance. Those beneficiaries will have to pay co-payments and deductibles like other employees in the same plan, even if the charges exceed normal Medicaid limits.

¶The state will deposit money into individual accounts for recipients who enroll in programs to help lose weight, stop smoking and lead healthier lives.

¶Florida and the federal government will establish a pool of money providing up to $1 billion a year to help hospitals and other health care providers who treat large numbers of uninsured people.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Leavitt, Christina Pearson, said the decision on the Florida plan was not influenced by the fact that Governor Bush is the president's brother. Federal officials are prepared to approve similar innovative solutions from other states, Ms. Pearson said.

Medicaid provides health insurance to more than 50 million low-income people. The states and federal government jointly finance it.



Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

BrooklynRider
October 19th, 2005, 11:53 PM
October 19, 2005
Senate Again Fails to Raise Minimum Wage
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 10:17 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate proposals to raise the minimum wage were rejected Wednesday, making it unlikely that the lowest allowable wage, $5.15 an hour since 1997, will rise in the foreseeable future.

A labor-backed measure by Sen. Edward Kennedy would have raised the minimum to $6.25 over an 18-month period. A Republican counterproposal would have combined the same $1.10 increase with various breaks and exemptions for small businesses.

The Kennedy amendment to a spending bill went down 51-47, and the GOP alternative 57-42. Under a Senate agreement, they would have needed 60 votes for approval.

Kennedy, D-Mass., said Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the depth of poverty in the country and he pointed out that a single parent with two children working a minimum wage earns $10,700 a year, $4,500 below the poverty line.


He said it was ''absolutely unconscionable'' that in the same period that Congress has denied a minimum wage increase, lawmakers have voted themselves seven pay raises worth $28,000.

But Republican opponents, echoing the arguments of business groups, said higher minimum wages can work against the poor if they force small businesses to cut payrolls or go out of business.

''Mandated hikes in the minimum wage do not cure poverty and they clearly do not create jobs,'' said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who offered the Republican alternative.

Kennedy noted after the vote that three of the four Republicans that supported his amendment -- Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island -- are up for re-election next year. ''Candidates that are out campaigning know the power of this issue,'' he said. The fourth Republican supporting Kennedy was Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, asked Wednesday about Kennedy's measure, said President Bush ''believes that we should look at having a reasonable increase in the minimum wage. ... But we need to make sure that, as we do that, that it is not a step that hurts small business or prices people out of the job market.''

Enzi's proposal would provide tax and regulatory relief for small business, permit tips to be credited in complying with minimum wage hikes and expand the small business exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

It also would have put into law a ''flextime'' system, opposed by organized labor as an assault on overtime pay, under which workers could work more in one week and take time off the next.

Both proposals, amendments to a fiscal 2006 spending bill, needed 60 votes to pass.

Kennedy, who has campaigned relentlessly for a minimum wage increase, picked up one vote from the 46 votes for a similar measure in March. On Tuesday he modified his proposal, which originally called for a $2.15 increase over 26 months, in hopes of attracting more Republicans.

The first minimum wage of 25 cents an hour was enacted under President Roosevelt in 1938. Congress has since voted eight times to increase it, including under Republican presidents Eisenhower, Ford and George H.W. Bush. Congress approved the last increase in 1996, with the second stage, boosting the rate to $5.15, taking effect in 1997.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the national level, including Washington State at $7.35, according to the Labor Department. Twenty-six states are the same as the federal level; two -- Ohio and Kansas -- are below; and six do not have state laws.

Also on Wednesday, Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, proposed adding $3.1 billion to the administration's $2 billion request this year for emergency heating assistance for low income families.

''We're about see a second tidal surge from Katrina and Rita,'' with rising energy costs, Reed said.

A vote could take place Thursday, with GOP leaders saying an emergency spending bill to be taken up soon was a better venue for the heating assistance debate.

lofter1
October 20th, 2005, 12:32 PM
This isn't the official mugshot, but TD looks good in black & white, eh?

http://www.sourball.com/whitehouse/cp/mugshot.jpg

http://www.cafepress.com/thewhitehouse/866007

lofter1
October 20th, 2005, 08:35 PM
Here is the official mugshot and arrest papers ( http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1020051delay1.html ) :

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/1020051delay1.jpg (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1020051delay2.html)

TLOZ Link5
October 20th, 2005, 09:14 PM
Smug bastard.

BrooklynRider
October 21st, 2005, 12:44 AM
He needs to return that chin to Carol Burnett.

Ninjahedge
October 21st, 2005, 08:52 AM
He needs to return that chin to Carol Burnett.

/me tugs ear.


I think that this thread should have a different name. Like "Politicians who are Bi"

After all, they are F'n all of us now aren't they?

ZippyTheChimp
October 21st, 2005, 09:17 AM
The Antipodes of Mug Shots

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/1020051delay1.jpg http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/1469/295/1600/Nolte%20mug%20shot%20sm1.jpg

BrooklynRider
October 21st, 2005, 10:17 AM
The lapel pin is the kicker. I hope he fries.

lofter1
October 21st, 2005, 10:48 AM
It's the lousy dye job that gets me most.

http://a1468.g.akamai.net/f/1468/580/1d/pics.drugstore.com/prodimg/146394/300.jpg

TLOZ Link5
October 21st, 2005, 03:00 PM
He needs to return that chin to Carol Burnett.

ROFLMAO

lofter1
October 21st, 2005, 05:27 PM
This guy couldn't tell the truth if he had to ...

Delay's Mug

October 20, 2005
Thursday afternoon, 2:24 p.m.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/downanddirty/2005/10/delays_mug.html


Here's the mug shot of erstwhile House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, fresh from the Harris County DA's office. Mr. DeLay has clearly made the decision to put a happy face on his indictment.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/downanddirty/images/delay_4.jpg (http://blogs.abcnews.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/delay_4.jpg)

For anyone interested as to why the beaming, swing-a-ding-ding mug shot of Congressman DeLay looks a little different from this black-and-white congressional portrait of him from a few years ago, it's quite simple.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/downanddirty/images/delay2.JPG (http://blogs.abcnews.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/delay2.JPG)

Mr. DeLay has had a makeover. National Journal reported that in 2003, right after he announced his bid for House Majority leader, DeLay "had his dentist cap his two upper front teeth to fill the small gap between them. And he took Dunn's advice and visited her Capitol Hill hairstylist to switch from his dated, wet look to a more professional, styled cut ."

Then last year Roll Call reported, "Tom DeLay has joined the nip-and-tuck club."

"I had my eyes checked by my ophthalmologist," DeLay said last year; the newspaper reported that "his upper lids had become so heavy, as they are prone to do with age, that they were 'blocking my vision.' To show how well the surgery worked, he looked up. No more upper lid visor. 'I can even see my eyebrows!' he said."

lofter1
October 21st, 2005, 05:33 PM
aw, heck, while I'm at it ...

Tom Delay: Awful Plastic Surgery or Bad Genetics?

http://www.awfulplasticsurgery.com/archives/006674.html#236674

October 20, 2005


http://www.awfulplasticsurgery.com/archives/tom_delay_weird_nostrils.jpg

What is wrong with Tom Delay's strangely asymmetrical nostrils? (He's the former House Majority leader.)

One nostril is almost nonexistant, while the other looks normal. Sometimes, when a rhinoplasty surgery goes wrong, there can be problems with nostrils healing properly.

TLOZ Link5
October 21st, 2005, 10:00 PM
I can't help but have really disturbing images about the Fab Five giving Tom a little conversion therapy as I read these articles.

lofter1
October 22nd, 2005, 01:34 AM
The Antipodes of Mug Shots

On the other hand ...

lofter1
October 24th, 2005, 10:21 AM
Another Two-Faced Texan (Is there something in the water down there?):

Hutchison Used to Think Differently

Robert Schelsinger
10.23.2005

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-schlesinger/hutchison-used-to-think-d_b_9376.html


Kay Bailey Hutchison (Senate, Republican, Texas) didn’t always feel this way. Once upon a time she rejected the notion that perjury had to be accompanied by other underlying charges to make it a serious crime.

As noted on the HuffPo’s front page, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison fretted on Meet the Press (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9764239/) Sunday that potential perjury and obstruction of justice charges against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove might be just a “technicality.”

Of course back in the day (read: President Clinton’s impeachment trial), perjury and obstruction of justice were a pretty big deal. I believe the exact phrase used at the time was “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

(A digression: Careful readers might recall that I predicted last week (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-schlesinger/the-hypocritic-oath_b_9092.html) these results of what I call the Hypocritic Oath (http://www.dcexaminer.com/articles/2005/08/23/opinion/politics/89politics24schlesinger.txt) – that GOPers would start to downplay the importance of perjury and obstruction.)


Hutchison said Sunday:
I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.The estimable Tim Russert noted that perjury was once more important, saying: “Perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate.”


Hutchison responded:
Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice. And I'm not saying that those are not crimes. They are. But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process--and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime. I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country. Well actually, there weren’t other charges against Clinton (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/articles122098.htm). Or more precisely there weren’t other charges that were approved by the House. It was as if they couldn’t indict on a “real” crime and so they went to something just to show what their years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. One might even call it a gotcha mentality.

Of course Hutchison sang a different tune back in February of 1999, when the senators went behind closed doors to discuss how they would vote in the impeachment trial.

At the time, according to the closed-door impeachment statement (http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/02/12/senate.statements/hutchison.html) she entered into the Congressional Record:

This Senate on numerous occasions has convicted impeached Federal Judges on allegations of perjury. Moreover, the historical fact is that 'high crimes and misdemeanors,' as used and applied in English law on which portions of our Constitution were founded, included the crimes of 'obstructing the execution of the lawful process' and of 'willful and corrupt perjury.'She went on to specifically reject the notion that perjury and obstruction required underlying charges in order to be legitimate:
The President's Counsel and a number of Senators advance a 'felony-plus' interpretation of the Constitutional terms 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' … To this Senator, this astounding application of the plain language of our Constitution strikes at the very heart of the rule of law in America. It replaces the stability guaranteed by the Constitution with the chaos of uncertainty. Not only does it obliterate the noble ideal that our highest public officer should set high moral standards for our Nation, it says that the officer is free to commit felonies while doing it if the economy is good, if the crime is just about sex, or if, except for the crime, 'things are going pretty well right now,' or simply that 'they can indict and try the President for the crime after leaving office in a couple of years.' I will not demean our Constitution or the office of the Presidency of the United States by endorsing the felony-plus standard. Of course now that the crime in question is about national security, not sex, the standard is apparently completely different.

lofter1
October 26th, 2005, 11:19 PM
Oops!! It's so hard to keep track of all that cash ...

DeLay Acknowledges Failure to Report Money

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 26, 5:15 PM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051026/ap_on_go_co/delay_defense_fund_2


Rep. Tom DeLay has notified House officials that he failed to disclose all contributions to his legal defense fund as required by congressional rules.

The fund is currently paying DeLay's legal bills in a campaign finance investigation in Texas, where DeLay has been indicted, and in a federal investigation of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The lobbyist arranged foreign travel for DeLay and had his clients pay some of the cost.

DeLay, R-Texas, has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

DeLay wrote House officials that he started an audit and it found that $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 to the defense fund was not reported anywhere.

An additional $17,300 was included in the defense fund's quarterly report but not in DeLay's 2000 annual financial disclosure report — a separate requirement. Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800 when the figure should have been $4,450.

House rules require quarterly reports of donations and expenditures by a lawmaker's legal defense fund. Donations exceeding $250 also must be disclosed on annual financial disclosure reports.

The Texas Republican, who has stepped down as majority leader due to felony indictments in the Texas probe, disclosed and corrected the past reporting mistakes.

The defense fund will report to the House in a few days that it received $318,000 in the third quarter of this year — the best fundraising quarter since it was started in June 2000, according to the trustee, Houston attorney Brent Perry.

On Oct. 13 DeLay wrote the clerk of the House, Jeff Trandahl, that the first inkling of inconsistencies in his disclosures came last February.

"I brought this matter — which I discovered on my own — to the attention of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to alert the chairman and ranking member," DeLay said in his letter.

"Upon learning of these accounting irregularities, I immediately requested that the trust undergo a full and complete audit from its June 2000 inception through 2004 to determine if any additional accountancy problems existed with the trust."

Perry, trustee of the Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust, corrected the record in an Oct. 6 letter to the House ethics committee.

"I sincerely apologize for the oversights that made these amendments necessary," Perry wrote. "Congressman DeLay was not involved in these omissions. No mistakes were found after 2001."

In an interview, Perry said, "It was not an ethical lapse, it was a bookkeeping lapse. I did not review the reports thoroughly enough. The reports were filed under his signature but he relies on me for the reports."

In the third-quarter report that soon will be submitted to the House, Perry said $177,000 was donated by individuals in the quarter and an additional $141,000 by political committees, corporations and other entities.

In past years, the fund has paid legal bills in several ethics investigations of DeLay and in a racketeering suit filed by a House Democratic campaign organization. DeLay was admonished by the ethics panel on three occasions last year and the racketeering suit was closed in 2001.

Perry said $250,000 has been paid to lawyers so far in the Texas investigation, but he did not have a total for the Abramoff probe.

DeLay is charged in Texas with money laundering and conspiracy to violate Texas election laws.

Two grand juries have charged that DeLay and two political associates funneled corporate money to Texas legislative candidates — using the national Republican Party as a middleman — in violation of a a state law prohibiting use of corporate funds in state campaigns.

House Republican rules require leaders indicted on felony counts to step aside from their leadership posts.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press.

Ninjahedge
October 27th, 2005, 09:07 AM
It is odd (on the perjury article) that it takes a reversal of fortune for someone to use exactly what they knew to be true in the first case as thier defense of people they are involved with.

Hutchison knew there was nothing on Clinton, and it has taken 6 years for her to come out and say what we really know about these charges.


If it wasn't for the fact that they tried using this crap themselves on their own political opponents, I would be asking for this to all be thrown out. But given that, for some reason, ruining a persons career in national security is not a crime compared to lying about saying something to someone investigateing the issue, in combination with the fact that they have flip-flopped (sound familiar) I think they should be hung by the very rope they made.

lofter1
October 27th, 2005, 07:54 PM
Another "switch hitter" -- the big, bad Ah-nold -- gets his ...

http://www.arnoldsneighborhood.com/


http://img.getactivehub.com/an2/custom_images/angelides2006/Still_Arnold01.jpg

Join the fight to defeat Schwarzenegger and the Radical Right!

http://img.getactivehub.com/an2/custom_images/angelides2006/Still_BushCheney_100x130.jpg

*************

lofter1
November 5th, 2005, 01:33 AM
Another firend (Tomlinson) of a friend (Rove) in trouble ...

Spending Inquiry for Top Official on Broadcasting

By STEPHEN LABATON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=STEPHEN LABATON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=STEPHEN LABATON&inline=nyt-per)
November 5, 2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/05/politics/05broadcast.html?hp&ex=1131253200&en=ae3568e4e247892f&ei=5094&partner=homepage


WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 - Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, is the subject of an inquiry into accusations of misuse of federal money and the use of phantom or unqualified employees, officials involved in that examination said on Friday.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday after its inspector general concluded an investigation that was critical of him. That examination looked at his efforts as chairman of the corporation to seek more conservative programs on public radio and television.

But Mr. Tomlinson remains an important official as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The board, whose members include the secretary of state, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government's foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Martí, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.

The board has been troubled lately over deep internal divisions and criticism of its Middle East broadcasts. Members of the Arab news media have said its broadcasts are American propaganda.

People involved in the inquiry said that investigators had already interviewed a significant number of officials at the agency and that, if the accusations were substantiated, they could involve criminal violations.

Last July, the inspector general at the State Department opened an inquiry into Mr. Tomlinson's work at the board of governors after Representative Howard L. Berman, Democrat of California (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/california/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/national/usstatesterritoriesandpossessions/connecticut/index.html?inline=nyt-geo), forwarded accusations of misuse of money.

The lawmakers requested the inquiry after Mr. Berman received complaints about Mr. Tomlinson from at least one employee at the board, officials said.
People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do corporation work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees.

Through an aide at the broadcasting board, Mr. Tomlinson declined to comment Friday about the State Department inquiry.

In recent weeks, State Department investigators have seized records and e-mail from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, officials said. They have shared some material with the inspector general at the corporation, including e-mail traffic between Mr. Tomlinson and White House officials including Karl Rove (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/karl_rove/index.html?inline=nyt-per), a senior adviser to President Bush and a close friend of Mr. Tomlinson.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Tomlinson became friends in the 1990's when they served on the Board for International Broadcasting, the predecessor agency to the board of governors. Mr. Rove played an important role in Mr. Tomlinson's appointment as chairman of the broadcasting board.

The content of the e-mail between the two officials has not been made public but could become available when the corporation's inspector general sends his report to members of Congress this month.

That inspector general examined several contracts that were approved by Mr. Tomlinson but not disclosed to board members. The contracts provided for payments to a researcher who monitored the political content of several shows, including "Now" with Bill Moyers, and payments to two Republican lobbyists who were retained to help defeat a proposal in Congress that would have required greater representation of broadcasters on the corporation's board.

The inspector general also examined the role of a White House official, Mary C. Andrews, in Mr. Tomlinson's creation of an ombudsman's office to monitor the political balance of programs.

Mr. Tomlinson has said he took those steps to counter what he called a clear liberal tilt of public broadcasting. But broadcasting executives and critics of the corporation say the steps violated the corporation's obligations to insulate broadcasting from politics.

On Thursday Mr. Tomlinson was forced to step down from the corporation, which directs nearly $400 million in federal money to public radio and television, after the board was briefed about the conclusions by its inspector general. In that inquiry, examiners looked at accusations that Mr. Tomlinson improperly used corporation money to promote more conservative programming.

State Department officials said on Friday that al-Hurra, the Arabic language satellite television network set up by the board of governors, was also being examined by the inspector general for possibly problematic procurement practices. That audit was first disclosed on Friday by The Financial Times.

The audit began at the request of al-Hurra, the officials said. A statement by the broadcasting board said that the agency had "no indication of any wrongdoing."

The network, which receives nearly $50 million in federal financing and is broadcast in 22 countries, was set up to compete with al-Jazeera and other Arab news media. One State Department official said Karen P. Hughes, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, had been briefed on the subject and "awaits the findings of the inspector general's audit."


Steven R. Weisman contributed reporting for this article.



Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

lofter1
November 21st, 2005, 12:05 AM
Corruption Inquiry Threatens to Ensnare Lawmakers

NY Times
By PHILIP SHENON (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=PHILIP SHENON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=PHILIP SHENON&inline=nyt-per)
November 20, 2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/20/politics/20lobby.html?ex=1290142800&en=b7550c05e3dd13b0&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss


WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 - The Justice Department has signaled for the first time in recent weeks that prominent members of Congress could be swept up in the corruption investigation of Jack Abramoff, the former Republican superlobbyist who diverted some of his tens of millions of dollars in fees to provide lavish travel, meals and campaign contributions to the lawmakers whose help he needed most.

The investigation by a federal grand jury, which began more than a year ago, has created alarm on Capitol Hill, especially with the announcement Friday of criminal charges against Michael Scanlon, Mr. Abramoff's former lobbying partner and a former top House aide to Representative Tom DeLay (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/tom_delay/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

The charges against Mr. Scanlon identified no lawmakers by name, but a summary of the case released by the Justice Department accused him of being part of a broad conspiracy to provide "things of value, including money, meals, trips and entertainment to federal public officials in return for agreements to perform official acts" - an attempt at bribery, in other words, or something close to it.

Mr. Abramoff, who is under indictment in a separate bank-fraud case in Florida, has not been charged by the federal grand jury here. But Mr. Scanlon's lawyer says he has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation, suggesting that Mr. Abramoff's day in court in Washington is only a matter of time.

Scholars who specialize in the history and operations of Congress say that given the brazenness of Mr. Abramoff's lobbying efforts, as measured by the huge fees he charged clients and the extravagant gifts he showered on friends on Capitol Hill, almost all of them Republicans, the investigation could end up costing several lawmakers their careers, if not their freedom.

The investigation threatens to ensnarl many outside Congress as well, including Interior Department officials and others in the Bush administration who were courted by Mr. Abramoff on behalf of the Indian tribe casinos that were his most lucrative clients.

The inquiry has already reached into the White House; a White House budget official, David H. Safavian, resigned only days before his arrest in September on charges of lying to investigators about his business ties to Mr. Abramoff, a former lobbying partner.

"I think this has the potential to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century," said Thomas E. Mann, a Congressional specialist at the Brookings Institution. "I've been around Washington for 35 years, watching Congress, and I've never seen anything approaching Abramoff for cynicism and chutzpah in proposing quid pro quos to members of Congress."

Even by the gold-plated standards of Washington lobbying firms, the fees paid to Mr. Abramoff were extraordinary. A former president of the College Republicans who turned to lobbying after a short-lived career as a B-movie producer, Mr. Abramoff, with his lobbying team, collected more than $80 million from the Indian tribes and their gambling operations; he was known by lobbying rivals as "Casino Jack."

Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work was not limited to the casinos, though. Newly disclosed documents from his files show that he asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of Gabon, in West Africa, to set up a White House meeting with President Bush; there was an Oval Office meeting last year, although there is no evidence in the public record to show that Mr. Abramoff had a role in the arrangements.

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, an ethics watchdog group that has called for tighter lobbying rules, said it was too early to say whether the Abramoff investigation would produce anything like the convulsion in Congress during the Abscam investigations of the 1980's, when one senator and five House members were convicted on bribery and other charges after an F.B.I. sting involving a phony Arab sheik.

"But this clearly has the potential," Mr. Wertheimer said.

So far, one member of Congress, Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican who is chairman of the House Administration Committee, has acknowledged receiving a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Mr. Abramoff. Another, Representative John T. Doolittle, Republican of California, has acknowledged that his wife, who helped Mr. Abramoff organize fund-raisers, was subpoenaed.

The Justice Department signaled last month that Mr. DeLay had come under scrutiny in the investigation, over a trip that Mr. Abramoff arranged for Mr. DeLay and his wife to Britain in 2000 that included rounds of golf at the fabled course at St. Andrews in Scotland.

The department revealed its interest in Mr. DeLay, who is under indictment in Texas in an unrelated investigation involving violations of state election laws, in an extraordinary request to the British government that police there interview former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher about the circumstances of a meeting in London with Mr. DeLay during the trip five years ago.

London newspapers quoted a document prepared by the British Home Office that outlined the Justice Department's investigation and said that "it is alleged that Abramoff arranged for his clients to pay for the trips to the U.K. on the basis that Congressman DeLay would support favorable legislation."
Richard Cullen, a lawyer for Mr. DeLay, said in an interview Friday that he was "glad that the Justice Department is looking into all aspects of the trip because I think that a thorough investigation will show that the trip was substantive and transparent."

Mr. Cullen said that shortly after he was hired several months ago, he contacted the Justice Department "to let them know that Mr. DeLay is available to cooperate in any way."

The lawyer said he was "convinced that when the Justice Department completes its investigation of Abramoff and Scanlon, that it will be clear Tom DeLay has acted ethically and has conducted himself consistent with all laws and House standards of conduct." He said he had not heard from federal prosecutors since the initial contacts.

The situation could be more serious for Mr. Ney, a five-term lawmaker whose position as chairman of the House Administration Committee gives him power over the operations of the Capitol building and allows him to divide up Congressional perks like office space and parking.

Mr. Ney's ties to Mr. Abramoff have been revealed slowly over the last year, largely through testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has held a series of hearings into accusations that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon defrauded their Indian tribe clients.

Mr. Ney was not identified by name in the documents filed against Mr. Scanlon on Friday. But the Ohio lawmaker's lawyers acknowledged that Mr. Ney was the lawmaker identified as "Representative #1" in the Justice Department papers, which charged Mr. Scanlon with conspiring to provide "Representative #1" with a golfing trip to Scotland, meals at Mr. Abramoff's Washington restaurant and campaign contributions.

Mr. Ney took part in a golf trip to Scotland in 2002 with Mr. Abramoff, where they played at St. Andrews, as Mr. DeLay had done two years earlier.
Documents and testimony to Congress showed that Mr. Abramoff had asked an Indian tribe in Texas to sponsor the trip and that Mr. Ney was then asked for his help in trying to reopen a casino owned by the tribe that had been shuttered by state officials.

Mr. Ney was also a regular at Signatures, the expensive Washington restaurant that Mr. Abramoff owned and used to entertain clients, colleagues and lawmakers. Former Signatures employees have said that Mr. Ney frequently ate and drank at the restaurant without paying. Mr. Ney has acknowledged the gifts but said they were within limits set by Congressional ethics rules.



Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

lofter1
November 23rd, 2005, 09:04 AM
DeLay Case Judge Declines Immediate Ruling

By KELLEY SHANNON
Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 22, 8:10 PM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051123/ap_on_go_co/delay_indictment_15


Hoping to regain his post as House majority leader when Congress reconvenes in January, Rep. Tom DeLay asked a judge Tuesday to throw out the campaign-finance case against him.

However, the judge said that the Republican congressman will have to wait until at least December for a decision, and that the conspiracy and money-laundering case would probably not go to trial before the first of the year.

DeLay and two Republican fundraisers are accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate donations to GOP candidates for the Texas Legislature. The direct use of corporate money for political purposes is illegal in Texas.

DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin argued that the conspiracy charges were based on a law that was not even on the books when the alleged conspiracy happened.

But prosecutor Rick Reed disputed that, saying that the Legislature was just clarifying the law in 2003 and that state law has long defined conspiracy as an agreement to commit any felony.

DeLay wants the charges dismissed or resolved in his favor by January. Under House rules, he was forced to give up his leadership post after he was charged with a felony. But he could regain it if he is cleared before Congress returns.

However, Judge Pat Priest said he wants to read written arguments from both sides before making his ruling. He gave attorneys one week to file their arguments, and said he would probably make his decision a week after that.

"I doubt very seriously we're going to get to trial before the first of the year," Priest said.

DeGuerin said "we're ready now" for a ruling.

"It's very, very important to Congressman DeLay because he's been required to step down from his leadership post simply because of the existence of an accusation," the defense attorney said.

DeLay did not speak with reporters before or after the hearing.

The hearing was DeLay's first appearance before Priest, who was appointed to the case after DeLay's attorneys had the first judge removed because of his contributions to Democratic candidates and causes.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

lofter1
December 2nd, 2005, 09:49 AM
Texas Groups Seek Ralph Reed Casinos Probe

12/01/05

http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20051201211709990019


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Three watchdog groups asked Thursday for an investigation of former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, who worked with lobbyist Jack Abramoff to press state officials to shut down two Texas tribal casinos.

Texans for Public Justice, Common Cause of Texas and Public Citizen filed their complaint with Travis County Attorney David Escamilla.

They said Reed failed to register as a Texas lobbyist in 2001 and 2002, when he received a reported $4.2 million from Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon to push for the closure of casinos operated by the Tigua tribe of El Paso and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe of Livingston in East Texas.

"If he was crossing the border and crossing the legal line, Texans need to know about it and hold him accountable," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. "It appears he was part of the scheme to bilk millions of dollars from Indian tribes."

McDonald said failing to register is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Reed spokeswoman Lisa Baron called the complaint "specious." Reed's consulting company, Century Strategies, was hired by a major law firm to contact Texans and urge them to oppose gambling, she said. "We were not hired to lobby Texas public officials," she said.

Escamilla said he is reviewing the complaint, but said the statute of limitations on misdemeanors is two years.

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee has been investigating Abramoff and Scanlon. In e-mails released by the committee, Reed discussed his efforts against the casinos. Investigators have alleged that Abramoff and Scanlon defrauded their tribal clients of some $80 million.

Last week, Scanlon pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe public officials to assist clients. As part of his plea agreement, he'll pay $19 million to tribes he admitted to defrauding and is cooperating with investigators.

Abramoff and Scanlon were hired by the Louisiana Coushatta tribe in 2001 and worked to prevent the Alabama-Coushatta and another Louisiana tribe from opening competing casinos.

Reed rallied the religious community against the casinos and met with state lawmakers to kill a bill that would reopen the Tiguas casino, according to his e-mails.

After the Tigua and Alabama-Coushatta's casinos shut down, Abramoff and Scanlon persuaded the Tiguas to hire them to lobby Congress to change federal law so they could reopen their casino. They also tried to press the Alabama-Coushatta tribe to hire them.


Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

lofter1
December 11th, 2005, 08:23 AM
Some thoughts from Stephen Gaghan (writer / director of the very well done and throught provoking "Syriana", now in theatres: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/syriana/ (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/syriana/) ) ...

On Syriana and Corruption (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-gaghan/on-syriana-and-corruption_b_11870.html)

Stephen Gaghan
December 8, 2005

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-gaghan/on-syriana-and-corruption_b_11870.html


What’s the way in? My first blog. You only get one first time at anything. I’m on a plane. I’m drinking bad coffee. I’m promoting a new film, Syriana, that I’ve spent the last three and half years writing and directing, cutting and scoring, agonizing as recently as three weeks ago over details like the font and point size of the end-title scroll - I chose Highway Gothic, considered in some circles to be the new Helvetica.

Since this is an inaugural blog and it’s clear skies at 37,000 feet, I thought I might write a brief primer on corruption. As I travel around I often ask people if they know what corruption actually is and I’m surprised how few people really understand it. It seems it’s just another one of those words that have been politicized out of meaning. Corruption has been in the news with more frequency lately, but not nearly as much as it should be or as much as it will be.

A brief scan of the cover of yesterday’s NY Times would give you a congressman from San Diego, Randy Cunningham, known as “Duke,” facing significant jail time for accepting 2.4 million dollars in gifts and indirect payments (one “friend” bought his home for 1.7 million dollars only to sell it nine months later in a booming housing market for 700,000 dollars less) from defense contractors, a piece on Nigeria (in many years the gold standard of corruption measured solely in terms of number of shakedowns between the airport and town) pointing out that over the last four decades perhaps as much as 400 billion dollars, all of it from oil profits, has been stolen or misspent, as well as an article ruminating on how the 37 billion in federal aid to New Orleans will be allocated.

Corruption is the inducement of a government official to allocate state assets at a price below market value. In a resource rich nation the resource almost always belongs “to the people.” But someone is making the decision where and to whom to sell the goods and that person can usually be induced. We nominate this one person to rise above the others and we pay him a million times his fair share in order that he’ll sell everybody else’s share to us for less than it would cost on the open market. This is inducement. It’s against the law in America. The problem is if we don’t induce we don’t get the goods. Why? Because everybody else induces too: the French, Brits, Russians, Chinese. All of them. And in order to stay competitive in the global natural resource biz you better be prepared to induce, early and often. Or as Tim Blake Nelson playing Danny Dalton, says in Syriana, “Corruption is just government intrusion into market efficiency in the form of regulation… that’s Milton Friedman, he got a goddamn Nobel Prize.”

So how do we induce and get around the regulation? The simple answer is: through middle-men. An oil exec making 300,000 dollars a year isn’t going to risk ten years in jail to pay a twenty million dollar bribe to a government official in Kazakhstan or Sau Tome or Nigeria, but there are plenty of people who will be willing to do this on his behalf, secretly, often on their word alone, in order that they be cut in on a small percentage of that income stream, in order that one company gain a highly efficient advantage over another.

Perhaps the reason there is so much inducement surrounding the monetizing of oil and natural gas is that it is not a complicated business. You stick a straw in the ground and billions if not trillions start spurting out. This massive pile of wealth, of found money from a puddle under the earth, has the same effect as the gravity of a black hole that bends and swallows the morality of all who pass into its orbit. You think you’re immune? Well, I suspect you just haven’t been induced yet, you haven’t met your devil with just the right, previously unimaginable, dollar figure.

A brief message from Duke, San Diego’s congressman: “The truth is, I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions and, most importantly, the trust of my friends.” Randy Cunningham, known as Duke, Congressman from San Diego, lived on a yacht called the “Duke-Stir.” It was anchored in the Potomac basin in sight of the Capitol Building. It was paid for by military contractors. He drove up to the Capitol in a Rolls-Royce paid for by military contractors.

So what do Nigeria and America have in common? The Dukester’s boat was paid for with taxpayer’s dollars, yours and mine. Because those contracts were awarded at above market value, we overpaid for goods and services and the profit went not back to the taxpayer, but to Duke and his boats and cars and fancy toilets. In Nigeria the government officials keep their yachts in the south of France. So do the royal families of other oil-producing kingdoms. And every one of those fifty or hundred million dollar boats represent how many elementary schools and colleges, how many educations, opportunities for young people, investment in research and science, better hospitals and highways, not just for the citizens of Kazakhstan or Nigeria, Sau Tome or Saudi Arabia, but for the citizens of the USA, the people of San Diego and Kentucky, Texas and Vermont.

And remember that if a culture can spring into existence on the banks of the Potomac that makes it seem perfectly okay to accept multi-million dollar gifts from private business, that same culture can be changed, induced, if you will, to turn those gifts down and represent all of the people instead of a tiny, super-wealthy minority.

lofter1
December 18th, 2005, 09:38 AM
Frist AIDS Charity Paid Consultants

By JONATHAN M. KATZ and JOHN SOLOMON
Associated Press Writers
Sat Dec 17, 2005

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051217/ap_on_go_co/frist_charity;_ylt=AoqmB1pQqrv8RCVnWcF_qT2s0NUE


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit.

The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.

The tax forms, filed nine months after they were first due, do not identify the 18 major donors by name.

Frist's lawyer, Alex Vogel, said Friday that he would not give their names because tax law does not require their public disclosure. Frist's office provided a list of 96 donors who were supportive of the charity, but did not say how much each contributed.

The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm.

World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans — Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes' Esperanza USA, for example.

The rest of the money went to overhead. That included $456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist's longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo.

The charity also hired the law firm of Vogel's wife, Jill Holtzman Vogel, and Frist's Tennessee accountant, Deborah Kolarich.

Kolarich's name recently surfaced in an e-mail involving Frist's controversial sale of stock in his family founded health care company. That transaction is now under federal investigation.

Jill Holtzman Vogel, who is raising money for a run for the state Senate in Virginia in 2007, has received thousands in contributions this year from Catignani & Bond and from her husband, among numerous other sources, according to data released by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Alex Vogel said Frist picked people to work on his charity whom he trusted and knew, such as Vogel's wife, and was proud that overhead costs amounted to less than $1 of every $5 raised. "It's leaner than the average charity," Vogel said.

Frist is listed as the charity's president and his wife was listed as secretary. Neither was compensated.

Political experts said both the size of charity's big donations and its consulting fees raise questions about whether the tax-exempt group benefited Frist's political ambitions.

"One of the things people who are running for president try to do is keep their fundraising staff and political people close at hand. And one of the ways you can do that is by putting them in some sort of organization you run," said Larry Noble, the government's former chief election lawyer who now runs the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics that studies fundraising.

Kent Cooper, the Federal Election Commission's former public disclosure chief, said the big donors' motives are also suspect.

"These tax deductible gifts were earmarked through Senator Frist," Cooper said. "They were raised in the political arena at the 2004 Republican Convention and the natural question is were they given to the Senate majority leader to gain favor or were they given for true charitable purposes?"

Cooper said the consulting fees were "excessively high" and the fact that they were "paid to primarily political consultants also raises questions about the long-range strategic benefits for the 2008 presidential race."

A charity could lose its tax-exempt status if it is found to be involved with political activity, said Marcus S. Owens, a former director of the Internal Revenue Service's Exempt Organizations Division.

"If the IRS were to conduct an examination, what they would look for would be the relationship between the organization and any incumbent politician or candidate," Owens said. "They'd be particularly interested in transactions of money or assistance of any kind being provided."

Frist formed the charity in 2003. It drew attention in August 2004 when it held a benefit concert in New York during the Republican National Convention at which President Bush was nominated for re-election.

The group's 2004 tax return was due April 15, 2005, but it filed for two extensions and only reported its activity to the IRS last month.

The tax forms show at least 11 of the charity's 18 biggest donors gave $97,950 each, that one gave $100,000 and that the rest gave more than $245,000 each.

Vogel said Catignani was paid the fees because he helped arrange the New York concert that featured country stars Brooks & Dunn, handling both the event arrangements and fundraising.

The tax forms show Catignani's fundraising firm, Catignani & Bond, was paid a total of $276,125 and his event-planning arm, Consulting Services Group, was paid $180,000.

The amount Catignani was paid by Frist's charity in 2004 is roughly the same as what his firms received over the past three years for work for Frist's political action committee, Volunteer PAC. The firm collected $523,666 in fees from the PAC since 2003, FEC records show.

World of Hope's beneficiaries include evangelical Christian groups with Republican connections.

Cortes, Esperanza USA's president, is an influential evangelical leader who hosted Bush at this year's National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.

Frist has worked and traveled extensively with Samaritan's Purse in Africa as well as during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Franklin Graham is the son of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Weeks before Frist's convention fundraiser, the senate leader traveled to Chad, Sudan and Kenya on a trip underwritten by Samaritan's Purse, Senate records show.

Samaritan's Purse spokesman Jeremy Blume said the $490,000 that World of Hope donated to Samaritan's Purse in 2004 was spent on AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

The recipients of the charity's money were Africare, Samaritan's Purse, Esperanza USA, Nashville's Meharry Medical College, Taso-Uganda and Save the Children.


Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc.

lofter1
December 29th, 2005, 11:14 AM
2006 could prove to be VERY entertaining ...

The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff

How a Well-Connected Lobbyist Became the Center of a Far-Reaching Corruption Scandal

By Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 29, 2005; A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/28/AR2005122801588_pf.html


Jack Abramoff liked to slip into dialogue from "The Godfather" as he led his lobbying colleagues in planning their next conquest on Capitol Hill. In a favorite bit, he would mimic an ice-cold Michael Corleone facing down a crooked politician's demand for a cut of Mafia gambling profits: "Senator, you can have my answer now if you like. My offer is this: nothing."

The playacting provided a clue to how Abramoff saw himself -- the power behind the scenes who directed millions of dollars in Indian gambling proceeds to favored lawmakers, the puppet master who pulled the strings of officials in key places, the businessman who was building an international casino empire.

Abramoff is the central figure in what could become the biggest congressional corruption scandal in generations. Justice Department prosecutors are pressing him and his lawyers to settle fraud and bribery allegations by the end of this week, sources knowledgeable about the case said. Unless he reaches a plea deal, he faces a trial Jan. 9 in Florida in a related fraud case.

A reconstruction of the lobbyist's rise and fall shows that he was an ingenious dealmaker who hatched interlocking schemes that exploited the machinery of government and trampled the norms of doing business in Washington -- sometimes for clients but more often to serve his desire for wealth and influence. This inside account of Abramoff's career is drawn from interviews with government officials and former associates in the lobbying shops of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP and Greenberg Traurig LLP; thousands of court and government records; and hundreds of e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, as well as those released by Senate investigators.

Abramoff, now 47, had mammoth ambitions. He sought to build the biggest lobbying portfolio in town. He opened two restaurants close to the Capitol.
He bought a fleet of casino boats. He produced two Hollywood movies. He leased four arena and stadium skyboxes and dreamed of owning a pro sports team. He was a generous patron in his Orthodox Jewish community, starting a boys' religious school in Maryland.

For a time, all things seemed possible. Abramoff's brash style often clashed with culturally conservative Washington, but many people were drawn to his moxie and his money. He collected unprecedented sums -- tens of millions of dollars -- from casino-rich Indian tribes. Lawmakers and their aides packed his restaurants and skyboxes and jetted off with him on golf trips to Scotland and the Pacific island of Saipan.

Abramoff offered jobs and other favors to well-placed congressional staffers and executive branch officials. He pushed his own associates for government positions, from which they, too, could help him.

He was a man of contradictions. He presented himself as deeply religious, yet his e-mails show that he blatantly deceived Indian tribes and did business with people linked to the underworld. He had genuine inside connections but also puffed himself up with phony claims about his access.

Abramoff's lobbying team was made up of Republicans and a few Democrats, most of whom he had wined and dined when they were aides to powerful members of Congress. They signed on for the camaraderie, the paycheck, the excitement.

"Everybody lost their minds," recalled a former congressional staffer who lobbied with Abramoff at Preston Gates. "Jack was cutting deals all over town. Staffers lost their loyalty to members -- they were loyal to money."

A senior Preston Gates partner warned him to slow down or he would be "dead, disgraced or in jail." Those within Abramoff's circle also saw the danger signs. Their boss had become increasingly frenzied about money and flouted the rules. "I'm sensing shadiness. I'll stop asking," one associate, Todd Boulanger, e-mailed a colleague.

Abramoff declined to comment for this article. "I have advised my client not to speak, except in court," said Neal Sonnett, one of his attorneys. A friend of two decades, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), defended Abramoff: "I think he's been dealt a bad hand and the worst, rawest deal I've ever seen in my life. Words like bribery are being used to describe things that happened every day in Washington and are not bribes."

Few of those interviewed would agree to be quoted on the record because of the ongoing investigation by a Justice Department task force. But some who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they look back in amazement at the heady days of Abramoff's rise.

"We weren't outside the box," the former Preston Gates colleague said. "We were outside the universe."

Hints of Trouble

A quarter of a century ago, Abramoff and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist were fellow Young Turks of the Reagan revolution. They organized Massachusetts college campuses in the 1980 election -- Abramoff while he was an undergraduate at Brandeis and Norquist at Harvard Business School -- to help Ronald Reagan pull an upset in the state.

They moved to Washington, maneuvered to take over the College Republicans -- at the time a sleepy establishment organization -- and transformed it into a right-wing activist group. They were joined by Ralph Reed, an ambitious Georgian whose later Christian conversion would fuel his rise to national political prominence.

Soon they made headlines with such tactics as demolishing a mock Berlin Wall in Lafayette Park, where they also burned a Soviet leader in effigy. "We want to shock them," Abramoff told The Post at the time.

They forged lifelong ties. At Reagan's 72nd-birthday party at the White House, Reed introduced Abramoff to his future wife, Pam Alexander, who was working with Reed. She eventually converted to Judaism and embraced the Orthodox beliefs Abramoff had adopted as a teenager.

Even in those early days, there were hints of the troubles to come. "If anyone is not surprised at the rise and fall of Jack Abramoff, it is me," said Rich Bond, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Abramoff and his crew busted the College Republicans' budget with a 1982 national direct-mail fundraising campaign that ended up "a colossal flop," said Bond, then deputy director of the party's national committee. He said he banished the three from GOP headquarters, telling Abramoff: "You can't be trusted."

Shortly thereafter, Abramoff was running Citizens for America, a conservative grass-roots group founded by drugstore magnate Lewis E. Lehrman. Abramoff was in frequent contact with Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the Reagan White House's Iran-contra mastermind, about grass-roots efforts to lobby Congress for the Nicaraguan contras, according to records in the National Security Archive.

One of Abramoff's most audacious adventures involved Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who had U.S. support but was later found to have ordered the murders of his movement's representative to the United States and that man's relatives. With Savimbi, Abramoff organized a "convention" of anticommunist guerrillas from Laos, Nicaragua and Afghanistan in a remote part of Angola. Afterward, Lehrman fired Abramoff amid a dispute about the handling of the group's $3 million budget.

Abramoff also worked on behalf of the apartheid South African government, which secretly paid $1.5 million a year to the International Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit group that Abramoff operated out of a townhouse in the 1980s, according to sworn testimony to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

At the same time, Abramoff dabbled as a Hollywood producer, shepherding an anticommunist movie, "Red Scorpion," starring Dolph Lundgren, filmed in Namibia, which was then ruled by South Africa. Actors in the film said they saw South African soldiers on the set. When the film was released in 1989, anti-apartheid groups demonstrated at the theaters. The movie ran into financial difficulty during and after production, but Abramoff produced a sequel, "Red Scorpion 2."

Mysterious Entrance

When Republicans wrested control of the House from the Democrats in 1994, Abramoff turned his focus back to Washington politics. With Norquist's help, he reinvented himself as a Republican lobbyist on heavily Democratic K Street. Norquist was one of the intellectual architects of the Republican Revolution and a muse for its leader, Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), soon to be speaker of the House.

Abramoff also counted on his father, who had a wealth of connections from his days as president of the Diners Club credit card company. Frank Abramoff had once looked into operating a casino in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. territory that includes Saipan. He introduced his son around, and the Marianas became one of the first important clients of the new lobbyist.

Soon the younger Abramoff developed a key alliance with Rep. Tom DeLay, a conservative Republican from Texas who was working his way up in the House leadership. The two met at a DeLay fundraiser on Capitol Hill in 1995, according to a former senior DeLay aide. The aide recalled that Edwin A. Buckham, then DeLay's chief of staff, told his boss: "We really need to work with Abramoff; he is going to be an important lobbyist and fundraiser."

DeLay, a Christian conservative, did not quite know what to make of Abramoff, who wore a beard and a yarmulke. They forged political ties, but the two men never became personally close, according to associates of both men.

Almost from the start, Abramoff struck some rival lobbyists as a strange figure who operated on the margins. He even turned up as a representative of the Pakistani military when Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto went to Washington in 1995 to seek the return of $600 million the Islamabad government had paid for 28 F-16 fighters. The sale had been blocked by the U.S. government over concerns about Pakistan's nuclear program.

Bhutto's Washington lobbyists were at the Pakistani Embassy savoring her successful meeting with President Bill Clinton when a man in a suit made a mysterious entrance.

"Suddenly, this portly guy steps in and sits down. He says nothing," recalled one of the lobbyists. The Americans asked him to introduce himself. He folded his arms and refused.

"Finally, he says, 'I am Jack Abramoff,' " recalled the lobbyist, a well-connected Democrat. They had never heard of him. Abramoff explained that he was "close to Newt."

The astonished lobbyists for Bhutto learned that Abramoff had traveled to Islamabad and had sold his services to the Pakistani military without the prime minister's knowledge.

In the Senate, Abramoff befriended Republicans and their staffers, along with some Democrats on the appropriations committees. In August 1999, he signed up for the National Republican Senatorial Committee's "Tartan Invitational," in which a half-dozen Republican senators and their aides spent a few days with about 50 lobbyists golfing at the exclusive St. Andrews Links in Scotland.

The following year, Abramoff figured out how to use his clients to fund his own trips to St. Andrews with lawmakers. The first guests were DeLay and his aides.

Team Abramoff

With Norquist's help, Abramoff secured a spot on the transition team for the Interior Department after George W. Bush was elected president in 2000. He tried to place several officials in Interior, including an unsuccessful attempt to land a former Marianas official in the top spot overseeing U.S. territories.

He was able to befriend J. Steven Griles, the deputy interior secretary, e-mails and interviews show. By the sum mer of 2001, Abramoff was referring to him in an e-mail to a client as "our guy Steve Griles." Federal investigators are now looking into whether Griles interceded on behalf of Abramoff and improperly discussed a job with the lobbyist while in a position to affect his clients. Griles denied any wrong doing in recent testimony to the Senate.

Abramoff's team also cultivated Roger Stillwell, the Marianas desk officer at the Interior Department. In a recent interview, Stillwell said he accepted dinners at Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures, and tickets to Washington Redskins games. But he said that all those actions occurred while he was a contract employee at Interior, not a federal worker. He also said he sent Abramoff copies of e-mails he sent to his boss, but he noted that none of them contained confidential information and that "there's nothing wrong with doing that."

Abramoff wallowed in his access, real and imagined. When his crack administrative assistant Susan Ralston bolted for a position with White House political adviser Karl Rove, Abramoff told colleagues he had gotten her the job even though it was Ralston's old boss, Reed, who made it happen, her former colleagues said.

Even glowing profiles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal noting Abramoff's extensive influence and impressive income were not enough.
Abramoff quietly paid op-ed columnists thousands of dollars to write favorably about his clients, including one writer for Copley News Service who disclosed this month that he had been paid for as many as two dozen columns since the mid-1990s.

Abramoff drove his colleagues hard, often e-mailing them late into the night.
Many more than doubled their Hill pay when they went to work with him, some earning salaries of $200,000 to $300,000.

"He hired a bunch of white, middle-class Irish Catholic guys who wanted to exceed their parents' expectations," said one of the young lobbyists who himself fit that description. "He was always pushing, demanding. He would say, 'We are a family, we will work 24 hours a day, we will win.' "

Team Abramoff included former staffers to DeLay, as well as to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), head of the Senate Appropriations panel's Interior subcommittee; Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee; Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.), who has served on the key House committee that oversees tribes; and Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), now minority leader.

Abramoff gathered his troops for strategy meetings that were "a great show," rollicking forums where ethical niceties were derided with locker room humor, recalled a former Preston Gates colleague. "Jack would say, 'I gave that guy 10 grand and he voted against me!' " the former associate recalled.

Bill padding was openly discussed, according to Abramoff's Greenberg Traurig e-mails that have been released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. For example, in April 2000, Abramoff had lobbyist Shawn Vasell working on a monthly invoice to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, telling him to "be sure we hit the $150k minimum. If you need to add time for me, let me know."

An exasperated Vasell e-mailed back: "You only had 2 hours. We are not even close to this number . . . ." Abramoff's solution: "Add 60 hours for me," and "pump up" the hours for three or four other lobbyists.

The Choctaws were one of a half-dozen Indian tribes who gave more than $80 million to Abramoff between 2000 and 2003. Not only were the tribes paying Abramoff's lobbying firm, they were also paying Abramoff's secret outside partner, Michael Scanlon, who charged the Indians millions of dollars for public relations work and split the money with Abramoff. Scanlon's public relations fees did not have to be disclosed under lobbying rules, thus making it possible for the magnitude of their take from the tribes to be kept from public view. The two dubbed their scheme "Gimme Five," according to e-mails in which Abramoff disparaged their clients as "morons" and "troglodytes."
E-mails show that Abramoff put his money into an array of political and personal projects.

The nonprofit Capital Athletic Foundation, for example, allowed him to schmooze with Washington's movers and shakers at charity affairs. He put a congressional spouse -- Julie Doolittle, wife of the California lawmaker -- on his payroll to plan at least one event. The congressman's office has said that there was no connection between his wife's work and official acts.

The foundation was ostensibly created to help inner-city children through organized sports. There is no evidence money went to city kids, but the foundation did fund some of Abramoff's pet projects: a sniper school for Israelis in the West Bank, a golf trip to Scotland for Ohio congressman Ney and others, and a Jewish religious academy in Columbia that Abramoff founded and where he sent his children to be educated.

Another Abramoff financial vehicle was the nonprofit American International Center, a Rehoboth Beach, Del., "think tank" set up by Scanlon, who staffed it with beach friends from his summer job as a lifeguard. The center became a means for Abramoff and Scanlon to take money from foreign clients that they did not want to officially represent. Some of the funds came from the government of Malaysia. Banks and oil companies there were making deals in Sudan, where U.S. companies were barred on human rights grounds. Sudan was among several oil-rich nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that Abramoff eyed as venues for lucrative energy deals. Abramoff told associates he wanted to become a go-to person for U.S. companies seeking to do business with oil-patch nations.

But by early 2003, Abramoff's private dealmaking had spiraled out of control.
His religious academy was draining his income, and his restaurants were hemorrhaging money. He told Scanlon in an e-mail that February that he was at "rock bottom" and needed funds immediately. By the next day, he was frantic. "Mike!!! I need the money TODAY! I AM BOUNCING CHECKS!!!"

'Enron of Lobbying'

To Abramoff's rivals in the niche world of tribal lobbying, however, he was still a confounding success.

Team Abramoff was stealing away tribal clients from other lobbyists and charging fees of $150,000 a month or more -- 10 or 20 times what the Indians had been paying to others. Team members did it by touting their ties to powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill and stoking tribal worries that Congress might try to tax casino proceeds. Abramoff and Scanlon also quietly got involved in tribal elections.

Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), the ranking Democrat on the Indian Affairs Committee, remembers first hearing "vague complaints" about Abramoff in June 2003 from three Democratic lobbyists. The tribes had traditionally supported Democrats, but Abramoff was capturing them for Republicans, getting them to boost their contributions and give two-thirds to his party.

There was even more buzz on Capitol Hill about Scanlon, the gregarious former DeLay press aide who had become a multimillionaire almost overnight.

His old friends were astonished that Scanlon, then in his early thirties, was traveling to the beach by helicopter and living in a waterfront Rehoboth mansion that he bought for nearly $5 million in cash. A Louisiana paper, the Town Talk of Alexandria, reported in September 2003 that the Coushatta tribe paid Scanlon's public relations firm $13.7 million, a figure that amazed tribal lobbyists as well as some of Abramoff's colleagues. It was around that time that one colleague, Kevin Ring, learned from one of Abramoff's assistants that his boss was secretly getting money from Scanlon, according to a source privy to the conversation.

"This could be the Enron of lobbying," Ring told the colleague.

Rival lobbyists, including some Republicans, were comparing notes about what they considered Abramoff's outrageous conduct.

One of them contacted The Post in fall 2003. In early 2004, The Post published a detailed account of Abramoff's tribal lobbying, showing how four of Greenberg Traurig's Indian clients had paid $45 million, most of it in fees to Scanlon's firm. Within weeks, Greenberg initiated an internal investigation, Abramoff was ousted and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee began its own inquiry, which unearthed hundreds of incriminating e-mails from Abramoff's Greenberg Traurig computer files.

Abramoff had another problem that few people in Washington knew about.
He and another old friend from College Republican days, Adam Kidan, had purchased in 2000 a fleet of Florida casino boats for $147.5 million. By 2004, SunCruz Casinos was bankrupt, and the two men were being sued by lenders for $60 million in loan guarantees, accused of faking a wire transfer for the $23 million they had promised to put into the deal.

Even more serious, Abramoff and Kidan were targets of a Florida federal grand jury investigating the SunCruz wire transfer. And local authorities were probing the gangland-style slaying of the man who had sold them the cruise line, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis.

Greenberg Traurig officials have said that they asked Abramoff to resign in March 2004 over unauthorized personal transactions. They have noted that they had no knowledge of his financial arrangement with Scanlon before they received inquiries from The Post.

However, two months before the firm requested Abramoff's resignation, Greenberg lawyers representing Abramoff in the SunCruz bankruptcy summoned Scanlon to the firm's Miami headquarters to ask about the relationship, according to two people close to Scanlon. Scanlon told them he had paid Abramoff $19 million out of the money he had received in public relations fees from tribal clients. Cesar L. Alvarez, president and chief executive of Greenberg Traurig, said the firm will not comment on any meeting with Scanlon.

By the spring of 2004, the Justice Department had launched an investigation of Abramoff and Scanlon that quickly developed into a multi-agency task force.

Pressure to Plead

Nearly two years later, Abramoff's legal troubles appear to threaten the careers of many of his colleagues and political allies. Sources familiar with the Justice Department investigation say that half a dozen lawmakers are under scrutiny, along with Hill aides, former business associates and government officials.

Two of Abramoff's former business partners -- Scanlon and Kidan -- have pleaded guilty and have agreed to testify about bribery and fraud in Florida and Washington.

Three men have been arrested in the Boulis killing. Two of the three were Kidan's associates; one of them is known to law enforcement as an associate of the Gambino crime family.

Another former Abramoff associate, David H. Safavian -- most recently head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget -- has been indicted on five felony counts of lying to federal investigators about his dealings with Abramoff while he was chief of staff at the General Services Administration.

Within the past year, Abramoff began selling off assets such as his restaurants and has told his lawyers he is broke. He faces the possibility of lengthy prison sentences and stiff financial penalties that could be reduced if he cooperates.

All these developments have added to the pressure on Abramoff to reach his own deal before the SunCruz trial begins on Jan. 9.

Alan K. Simpson (R), the former Wyoming senator who was in Washington during the last big congressional scandal -- the Abscam FBI sting in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which six House members and one senator were convicted -- said the Abramoff case looks bigger. Simpson said he recently rode in a plane with one of Abramoff's attorneys, who told him: "There are going to be guys in your former line of work who are going to be taken down."

Dozens of lawmakers -- who were showered with trips, sports and concert tickets, drinks and dinners -- are returning campaign contributions from Abramoff and his clients and calling him a fraud and a crook.

Burns, one of half a dozen legislators under scrutiny by the federal Abramoff task force, returned $150,000 in campaign contributions this month.

"This Abramoff guy is a bad guy," Burns told a Montana television station. "I hope he goes to jail and we never see him again. I wish he'd never been born, to be right honest with you."

Former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards (Okla.), usually a defender of lobbying and Congress, said there have always been members who get caught "stuffing money in their pants." But he said this is different -- a "disgusting" and disturbingly broad scandal driven by lobbyists whose attitude seemed to be "government to the highest bidder."

"This is at a scale that is really shocking," said Edwards, who teaches public and international affairs at Princeton. "There is a certain kind of arrogance that in the past you might not have had. They were so supremely confident that there didn't seem to be any kind of moral compass here."


Researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

lofter1
January 22nd, 2006, 11:21 AM
http://cocoposts.typepad.com/./photos/uncategorized/kickbackmtn.jpg

TLOZ Link5
January 22nd, 2006, 01:37 PM
Man, that's nasty!

Albeit hilarious...

lofter1
February 10th, 2006, 12:16 AM
Hastert, Frist said to rig bill for drug firms

Frist denies protection was added in secret

By BILL THEOBALD
Gannett News Service
Thursday, 02/09/06

http://www.gallatinnewsexaminer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060209/NEWS02/602090405/1309/MTCN04

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert engineered a backroom legislative maneuver to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits, say witnesses to the pre-Christmas power play.

The language was tucked into a Defense Department appropriations bill at the last minute without the approval of members of a House-Senate conference committee, say several witnesses, including a top Republican staff member.

In an interview, Frist, a doctor and Tennessee Republican, denied that the wording was added that way.

Trial lawyers and other groups condemn the law, saying it could make it nearly impossible for people harmed by a vaccine to force the drug maker to pay for their injuries.

Many in health care counter that the protection is needed to help build up the vaccine industry in the United States, especially in light of a possible avian flu pandemic.

The legislation, called the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to declare a public health emergency, which then provides immunity for companies that develop vaccines and other "countermeasures."

Beyond the issue of vaccine liability protection, some say going around the longstanding practice of bipartisan House-Senate conference committees' working out compromises on legislation is a dangerous power grab by Republican congressional leaders that subverts democracy.

"It is a travesty of the legislative process," said Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

"It vests enormous power in the hands of congressional leaders and private interests, minimizes transparency and denies legitimate opportunities for all interested parties, in Congress and outside, to weigh in on important policy questions."

At issue is what happened Dec. 18 as Congress scrambled to finish its business and head home for the Christmas holiday.

That day, a conference committee made up of 38 senators and House members met several times to work out differences on the 2006 Defense Department appropriations bill.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the ranking minority House member on the conference committee, said he asked Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, the conference chairman, whether the vaccine liability language was in the massive bill or would be placed in it.

Obey and four others at the meeting said Stevens told him no. Committee members signed off on the bill and the conference broke up.

A spokeswoman for Stevens, Courtney Boone, said last week that the vaccine liability language was in the bill when conferees approved it. Stevens was not made available for comment.

During a January interview, Frist agreed. Asked about the claim that the vaccine language was inserted after the conference members signed off on the bill, he replied: "To my knowledge, that is incorrect. It was my understanding, you'd have to sort of confirm, that the vaccine liability which had been signed off by leaders of the conference, signed off by the leadership in the United States Senate, signed off by the leadership of the House, it was my understanding throughout that that was part of that conference report."

But Keith Kennedy, who works for Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., as staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, said at a seminar for reporters last month that the language was inserted by Frist and Hastert, R-Ill., after the conference committee ended its work.

"There should be no dispute. That was an absolute travesty," Kennedy said at a videotaped Washington, D.C., forum sponsored by the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

"It was added after the conference had concluded. It was added at the specific direction of the speaker of the House and the majority leader of the Senate. The conferees did not vote on it. It's a true travesty of the process."

After the conference committee broke up, a meeting was called in Hastert's office, Kennedy said. Also at the meeting, according to a congressional staffer, were Frist, Stevens and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

"They (committee staff members) were given the language and then it was put in the document," Kennedy said.

About 10 or 10:30 p.m., Democratic staff members were handed the language and told it was now in the bill, Obey said.

He took to the House floor in a rage. He called Frist and Hastert "a couple of musclemen in Congress who think they have a right to tell everybody else that they have to do their bidding."

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., also was critical of inserting the vaccine language after the conference committee had adjourned.

"It sucks," he told Congress Daily that night.

Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., another member of the conference committee, was upset, too, a staff member said, because he didn't have enough time to read the language. The final bill was filed in the House at 11:54 p.m. and passed 308-102 at 5:02 the next morning.

The Senate unanimously approved the legislation Dec. 21, but not before Senate Democrats, including several members of the conference committee, bashed the way the vaccine language was inserted.

"What an insult to the legislative process," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., a member of the conference committee. Byrd is considered the authority on legislative rules and tradition.

President Bush signed the legislation into law Dec. 30.

When asked about Frist's earlier denial, spokeswoman Amy Call said: "Bill Frist has fought hard to protect the people of Tennessee and the people of the United States from a bioterror emergency and that's what he did throughout this process."

Hastert's office did not provide a response.

Not against the rules

The practice of adding to a compromise bill worked out by bipartisan House-Senate conference committees, while highly unusual, is not thought to violate congressional rules.

Some Senate and House Democrats have proposed banning the practice as part of broader attempts at ethics reform in Congress.

They, consumer groups and others with concerns about possible harm caused by vaccines charge that the move was a gift by Frist to the pharmaceutical industry, which they point out has given a lot of campaign cash to the Nashville doctor through the years.

"The senator should be working to ensure there are safe vaccines to protect American families rather than protecting the drug industry's pocketbooks," Pamela Gilbert, president of Protect American Families, said in a statement.
The group is an alliance of consumer, labor and advocacy organizations.

Frist has received $271,523 in campaign donations from the pharmaceutical and health products industry since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.

He is also a possible candidate for president in 2008.

In the interview, Frist reiterated how important he thinks the vaccine protections are.

"The United States of America, if a pandemic occurs, is totally unprepared," he said. "And the only way we are going to be prepared is rebuilding our manufacturing base to build a vaccine infrastructure that can be timely and responsive. We don't have it today."

Frist has long advocated liability protection for vaccine makers, and it was widely reported that he would attempt to attach the legislation to the Defense Appropriations bill because it is considered must-pass legislation.

Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said that, while the group favors liability protection, it did not take a position nor did it lobby on behalf of the law that passed.

Copyright © 2006, tennessean.com

lofter1
February 25th, 2006, 10:36 PM
Would Justice Clean the House?

If Congress doesn't start policing itself more seriously,
federal prosecutors say they might step in

By BRIAN BENNETT AND TIMOTHY J. BURGER/WASHINGTON (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0))
TIME Magazine
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1167705,00.html

The Justice Department has a message for Congress: clean up your house or else we may have to do it for you. A senior federal law enforcement official told TIME that the paralyzed and often lax House ethics committee has created a vacuum that prosecutors won't hesitate to fill. The House’s internal mechanism for keeping corruption in check is “broken,” says the official.

By contrast, current criminal probes of lawmakers are expanding rapidly. Like the Abramoff probe, the investigation into former Republican Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham from San Diego is also widening. Last week, defense contractor Mitchell Wade OF MZM, INC. pleaded guilty to supplying more than $1 million of the $2.4 million in bribes Cunningham previously admitted taking in a scheme that touches Defense Department officials and two other members of Congress. A Defense Department spokesman tells TIME that "there is an ongoing review by appropriate organizations within the Department" as to whether the Cunningham- and MZM-linked intelligence contracts would have compromised any Pentagon intelligence programs.

But in a body that likes to think it can police itself, some wonder if prosecutors are overreaching. The Justice Department has “every right to investigate when a law is being broken,” says a senior House GOP aide, “However, there is a feeling that they may be crossing boundaries into where the ethics committee should be performing. And it's just another reason why the ethics committee needs to get up and running.”

Staff of the ethics committee—which is only beginning to get up and running after a partisan deadlock that's lasted for 13 months—did not return phone calls Friday for comment. Jan Baran, an attorney who has often represented elected officials caught in ethics cases, said Justice may be “saber rattling” since the ethics panels cover congressional rules and not criminal offenses, which are Justice's province alone. But if Justice is really just trying to warn Congress to crack down on sleazy conduct, “I think they're correct.… Not only the Department of Justice, but I think the public is telling Congress: if you're going to have some rules make sure people obey them.”

The House and Senate ethics committees—the only panels with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, regardless of who holds the majority—enforce the ethics rules each chamber sets up to govern members’ conduct. This runs from governing the use of official expense accounts and payroll to determining when a congressman or an aide must recuse himself from official action to avoid a conflict (answer: rarely). The most basic stricture of House ethics guidelines gives the ethics committee leeway to act or not act in almost any case. It requires that a congressman “shall conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.”
In more extreme cases, they investigate colleagues and recommend punishments that range from barely a wrist-slap to expulsion. The panels sometimes seem moved to action as much by a frenzy of press attention to a specific case as by its severity. But any reluctance to act goes deeper than the cronyism that often appears to permeate the process; there is a reluctance in Congress to appear to be using the ethics committees to essentially overturn voters’ choice in a given district. For the same reason, Justice, too, has generally been loath to move precipitously against congressmen. And there is always tension between the Justice Department and the ethics committees, with the congressional panels usually holding off on investigating or punishing a congressman caught up in a criminal probe—and then acting based on whether or not the member is convicted.

When a congressmen face criminal charges, they often argue in court—usually unsuccessfully—that their conduct in Congress should be adjudicated by the ethics committee (which can’t throw anyone in jail) rather than the criminal court system. The underpinning of this is a provision of the Constitution, intended to keep Congress independent, that “granted a limited immunity to Members of Congress from prosecution when the conduct involved official legislative activities. The so-called ‘speech or debate’ clause immunity provides that a Member ‘shall not be questioned in any other place’ concerning official legislative conduct,” as a congressional report explains.

But with the House ethics committee stalled for so long, new pressure on House members to jump start their internal ethics oversight comes in the form of widening justice probes into their behavior. Wade, former CEO of defense contractor MZM, pleaded guilty to bribing Cunningham and told investigators about how he reimbursed employees who gave to the campaigns of influential representatives. Records released in the Wade plea suggest the House Members are GOP Reps. Katherine Harris of Florida and Virgil Goode of Virginia. Harris released a statement Friday calling the revelations in the Wade plea “an unfortunate reality…. I am confident justice will prevail and the guilty parties will be properly punished." Harris said she had attempted to refund the donations after press accounts first called them into question some time ago, before “voluntarily deciding to donate the full amount of these funds to charity.” Goode issued a statement on Friday saying he had donated all MZM-related campaign contributions to charity.

Goode could not be reached for comment—but seems to acknowledge he'd been tight with Wade by calling him “Mitch” in the statement, which appears to be on official House letterhead instead of the campaign stationery that’s normally used for fundraising matters.

There is no indication that Harris or Goode are targets in the investigation, but when asked whether it was safe to presume that Goode's statement confirms that he's one of the unnamed congressmen mentioned in the Wade charges, a Goode aide who furnished the statement said, “I don't feel comfortable answering that.” Neither, it appears to federal prosecutors, is the House ethics committee.

Copyright &#169; 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

lofter1
March 29th, 2006, 05:07 PM
Whistleblowers allege influence peddling by members of Congress, VP in Mexico wastewater project

Miriam Raftery and Larisa Alexandrovna
March 29, 2006

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Whistleblowers_allege_influence_peddling_by_member s_0329.html

An explosive report, obtained in part by RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), and soon to be released by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), fingers high-level officials both on the federal and local California level in allegations of influence-peddling ensnaring members of both parties.

According to documents and whistleblowers concerning a San Diego wastewater treatment plant to be built in Tijuana, Mexico, Vice President Dick Cheney, Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA) have allegedly advanced the project despite serious concerns from those involved.

The proposed Bajagua Project is a secondary wastewater treatment plant for San Diego, named after the company, Bajagua Project, LLC, which was founded solely to get the no-bid contract for water treatment. The agreement is a private-public fee-for-service proposition that will charge the federal government billions. The estimated profit forecast for the project is upwards of $600 million dollars over a twenty-year span.

Documents recently obtained by Raw Story and now also available at www.bajagua.org (http://www.bajagua.org/), a site set up by the National Security Whistleblower’s Coalition, indicate Cheney met twice with Bajagua officials, on October 15, 2002 and again on September 4, 2003.

Cheney is alleged to have pressured the Department of Justice and the Council on Environmental Quality to give Bajagua a pass on clean water concerns and the no-bid contract for building the treatment facility.

In a letter to Cheney dated October 15, 2002, Bajagua Project manager Jim Simmons made clear that the Vice President had been instrumental in promoting Bajagua’s efforts.

“My colleagues and I are very grateful that you could spend some time with us in Roswell New Mexico on Monday October 14,” Simmons wrote (http://www.newspapertree.com/environment/baja5.pdf). “We do appreciate your effort on our behalf and the wonderful job you and President Bush are doing for our country.”

The letter advised that Bajagua’s plans were being blocked by the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC), which manages shared water resources on the boundary between the US and Mexico, and asked Cheney to “consider arranging a meeting to facilitate a successful result.”

Simmons did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Tracing alleged influence-peddling

How did Bajagua manage to get access to the Vice President?

Documents suggest it was due to another high ranking Republican, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who is cited in a letter from Simmons as “our champion.”

The letter to Cheney claims that the project is supported by both California senators as well as by the entire San Diego Congressional delegation, including Republicans and Democrats alike, by the City of San Diego and by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“You don’t just call up the Vice President,” said a source close to the deal. The source suggested Hunter had the access and clout to persuade Cheney to wield his influence on Bajagua’s behalf.

A spokesman for Hunter’s office, Joe Kasper, would not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Several San Diego events seem to support Simmons' reference to Hunter as our “champion” and the suggestion that Hunter solicited the Vice President’s support for Bajagua.

According to documents acquired by RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/), on October 16, 2002, two days after Cheney met with Bajagua representatives in New Mexico, Hunter received two $1,000 campaign contributions from Pedro and Letitia Landa of Austin, Texas. Project insiders say they are related to Enrique Landa, a principal at Bajagua. In addition, a patent application (http://cxp.paterra.com/uspregrant20040024697cc.html) filed by Pedro Enrique Landa lists Keith A. Shuley, an attorney at Hughes and Luce (http://www.hughesluce.com/attorneys/bio.aspx?id=8240).

“The same attorney called me representing Bajagua,” said Professor William Weaver, J.D., Ph.D. Professor Weaver is Director of Academic Programs at the University of Texas and acts as a senior advisor to the National Whistleblowers Coalition.

When Cheney next met with Bajagua representatives on Sept. 4, 2003, Hunter had a meeting at the White House on the same date. A Sept. 5, 2003 e-mail (http://www.newspapertree.com/environment/baja6.pdf) sent to various International Boundary and Water Commission employees and leaked by a whistleblower remarks, “note coincidence – Bajagua met with VP Cheney yesterday and White House met with Hunter. Any read out from that meeting?”

Hunter met with Internal Boundaries commissioner Carlos Ramirez and acting commissioner Debra Little in 2003. According to the former acting IBWC commissioner, the now retired Rev. Robert Ortega, Hunter “berated them for not entering into a contract with Bajagua.”

A Sept. 20, 2004 letter from International Boundaries Commissioner Arturo Q. Duran to Council on Environmental Chairman James Connaughton urged that Bajagua be treated as a “preferred alternative.” The only cc on Duran’s letter was to Hunter.

Hunter also testified on Bajagua’s behalf on Dec. 12, 2001. In his testimony, Hunter cited David Schlesinger, former director of the San Diego wastewater department, as an authority. He failed to mention that Schlesinger was working for Bajagua – and lobbying on the company’s behalf.

Shortly thereafter, Hunter received a $1,000 contribution check from Bajagua. He has received additional contributions since then.

GOP congressman who authored bill favoring project became project’s lobbyist

Bajagua has spent millions to win influence, approaching Democratic Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) as well as Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA). Filner, the whistleblowers allege, has received at least $56,300 (http://www.bajagua.org/documents/filcont.pdf) from individuals involved in the project.

Ortega, the former International Boundaries commissioner, told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) Filner and Bilbray initially wanted to finish the project in the U.S. because “Mexico didn’t know what it was doing.”

Later, however, “Filner was the one that championed their cause,” Ortega said. “He tried to ram it down the agency’s throat.”

Filner and former GOP congressman Brian Bilbray coauthored legislation tailored to allow a no-bid contract for the Bajagua project. Without such legislation, awarding a no-bid contract would violate federal acquisition and procurement procedures. The Filner-Bilbray bill (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060302-9999-2m2bajagua.html) was signed into law in 2000.

Filner and Bilbray did not respond to requests for comments by press deadline. Both have denied wrongdoing involving Bajagua in the past.

Bilbray, who retired from Congress in 2001, soon became a Bajagua lobbyist. In interviews, he said that he lobbied Congress on Bajagua's behalf because he believed in the project. He was paid $35,000 for his lobbying efforts in 2001.

That year – in December 2001 – he testified in favor of the Bajagua project. He did not, however, tell committee members that he was being paid by the group. Bilbray told (http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060306/news_1n6bilbray.html) the San Diego Union-Tribune that he didn't think his lobbying ties were relevant because he was asked to testify as the bill's author.

Filner has called accusations of a quid pro quo arrangement with Bajagua, made by his primary opponent, Juan Vargas, "absurd."

“This is nothing but an attempt to sabotage at the very moment of success a solution to a 70-year-old health and environmental problem suffered by my constituents,” Filner said.

Responding to a local report, Jim Simmons, Bajagua's managing partner, said of Vargas, “I'm really appalled that he would use this as a political football and put the health of his constituents in jeopardy.” Simmons noted that Vargas has been among Bajagua's supporters for years – and that as a San Diego councilman, Vargas voted (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20060127-9999-7m27bajagua.html) to support legislation that Filner co-sponsored in 2000 with then-Rep. Brian Bilbray.

Simmons would not respond to repeated requests for follow-up comment.

[B]Bilbray takes heat for lobbying work

After losing his reelection bid, Bilbray testified before Congress on behalf of Bajagua – without revealing that he was a paid lobbyist for the company.

Bilbray is now running for the Congressional seat vacated by Duke Cunningham, who also supported the Bajagua project before pleading guilty to accepting bribes from defense contractors.

“Bajagua simply has a history of spending a lot of money to get access to people like Cheney,” Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, a Democrat representing California’s 76th Assembly District, told RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/). “For the first time ever in the IWBC, the State Department Agency, they are looking at a private contract. This is the Bush administration. This is the privatization of what in the past has been public projects.”

Saldana also levied criticism at Bilbray for lobbying on behalf of a company for whom he had recently authored special legislation. “I think it does violate the House rules on when lobbying is allowed. To say he went back to testify only as the author of the bill – who paid for him to go? Who paid for his travel?”

“Bob Simmons, hired by Bajagua, was elected to be on the executive committee of the Sierra Club for San Diego, where he immediately began lobbying for them to support Bajagua,” Saldana recalled.

Cheney 'directed meeting' with Bajagua

Influence of local advocacy groups pales, however, in comparison to the potential effect of a meeting between Vice President Cheney and the International Boundaries Commission.

Just how much influence did the Vice President wield on Bajagua’s behalf?

According to an e-mail from former Internal Boundaries Commissioner Ortega to the Project on Government Oversight, investigator Nick Schwellenbach confirmed that Cheney wielded his political influence on behalf of Bajagua.

Recalling a meeting at the Council of Environmental Quality to coordinate U.S. agencies' efforts on behalf of Bajagua, he noted, “It was somehow understood that the Vice President’s office had directed the meeting…The IBWC had received prior to this meeting a copy of a document on a meeting the Vice President had with Bajagua in Roswell, N.M.”

The Department of Justice initially opposed awarding a sole-source contract to Bajagua. But when the DOJ attorney originally assigned to handle the case, Randall Humm, was replaced in 2003 by DOJ attorney and liaison to the Office of the Vice President, Mary Neumayr, the Justice Department reversed its position abruptly.

Critics contend that other companies should have been given the opportunity to bid on the controversial wastewater treatment project.

“Any competent company could build a secondary treatment plant,” Professor Weaver observed. “It’s not rocket science. That’s why the fix has been in to get these people the money.”

EPA says they have done 'no assessments'

At least three different environmental assessments have been conducted on the Bajagau project, a procedure Ortega said is “not normal at all.” In the first environmental assessment, the project was excluded, he recalled.

“It was dead last out of 12 or 13 alternatives because the Bajagua project did not have any land in Mexico, so it was a speculative proposal,” he said.
“They didn’t have Mexico supporting it.”

In addition, Bajagua raised serious environmental concerns because the proposed project would transport sewage upstream, then back downstream.

“So if Mexico didn’t maintain the line, it would come spilling back to the states,” Ortega explained. The project would also discharge through the international outflow from an existing South Bay plant into ocean waters off San Diego, making control of sewage discharged into California waters “questionable,” he added.

Asked if the EPA has conducted any environmental assessments of the proposed Bajagua project, Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Dale Kemerly replied, “To my knowledge, no. It is a Mexican facility and we would have no jurisdiction."

Asked if the EPA would have jurisdiction if the Mexican plant made discharges into U.S. waters off California, he said, "If they are discharging treated wastewater that would not be a problem.”

What if the facility discharged untreated wastewater into U.S. waters? “I don’t know what the agency’s response would be,” Kemerly said.

As for whether outsourcing or privatizing a municipal wastewater treatment function to a company operating in another country violates U.S. laws or regulations, Kemerly said he didn’t know.

“We don’t deal with the laws of other countries,” he said.

The Project for Government Oversight will publish a full report on Bajagua at its website (www.pogo.org (http://www.pogo.org/)) by next week, and possibly as soon as Friday.

“We got involved because a whistleblower inside the international boundary and water commission (IBWC) told us that there was an extremely large contract that the IBCW was going to award soon,” said POGO investigator Nick Schwellenbach. “It was a no-bid contract. That grabs your attention.”

lofter1
April 18th, 2006, 03:26 PM
Dick's Tax Tricks

How Cheney used a tax loop-hole ...

Cheney's shady charitable contributions net $2 million refund

Story at: Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/4/18/115445/192)

lofter1
April 28th, 2006, 02:04 PM
Speaker caught ditching hydrogen car for SUV
immediately after leaving photo-op

http://www.rawstory.com/images/new/hastertchangescars.jpg

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
Friday April 28, 2006

LINK (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Speaker_caught_ditching_hydrogen_for_SUV_0428.html )

The Associated Press has photographed Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) ditching his brightly colored hydrogen automobile in favor of a gas-guzzling black SUV after exiting a news conference and photo opportunity at a Washington, DC gas station.

After the conference, which addressed high gas prices, Hastert and other Congressmen had been carted away in fuel saving and alternatively powered automobiles. Just blocks away from the scene, Hastert is reported to have ditched his in favor of his usual official car.

The conference reportedly took place just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol to which Hastert was returning, making the motivations behind the car switch-off all the more puzzling.

Hastert is not the only Congressman to have made "the switch" in the middle of the very short trip, according to the Associated Press, which has thus far named no other perpetrators.

BrooklynRider
April 28th, 2006, 02:39 PM
That story and picture tell the entire story of this Congress and administration.

BrooklynRider
April 30th, 2006, 10:04 PM
BlogActive.com
Monday, April 24, 2006

ROY COHN AWARD: Anti-Gay State Department Spokesman is Gay
It's the first Roy Cohn Award of the 2006 political season!

This is blogACTIVE's first internationally connected Roy Cohn Award. blogACTIVE has learned that John Bolton's spokesman at the United Nation's, Richard Grenell, is gay. Mr. Grenell confirmed this information directly to blogACTIVE and he explained that ambassador Bolton had welcomed him into his home with a male date.

This is the same John Bolton who made this happen:

In a surprising reversal, the United States voted with Iran and other anti-gay countries at the United Nations to deny observer status to two gay rights groups at the world body.

The UN Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the United Nations Economic and Social Council voted January 23, 10-5 with three abstentions to deny the International Lesbian and Gay Association of Brussels and the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians of Denmark consultive status at the UN.

Such status, which is enjoyed by over 3,000 NGOs around the world, allows access to UN proceedings, presence at conferences, and the right to propose agenda items.

While Mr. Bolton didn't have a problem standing with Sudan when it comes to gays, here's what the ambASSdor had to say the other day:

All just say I did introduce our resolution on sanctions on Sudan...
If it's not enough to be the spokesman for a homophobic administration's mission to the UN, the Village Voice reports that Grenell is a real piece of work:

But several sources in the UN press corps who spoke on condition of anonymity describe the [Grenell] as "rude," "arrogant," and a "bully," neither popular nor a particularly good source. "He's unbearable," says one journalist. "Very pushy and very demanding," says another. Grenell is said to complain incessantly, hectoring correspondents and their bosses and trying to "mold" wire stories to fit his message. He yells at anyone whose slant doesn't follow his, says one source. "He yells at people whenever he is uncomfortable, particularly foreigners," says another.

BrooklynRider
May 9th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Oh, look what the Rubber Stamp Republican Congress is trying to sneak through in the fine print:

A $2.7 trillion budget plan pending before the House would raise the federal debt ceiling to nearly $10 trillion, less than two months after Congress last raised the federal government’s borrowing limit.

The provision — buried on page 121 of the 151-page budget blueprint — serves as a backdrop to congressional action this week. House leaders hope to try once again to pass a budget plan for fiscal 2007, a month after a revolt by House Republican moderates and Appropriations Committee members forced leaders to pull the plan….

But the federal debt keeps climbing because of continued deficit spending and the government’s insatiable borrowing from the Social Security trust fund.

With passage of the budget, the House will have raised the federal borrowing limit by an additional $653 billion, to $9.62 trillion. It would be the fifth debt-ceiling increase in recent years, after boosts of $450 billion in 2002, a record $984 billion in 2003, $800 billion in 2004 and $653 billion in March. When Bush took office, the statutory borrowing limit stood at $5.95 trillion.

Oh yeah. I got yer fiscal responsibility right here.

BrooklynRider
May 9th, 2006, 10:19 AM
Hate crimes bill dies in Senate
Frist wins standoff with Kennedy
By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | May 8, 5:22 PM

A bill that would have authorized the federal government to prosecute hate crimes against gay people died in the Senate on May 4 after Democrats yielded to Republican pressure against attaching the bill to legislation aimed at protecting children from sexual predators.

The Senate action was expected to prevent hate-crime legislation from moving forward this year, even though the House passed a separate crimes measure last September.

A bipartisan effort led by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) to attach a gay-inclusive hate crimes bill to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act as an amendment came after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) refused to allow the Senate to vote on a freestanding hate crimes bill.

Last month, Frist said he would not allow the sex offender bill to come to the Senate floor unless Democrats agreed to a unanimous consent vote. Such a vote prevents any amendments from being considered.

Kennedy then raised the stakes by invoking a Senate rule to place an indefinite hold on the sex offender bill in an effort to pressure Frist into allowing him to introduce the hate crimes amendment as part of the sex offender legislation.

Conservative groups opposing gay rights, led by the Family Research Council, jumped into the fray, calling on Frist and other GOP leaders to hold firm in their opposition to the hate crimes bill.

Frist joined conservative groups in citing a “Dateline” NBC television news series on internet predators that target juveniles to stress what they said was a critical need to pass the sex offender bill.

Last September, the House passed a separate version of the sex offender legislation with a hate crimes bill attached, a development that drew praise from gay rights and transgender advocates. The House version included language that covers transgender persons among the groups protected against hate crimes.

But the House version also included controversial provisions in the sex offender registration measure that drew strong opposition from civil liberties groups, including the ACLU. Some gay rights advocates, including officials with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, also expressed concern that the hate crimes bill had been linked to what they called an “anti-civil liberties” sex offender registration measure.

With this as a backdrop, Kennedy came under pressure from both conservative and some liberal and progressive groups to release his hold on the Senate version of the sex offender registration bill.

Eldie Atchison, an official with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said progressive groups viewed the Senate version of the sex offender measure to be far better than the House version from a civil liberties perspective. These groups were hopeful that the Senate version would prevail in a House-Senate conference committee, and that a decision by Kennedy to release the bill would strengthen efforts to kill the House version, Atchison said.

Last week, Kennedy gave in, agreeing to drop his hold and allow a vote on the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act.

The bill passed May 4 in a unanimous voice vote.

In statement released that day by his office, Kennedy blamed Republican leaders for delaying the sex offender bill, saying they should have agreed to allow the hate crimes language to be a part of the bill.

He noted that the hate crimes language would not have weakened or changed any of the provisions in the sex offender registration bill.

“The inclusion of the federal hate crimes laws is not inconsistent with the goals of the legislation to stop crime against children,” Kennedy said.

“Hate crimes are a violation of everything our country stands for,” he said. “They send the poisonous message that some Americans deserve to be victimized solely because of who they are.

“It’s especially important, though, to act on the sex offender issue," he said. "Communities need to know that registration systems work, so that these predators can’t keep slipping through the cracks under current law and continue their crimes.”

Frist said on the Senate floor that the “Dateline” story, “To Catch A Predator,” presented a dramatic picture of how adults who stalk juveniles for sex through online chat rooms need to be brought to justice. He said the sex offender registration legislation would provide important help for law enforcement agencies to track sexual predators.

“Several weeks ago on the floor I tried to get unanimous consent from the other side to agree to go to the bill unattached to other types of amendments unrelated to the registry itself, unrelated to these sexual predators,” Frist said, in referring to the hate crimes bill.

“There was objection,” he said. “We have been able to overcome, in the best spirit of this body, working together, those objections and pass this bill.”

John Marble, spokesperson for National Stonewall Democrats, said earlier this year that the Republican-controlled Congress was responsible for blocking the hate crimes bill and all other gay supportive legislation.

“This won’t change until Democrats win back control of Congress,” he said

A spokesperson for Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay GOP group, did not return a call seeking comment.

BrooklynRider
May 10th, 2006, 10:13 AM
What's in a Murdoch-Clinton Alliance? Something for Both Sides

By ANNE E. KORNBLUT
Published: May 10, 2006
WASHINGTON, May 9 — Strengthening a pragmatic rapprochement, Rupert Murdoch has agreed to give a fund-raiser this summer for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the latest sign of cooperation between the conservative media mogul and the Democratic lawmaker who has often been a prime target of his newspaper and television outlets.

Asked about her relationship with Mr. Murdoch, Mrs. Clinton described him as simply "my constituent," and she played down the significance of the fund-raiser. Both sides said that Mr. Murdoch and Mrs. Clinton were joining forces for the good of New York, where Mr. Murdoch's $60 billion News Corporation employs about 5,000 workers.

"I am very gratified that he thinks I am doing a good job," Mrs. Clinton said in the Capitol on Tuesday, according to a transcript made available by her office after word of the fund-raising event was first reported by The Financial Times.

Yet the developing relationship between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Murdoch — who has built an empire in part on the strength of media outlets like Fox News and The New York Post that delight in skewering the Clintons — has drawn special attention, perplexing some political analysts and infuriating some liberals already suspicious of Mrs. Clinton's centrist positioning. Although she is ostensibly raising money for her re-election to the Senate this year, she is widely considered to be laying the groundwork for a presidential bid in 2008.

"The brazenness of this move is almost too much to stomach," wrote David Sirota, a liberal commentator, on his blog. "Here you have a leading Democratic U.S. senator engaging in a 'mating ritual' with the head of the news network that has overtly worked to systematically destroy both the Democratic Party and her own husband's administration."

Mr. Murdoch, known for his shrewd business skills and his tendency to prize political power over ideology, gave a similar fund-raiser for Senator Charles E. Schumer, also a Democrat, in 2003, and has donated money to several Democrats.

Paul Waldman, a senior fellow at the liberal advocacy group MediaMatters.org, said the outcry from liberals over the Murdoch fund-raiser was to be expected. "People on the left don't like it because they find new things not to like about Hillary all the time," he said. At the same time, he said, Mr. Murdoch would only stand to gain by helping elevate a political figure who helps drive up ratings and circulation.

"Nothing could be better for his media properties than for her to be president of the United States," Mr. Waldman said. "I just can't figure out what's in it for her. She doesn't need the money, and it doesn't really buy her any credentials as a moderate."

How much slack the relationship has bought her is up for debate; while The Post attacked her former Senate opponent, Jeanine F. Pirro, and has praised Mrs. Clinton's work in Washington, her advisers note that the most vocal figures on Fox News still lacerate her frequently.

Nonetheless, both Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton have nurtured ties to Mr. Murdoch and his organization over the last few years. Mr. Clinton recently accepted an invitation from Mr. Murdoch to speak to a gathering of executives in Pebble Beach, Calif., later this year. He will also include Mr. Murdoch in his Clinton Global Initiative conference on climate change, poverty and corruption this September, for the second year in a row.

"While they disagree on a lot of political issues, they've found some areas, like the Clinton Global Initiative, that transcend politics," said Jay Carson, a spokesman for the Clinton Foundation.

Last month, Mrs. Clinton was one of only two Democratic senators who appeared at a Fox News Sunday anniversary party at the Cafe Milano in Georgetown, where Mr. Murdoch was in attendance.

Mrs. Clinton's office declined to give details of how the Murdoch fund-raiser came about; she rarely divulges her fund-raising calendar and bars the news media from almost all donor events with fewer than 200 guests.

Mr. Murdoch, for his part, is said to view the fund-raiser as a wise business move. His company has numerous holdings beyond the most visible New York media organizations. "I think he, as a constituent, and as a business leader in New York City, wanted to demonstrate his support for the work she has done on behalf of the state and for her advocacy of the city after 9/11," said Gary Ginsberg, a News Corporation executive.

Mr. Ginsberg provides another link between the two camps: he was a White House aide during the Clinton administration. The same is true of Howard Wolfson, one of Mrs. Clinton's closest political advisers, who counts the News Corporation among his clients at the consulting firm Glover Park Group.

BrooklynRider
May 10th, 2006, 11:23 PM
Clinton turns on charm to woo the right

· Ex-first lady praises Bush's 'charm and charisma'
· Murdoch shows support as campaign kicks off

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Thursday May 11, 2006
The Guardian

Hillary Clinton's political shift to the right reached new territory this week as she warmly praised George Bush at a speech in Washington and defended her decision to let Rupert Murdoch sponsor a fundraising event on her behalf.

On the day that a New York Times poll found Mr Bush's approval ratings at an all-time low of 31%, the leading contender for the Democratic party's 2008 presidential nomination praised the US president's "charm and charisma".

Asked to name a good thing about Mr Bush, Ms Clinton, a New York senator, said she had been "very grateful to him for his support for New York" after the attacks on September 11 2001. Though the two had had "many disagreements" he had been "very willing to talk".

She added: "He's been affable." When she asked him for help for New York "he immediately said yes" (though the president has been accused by other politicians of falling far short of his promised $20bn, or £10.7bn, in aid and tax breaks).

Ms Clinton's strategic refashioning is fast rendering her unrecognisable from the first lady who, eight years ago, accused a "vast rightwing conspiracy" of plotting against her husband, Bill Clinton. Mr Murdoch's Fox News channel has long been one of her most strident critics, but she said yesterday of the media mogul: "He's my constituent, and I'm very gratified that he thinks I'm doing a good job."

The fundraising will ostensibly be for Ms Clinton's senate re-election campaign, but she is so far ahead in that contest as not to need the support of the only Murdoch forum that could make much of a difference, the tabloid New York Post.

Her courting of Mr Murdoch is part of a grander strategy, mirrored by statements designed to portray her as no less pugilistic on terrorism than Mr Bush. "This shows her to be a consensus-builder, someone who's not polarising," Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic party consultant, said. "The rightwing take on her has always been that she's polarising. Certainly, there will be people on the left that may not like this relationship [with Mr Murdoch] but the fact that she could forge it speaks well of her ability to build consensus ... To be president, you've got to win the support of white Catholic men in the midwest. They don't tolerate shrieking and they don't tolerate polarisers."

But Ms Clinton's efforts risk alienating those who argue that a "Republican-lite" platform cannot draw enough support. "Afraid to offend, she has limited her policy proposals to minor, symbolic issues ... meanwhile, she remains behind the curve or downright incoherent on pressing issues such as the war in Iraq," the blogger Markos Moulitsas wrote in the Washington Post at the weekend.

Ms Clinton's most likely Republican challenger, Senator John McCain, is working vigorously, booked to speak at the Christian fundamentalist Liberty University, and the liberal New School in New York. Another possibility was raised yesterday as Mr Bush said his brother Jeb, Florida's governor, would make "a great president". Jeb Bush has said he would not run, but the president said: "I truly don't think he knows."

BrooklynRider
May 16th, 2006, 10:48 AM
Chertoff: National Guard on the Border Would Be "Horribly Over-Expensive and Very Difficult"
By Justin Rood - May 16, 2006, 8:35 AM

On the occasion of President Bush's announcement he will post the National Guard along the southern U.S. border, CQ's Patrick Yoest finds this gem -- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff pooh-poohing the idea less than six months earlier on the O'Reilly Factor:

"Why don't you put the National Guard on the border to back up the border patrol and stop the bleeding, and then start to increase the Border Patrol, the high-tech and all of that?" O’Reilly asked. . . .
"Well, the National Guard is really, first of all, not trained for that mission," Chertoff told O'Reilly. "I mean, the fact of the matter is the border is a special place. There are special challenges that are faced there."

Chertoff added that that it would take a huge amount of National Guard troops, that they would need new training. But couldn’t the National Guard pull it off, O'Reilly asked?

"I think it would be a horribly over-expensive and very difficult way to manage this problem," Chertoff said. "Unless you would be prepared to leave those people in the National Guard day and night for month after month after month, you would eventually have to come to grips with the challenge in a more comprehensive way."

MrSpice
May 16th, 2006, 11:17 AM
Chertoff: National Guard on the Border Would Be "Horribly Over-Expensive and Very Difficult"
By Justin Rood - May 16, 2006, 8:35 AM

On the occasion of President Bush's announcement he will post the National Guard along the southern U.S. border, CQ's Patrick Yoest finds this gem -- DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff pooh-poohing the idea less than six months earlier on the O'Reilly Factor:

"Why don't you put the National Guard on the border to back up the border patrol and stop the bleeding, and then start to increase the Border Patrol, the high-tech and all of that?" O’Reilly asked. . . .
"Well, the National Guard is really, first of all, not trained for that mission," Chertoff told O'Reilly. "I mean, the fact of the matter is the border is a special place. There are special challenges that are faced there."


I think it's a good idea to temporarily use the National Guard troops at the border to aliviate concerns of the people that the border is completely out of control. Obviously, they will not and cannot be as effective as the border patrol agents that get special training and have the skills one needs to patrol the border. But the additional manpower can certainly be utilized there while the new border patrol agents come onboard. As a temporary solution, it's not such a bad idea. Keeping the border secure is a national security issue.

lofter1
September 30th, 2006, 12:07 AM
This one gives a different twist to "playing both sides" ...

Exclusive: The Sexually Explicit Internet Messages
That Led to Fla. Rep. Foley's Resignation

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/images/mark_foley_email3_nr.jpg (http://blogs.abcnews.com/photos/uncategorized/mark_foley_email3_nr.jpg)

abcnews.com / the blotter (http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/09/exclusive_the_s.html)
September 29, 2006

Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz & Maddy Sauer Report:

Florida Rep. Mark Foley's resignation came just hours after ABC News questioned the congressman about a series of sexually explicit instant messages involving congressional pages, high school students who are under 18 years of age.

In Congress, Rep. Foley (R-FL) was part of the Republican leadership and the chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children.

He crusaded for tough laws against those who used the Internet for sexual exploitation of children.

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS

Read an instant message exchange a former page says he had with Rep. Foley in 2003. Warning: sexually explicit language, reader discretion advised. (http://abcnews.go.com/images/WNT/02-02-03b.pdf)
Sixteen-Year-Old Who Worked as Capitol Hill Page Concerned About E-mail Exchange with Congressman (http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/09/sixteenyearold_.html)
Check out the World News Report on Foley on the Brian Ross Home Page (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/BrianRoss/)"They're sick people; they need mental health counseling," Foley said.

But, according to several former congressional pages, the congressman used the Internet to engage in sexually explicit exchanges.

They say he used the screen name Maf54 on these messages provided to ABC News.

Maf54: You in your boxers, too?

Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.

Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.
Another message:

Maf54: What ya wearing?

Teen: tshirt and shorts

Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.
And this one:

Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?

Teen: A little.

Maf54: Cool.
The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex.

Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.

"Adds up to soliciting underage children for sex," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now an ABC News consultant. "And what it amounts to is serious both state and federal violations that could potentially get you a number of years."

Foley's resignation letter was submitted late this afternoon, and he left Capitol Hill without speaking to reporters.

In a statement, he said he was "deeply sorry" and apologized for letting down his family and the people of Florida.

But he made no mention of the Internet messages or the pages.

One former page tells ABC News that his class was warned about Foley by people involved in the program.

Other pages told ABC News they were hesitant to report Foley because of his power in Congress.

This all came to a head in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, we asked the congressman about some much tamer e-mails from one page, and he said he was just being overly friendly. After we posted that story online, we began to hear from a number of other pages who sent these much more explicit, instant messages. When the congressman realized we had them, he resigned.

Click here to read an exclusive 2003 Internet exchange between Congressman Foley and a former congressional page, according to the young man. Warning: sexually explicit language, reader discretion advised. (http://abcnews.go.com/images/WNT/02-02-03b.pdf)

Click here to read more Internet exchanges between Foley and former congressional pages. (http://abcnews.go.com/images/WNT/foley_excerpts4.pdf)

lofter1
September 30th, 2006, 01:59 PM
FOLEY'S (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=232) KARMA (http://www.sptimes.com/ KARMA Worldandnation/91298/Congress_sees_through.html) ...

For more than a week, members of Congress said they would avoid partisan politics when they got Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton. But when they finally saw it Friday, they split along party lines.

Republicans were aghast at Clinton's behavior, with many saying it showed he had lied and abused his power.

"It's vile," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. "It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."

lofter1
October 1st, 2006, 09:31 PM
GOP House leadership and Mark Foley

glenngreenwald.blogspot (http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/09/gop-house-leadership-and-mark-foley.html)
Saturday, September 30, 2006
(updated below)

The story of the apparent non-reaction of the GOP leadership (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901574.html) upon learning of Mark Foley's predatory interactions with Congressional pages is obviously going to grow rapidly and will dominate the news for the next several days at least, although The New York Times seems to be the only ones who haven't realized that yet (they have only one buried article (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/30/us/30foley.html?hp&ex=1159675200&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;en=bde4e6c357e3c006&ei=5094&partner=homepage) on the story which focuses on Foley rather than on the actions of the GOP leadership). For those seeking detailed information, Josh Marshall and John Aravosis, among others, are digging through every aspect of the story, including posts here (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010057.php), here (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010054.php), and here (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/09/gop-house-page-board-chair-may-have.html).

For now, I will just note what seems to be the bizarre and incoherent contradiction in the law, noted (http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_09_24_atrios_archive.html#115957055235776100) by Atrios yesterday, that in-person, actual sex between Foley and a 16-year-old page would be perfectly legal in D.C. and in most places in the U.S. (see UPDATE below), but it seems that it is a criminal act for Foley to discuss or solicit sexual acts with the same page over the Internet. Despite all the irritatingly righteous (and overheated) "pedophile" language being tossed around, in the overwhelming majority of states (http://www.avert.org/aofconsent.htm), and in Washington DC, the legal age of consent for sex is 16 years old. That means that actual, in-person sex between Foley and a 16-year-old page in D.C. would not be criminal at all (though it likely could have other legal implications).

But under the so-called "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h109-4472)" (of which Foley was a co-sponsor), along with 18 U.S.C. 2251 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002251----000-.html), discussion or solicitation of sexual acts between Foley and any "minor" under the age of 18 would appear to be a criminal offense (see Adam Walsh Act, Sec. 111(14) ("MINOR.--The term 'minor' means an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years") and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2256 (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002256----000-.html) (1) (“'minor' means any person under the age of eighteen years").

But those are just the criminal aspects. It goes without saying that having a predatory Congressman sexually solicit teenage Congressional pages is a serious problem and the House leadership had a responsibility to act when they learned about it. And here, they clearly appear not to have taken action due to the political desire to protect Foley's seat.

The most significant fact I've heard thus far is that, as reported (http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/15259-1.html) by Roll Call, the GOP Chairman of the House Page Board (as he admits (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010063.php)) excluded the Democratic Congressman on the Board from deliberations over what to do about Foley, thus ensuring that only Republicans knew about this problem (and therefore enabled them to conceal it and do nothing about it). And the conflicting (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010062.php), still-shifting stories (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010065.php) about who in the House Leadership knew what and when they knew it suggest some real wrongdoing and, at the very least, produces precisely the whiff of cover-up which ensures that more and more reporters will be digging around and the story will endure.

Whatever else one might think of the merits of all of this, there is little question that this is going to harm the GOP in a serious way, and the only question now is to what extent they can limit the damage. This scandal underscores numerous GOP weaknesses -- the complete disregard for any substantive concerns in favor of domestic political advantage, the oozing hypocrisy of their moralistic posturing, a bumbling ineptitude for most things they touch, and just a general ossified corruption that is typically produced by unchallenged power.

Any doubts as to the genuine political significance of this story ought to be resolved by this post (http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDRiYWIyMGRkYTg4MzQ0MzdmMzQ1ZDlhYjhkMWFlOTY=) from National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez, where she quotes from the paragraph of the Post story regarding Boehner and Hastert's likely prior knowledge of Foley's conduct and then uses scare quotes to refer to them as the House "leadership." If someone like Lopez is already attacking House Republicans this way over this story, it is hard to see how Republicans will contain the damage here.

And again, whatever else one might think of the merits, it is hard to deny the sweet, sweet justice of Republicans being politically damaged by a lurid sex scandal in Washington. But unlike the one they obsessively fueled in order to impeach a President, this one seems, for better or worse, actually to involve serious sexual crimes against individuals whom the law defines as "minors," with the knowledge -- and one could argue the complicity -- of the GOP House leadership. If Democrats were granted the power to create any Republican scandal they wanted at any time, I doubt their imaginations would have allowed them to come up with something this politically potent.

UPDATE: It is true that in some states, age of consent is also determined by the age of the other party (for instance, it may be legal for someone under the age of, say, 24 to have sex with a 16-year-old, but illegal for someone over the age of 24 to do so (it then becomes statutory rape)). Either way, it is not "pedophila," but since a commenter suggested that D.C. has such a two-tiered age of consent law, I will check the statute and post as soon as I find it.

UPDATE II: I neither intended nor desired to get bogged down in the fine points of District of Columbia age of consent laws -- since the only real point was that sex with 16-year-olds is legal in many, I believe most, jurisdictions in the U.S., and should not be conflated with pedophilic sexual molestation of children. But I realize that I'm the one who brought it up, so:

Via Lexis, in D.C. Code &#167; 22-3001 -- defining crimes of sexual acts against children -- section (3) provides: "'Child' means a person who has not yet attained the age of 16 years." D.C. Code &#167; 46-403 (2006) provides: "The following marriages in said District shall be illegal, and shall be void from the time when their nullity shall be declared by decree, namely: . . . (4) When either of the parties is under the age of consent, which is hereby declared to be 16 years of age."

It is also worth noting that most states (http://marriage.about.com/cs/teenmarriage/a/teenus.htm) allow 16-year-olds to marry, and some even allow 15 or 14-year-olds to do so. Needless to say (I hope), none of this remotely excuses, mitigates or justifies predatory sexual acts by an adult against a 16-year-old, nor does it have any bearing on the responsibility of the House leadership. It is merely intended to suggest that whatever else Mark Foley's conduct with 16-year-olds might make him, "pedophile" is not really an appropriate term. And many of the more raucous and righteous condemnations of him as a pedophile and criminal seem to conflict with the laws in many American jurisdictions that provide that 16-year-olds have reached the age of consent.

UPDATE III: One last point: just this year, Republicans drew the line of age of consent at 18 when, with overwhelming support, they enacted the "Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006," which the President signed into law (with Mark Foley standing behind him (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/010064.php)). By definition, then, they consider the acts in which Foley apparently engaged to be criminal. They even enhanced the penalties for this conduct. For those purposes, it doesn't really matter what states have designated as the age of consent because House Republicans have declared it to be a federal crime to solicit or discuss sexual acts with someone under the age of 18.


UPDATE IV: Whatever else might be true, it seems clear that Foley's predatory pursuit of pages has been known by some Republicans for at least several weeks in Washington. Here (http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2006/9/4/232813/9458/60#c60) is a comment to a Daily Kos diary about Mark Foley, left on September 5 -- more than three weeks ago (emphasis added):
The Real Problem With Foley (0 / 0 (http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2006/9/4/232813/9458/60?mode=alone;showrate=1#c60))


It's not that he's gay. It's that he constantly hits on underage interns on The Hill. You guys talk about an "open secret" well Foley's eye for the young boys in the White House and around the Capitol is what has the Republican bosses scared to death. It's just wrong that this guy can hit on young boys and still be in the leadership.


by WHInternNow (http://www.dailykos.com/user/uid:102541) on Tue Sep 05, 2006 at 05:48:09 PM PDT (http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2006/9/4/232813/9458/60#c60)
The person leaving this comment claims in his profile to be a White House intern, which I highly doubt. Still, someone did leave this comment on September 5.

UPDATE V: Brad DeLong documents (http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/09/loss_of_memory.html) the rapidly and suspiciously changing stories -- three different ones in all -- told just last night alone by John Boehner, as well as the shoddy news coverage of this aspect of the story.

lofter1
October 3rd, 2006, 08:20 AM
La Cage Aux Foley

The Eggman Says Kids Were “Egging the Congressman On”

firedoglake.com (http://www.firedoglake.com/2006/10/02/the-eggman-says-kids-are-egging-the-congressman-on/)
By: Jane Hamsher
october 2, 2006

The Republican coverup for La Cage Aux Foley has put all the tentacles of the Mighty Wurlitzer into overdrive. Did you ever wonder how low they could go to keep themselves in power? Wonder no more! Making excuses for sexual predators who abuse their authority as elected officials and prey on kids online? No problem!

On MSNBC we learn from Mike Viqueria that it's all just the Democrats trying to use this as an election stunt and kids were routinely warned about LOTS of Congressmen, Tony Snow says on behalf of the President it's nothing more than a few off-color emails, Dennis Hastert thinks the important thing to investigate is who leaked the IMs in the first place (probably a danger to national security), and now Matt Drudge says — yes, wait for it — it's the kid's fault for (I kid you not) "Egging the Congressman On" (says the Eggman (http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/08/08/4087/)).

No surprised here really; as Atrios (http://poynter.org/forum/view_post.asp?id=11863) noted this morning, even the NYT is being remarkably compliant, featuring the one article that promoted Foley as a poor, sick fellow and back paging everything about the coverup. Well, it's all about the coverup. Just ask Richard Nixon.

Please please listen to these Matt Drudge radio clips (http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/10/02/matt-drudge-blames-the-kids-for-predatorgate-they-are-16-and-17-year-old-beasts/) at Crooks & Liars, because this is where the GOP Protection Racket that Hastert has run for years is going with this. Drudge is, after all, their flagship:

Clip #1: And if anything, these kids are less innocent — these 16 and 17 year-old beasts…and I've seen what they're doing on YouTube and I've seen what they're doing all over the internet — oh yeah — you just have to tune into any part of their pop culture. You're not going to tell me these are innocent babies. Have you read the transcripts that ABC posted going into the weekend of these instant messages, back and forth? The kids are egging the Congressman on! The kids are trying to get this out of him. We haven't got the whole story on this.

I'm sorry but this really does take the cake for just about the worst thing I've ever seen the right wing try to apologize for. Isn't that what pedophiles always say? It's the kid's fault for seducing them? Right. And it gets better. Back to you Matt:
Clip #2: You could say "well Drudge, it's abuse of power, a congressman abusing these impressionable, young 17 year-old beasts, talking about their sex lives with a grown man, on the internet." Because you have to remember, those of us who have seen some of the transcripts of these nasty instant messages. This was two ways, ladies and gentlemen. These kids were playing Foley for everything he was worth. Oh yeah. Oh, I haven't…they were talking about how many times they'd masturbated, how many times they'd done it with their girlfriends this weekend…all these things and these "innocent children." And this "poor" congressman sitting there typing, "oh am I going to get any," you know?I swear I am not making this up. Listen to it. Drudge is so f***ing sick it's really, really disturbing, but to know he's doing it on behalf of the official Bush-Hastert-Boehner-Reynolds GOP coverup is the truly demented part.
No limits to how low they will go. Absolutely no limits.

lofter1
October 4th, 2006, 08:50 AM
Media conservatives obsess over Foley's sexuality


Summary: In commenting on the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, several conservative media figures and outlets have taken special notice of Foley's reported homosexuality and even linked Foley's sexual orientation to pedophilia.Media Matters (http://mediamatters.org/items/200610030009)
October 3, 2006

In commenting on the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), who resigned from Congress amid allegations that he sent sexually explicit messages to underage male former pages, NBC News correspondent Mike Viqueira, on the October 2 edition (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15116066/) of MSNBC's Hardball, reported that part of Foley's "reputation" was that "in 2003 ... there were some questions raised about his sexual orientation as he was preparing to run for the Senate." Host Chris Matthews agreed that Foley's sexuality was a key component of the scandal, saying: "It is a tricky situation. It has to do with orientation. It has to do with age ... and adult relationships with kids." In making the connection between Foley's homosexuality and his alleged misconduct involving underage male pages, Matthews and Viqueira joined several conservative media figures and outlets that have taken special notice of Foley's reported homosexuality and even linked Foley's sexual orientation to pedophilia.

For example, an October 3 Wall Street Journal editorial (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009033) attacked "today's politically correct culture" and suggested that "Democratic critics" of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) are being hypocritical for criticizing him over his handling of the Foley scandal because they aren't saying that "they now have more sympathy for the Boy Scouts [of America's] decision to ban gay scoutmasters."


From The Wall Street Journal editorial:
But in today's politically correct culture, it's easy to understand how senior Republicans might well have decided they had no grounds to doubt Mr. Foley merely because he was gay and a little too friendly in emails. Some of those liberals now shouting the loudest for Mr. Hastert's head are the same voices who tell us that the larger society must be tolerant of private lifestyle choices, and certainly must never leap to conclusions about gay men and young boys. Are these Democratic critics of Mr. Hastert saying that they now have more sympathy for the Boy Scouts' decision to ban gay scoutmasters? Where's [House] Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] on that one?
The suggestion that the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scoutmasters is grounded in allegations of misconduct is baseless. Reacting to the Supreme Court's decision in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-699.ZS.html) (2000), which held that the organization's "First Amendment right of expressive association" allowed it to maintain a ban on gay scoutmasters, the Boy Scouts issued a press release (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.scouting.org/media/press/2000/000628/index.html) on June 28, 2000, stating: "We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law." The defendant in the case, James Dale, a one-time Eagle Scout, was expelled from the Boy Scouts in 1990 over his disclosure that he was gay, not over any allegations of misconduct.

On the October 2 edition (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0610/02/sitroom.03.html) of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN chief national correspondent John King interviewed Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council (FRC), who claimed that the House Republican leadership may not have aggressively investigated Foley's alleged misconduct when it was first brought to Republican leaders' attention months before because "there may have been some fear that they had, in pressing it forward, out of fear of being seen as gay bashing or homophobic because of the orientation of Congressman Foley." In prefacing his first question to Perkins, King said that "pro-family voters" looked to the FRC "for guidance and advice in moments like this" -- suggesting that "pro-family" is a synonym for "conservative."


From the October 2 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
KING: Tony Perkins, thank you for joining us. I want to begin with a simple question to you. You're a leader of a grassroots conservative organization that a lot of pro-family voters around the country look to for guidance and advice in moments like this. There are conservative activists like [ConservativeHQ.com chairman] Richard Viguerie, conservative groups like Citizens United, who say the Republican leadership blew this; they did not handle this well. The speaker and others should resign from office. Do you think that's the case?


PERKINS: Well, I think it's premature to say whether or not the leadership should resign. I think it certainly raises questions about what did the leadership know and when did they know it. We do know that they had indications that there were improper communications between this congressman and pages as long as two or three years ago. But, I think there may have been some fear that they had, in pressing it forward, out of fear of being seen as gay bashing or homophobic because of the orientation of Congressman Foley.


KING: Well, let's talk about one specific incident. John Shimkus [R-IL], the congressman -- he's the Republican chairman of the Page Board; he oversees essentially the page program. He is -- his job is to protect those kids whose parents send them up to Washington. It's a position of great responsibility.


[...]


KING: Congressman Shimkus went to Mark Foley and said, "Don't do it again." But there's no evidence he called an attorney, no evidence he said, "Mark, you need counseling" -- no evidence -- we know he didn't tell the Democrats, didn't even tell other Republicans on that board. As we speak, sir, John Shimkus is still the chairman of the Page Board. Will you send your child to Washington to be a page?


PERKINS: Oh, I -- there's no defense of this behavior. It's outrageous; it's shocking. But it shouldn't be totally surprising when we hold up tolerance and diversity as the guidepost for public life, this is what you end up getting. A congressman chasing 16-year- old boys down the halls of Congress; it's a shame. It's a tragedy and it does need to be addressed but not just the symptoms here.


We need to go to the source of the problem. And if the leadership was negligent, it should be dealt with and it should be dealt with in the most severe way possible. But what prevented the leadership from acting? Were they fearful of acting because they would be seen as homophobic or gay bashing?
Perkins's comments echoed those of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who, as Media Matters for America noted (http://mediamatters.org/items/200610010003), said on the October 1 broadcast of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday that House Republicans would have "been accused of gay bashing" if they had "overly aggressively reacted" to Foley's alleged impropriety.


Also, on the October 2 edition of The Situation Room, conservative pundit Bay Buchanan, in faulting the House Republican leadership for not taking appropriate action, explicitly linked Foley's reported homosexuality to his contact with the underage former page.

According to Buchanan:
BUCHANAN: John, that was all they needed to know.


I mean, I -- I will repeat myself. This is a known homosexual who's writing emails to the home of a 16-year-old boy, asking for pictures. There -- that's all you need to know. It's done.

That is enough to demand that anyone who knew that, who had authority to make certain they shook things up enough, so that they would make certain the pages understood that: We want to know what is going on. We need an investigation. Bring in the FBI. Stop this guy. Make certain that, if indeed he was the predator he could be, he was stopped that day.

On the October 2 edition (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15116073/) of MSNBC's Tucker, host Tucker Carlson wondered "how the Democrats ... are going to paint this as a scandal of the Republican Party" and asked Democratic strategist Steve McMahon: "So, the Republican Party is now the party of gay sex, or what exactly is the Democratic line going to be here?" When McMahon responded, noting that Foley was "hitting on teenage pages," Carlson again turned the conversation toward homosexuality:
CARLSON: I'm trying -- I'm trying to figure -- look, I am, as I think anybody who takes the time to read these instant messages from Congressman Foley -- whom I'll say up front I've always liked, you know, nice guy -- they're stomach-turning; they're disgusting; they're creepy as all hell, and he deserves whatever he's going to get. I just wonder, as a political matter, how the Democrats, though, are going to paint this as a scandal of the Republican Party? So, the Republican Party is now the party of gay sex, or what exactly is the Democratic line going to be here?

McMAHON: Well, the Republican Party is the party that thinks that the laws don't apply to them, that the truth isn't important, and that when things like this are brought to their attention, they can sweep them under the rug, whether it's Osama bin Laden threatening to fly airplanes into buildings, or whether it's a member of Congress who's hitting on teenage pages. I mean, this is a -- this is a party that thinks the rules don't apply to them, and I think that's the scandal here. And I think the American public, frankly, Tucker, has had enough.


CARLSON: That's pretty good. Is there in fact -- I mean, just as a rhetorical line there, you know, kind of sodomy, terrorism in the same sentence, you know, good luck with that.
The weblog Think Progress documented (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://thinkprogress.org/2006/10/03/foley-anti-gay/) several other examples of media conservatives responding to the Foley scandal using "anti-gay smears."

From the October 2 edition (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15116066/) of MSNBC's Hardball:
VIQUEIRA: Denny Hastert says he has absolutely no recollection of that conversation. He told me that he may -- Reynolds may have told him, but it was at the end of a long list of legislative items. And I said, well, you know, did that raise any red flags for you? I mean, Mr. Foley has had this reputation. It's been reported that pages were warned to stay away from him. Of course, in 2003, Mr. Foley, there were some questions raised about his sexual orientation as he was preparing to run for the Senate and Bob --

MATTHEWS: Yeah, I remember that story.

VIQUEIRA: So, you know, the question is, well, didn't that raise any red flags for you? And he said, no, you know, they were pretty innocuous messages. All -- the kid, the intern, the 16-year-old, lived in Louisiana and the aftermath of Katrina, it didn't seem like anything inappropriate was going on here.


[...]

MATTHEWS: It is a tricky situation. It has to do with orientation. It has to do with age --

VIQUEIRA: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: -- and adult relationships with kids, which we've sort of grown up to, in our civilization, we don't have them.
—S.S.M.

© 2006 Media Matters for America

lofter1
October 4th, 2006, 09:01 AM
http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/

October 3, 2006 -- Informed sources in Tallahassee, Florida have told WMR that Governor Jeb Bush was fully aware of ex-Rep. Mark Foley's conduct with underage male pages but sat on the information to protect Foley and another top GOP Florida official, Attorney General Charlie Crist, who is currently running for governor to replace Bush.

Today, Jeb Bush said he had not previously known about Foley's behavior with the pages before being informed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert in a letter dated October 1, 2006. Bush said he was "dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley's unacceptable behavior."

However, according to our Florida sources, the FBI and Justice Department informed the Florida Governor's office, Attorney General Crist, and the Florida AG's Child Protection Cybercrime Unit at least a year ago about Foley's predatory emails and instant messages.

WMR was told that Crist's conflict-of-interest in the case stems from Crist's and Foley's involvement in gay sex parties, some of which took place during 2003 in trendy Coconut Grove, Florida.



http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/crist.jpg http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/foley.jpg http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/jebbush1.jpg
Foley scandal reverberating in Florida gubernatorial race.
Left to right: Crist, Foley, and Jeb Bush.

Informed Florida sources claim that up until now, Crist and Jeb Bush have been able to keep a lid on the once-divorced Crist's life style, touting his conservative Christian credentials, but that the Foley revelations will severely impact the Crist gubernatorial campaign. The links between Foley and Crist are certain to harm Crist with his conservative backers who admire Crist for his anti-gay rights stance.

Floridians begin early voting on October 23.

Copyright &#169; 2005-2006, Wayne Madsen Report

lofter1
October 4th, 2006, 09:36 AM
INCREDIBLE!
FOX 'NEWS' LABELS FOLEY AS DEM DURING O'REILLY FACTOR!

bradblog.com (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3570)
October 3, 2006

Three Different Video Cutaways, 15 Seconds or More Each, Credit Disgraced REPUBLICAN Congressman as Being a Florida DEMOCRAT!

UPDATED: NOW WITH VIDEO! LATER UPDATE: 'Erroneous' Caption Scrubbed from Late-night O'Reilly Rebroadcasts Without Explanation!

Just amazing. Fox's O'Reilly Factor just covered the Mark Foley (R-FL) issue in two different segments, one of them with a page who says he received communications from Foley, and another with Ann Coulter.

Never mind the content of either segment for now. Incredibly, during a total of three different cutaways to video footage of Foley, he was labelled at the bottom of the screen eachtime as "(D-FL)" !

Three different times. In two different segements. Each cutaway about 15 seconds or more. Showing Foley as a DEMOCRAT. Amazing.


http://www.bradblog.com/Images/FoxOReilly_MarkFoleyDEM_100306.jpg

Just an accident? We report, you decide.

UPDATE: Here's quick video clips two of the three times that Foley became made an honorary Fox "Dem"…

http://www.bradblog.com/Video/flvplayer/bb_play_video-a.gif (http://www.bradblog.com/Video/FoxOReilly_FoleyDEMOCRAT_100603.wmv)

– CLIP 1: Windows Media Player version… (http://www.bradblog.com/Video/FoxOReilly_FoleyDEMOCRAT_100603.wmv)

– CLIP 2 (Coulter): Windows Media Player version… (http://www.bradblog.com/Video/FoxOReilly_Coulter_FoleyDEMOCRAT_100603.wmv)

UPDATE 11:30pm PT: Though we didn't see the first evening rerun, several folks have reported that Fox "News" scrubbed the "error" by running the video during the late-night rerun of O'Reilly with no text on the bottom of the screen during those sequences. Also, please note we originally had the date of 6/3/06 on the screenshot above, instead of the correct 10/3/06. Once we noticed, we had so many folks linking up to this item, we couldn't get back in to the site at all to make the correction until now!

UPDATE 10/4/06 2:04am PT: Confirmed! We just watched the second late-night rerun of O'Reilly, and indeed, the evidence goes down the memory hole as Fox removed the mis-labelled chiron entirely from their later broadcasts without explanation! BTW, we watched both full segments this time, including the one with Florida's own alleged Queen of Voter Fraud, Ann Coulter (http://www.bradblog.com/?p=2903) who swears up and down that Hastert just couldn't have known anything about Foley's problem, he just couldn't have!

Screenshot from the rebroadcast, where the "(D-FL)" has been excised from all three video cutaways, is below…


http://www.bradblog.com/Images/FoxOReilly_MarkFoleyDEM_100306_RerunFix.jpg

UPDATE 10/4/06 2:13am PT: Heheh…Bob Johnson over at dKos (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/4/22756/3378), may have the explanation for what happened at Fox today… http://www.bradblog.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif

MrSpice
October 4th, 2006, 03:04 PM
FOLEY'S (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/?p=232) KARMA (http://www.sptimes.com/%20KARMA%20Worldandnation/91298/Congress_sees_through.html) ...

For more than a week, members of Congress said they would avoid partisan politics when they got Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton. But when they finally saw it Friday, they split along party lines.

Republicans were aghast at Clinton's behavior, with many saying it showed he had lied and abused his power.



I think it's obvious that there's a lot hypocrisy on both side of the isle. On the other hand, it does not look like this guy was in any way representative of many other republicans. He seems like a bad apple.

Ninjahedge
October 4th, 2006, 04:27 PM
EXCEPT for the fact that none of his compatriots said ANYTHING about him to the general public.

Rumor being, they knew what he was doing and would threaten to expose him if he did not go their way on some things. Whether this is true or not, there was a complicity here that should not have been allowed.

The fact that he was doing this was obviously the worst thing (A kiddie chaser being the head of the government agency designed to help? Sounds like that Alaskan that thinks the Internet is made of Tubes....which he is in charge of regulating!), but the fact that no-one spoke up and seemed to want to get him into office first... That is so bad.

lofter1
October 4th, 2006, 06:32 PM
Foley has opened himself to ridiclue.

No claims of alcoholism, molestation by a priest or any other excuse will make him any less of a hypocrite.

Enjoy ...

Y. M. C. A. (http://theointment.com/?p=190)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thenewswire/archive/ap/stripdownweb.jpg (http://ymca.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)
From huffingtonpost.com

Watch The Music Video “Y(oung) M(en's) C(ongressional) A(ssociation)”... (http://ymca.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)

***

lofter1
October 6th, 2006, 09:41 AM
No Prank (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/10/no_prank.html)

Andrew Sullivan
05 Oct 2006 06:27 pm

Three other pages (http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/10/three_more_form.html) describe Foley's online predation. The GOP is going to have to find another angle to deflect this. They've tried blaming the MSM; they've tried blaming Clinton; they've tried to turn all the victims into pranksters. It's been a worthy display. But in the end they may have to take ... responsibility. Remember that? It used to be a conservative value.

Three More Former Pages Accuse Foley of Online Sexual Approaches

http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/images/rt_foley2_061003_nr.jpg (http://blogs.abcnews.com/photos/uncategorized/rt_foley2_061003_nr.jpg)

abcnews.com/theblotter (http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/10/three_more_form.html)
Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz & Maddy Sauer
October 05, 2006 5:20 PM

Three more former congressional pages have come forward to reveal what they call "sexual approaches" over the Internet from former Congressman Mark Foley.

The pages served in the classes of 1998, 2000 and 2002. They independently approached ABC News after the Foley resignation through the Brian Ross & the Investigative Team (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/BrianRoss/)'s tip line on ABCNews.com. None wanted their names used because of the sensitive nature of the communications.

"I was seventeen years old and just returned to [my home state] when Foley began to e-mail me, asking if I had ever seen my page roommates naked and how big their penises were," said the page in the 2002 class.

The former page also said Foley told him that if he happened to be in Washington, D.C., he could stay at Foley's home if he "would engage in oral sex" with Foley.

THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS

READER DISCRETION STRONGLY ADVISED: Foley's Exchange with Underage Page (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/BrianRoss/story?id=2509586&page=1)
Foley Instant Message Chat While Waiting for a House Vote (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2522378&page=1)
Click Here to Watch This Week's Brian Ross Investigates Webcast (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/BrianRoss/)The page told ABC News he was interviewed this week by FBI agents who had a six-page list of questions about Foley and the exchanges.

The second page who talked with ABC News, a graduate of the 2000 page class, says Foley actually visited the old page dorm and offered rides to events in his BMW.

"His e-mails developed into sexually explicit conversations, and he asked me for photographs of my erect penis," the former page said.

The page said Foley maintained e-mail contact with him even after he started college and arranged a sexual liaison after the page had turned 18.

The third page interviewed by ABC News, a graduate of the 1998 page class, said Foley's instant messages began while he was a senior in high school.

"Foley would say he was sitting in his boxers and ask what I was wearing," the page said.

"It became more weird, and I stopped responding," the page said.

All three pages described similar instant message and e-mail patterns, with remarkably similar escalations of provocative questions.

"He didn't want to talk about politics," the page said. "He wanted to talk about sex or my penis," the page said.

The three new verbal accounts are in addition to two sets of sexually explicit instant messages provided to ABC News by former pages.

An online story on the Drudge Report Thursday claimed one set of the sexually explicit instant messages obtained by ABC News was part of a "prank" on the part of the former page, who reportedly says he goaded the congressman into writing the messages.

"This was no prank," said one of the three former pages who talked to ABC News today about his experience with the congressman.

Copyright &#169; 2006 ABC News Iternet Ventures

Ninjahedge
October 6th, 2006, 11:30 AM
Legal or not, this guy is a perv.

He was a gay man (nothing wrong with that bit) that was looking for younger men that he could dominate. SO he approached them when they were still "fresh".

Doing that to pages under his employ when he was supposed to be a spokesperson AGAINST just such a thing (at many levels, one of which being exploitation of young workers) is just plain wrong.

The only thing that his fellow congressmen should say, if they have to, was that they were wrong in hiding what they knew, but they never knew he went as far as he did. That will save them some votes and public lashings, but still does not absolve them of their deliberate negligence and ignorance of the issue.

lofter1
October 6th, 2006, 11:51 AM
The only thing that his fellow congressmen should say, if they have to, was that they were wrong in hiding what they knew, but they never knew he went as far as he did. That will save them some votes and public lashings, but still does not absolve them of their deliberate negligence and ignorance of the issue.

The problem is that evidence so far indicates that the info was presented to members of the House (or their staff) and nothing was done.

So you've got some choices: (1) they were hiding it or (2) they didn't care or (3) they were incompetent in enforcing anti-harassment regulations.

Which of those three would compell you to vote for those involved ?

Ninjahedge
October 6th, 2006, 02:15 PM
The reality is probably worse Loft...

I would say that this COULD be written partially off as an area where people do not pry, even if they are told. Kind of like a Reagan-istic "I did not READ any of those statements" (they were read to him).

I think they should have to answer for this abuse of power, but it would be hard to put a legal weight behind any of it, and it might also be very difficult to leverage enough swing on this issue to boost the turnover in congress.

With any luck, maybe some independents will win.

lofter1
October 7th, 2006, 09:49 AM
Staffer Cites Earlier Role by Hastert's Office

Confrontation With Foley Detailed


washingtonpost.com (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/06/AR2006100601888_pf.html)
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 7, 2006


House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/h000323/)'s chief of staff confronted then-Rep. Mark Foley (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/f000238/) about his inappropriate social contact with male pages well before the speaker said aides in his office took any action, a current congressional staff member with personal knowledge of Foley and his behavior with pages said yesterday.


The staff member said Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, met with the Florida Republican at the Capitol to discuss complaints about Foley's behavior toward pages. The alleged meeting occurred long before Hastert says aides in his office dispatched Rep. John M. Shimkus (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/s000364/) (R-Ill.) and the clerk of the House in November 2005 to confront Foley about troubling e-mails he had sent to a Louisiana boy.


The staff member's account buttresses the position of Foley's onetime chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, who said earlier this week that he had appealed to Palmer in 2003 or earlier to intervene, after Fordham's own efforts to stop Foley's behavior had failed. Fordham said Foley and Palmer, one of the most powerful figures in the House of Representatives, met within days to discuss the allegations.


Palmer said this week that the meeting Fordham described "did not happen."


Timothy J. Heaphy, Fordham's attorney, said yesterday that Fordham is prepared to testify under oath that he had arranged the meeting and that both Foley and Palmer told him the meeting had taken place. Fordham spent more than three hours with the FBI on Thursday, and Heaphy said that on Friday he contacted the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to offer his client's cooperation.


"We are not preparing to cooperate. We are affirmatively seeking to," Heaphy said.


Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean declined to directly comment on the second House staff member's assertion, saying that it is a matter for a House ethics committee investigation. "The Standards Committee has asked that no one discuss this matter because of its ongoing investigation," Bonjean said.


The emergence of a second congressional staffer describing such a meeting came on a day that Hastert (R-Ill.) was working to solidify his hold on the speakership. Prominent Republicans, including President Bush, have defended Hastert, saying he should not step down, but the criticism continues to flow.


New Jersey's Thomas H. Kean Jr., whose candidacy offers the GOP its most promising hope to take a Senate seat from a Democrat in November, called for Hastert's resignation yesterday, as did the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times. Democratic House candidate Patty Wetterling of Minnesota, a child-safety advocate and the first to air a television commercial about the Foley scandal, will deliver the national Democratic response to Bush's weekly radio address today.


Hastert maintains that he knew nothing of Foley's actions until last week, when the story first broke and Foley resigned. His stance contradicts that of House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/b000589/) (R-Ohio) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/r000569/) (R-N.Y.), both of whom said they had informed Hastert this spring.


Palmer has resolutely said he had no earlier meeting with Foley, and other leadership aides have questioned the truthfulness of Fordham. Fordham quit his job as Reynolds's chief of staff last week after acknowledging that he had tried to persuade ABC News not to publish the salacious instant-message exchanges between Foley and two former pages.


Hastert's office contends that the first confrontation with Foley occurred in November 2005, when Shimkus, the head of the House Page Board, and then-House Clerk Jeff Trandahl took Foley aside to discuss what they termed "over-friendly" e-mails that Foley had sent to a Louisiana boy.


Fordham's account not only pushed the matter back at least two years but also indicated that alarms over Foley's behavior had gone well beyond bland e-mails.


Sources close to Fordham say Trandahl repeatedly urged the longtime aide and close family friend to confront Foley about his inappropriate advances on pages. Each time, Foley pledged to no longer socialize with the teenagers, but, weeks later, Trandahl would again alert Fordham about more contacts. Out of frustration, the sources said, Fordham contacted Palmer, hoping that an intervention from such a powerful figure in the House would persuade Foley to stop.


Now, a second House aide familiar with Foley and his actions told The Washington Post yesterday that "Scott Palmer had spoken to Foley prior to November 2005." The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is now the subject of a criminal investigation and the House ethics committee inquiry.


Two law enforcement officials said yesterday that the FBI had not yet determined whether a crime had occurred in the Foley case. Justice Department and FBI officials have cautioned that cases involving the enticement of minors are notoriously difficult to prosecute.


On Wednesday night, Palmer was described as highly emotional while aides sifted through e-mails and files to determine whether he had ever spoken to Fordham. Several people who spoke with Palmer said the chief of staff was emphatic in denying that he knew anything about Foley's questionable contacts with young male pages.


Palmer, who shares a townhouse with Hastert when they are in town, is more powerful than all but a few House members. Members know that he speaks for Hastert.


The divergent accounts have highlighted the holes in the public's understanding of Foley's undoing. And they are sure to ratchet up the pressure on Trandahl to come forward with his knowledge of events. As House clerk between January 1999 and November 2005, Trandahl had direct control over the page program.


Pages apparently saw Trandahl as a strict disciplinarian. In one instant-message exchange obtained by The Post, a former page, on his way to his first annual reunion in Washington, told Foley in January 2003 that "everyone is going to be pretty wasted a lot of the time in dc."


He then added, "well we dont have the [expletive] clerk to fire us anymore. . . . we didnt like trandahl that much . . . he isnt a nice guy . . . and he gets really scarey when he is mad."


Trandahl's departure came within days of his confrontation with Foley over e-mails that the congressman had sent a former page. House aides say the circumstances of Trandahl's exit were oddly quiet. The departure of a staff member of long standing, especially one as important as the House clerk, is usually marked with considerable fanfare, said Scott Lilly, a former Democratic staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. Debate is suspended in mid-afternoon to accommodate a stream of testimonials from lawmakers.


Trandahl's departure was marked by a one-minute salute from Shimkus and a brief insert into the Congressional Record.


"My one-hour Special Order changed to a five-minute Special Order, now to a one-minute," Shimkus said. "I just want to say thank you for the work you have done."


Lilly said: "He seemed to suddenly disappear in a puff of smoke."


Trandahl, now the executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, has not returned repeated phone calls and e-mails.


Congressional aides point to another factor that links Trandahl to the Foley matter. A member of the board of the national gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, Trandahl is openly homosexual and personally close to the now-disgraced former lawmaker, who announced through his lawyer this week that he is gay.


Staff writers Jim VandeHei, Charles Babington, Dan Eggen and Allan Lengel contributed to this report.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

lofter1
October 7th, 2006, 09:58 AM
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announces
Jeff Trandahl as Executive Director

http://www.usd.edu/ctrcivic/image002.jpg
Jeff Trandahl

www.nfwf.org (http://www.nfwf.org)
Washington, D.C.
September 30, 2005

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced today that Jeff Trandahl has accepted the position of Executive Director at the Foundation. Trandahl currently serves as Clerk of the US House of Representatives. He plans to assume his new position in November.

“We expect that Jeff will raise our vision and voice in support of wildlife conservation. As an outdoorsman, he understands the importance of passing on to future generations healthier habitats and thriving wildlife populations,” said Max C. Chapman, Jr., chairman of the Foundation.

“Jeff will bring a renewed level of energy to the Foundation’s focus on the conservation and restoration of wildlife habitat and the propagation of threatened and endangered species,” continued Chapman.

Trandahl is widely recognized by both the Republican and Democratic leadership for his institutional approach and fair administration of House operations.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert said, “I want to add my congratulations to the Clerk of the House, the Honorable Jeff Trandahl. He will leave the Clerk’s Office and the United States House of Representatives—which he has so ably served—a better place. Members of the House on both sides of the aisle have enormous respect for Jeff’s vast institutional knowledge, his utter professionalism, and his ability to get things done—traits which have made him a very effective and successful Clerk. Jeff is the epitome of the best in public service.

“I offer Jeff sincere congratulations and best wishes as he pursues new opportunities at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation where he will be able to spend time working to improve his passion—the great outdoors.”

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi remarked that, "Jeff Trandahl has been an outstanding Congressional public servant for the past 20 years. As the thirty-second Clerk of the House of Representatives, he has been effective, efficient, and absolutely professional. While we are sad to see Trandahl leave us, our loss is the conservation community's gain.”

“Growing up in South Dakota, the great outdoors and conservation have always been an important part of my life,” said Trandahl. “Serving as the Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is an opportunity of a lifetime. I have long been an admirer of the Foundation’s success in forging partnerships among public agencies, corporations and nonprofits and delivering results. The Foundation is helping to turn the tide on conservation concerns, addressing challenges ranging from improving water quality in our nation’s rivers, lakes and coastal areas to conserving large landscapes.”

Thomas Lovejoy, President of The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment called Trandahl’s selection, “A brilliant choice: he has amazing skills and experience and a burning passion for fish and wildlife. A match made in fish and wildlife Heaven.”

Trandahl joins the Foundation following 23 years of public service to the nation. He served on Capitol Hill as an assistant to Senator James Abdnor (South Dakota), Congresswoman Virginia Smith (Nebraska), and Congressman Pat Roberts (Kansas). He also worked on the House Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on House Administration and had extensive involvement with the House Leadership and the House Committee on Agriculture.

Since 1998 he has served as the Clerk of the US House of Representatives. As the Clerk of the House, Trandahl is the second highest constitutional official in the House of Representatives and serves as the chief legislative official. He leads a staff of 300 highly specialized staff and oversees an operating budget of more than $20 million.

Trandahl was raised in Spearfish, South Dakota the son of US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. An avid outdoorsman, Trandahl has had a life-long commitment to conservation.

Trandahl earned a B.A. in Government/Politics from the University of Maryland in 1987 and holds a Certificate in Management from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University.

Trandahl succeeds John Berry who recently accepted the position of Director of the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Congress in 1984 and dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, and the habitat on which they depend. The Foundation creates partnerships between the public and private sectors to strategically invest in conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Foundation has awarded over 7,000 grants to more than 2,600 organizations in the United States and abroad and has leveraged – with its partners – more than $300 million in federal funds since its establishment, for a total of more than $1 billion in on-the-ground conservation. Charity Navigator, charity watchdog organization, recognizes the Foundation with its top 4 star rating for effectiveness and efficiency. For every dollar contributed to the Foundation, 92 cents is direct to conservation with 5 cents supporting management and administration and 3 cents supporting fundraising.

Copyright 2006

lofter1
October 9th, 2006, 10:29 AM
These people are too much -- Can't face the TRUTH? Re-write it ...

Echoing Drudge and Savage, Dobson and Henninger claimed Foley scandal
is "sort of a joke" and a "prank" by pages


Summary: James Dobson and Daniel Henninger both echoed a claim previously made by Matt Drudge and Michael Savage that the sexually explicit communications that Rep. Mark Foley allegedly engaged in with former congressional pages were "sort of a joke" or a "prank[]" on the part of the former pages.mediamatters.org (http://mediamatters.org/items/200610060004)
October 6, 2006

Commenting on the congressional page scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) on the October 6 broadcast (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/Focus_on_the_Family/archives.asp?bcd=2006-10-6) of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.family.org/), declared that the Foley affair has "turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages" who had reportedly come forward with sexually explicit instant messages that Foley allegedly sent. Similarly, in his October 6 column (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110009050), Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Daniel Henninger wrote that "a rumor emerged that in fact Mark Foley had been pranked by the House pages" and then added: "It is the first plausible thing I've heard in seven days." Media Matters for America recently noted (http://mediamatters.org/items/200610040010#victims) that in defense of Foley's alleged actions, Internet gossip Matt Drudge and nationally syndicated radio host Michael Savage also attempted to shift the blame to the former pages who communicated with the former congressman. On his website, Drudge has elaborated on his suggestion that at least one of the former pages was complicit.


On Focus on the Family, Dobson was responding to a New York Times column by Paul Krugman, in which Krugman wondered how Dobson would respond to the Foley scandal given Dobson's earlier criticism of former President Bill Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky. From Krugman's column (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://select.nytimes.com/2006/10/02/opinion/02krugman.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and% 20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fPaul%20Krugman) (subscription required):
It will be interesting, by the way, to see how Dr. Dobson, who declared of Bill Clinton that "no man has ever done more to debase the presidency," responds to the Foley scandal. Does the failure of Republican leaders to do anything about a sexual predator in their midst outrage him as much as a Democratic president's consensual affair?

In response, Dobson again criticized Clinton and then suggested that the sexually explicit instant messages allegedly sent by Foley to underage male pages were the result of "sort of a joke":
DOBSON: We condemn the Foley affair categorically, and we also believe that what Mr. Clinton did was one of the most embarrassing and wicked things ever done by a president in power. Let me remind you, sir, that it was not just James Dobson who found the Lewinsky affair reprehensible. More than 140 newspapers called for Clinton's resignation. But the president didn't do what Mr. Foley has done in leaving. He stayed in office, and he lied to the grand jury to obscure the facts. As it turns out, Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of, and the whole thing turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages.

Henninger's column also picked up the rumor that Foley's purported victims were to blame, calling it "the first plausible thing I've heard in seven days." He also suggested that there is a "scale" of homosexuality in which one end ultimately involves a "compulsive, predatory sex offender":
We know when we're beaten. Bowing to the gods of the news cycle, let us undertake the great questions of the moment. Where does post-modern American ethics place Mark Foley's homosexuality on a scale of 1 to 10 -- a 1 being just another gay guy and a 10 being a compulsive, predatory sex offender? What might fall in between seems to have confused Denny Hastert, two newspapers, one TV network and the FBI. In the event, Mr. Hastert, as the point man, is being driven from office for having failed, in hindsight, to recognize the obvious ...
By midafternoon yesterday, a rumor emerged that in fact Mark Foley had been pranked by the House pages. It is the first plausible thing I've heard in seven days. Four weeks from the election, I have an idea: Let's fire the Members and replace them with the pages. We could do worse. We are. As Media Matters has noted (http://mediamatters.org/items/200610040014), the claim that gay men are more likely than straight men to sexually abuse children, which has been forwarded by conservatives such as Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, is false.

Stephen Jones, the attorney for the page who reportedly originally came forward with explicit instant messages allegedly sent by Foley, told The Oklahoman (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://www.newsok.com/article/2951710) that the suggestion that his client's allegations are a prank is "a piece of fiction," adding: "There is not any aspect of this matter that is a practical joke nor should anyone treat it that way." An entry (http://mediamatters.org/rd?http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2006/10/three_more_form.html) on the ABC News weblog The Blotter also disputed Drudge's commentary:
An online story on the Drudge Report Thursday claimed one set of the sexually explicit instant messages obtained by ABC News was part of a "prank" on the part of the former page, who reportedly says he goaded the congressman into writing the messages.
"This was no prank," said one of the three former pages who talked to ABC News today about his experience with the congressman. © 2006 Media Matters for America

lofter1
October 9th, 2006, 10:37 AM
Andrew Sullivan (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/10/oh_all_right_th.html) is spnsoring a contest ...

A reader begs for a caption contest. Here's the Reuters photo (Foley & GWB).

Put "caption contest" in the contents line of the emails, suggesting captions (or quote bubbes). Results early next week.

http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/images/foleybushlarrydowningreuters_1.jpg (http://time.blogs.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/foleybushlarrydowningreuters_1.jpg)

lofter1
October 9th, 2006, 12:27 PM
BONE THE PAGE

by Paul Hipp

LISTEN to the TUNE (http://bone-the-page.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)

http://bone-the-page.cf.huffingtonpost.com/foley-page-picture.jpg

On the information highway in your underwear
Typing with your left hand
Your right hand God knows where
You must be writing legislation to protect out kids from predators out there

And your thoughts will soon be wondering
The way they always do
To you riding sixteen year old boys
What's a congressman to do
When you don't feel much like voting
You just wish this vote was through

Here I am - On the net again
Here I am - Are you underage
Here I go - Republican Congressman
There I go - Bone the page

Do I make you a little horny
Are you in your boxers too
We may need to drink at my house
I'd like to slip them off of you
You're just barely sixteen years old
I'm conservatively fifty-two

Here I am - On the net again
Here I am - Are you underage
Here I go - Republican Congressman
There I go - Bone the page

Is Republican America finally going out of style
They send our children off to die in war
In Washington meanwhile
They wave the flag
They wave the bible
And cover for a sleazy pedophile

Here I am - On the net again
Here I am - Are you underage
There I go - Republican Congressman
Here I go - Bone the page

(C) Paul Hipp 2006
MySpace: Paul Hipp (http://www.myspace.com/paulhipp)

lofter1
October 12th, 2006, 06:29 PM
HOW ROVE TWISTED FOLEY'S ARM:

tnr.com/blog/theplank (http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank?pid=47854)
Ryan Lizza
October 12, 2006

It seems increasingly clear that the GOP congressional leadership, eager for every safe incumbent in the House to run for re-election, looked the other way as evidence accumulated that Mark Foley had a thing for pages. Holding onto his seat became more important than confronting him over his extracurricular activities.

But there's more to the story of why Foley stood for re-election this year.

Yesterday, a source close to Foley explained to THE NEW REPUBLIC that in early 2006 the congressman had all but decided to retire from the House and set up shop on K Street. "Mark's a friend of mine," says this source. "He told me, 'I'm thinking about getting out of it and becoming a lobbyist.'"

But when Foley's friend saw the Congressman again this spring, something had changed. To the source's surprise, Foley told him he would indeed be standing for re-election. What happened? Karl Rove intervened.

According to the source, Foley said he was being pressured by "the White House and Rove gang," who insisted that Foley run. If he didn't, Foley was told, it might impact his lobbying career.

"He said, 'The White House made it very clear I have to run,'" explains Foley's friend, adding that Foley told him that the White House promised that if Foley served for two more years it would "enhance his success" as a lobbyist. "I said, 'I thought you wanted out of this?' And he said, 'I do, but they're scared of losing the House and the thought of two years of Congressional hearings, so I have two more years of duty.'"

The White House declined a request for comment on the matter, but obviously the plan hasn't worked out quite as Rove hoped it would.

Copyright 2006, The New Republic

lofter1
October 13th, 2006, 08:45 AM
This is getting ugly -- and could have blowback in any number of directions ...

Conservative group alleges gay GOP
is really network of undercover liberals

rawstory.com (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Conservative_group_alleges_gay_GOP_are_1013.html)
Friday October 13, 2006

Conservative media watchdog Accuracy in Media is alleging that the Foley scandal is not the work of a gay Republican, but rather of a Democratic operative posing as a Republican to undermine the party.

In a piece entitled, "Republican Gays are Closeted Dems," Cliff Kincaid seems to allege that gay Republicans themselves are nothing more than a "Democratic 'dirty trick,'" hoping to use the party to "advance the same homosexual agenda embraced by the Democrats."

"If you are getting the idea that gay Republicans may be closeted Democrats," the column suggests, "then you are beginning to understand how the Mark Foley scandal could have been a Democratic Party dirty trick."

Accuracy in Media has come under fire in the past for reports alleging that then-president Bill Clinton was involved in the death of Vincent Foster. The allegations are contrary to other government and independent reports, including one prepared by Kenneth Starr, the prosecutor whose work regarding the Lewinski affair eventually led to Clinton's unsuccessful impeachment.

Excerpts from Accuracy in Media's column (http://www.aim.org/aim_column/4931_0_3_0_C/) follow.

#

The complex nature of the "dirty trick" against the Republicans over the Mark Foley scandal is beginning to emerge. It doesn't involve a George Soros-funded group or emails that had been in the possession of the media or shopped around by Democratic operatives. Instead, the GOP has played a trick on itself. The party brought so-called gay Republicans into positions of power in Congress only to realize that the confidential information they held about a secret gay network was political dynamite that could backfire.

At this point in the scandal, the issue is not whether there was such a network, but how big it is. CBS Evening News correspondent Gloria Borger reported the emerging belief that "a group of high-level gay Republican staffers were protecting" Foley. A New York Times story by Mark Leibovich confirmed that gay Republicans have occupied "crucial staff positions" in Congress and "have played decisive roles in passing legislation, running campaigns and advancing careers."

... So if the gay Republicans are not really Republicans, what are they? One veteran observer of this network told AIM that the Foley scandal should make it crystal clear that the gay Republicans are in reality "liberal activists" who want to use the party to advance the same homosexual agenda embraced by the Democrats.

Ominously, the Foley scandal suggests that this network has inside information about the sexual behavior of members of Congress and their staffers that can be exploited in order to create scandals at a moment's notice. Only now are House Republican leaders like Dennis Hastert beginning to understand the trap they may have gotten themselves into. They thought they were being tolerant and diverse and constructing a "big tent" when they were giving gay Republicans important positions of power. It is now apparent that this power has been used to sabotage the party from within.

Conservatives who blame Soros, the media or the Democrats for this debacle are whistling past the graveyard, which happens to be near the place where Hastert made his statement the other day that staffers will be fired "if there was a cover-up."

Ninjahedge
October 13th, 2006, 09:15 AM
Uh-huh.

It was all a super secret gay plot to take over the world.

What a load of horse crap.

lofter1
October 18th, 2006, 04:52 PM
Ex-House Clerk May Be a Key in Foley’s Case


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/10/18/us/18trandahl_lg.jpg
Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call
Jeff Trandahl, the former clerk of the House, in his office last year.
Mr. Trandahl is to testify Wednesday before the House ethics committee.


nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/us/politics/18trandahl.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin)
By JEFF ZELENY
October 18, 2006


WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — In the days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, as elaborate battle plans were drawn to protect members of Congress and preserve government continuity, Jeff Trandahl, the clerk of the House, did something else. He obtained a commercial driver’s license.


Mr. Trandahl wanted to be ready for the next emergency. Of all his responsibilities in Congress, a priority was safeguarding the high school students who work as pages. He arranged for buses to be parked nearby, so pages could leave their dormitories or the Capitol. If needed, he would drive them to safety.


His concern for the pages highlights the protection provided to the teenagers in their time here. But it also raises piercing questions about how years of whispers over a congressman’s unwelcome advances could escape public notice until being exposed on a television news program.


Mr. Trandahl, a commanding behind-the-scenes player on Capitol Hill before stepping down last year, was little known outside Congress. But he has emerged as a central figure in the case of how the House Republican leadership dealt with the conduct of Mark Foley, the former representative whose sexually charged messages to Congressional pages have shaken the midterm elections.


As the House ethics committee pursues its investigation, few accounts are more crucial than Mr. Trandahl’s in determining whether Republican leaders acted with enough urgency. He is scheduled to testify to the committee on Thursday, when he could corroborate — or contradict — accusations that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s office knew about Mr. Foley’s behavior at least three years ago.


The House clerk, a vestige of the patronage system, serves at the pleasure of the speaker and, in recent years, Mr. Hastert’s influential chief counsel, Ted Van Der Meid. House investigators are trying to deduce whether a deteriorating relationship between Mr. Van Der Meid and others in the Capitol, particularly Mr. Trandahl, had a role in the handling of the complaints about Mr. Foley.


As House clerk, Mr. Trandahl had a rare bird’s-eye view of what was occurring beneath the Capitol dome. As a gay Republican, he also had a window into a subculture not widely discussed within his party.


Although he never dwelled on his sexuality, he also did not go to extreme lengths to conceal it, unlike Mr. Foley, who publicly acknowledged he is gay only after resigning this month.


Mr. Trandahl, 42, has told friends he was not a social friend of Mr. Foley and did not jeopardize pages’ safety. He has declined to discuss the case publicly while it remains under investigation by the ethics committee and the F.B.I., which is trying to determine whether Mr. Foley broke laws by exchanging sexually explicit messages with current and former pages.


Interviews with more than 20 former colleagues and acquaintances, Republicans and Democrats alike, paint Mr. Trandahl as a fastidious manager with a penchant for playing by the rules. At the same time, the colleagues and acquaintances said, he was a keen inside player who mastered the art of navigating an institution that is structured to protect its own.


“When the rest of the trees blow down, Jeff Trandahl will be left standing up,” said Craig Shniderman, executive director of Food and Friends, a charity here, who has known Mr. Trandahl for nearly a decade. “This is a pretty complicated situation, but I don’t have any doubt that he did the right thing.”


For seven years, Mr. Trandahl oversaw more than 300 employees, a $20 million budget and House functions. He also supervised the page program. And in the conflicting accounts and varying recollections about when Republican leaders learned of Mr. Foley’s conduct, it is Mr. Trandahl who seems interwoven at each step along the way.


In the House, Mr. Trandahl had what amounted to an all-access pass, giving V.I.P.’s and friends tours through little-known corridors and up to the high arches of the rotunda. He guided many facets of House operations from an ornate second-floor office overlooking the Mall. Just a handful of politicians enjoyed a grander view of the Washington Monument.


Mr. Trandahl arrived in Washington in 1983, months after graduating from high school in Spearfish, S.D., to work in the office of Senator James Abdnor, Republican of South Dakota. After Mr. Abdnor was defeated three years later, he found his eager young aide a job on the House side of Capitol Hill, working for the senator’s close friend Representative Virginia Smith, Republican of Nebraska.


By then, Mr. Trandahl had earned a degree in government from the University of Maryland and began to stand out as a consummate networker in a city filled with networkers.


He ascended to various positions in the House, seldom forgetting a name or face, and was an experienced insider in 1994 when Republicans took control of the House for the first time in four decades.


In 1998, Newt Gingrich promised to clean up years of patronage largess in the House, first by Democrats and then by Republicans, and appointed Mr. Trandahl acting clerk of the House. After unexpectedly becoming speaker, Mr. Hastert made Mr. Trandahl’s appointment permanent.


Suddenly, Mr. Trandahl was a constitutional officer, standing barely more than arm’s length from President Bush as he took the oath of office and presiding over the House at the dawn of each session of Congress.


“He wasn’t seen as partisan,” said George Shevlin, a friend of Mr. Trandahl who is a longtime Democratic staff member of the House Administration Committee. “He was seen as very dedicated to the institution. When things got to be too partisan, that seemed to bother him.”


As clerk, Mr. Trandahl supervised the page program. So concerns involving their conduct were routed to him. Most every year, he sent at least some pages home for drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or simply misbehaving.


Former pages and staff members say he guided the young Congressional errand runners with a fair, but strict hand, earning him the nickname J. T. Money.


“With the kids, money was like gold, and his word was like gold,” Matt Frattalli, a former tutor at the Congressional page school, said. “There was no slack with him. You respected him and you feared him.”


Over the years, people who worked with him on the Hill said, Mr. Trandahl received periodic complaints that Mr. Foley was acting too friendly to the pages or interns.


The House ethics committee is trying to determine whether Mr. Trandahl simply passed along the information to Kirk Fordham, a longtime aide to Mr. Foley, or whether he alerted the speaker’s office that Mr. Foley’s overfriendly behavior had grown beyond idle gossip.


Representative Jim Kolbe, Republican of Arizona, said he informed the clerk’s office more than five years ago of concerns a former page shared about an inappropriate e-mail exchange with Mr. Foley.


Last year, when Mr. Trandahl was alerted to e-mail messages that Mr. Foley had sent a former page in Louisiana, he confronted Mr. Foley with Representative John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois and chairman of the page board.


By the time word of the e-mail exchange surfaced, Mr. Trandahl was making plans to leave Capitol Hill after 23 years. He had accepted a position as executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, blending politics with a lifelong passion for the outdoors.


Friends dismiss the suggestion that his departure was linked to the Foley case.


“This goofy notion that he vanished in a poof of smoke is wrong,” said John Scofield, a Republican staff member of the House Appropriations Committee.


Before leaving, Mr. Trandahl received bipartisan praise from Mr. Hastert and the House minority leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.


Some aides were surprised that Mr. Trandahl did not accept a lucrative lobbying position here. People close to him said he recoiled at the thought of returning to Capitol Hill to befriend members of Congress while pushing legislation for clients.


It was the culmination of a pattern, friends say, of never wanting to socialize on the Hill after long days and nights surrounded by politics and government.


“I don’t control the actors,” Mr. Trandahl once told The Aberdeen American News of South Dakota. “But I control every other part.”


Now, he spends his spare time in Rappahannock County, Va., where he restored a brown A-frame house on the side of a rugged hill, overlooking waterfalls and a rippling creek filled with trout.


It is 72 miles, but a world away, from downtown Washington, where visitors travel across roads called Fogg Mountain, Fish Hawk Pass and Points of View Lane.


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

lofter1
January 17th, 2007, 12:44 AM
Oil Lease Chief Knew of Error, Report Asserts


nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/17/washington/17royalty.html?hp&ex=1169096400&en=a8f4345d4bd257a8&ei=5094&partner=homepage)
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
January 17, 2007

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 — A top Interior Department official was told nearly three years ago about a legal blunder that allowed drilling companies to avoid billions of dollars in payments for oil and gas pumped from publicly owned waters, a report by the department’s chief independent investigator has found.

The report, which was sent lawmakers on Tuesday, suggested that Interior officials could have fixed the mistake far more easily if they had taken action when they first recognized it. Oil and gas prices were far lower than they are today.

The report contradicts statements by the official, Johnnie M. Burton, the director of the department’s Minerals Management Service, who told a House hearing last September that she first learned about the royalties problem in January 2006.

Confronted by e-mail messages from subordinates from early 2004, the report said, Ms. Burton conceded that she probably had been told earlier, but “did not remember putting a great deal of thought into the matter.”

Investigators calculated that the government could have collected an additional $865 million in the last three years alone if officials had told companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico that they owed all the royalties required on oil and coal extracted from federal waters.

Unless the leases are changed, administration officials expect the mistake to cost billions of dollars in royalties that drilling companies usually are required to pay the federal government for oil and gas pumped from the gulf.

The report is the result of a nine-month investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general in response to questions raised by the Senate Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. It will be the focus of a hearing Thursday by Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico and chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

And while the report confirms that the original leasing blunders were made under the Clinton administration, it provides new details about the reluctance of the Bush administration to discuss the issue publicly or find a fix for the problem for nearly six years.

At issue are more than 1,000 offshore drilling leases for the gulf that the Interior Department signed in 1998 and 1999, during the Clinton administration.

The government offered drillers lucrative “royalty relief,” a holiday from the standard 12 percent royalty, as an incentive to increase exploration and production in waters that were thousands of feet deep.

But as a result of what investigators believe was bureaucratic bumbling, the leases for 1998 and 1999 omitted a standard escape clause that rescinded the special inducements if oil prices climbed above $34 a barrel.

Midlevel officials at Interior spotted the omission in 2000, and quietly made sure to include the escape clause in all subsequent leases. But no one tried to fix the leases that had already been signed, and almost no one talked about them until oil prices started to climb above $34 a barrel in 2004.

At a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee last September, Ms. Burton testified that she had first learned about the problem in late 2005 or January 2006. Ms. Burton and other senior officials publicly confirmed the error in February 2006, after The New York Times published an article (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/14/business/14oil.html?ex=1297573200&en=87dc413fa6add582&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=r) about it.

But investigators have unearthed a series of e-mail messages by officials working under Ms. Burton in March 2004. At the time, energy prices had recently climbed above the thresholds that were supposed to stop the incentives, and oil companies were pressing the Interior Department to confirm how it would treat the leases from 1998 and 1999.

Marshall Rose, chief economist for the Minerals Management Service, wrote the agency’s associate director at the time, Thomas Readinger, that the decision had to be made by the “directorate” — Ms. Burton and her top deputies.

Mr. Rose told Mr. Readinger that he believed the leases entitled companies to the incentive regardless of oil price levels, and that he had told his own subordinates that “you and the director were aware of the need to make a decision on this matter.” Mr. Readinger, who retired last year, responded to Mr. Rose a few hours later by writing, “Sounds like we have an answer. Let’s go with it.”

According to the report, Mr. Readinger told investigators “he was sure” that he had discussed the issue with Ms. Burton.

Ms. Burton, after seeing the e-mail messages from her subordinates and with Mr. Readinger’s recollections, told the investigators that Mr. Readinger “must have mentioned the issue to her at that time,” the report said.

In a written statement Tuesday night, the Minerals Management Service said Ms. Burton did not deny but could not remember being told about the mistake three years ago.

“Director Burton responded that if an employee said that to her, it was likely true but she could not remember the event nor the circumstances,” the agency said.

Walter Cruickshank, Ms. Burton’s deputy director, originally told investigators he had first learned about the problem around January 2006. But investigators found an e-mail message by Mr. Cruickshank from 2000 in which he said the provisions had been “inadvertently omitted” from leases in 1998 and 1999.

Shown his own messages, Mr. Cruickshank told investigators that “he did not remember” the discussion, but he was “probably in the room during the meeting” at which it took place.

On Thursday, House Democrats hope to pass a bill that would put a heavy tax on companies that refuse to change their leases and would repeal several other tax breaks and royalty incentives for companies that drill in deep waters.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

lofter1
January 17th, 2007, 01:02 AM
Director Johnnie M. Burton hails from Wyoming, the state that brought us Dick Cheney ...

http://www.mms.gov/ooc/newweb/directorspage/dirp.gif

Johnnie Burton, Director
U.S. Department of the Interior

http://www.mms.gov/ooc/newweb/directorspage/director.htm (http://www.mms.gov/ooc/newweb/directorspage/director.htm)

http://www.mms.gov/awards/Assets/Photos/johnniecolor.jpg


Ms. Johnnie Burton was appointed Director of the Minerals Management Service on March 15, 2002.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Burton served as the Director of Wyoming's Department of Revenue from 1995 through February 2002. She has a varied background in education, digital information systems, oil and gas exploration, legislative service, and government management.

In 1978, she founded Hotline Energy Reports, a professional petroleum industry scouting service. She then merged her company with Dwight's Energydata of Dallas, which is now held by IHS.

From 1982 through 1988, Ms. Burton was a member of the Wyoming State House of Representatives. She served as a director of the First Wyoming Bank in Casper from 1981 through 1984. From 1989 through 1994, she and her husband, a petroleum geologist, ran a small exploration company focusing on gas production in the Wind River Basin of Wyoming. Other career highlights include positions as a lecturer and teacher of French at the university and high school levels.

Born in French Algeria, Ms. Burton moved to the United States in 1963 and became an American citizen in 1968. Ms. Burton holds the equivalent of a master's degree from the French University of Algiers and received a master's degree from the University of Wyoming. She has completed management training at Duke University.

She has two grown children.

lofter1
January 17th, 2007, 01:15 AM
The NY Times article from one year ago ...


U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies

nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/14/business/14oil.html?ex=1297573200&en=87dc413fa6add582&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=r)

By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
February 14, 2006


WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 — The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion over five years.


New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government.


Based on the administration figures, the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011. The companies are expected to get the largess, known as royalty relief, even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel throughout that period.


Administration officials say that the benefits are dictated by laws and regulations that date back to 1996, when energy prices were relatively low and Congress wanted to encourage more exploration and drilling in the high-cost, high-risk deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


"We need to remember the primary reason that incentives are given," said Johnnie M. Burton, director of the federal Minerals Management Service. "It's not to make more money, necessarily. It's to make more oil, more gas, because production of fuel for our nation is essential to our economy and essential to our people."


But what seemed like modest incentives 10 years ago have ballooned to levels that have alarmed even ardent supporters of the oil and gas industry, partly because of added sweeteners approved during the Clinton administration but also because of ambiguities in the law that energy companies have successfully exploited in court.


Short of imposing new taxes on the industry, there may be little Congress can do to reverse its earlier giveaways. The new projections come at a moment when President Bush and Republican leaders are on the defensive about record-high energy prices, soaring profits at major oil companies and big cuts in domestic spending.


Indeed, Mr. Bush and House Republicans are trying to kill a one-year, $5 billion windfall profits tax for oil companies that the Senate passed last fall.

Moreover, the projected largess could be just the start. Last week, Kerr-McGee Exploration and Development, a major industry player, began a brash but utterly serious court challenge that could, if it succeeds, cost the government another $28 billion in royalties over the next five years.


In what administration officials and industry executives alike view as a major test case, Kerr-McGee told the Interior Department last week that it planned to challenge one of the government's biggest limitations on royalty relief if it could not work out an acceptable deal in its favor. If Kerr-McGee is successful, administration projections indicate that about 80 percent of all oil and gas from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico would be royalty-free.


"It's one of the greatest train robberies in the history of the world," said Representative George Miller, a California Democrat who has fought royalty concessions on oil and gas for more than a decade. "It's the gift that keeps on giving."


Republican lawmakers are also concerned about how the royalty relief program is working out.


"I don't think there is a single member of Congress who thinks you should get royalty relief at $70 a barrel" for oil, said Representative Richard W. Pombo, Republican of California and chairman of the House Resources Committee.


"It was Congress's intent," Mr. Pombo said in an interview on Friday, "that if oil was at $10 a barrel, there should be royalty relief so companies could have some kind of incentive to invest capital. But at $70 a barrel, don't expect royalty relief."


Tina Kreisher, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said Monday that the giveaways might turn out to be less than the basic forecasts indicate because of "certain variables."


The government does not disclose how much individual companies benefit from the incentives, and most companies refuse to disclose either how much they pay in royalties or how much they are allowed to avoid.


But the benefits are almost entirely for gas and oil produced in the Gulf of Mexico.


The biggest producers include Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil as well as smaller independent companies like Anadarko and Devon Energy.


Executives at some companies, including Exxon Mobil, said they had already stopped claiming royalty relief because they knew market prices had exceeded the government's price triggers.


About one-quarter of all oil and gas produced in the United States comes from federal lands and federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.


As it happens, oil and gas royalties to the government have climbed much more slowly than market prices over the last five years.


The New York Times reported (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=13150) last month that one major reason for the lag appeared to be a widening gap between the average sales prices that companies are reporting to the government when paying royalties and average spot market prices on the open market.


Industry executives and administration officials contend that the disparity mainly reflects different rules for defining sales prices. Administration officials also contend that the disparity is illusory, because the government's annual statistics are muddled up with big corrections from previous years.


Both House and Senate lawmakers are now investigating the issue, as is the Government Accountability Office, Congress's watchdog arm.


But the much bigger issue for the years ahead is royalty relief for deepwater drilling.


The original law, known as the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act, had bipartisan support and was intended to promote exploration and production in deep waters of the outer continental shelf.


At the time, oil and gas prices were comparatively low and few companies were interested in the high costs and high risks of drilling in water thousands of feet deep.


The law authorized the Interior Department, which leases out tens of millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico, to forgo its normal 12 percent royalty for much of the oil and gas produced in very deep waters.


Because it take years to explore and then build the huge offshore platforms, most of the oil and gas from the new leases is just beginning to flow.


The Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department, which oversees the leases and collects the royalties, estimates that the amount of royalty-free oil will quadruple by 2011, to 112 million barrels. The volume of royalty-free natural gas is expected to climb by almost half, to about 1.2 trillion cubic feet.


Based on the government's assumptions about future prices — that oil will hover at about $50 a barrel and natural gas will average about $7 per thousand cubic feet — the total value of the free oil and gas over the next five years would be about $65 billion and the forgone royalties would total more than $7 billion.


Administration officials say the issue is out of their hands, adding that they opposed provisions in last year's energy bill that added new royalty relief for deep drilling in shallow waters.


"We did not think we needed any more legislation, because we already have incentives, but we obviously did not prevail," said Ms. Burton, director of the Minerals Management Service.


But the Bush administration did not put up a big fight. It strongly supported the overall energy bill, and merely noted its opposition to additional royalty relief in its official statement on the bill.


By contrast, the White House bluntly promised to veto the Senate's $60 billion tax cut bill because it contained a one-year tax of $5 billion on profits of major oil companies.


The House and Senate have yet to agree on a final tax bill.


The big issue going forward is whether companies should be exempted from paying royalties even when energy prices are at historic highs.


In general, the Interior Department has always insisted that companies would not be entitled to royalty relief if market prices for oil and gas climbed above certain trigger points.


Those trigger points — currently about $35 a barrel for oil and $4 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas — have been exceeded for the last several years and are likely to stay that way for the rest of the decade.


So why is the amount of royalty-free gas and oil expected to double over the next five years?


The biggest reason is that the Clinton administration, apparently worried about the continued lack of interest in new drilling, waived the price triggers for all leases awarded in 1998 and 1999.


At the same time, many oil and gas companies contend that Congress never authorized the Interior Department to set price thresholds for any deepwater leases awarded between 1996 and 2000.


The dispute has been simmering for months, with some industry executives warning the Bush administration that they would sue the government if it tried to demand royalties.


Last week, the fight broke out into the open. The Interior Department announced that 41 oil companies had improperly claimed more than $500 million in royalty relief for 2004.


Most of the companies agreed to pay up in January, but Kerr-McGee said it would fight the issue in court.


The fight is not simply about one company. Interior officials said last week that Kerr-McGee presented itself in December as a "test case" for the entire industry. It also offered a "compromise," but Interior officials rejected it and issued a formal order in January demanding that Kerr-McGee pay its back royalties.


On Feb. 6, according to administration officials, Kerr-McGee formally notified the Minerals Management Service that it would challenge its order in court.


Industry lawyers contend they have a strong case, because Congress never mentioned price thresholds when it authorized royalty relief for all deepwater leases awarded from 1996 through 2000.


"Congress offered those deepwater leases with royalty relief as an incentive," said Jonathan Hunter, a lawyer in New Orleans who represented oil companies in a similar lawsuit two years ago that knocked out another major federal restriction on royalty relief.


"The M.M.S. only has the authority that Congress gives it," Mr. Hunter said. "The legislation said that royalty relief for these leases is automatic."


If that view prevails, the government said it would lose a total of nearly $35 billion in royalties to taxpayers by 2011 — about the same amount that Mr. Bush is proposing to cut from Medicare, Medicaid and child support enforcement programs over the same period.


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

lofter1
January 19th, 2007, 01:39 AM
House Votes to Rescind Oil Drillers’ Tax Breaks


http://graphics10.nytimes.com/images/2007/01/19/business/600_royal.jpg
Stephen J. Boitano/Bloomberg News
C. Stephen Allred, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary
for land and minerals management, testifying on Thursday.


nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/19/business/19royalty.html?hp&ex=1169269200&en=b3e9973bda265733&ei=5094&partner=homepage)
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
January 19, 2007


WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 — House Democrats easily passed legislation on Thursday that would rescind $14 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for oil drillers and reserve the money to develop alternative energy projects and conservation technologies.


The measure passed 264 to 163, with many Republicans joining a bloc of Democrats. Passage came despite opposition from the oil industry and the Bush administration, which said the bill singled out the companies for higher taxes and could increase the country’s dependence on foreign oil.


The bill will rescind $7.6 billion in tax breaks for oil drillers that Congress passed in 2004 and 2005 and will add $6.3 billion in royalties from companies that pump oil and gas in publicly owned waters of the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska.


One provision is intended to correct errors in drilling leases signed by the Interior Department in the late 1990s that allowed oil companies to escape billions of dollars in royalties over the next decade.


The provision, opposed by the White House and the industry, would require companies that refuse to change their leases to pay a “conservation fee” on each barrel they produce. Otherwise, under the bill, the companies would be barred from acquiring additional leases.


“Big Oil is hitting the taxpayer not once, not twice, but three times,” Representative Nick J. Rahall II, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said. “They are hitting them at the pump. They are hitting them at the Treasury through the tax code. And they are hitting them with royalty holidays.”


Many Republicans complained that the bill would lead to higher gasoline prices by penalizing domestic production and create a “slush fund” for alternative energy projects.


“The San Francisco Democrats want to run the cars on the road with wind,” said Representative Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico.


Representative Phil English, Republican of Pennsylvania, said the bill would increase energy costs for manufacturers and prompt them to move more jobs abroad.


The bill would also rescind a tax credit for “domestic manufacturing” that oil companies received in 2004 and a much smaller tax break for geological expenses.


The oil vote completed a first wave of measures that House Democratic leaders wanted to pass in their first 100 hours of legislative activity after taking control of Congress.


Senate Democrats are moving more cautiously, but they have signaled that they support most of the bill’s provisions and plan to pass them in one form or another.


“I support the principle behind the House bill,” said Senator Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico, adding that he had asked that the House bill be placed directly on the Senate calendar.


The White House said that it “strongly objects” to much of the measure, arguing that it singled out the oil industry and that the royalty provision undermined the sanctity of binding contracts that the companies had signed.


But President Bush has opposed additional tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies and called for more spending on renewable energy and conservation. The White House stopped short of threatening a veto, and few if any lawmakers expect Mr. Bush to invoke one.


At a hearing of the Senate Energy Committee several hours before the House vote, investigators and Democratic lawmakers criticized the Interior Department’s response to the bungled offshore leases.


The Government Accountability Office estimated that the mistake has cost the Treasury $1 billion, and could ultimately cost it $10 billion if the leases remain unchanged.


The leases entitled companies drilling in deep water to avoid royalties on much of their initial production, but in 1998 and 1999 officials during the Clinton administration omitted a standard escape clause that eliminated the incentive if oil prices climbed above $34 a barrel.


Earl E. Devaney, the Interior Department’s inspector general, told the committee that midlevel administrators first spotted the mistake in 2000 but that top officials did not disclose the issue until The New York Times reported on it in February 2006.


Mr. Devaney said that senior officials discussed the issue in March 2004 with the director of the Minerals Management Service, Johnnie M. Burton, but they decided they were powerless to change the leases and dropped the matter.


The agency’s silence and reluctance to take action, Mr. Devaney said, was “a shockingly cavalier management approach” and a “jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling.”


Ms. Burton did not testify Thursday. C. Stephen Allred, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management, defended Ms. Burton as a person with the “highest integrity.”


The House vote on Thursday was an opening skirmish in a broader attempt by Democratic leaders to scale back government financial support for oil and gas producers while ramping up support for renewable energy and conservation.


“Today’s vote represents the first step toward a future of energy independence,” the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said.


Oil executives denounced the House vote, though none were surprised that it passed by a wide margin.


“This is purely a political bill playing on the campaign rhetoric of the 2006 election,” said Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “At a time when we need more American energy, it simply doesn’t make sense to harm those companies that can provide it.”


House Democrats offered little clue on Thursday about how they would channel the money from oil producers into alternative and renewable energies. The bill specifies that the money will go to a reserve, which is essentially an accounting device to offset the cost of separate legislation aimed at promoting other sources of energy and efficiency.


Many Republicans complained that Democrats were creating a slush fund with the oil money that would be sealed off from public debate. Democrats responded that the money would be allocated through future legislation that would be debated in Congressional committees and on the House floor.


President Bush is expected to weigh in with proposals in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, and White House officials have said that new energy programs will have a prominent place in the speech.


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Ninjahedge
January 19th, 2007, 09:11 AM
AMAZING how the industry can come off seeming like they are doing us all a favor!

If it was only a bit here or there you can understand where some help would be needed, but when you are talking about these mega-corp conglomerations and giving them tax breaks on a profitible resource, well that is just absurd!

I think MORE money should be pumped into alternate energy research and efficiency standards and not given to these guys. If our oil need drops by 50%, it will not matter if it "costs the US citizen" more for oil.....


I also just love the way that the guy from NM describes the "California Democrats" like they were a plague....

Politic$ is so petty.

Punzie
July 11th, 2007, 02:25 PM
Madame Turns in D.C. Politicians (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14482)
("Abstinence-only", "family-values" politicians on list.)

lofter1
July 11th, 2007, 05:25 PM
Really a sub-thread ^^^ to this one ---

Covers any hypocritical behavior.

They'e all playing in the same ball park.

NoyokA
August 1st, 2007, 06:26 PM
I really hate the NYTIMES, why don't they report news...

lofter1
August 27th, 2007, 10:20 PM
Another Republican who just can't seem to control himself ...

GOP Senator Larry Craig arrested in 'bathroom incident'

http://rawstory.com/images/new/larrycraig.jpg

RAW STORY / Agence France-Presse (http://rawstory.com//news/2007/GOP_Senator_Larry_Craig_arrested_in_0827.html)
August 27, 2007

Update at bottom: Romney campaign removes YouTube video

US Republican Senator Larry Craig on Monday denied "inappropriate conduct" after he was arrested by police investigating alleged lewd incidents in an airport bathroom.

Craig was arrested in the midwestern city of Minneapolis-St Paul in June by a plain clothes police officer, the Roll Call newspaper, which covers Congress reported.

Citing court documents, Roll Call said Craig, 62, pleaded guilty this month to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and paid more than 500 dollars in fines and fees, and had a 10-day jail sentence stayed.

Shortly after news of the incident broke on the paper's website, Craig, who represents the western state of Idaho, issued a statement saying he had erred by admitting wrongdoing.

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct," said Craig, who is married, and up for reelection in 2008.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty.

"I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

The report quoted a plain clothes police officer as saying Craig was seated in a stall in the bathroom, and had made gestures consistent with someone "wishing to engage in lewd contact."

The complete article can be read in Roll Call (http://www.rollcall.com/issues/1_1/breakingnews/19763-1.html?type=pf).

Romney campaign removes Craig video
At least one Republican presidential campaign was affected by Monday's report that a senator had been arrested for allegedly "lewd" conduct in a men's bathroom.

"Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) — who has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with an incident where he allegedly solicited a plainclothes police officer in a men's restroom — is one of Mitt Romney's top backers in the Senate," Jonathan Martin writes at Politico (http://www.politico.com/blogs/jonathanmartin/0807/Larry_Craigs_proRomney_video_taken_down.html). "A clip of Craig praising Romney was until just moments ago available on Romney's YouTube channel, but is now listed as 'a private video (http://youtube.com/results?search_query=larry+craig+and+romney&search=Search&session=bCBGx7nk_bjzK8ywDH454LMTycIhGrWVdwpdybv-WjJbv-Q_NRmI3WlC8tV0S2ANgM3dKwso6XhdF2jf3yVTcPiYXc7sZ6p9 FL6TterFpKdl0dyyiD7tGvBEESEVB_z4kiE02gRWn7uucSwBBI M0P6jDW27IOrR9-5wBxc6Fk3aueaJk3b9GWwS2saGZDguxOGvpKR3r3K7gksY2IGe tz3IRP8t-XZ9XCVnUckeK4PEDOdGY2YugqVdYBpzgFaODnpVHN_r3nPifk5 APWIjHwWAMtacCkBGppNv-qmRk_RZ8Jvct2JJAWEk9dAWmrRSmwj0cIUclUvYl6Ojf4rPQeq Q57F9d-eJ4i_4CPXM6OrdaYhp3LD3s3VLZ79tVLBHSdSF1p61oc_Y=)."'

The video was later removed from the Internet by the Romney campaign.

Excerpts from article:

#

Explaining why he's backing Romney, Craig says in the video that it's in part because "he has very strong family values." "That's something I grew up with and believe in," Craig explains.

In February, the Romney campaign announced that Craig and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) would serve as co-Senate liaisons for the effort.

....

Craig resigned his post today, said Romney communications director Matt Rhoades.

"Senator Craig has stepped down from his role with the campaign," Rhoades said. "He did not want to be a distraction and we accept his decision."

#

ZippyTheChimp
August 27th, 2007, 11:30 PM
A Hallmark moment


Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=yLmRhGKjbCs

lofter1
August 28th, 2007, 12:12 AM
LMFAO ^^^^

Looks like Craig has been dodging this for 25 + years:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=0RntWGPEjoo&mode=related&search=

And has even been shown to be in a bit of a panic (should that now be termed "gay panic"?) over accusations:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rZXaaFbo6Oo&mode=related&search=

Barney Frank and his "gaydar" regarding Larry Craig:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=NlyJmhwa1c0&mode=related&search=

ZippyTheChimp
August 28th, 2007, 06:31 AM
Back home in Idaho, when will the Idaho Values Alliance (http://www.idahovaluesalliance.com/news.asp?id=481) quietly drop the senator from its website?

ManhattanKnight
August 28th, 2007, 07:44 AM
^This, from the Alliance's "Bonus Bytes," gives new meaning to "Craigslist":


One of the tragic characteristics of the homosexual lifestyle is its emphasis on anonymous sex and multiple sexual partners. It is a little-acknowledged secret that many active homosexuals will have more than 1,000 sex partners over the course of a lifetime (the average among heterosexuals is seven – still six more than we were designed for). This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.”(AP: Arrests Up in Atlanta Airport Restrooms (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8OETTJO0&show_article=1))

lofter1
August 28th, 2007, 09:59 AM
... gives new meaning to "Craigslist"


LOL :D

This guy is giving us a treasure trove of ha ha's ...

lofter1
August 28th, 2007, 10:02 AM
Back home in Idaho, when will the Idaho Values Alliance (http://www.idahovaluesalliance.com/news.asp?id=481) quietly drop the senator from its website?


Craig was just taking the Idaho brand of friendliness and spreading it around ...

http://www.idahovaluesalliance.com/img/banner1.jpg

Ninjahedge
August 28th, 2007, 11:19 AM
1. Craig's-List or Johns?
2. Why am I thinking of potatoes?
3. Gaydar Detectors. Now illegal in 3 states.
4. Craig needs to bone up on his law enforcement.

lofter1
August 28th, 2007, 11:54 AM
From The Smoking Gun (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0828071craig1.html):

U.S. Senator Gets Flushed

Cops: Republican Larry Craig sought Minnesota airport toilet tryst

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/0828071inside2.jpg

AUGUST 28--Here's the Minnesota police report memorializing the June 11 arrest of U.S. Senator Larry Craig in an airport bathroom. The Idaho Republican was nabbed in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after he apparently sought some same-stall action from a plainclothes cop. Craig, 62, pleaded earlier this month to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge and was fined $1000 and sentenced to ten days in the Hennepin County lockup (though the jail time was stayed as long as the politician keeps clean for a year). According to the Airport Police Department report by Sgt. Dave Karsnia, Craig appeared versed in the subtle signs of seeking a stall assignation, from under-the-divider hand motions to some furtive footsie. For his part, Craig denies engaging in lewd conduct and contends that Karsnia (pictured above left) misconstrued his actions. As for his expeditious plea, Craig now regrets admitting guilt, a realization that directly coincides with Roll Call's unearthing of the details of his bathroom bust. (2 pages)



http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/0828071craig1.gif (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0828071craig2.html)
http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/0828071craig2.gif (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0828071craig1.html)

lofter1
August 29th, 2007, 12:29 AM
How big a hole can Craig dig for himself?

Senator Craig: I am not gay, and never have been (http://rawstory.com//news/2007/Senator_Craig__I_am_not_0828.html)

Uh, OK ...

But by your own definiton, Mr. Craig, you are a Sodomite. Not that I have anything against that, but I think lots of your cohorts would just as soon burn you alive for it.

The Smoking Gun (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0828071craig8.html) has posted more of the legal documents, including this ...

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/0828071craig8.gif (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0828071craig9.html)

lofter1
August 29th, 2007, 01:48 AM
Tallulah's Foot Tapping Under the Stall

Andrew Sullivan (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/08/tallulahs-foot-.html)
28 Aug 2007 09:17 pm


Too bad Senator Craig did not read up on the granddaughter of Senator John H. Bankhead, Tallulah Bankhead, who had this to say (http://home.hiwaay.net/~oliver/tbanecdotes.htm) about her foot-tapping experiences under bathroom stalls:
There was the time she was in Washington for a Democratic Convention honoring her "divine friend, Adlai Stevenson" . . .And during a long speech by some senator she had to go to the john, but found when she was settled in for the duration that there was no toilet paper at hand. "So I looked down and saw a pair of feet in the next stall. I knocked very politely and said: 'Excuse me, dahling, I don't have any toilet paper. Do you?' And this very proper Yankee voice said: 'No, I don't.' Well, dahling, I had to get back to the podium for Adlai's speech, so I asked her, very politely you understand, 'Excuse me dahling, but do you have any Kleenex?' And this now quite chilly voice said: 'No, I don't.' So I said: 'Well then, dahling, do you happen to have two fives for a ten?'" (from People Will Talk (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0394536606/phillipoliver) by John Kobal)

Ninjahedge
August 29th, 2007, 10:07 AM
I guess she couldn't spare a square.

lofter1
August 30th, 2007, 10:08 AM
Goodnight, Larry...

blogactive.com (http://www.blogactive.com/2007/08/goodnight-larry.html)
By: Michael Rogers
August 29, 2007

From the Idaho Statesman: (http://www.idahostatesman.com/editorial/story/145340.html)

Editorial: Sen. Larry Craig needs to resign.



For the good of a state he loves, a state he has served for more than a quarter century.
It is difficult and unpleasant to call on Idaho's senior senator to end a career in public service. We don't do this casually, or unanimously.
However, we cannot abide an elected official who didn't disclose a lewd conduct arrest until the story broke 77 days later -- a lie by omission and a violation of the public trust. We cannot believe Craig can effectively serve Idaho, under the shadow of his guilty plea on a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. We cannot afford, as a state with but four congressional representatives, to have a senator who merely provides fodder for bloggers and late-night talk show hosts.***

Editorial: Sen. Larry Craig needs to resign

Idaho Statesman (http://www.idahostatesman.com/editorial/story/145340.html)
August 29, 2007

For the good of a state he loves, a state he has served for more than a quarter century.

It is difficult and unpleasant to call on Idaho's senior senator to end a career in public service. We don't do this casually, or unanimously.

However, we cannot abide an elected official who didn't disclose a lewd conduct arrest until the story broke 77 days later -- a lie by omission and a violation of the public trust. We cannot believe Craig can effectively serve Idaho, under the shadow of his guilty plea on a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. We cannot afford, as a state with but four congressional representatives, to have a senator who merely provides fodder for bloggers and late-night talk show hosts.

Worse still, Craig's credibility has eroded within the power structure in Washington, D.C. Senate Republican leadership has called for an Ethics Committee review of the case, and at leadership's request, Craig Wednesday agreed to give up his Senate committee assignments. Several congressional Republicans -- including Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Norm Coleman of Minnesota -- say Craig should resign. The White House is "disappointed in the matter," spokesman Scott Stanzel said Wednesday.

Two days ago, we urged Idahoans not to rush to judgment, and give Craig a chance to explain himself. Unfortunately, we have seen and heard enough. Judging from his performance Tuesday, when he read a brief public statement, Craig seems more interested in hunkering down, operating from a defensive state of denial. This is his prerogative. But he should not compromise Idaho interests in the process.

If Craig wishes to keep his secrets, he may do so as a former U.S. senator. In 2002, the Statesman enthusiastically endorsed Craig's re-election, hailing him as an influential leader who is "hitting his stride as a senator." His stunning misstep has now cost him his viability and his credibility. He must now step aside.

***

Ninjahedge
August 30th, 2007, 11:41 AM
I do not see his sin of omission as unpardonable, as teh introduction suggests, but rather the hypocracy of his words and position.

I really do not CARE what the hell he did in the stall in that airport bathroom. I really don't. But if he has the unmitigated gall to denounce such acts, decry alternate sexual preferences and orientations (almost calling them out as illegal), then he is doubly guilty of practicing what he preached against.


People seem to lose track of the big picture here. Him doing the homo-hanky-panky should have very little impact on his policies and governance, unless, of course, that is what he bases his platform on or against. Unfortunately for him, it was his policy, so he incriminated his own action.



I am getting so tired of preachers and politicians getting appointed/elected/anointed based on the decrying of the very 'sins' they are practicing. Lead by example, not by your exact opposite should be the first order of the day.

After that, concern about the content of what that example truly contains.

eddhead
August 30th, 2007, 01:14 PM
^This, from the Alliance's "Bonus Bytes," gives new meaning to "Craigslist":


One of the tragic characteristics of the homosexual lifestyle is its emphasis on anonymous sex and multiple sexual partners. It is a little-acknowledged secret that many active homosexuals will have more than 1,000 sex partners over the course of a lifetime (the average among heterosexuals is seven – still six more than we were designed for). This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.”(AP: Arrests Up in Atlanta Airport Restrooms (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8OETTJO0&show_article=1))

1000? Wow, that is impressive.. that is like 30 different partners a year, every year, for 33 years, or more than one different one every other week. Not too shabby

7? Well I am proud to day that I surpassed the national average many years ago. Guess I am a protegy

6 more than we are DESIGNED for?? We are only DESIGNED to have one partner?? Is this a biological constraint... does that mean my favorire appendage is going to eventually rot off my body?? Gee, I hope not...

Realy they have got to be kidding.

Ninjahedge
August 30th, 2007, 04:32 PM
You have to take it with a grain or two of Salt Peter there Edd.

Average includes all the devout "one partner for life" people that have, at least on paper, only one partner their entire life. That swings the average.

As for the 6-7, I can see that happening. This is a mean, not a median.


Oh, I also noticed the "designed for" BS. We were actually "designed", just like all of "Gods Creatures" to get out and get busy. Try to make sure that we (men) distribute our DNA as widely as possible. Women were designed to pretty much look for the best men to have the best kids (and later, because of social/societal needs, support them). NEVER have I EVER heard a biologist say 1 was what we were designed for!

lofter1
August 31st, 2007, 01:50 PM
If Larry Craig were Gay (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHCrOtSzIBg&eurl=)

Larry Craig meets Avenue Q




:cool:

lofter1
September 5th, 2007, 06:53 PM
re: Larry C ...

How can we miss him if he won't go away?

Andrew Sullivan (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/09/he-sure-doesnt-.html) offers up a more proper way to present a defense ...

He Sure Doesn't Sound Worried

05 Sep 2007

Craig's voicemail (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2007/09/05/VI2007090500502.html?hpid=topnews) does not sound like that of a traumatized or rattled figure to me. Is denial that deep? Or is power merely that addictive? Of course, some pols just know how to brazen out a toughie.

To wit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cQ3Y4OIhgU&eurl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cQ3Y4OIhgU&eurl)

BrooklynRider
September 8th, 2007, 11:17 PM
Idaho authorities confirm arrest warrant for Senator Larry Craig's daughter
by Jason Rhyne
Published: Friday September 7, 2007

When Senator Larry Craig's daughter went public on ABC's Good Morning America to defend her father, she may have gotten a bit more publicity than she bargained for.

Following the show's airing, a reader of Idaho's Boise Guardian tipped the website that there was a warrant for Shae Suzanne Howell's arrest.

"We checked with officials at the jail and according to their records the contempt of court warrant is active," the Guardian reported. "Chances are she may not have been aware of the warrant and until she became a television personality, few people (including the coppers) linked her name to Craig."

The ABC News blog Political Punch says the appearance may have reawakened Idaho authorities' interest in the case, reporting yesterday that Howell was charged with "unlawful entry" and "malicious entry to property" in November of 2006, according to Boise's Ada County Courthouse.

"But she missed her court date on April 9 of this year. The arrest warrant was issued as a result of her failing to appear in court," the blog's Jack Tapper wrote.

Howell told ABC that her arrest warrant "has nothing to do with my dad's job," and said her charges were related to re-entering her own home during a "very difficult divorce."

Caught "going into a house without permission and damaging property," according to a Boise Police Department spokesman, Howell was given a summons but was not originally arrested or booked.

The contempt warrant for Howell's arrest and other documents can be viewed at The Smoking Gun.

http://rawstory.com//news/2007/Idaho_authorites_confirm_arrest_warrant_for_0907.h tml

BrooklynRider
September 8th, 2007, 11:39 PM
September 8, 2007
Romney’s Tone on Gay Rights Is Seen as Shift
By MICHAEL LUO

Mitt Romney seemed comfortable as a group of gay Republicans quizzed him over breakfast one morning in 2002. Running for governor of Massachusetts, he was at a gay bar in Boston to court members of Log Cabin Republicans.

Mr. Romney explained to the group that his perspective on gay rights had been largely shaped by his experience in the private sector, where, he said, discrimination was frowned upon. When the discussion turned to a court case on same-sex marriage that was then wending its way through the state’s judicial system, he said he believed that marriage should be limited to the union of a man and a woman. But, according to several people present, he promised to obey the courts’ ultimate ruling and not champion a fight on either side of the issue.

“I’ll keep my head low,” he said, making a bobbing motion with his head like a boxer, one participant recalled.

A year after his election, Massachusetts’ highest court legalized same-sex marriage, and Mr. Romney began backing adoption of a state constitutional amendment to ban it. The proposal ultimately failed, but Mr. Romney has carried the fight to the presidential campaign trail, an ever more visible crusader against such unions as he works to position himself among conservatives.

Indeed, the issue has become a bedrock of his message. He has fought same-sex marriage “every way I have known how to,” he said recently in Iowa, “and the fight isn’t over.” He has called for the federal Constitution to be amended, and he was the first presidential candidate to condemn last week’s ruling by a judge in Iowa that overturned that state’s ban on such marriages.

Mr. Romney bristles when he is accused of shifting on the issue, as he has on abortion, pointing out that he has been consistent in personally opposing both marriage and civil unions between people of the same sex.

On the stump, he usually makes a point of saying that he opposes discrimination against gays. But he refrains from details when pressed as to how he might fight it.

Jonathan Spampinato, a Republican activist who is openly gay and worked as Mr. Romney’s deputy political director during the run for governor, says he always felt that Mr. Romney was comfortable with gays. When it came to gay rights beyond the issue of marriage, Mr. Spampinato recalls, Mr. Romney asserted during that campaign that there was only the smallest difference between himself, a supporter of domestic partnership rights like survivorship and hospital visitation, and his Democratic opponent, Shannon O’Brien, who backed civil unions.

“He explained his position to Log Cabin club members early on,” Mr. Spampinato remembered, “by saying, ‘Regardless of what you call it, if you look at the benefits I support and the benefits Shannon supports, there’s probably a hair of difference.’ ”

Calling Mr. Romney a flip-flopper on gay rights would be overly simplistic, Mr. Spampinato said. But he conceded that his old boss had promised the Log Cabin members that he would not champion a fight against same-sex marriage.

“It’s definitely a shift in political priorities and strategy,” he said.

Recollections by gay Republicans whom Mr. Romney courted and worked with during his campaign for governor, and in his unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1994, produce a portrait of a man they genuinely saw as their partner in their fight for broader acceptance.

After the breakfast meeting in 2002, where the Log Cabin board unanimously decided to endorse him, he said in an interview with Bay Windows, a gay newspaper, that he would use his bully pulpit as governor to lobby legislators for domestic partnership benefits.

“Those kinds of things I think I can generate a great deal of public support for,” he said, “and therefore create pressure for legislators that otherwise might not think in those terms.”

And, in the aftermath of the Massachusetts court decision, Mr. Romney, though aligning himself with the supporters of a constitutional amendment, did order town clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Some members of Log Cabin Republicans say that in doing so, he ultimately fulfilled his promise to them despite his own moral objections.

But far more express a sense of outrage at what they deem a betrayal in his current positioning.

“I didn’t see him necessarily carrying the flag with missionary zeal” for gay rights back in 2002, said Richard Babson, a Log Cabin member who was at the breakfast meeting. “But I also didn’t see him carrying the flag with missionary zeal for the other side.”

Mr. Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, 37, says that back in the early 1990s, he told his father privately that he was thinking about becoming a Democrat.

His father sat him down to dissuade him, taking him through the differences between Republicans and Democrats. Tagg Romney says he does not remember his father’s talking about abortion, another issue that has troubled his candidacy, but he does remember being warned that Democrats would lead the country toward same-sex marriage.

“He thought it was very wrong to discriminate,” Tagg Romney said. “But where Democrats are going, they’ll eventually want to extend marriage to gays. I said, ‘No way.’ ”

Even as early as 1994, when Mr. Romney challenged Edward M. Kennedy for a Senate seat, there were some Log Cabin members who harbored reservations about him. The Boston Globe published an article quoting several people who said Mr. Romney had delivered an address at a Mormon gathering that year in which he called homosexuality “perverse.”

For all of that, some activists were optimistic about him. Log Cabin members had been very supportive of William F. Weld, the Republican incumbent as governor, who was fiscally conservative but moderate on social issues. Many members of the club believed Mr. Romney would be similar, especially after meeting with him.

“He couldn’t have been more kind and interested in understanding gay rights,” said Rich Tafel, who was executive director of Log Cabin’s national organization at the time. “He struck me as a business person who just wanted to understand this issue, and he wanted to communicate that he wasn’t antigay at all.”

Leaders of the group worked with Mr. Romney’s Senate campaign to draft a letter, which he eventually released, about his commitment to gay rights. He declared that he would go beyond Mr. Kennedy’s considerable record on the issue. He pledged his support for federal legislation that barred discrimination against gay men and lesbians in employment, and praised President Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the military as a first step toward “gays and lesbians being able to serve openly and honestly.”

“If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern,” he wrote. “My opponent cannot do this. I can, and will.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/08/us/politics/08romney.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

lofter1
September 11th, 2007, 07:01 PM
Court grants Sen. Craig hearing on sex charge

Reuters / Yahoo (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070911/pl_nm/usa_politics_craig_dc;_ylt=ApA_dutwUm0uasK3iVaYU1I a.3QA)
September 11, 2007

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Minnesota court on Tuesday granted U.S. Sen. Larry Craig a hearing on his request to let him take back the guilty plea he made after his arrest in a men's room sex sting.


The Hennepin County District Court said the hearing would be held on September 26 at a courthouse in Edina, a town near Minneapolis -- just days before the September 30 deadline the Idaho Republican set for himself to resign if his name is not cleared.


The announcement came a day after lawyers for the three-term senator filed a motion in court saying he pleaded guilty to the charge against him because he panicked under intense anxiety and fear of publicity, and is innocent of wrongdoing.


Craig, 62, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August, was ordered to pay $575 and given a 10-day suspended sentence.


He was arrested on June 11 at the Minneapolis airport by an undercover officer who said Craig peeked into his stall, sat down in the stall next to him, tapped his foot and later brushed it against his and reached his hand under the divider in an effort to solicit a sexual encounter.


Under pressure from Republicans, who lost control of Congress last year following a string of scandals, Craig announced his intention to resign effective September 30, but indicated he might not do so if he could clear his name.


Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.

BrooklynRider
September 11th, 2007, 08:48 PM
This is going to be fun.:D

lofter1
September 11th, 2007, 10:19 PM
Craig's hearing better be televised -- or I'll be really ticked :cool:

ManhattanKnight
September 22nd, 2007, 10:01 PM
September 23, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Pardon Poor Larry Craig

By FRANK RICH

I DID nothing wrong,” said Larry Craig at the start of his long national nightmare as America’s favorite running, or perhaps sitting, gag. That’s the truth. Justice lovers of all sexual persuasions must rally to save the Idaho senator before he is forced to prematurely evacuate his seat.

Time’s running out. The final reckoning may arrive this week. On Wednesday, a Minnesota court will hear Mr. Craig’s argument to throw out the guilty plea he submitted by mail after being caught in a June sex sting in the Minneapolis airport. If he succeeds, there’s a chance he might rescind his decision to resign from the Senate on Sept. 30. Either way, he should hold tight.

Not only did the senator do nothing wrong, but in scandal he has proved the national treasure that he never was in his salad days as a pork-seeking party hack. In the past month he has served as an invaluable human Geiger counter for hypocrisy on the left and right alike. He has been an unexpected boon not just to the nation’s double-entendre comedy industry but to the imploding Republican Party. Gays, not all of them closeted, may be among the last minority groups with some representation in the increasingly monochromatic G.O.P. If it is to muster even a rainbow-lite coalition for 2008, it could use Larry Craig in the trenches.

On the legal front, Mr. Craig is not without his semi-spirited defenders, an eclectic group including Arlen Specter, the A.C.L.U., The Washington Post’s editorial page and scattered Democrats. While there’s widespread agreement that Mr. Craig was an idiot not to consult a lawyer before entering a guilty plea (for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor carrying a $575 fine), idiocy is no more a federal offense than hypocrisy, especially in Washington.

What Mr. Craig did in that men’s room isn’t an offense either. He didn’t have sex in a public place. He didn’t expose himself. His toe tapping, hand signals and “wide stance” were at most a form of flirtation. As George Will has rightly argued, if deviancy can be defined down to “signaling an interest in sex,” then deviancy is what “goes on in 10,000 bars every Saturday night in our country.” It’s free speech even if the toes and fingers do the talking.

The Minnesota sting operation may well be unconstitutional, as the A.C.L.U. says. Yet gay civil rights organizations, eager to see a family-values phony like Mr. Craig brought down, have been often muted or silent on this point. They stood idly by while Republicans gathered their lynching party, thereby short-circuiting public debate about the legitimacy of the brand of police entrapment that took place in Minnesota. Surely that airport could have hired a uniformed guard to police a public restroom rather than train a cop to enact a punitive “Cage aux Folles” pantomime.

A rare gay activist to stand up forthrightly for Mr. Craig is Franklin Kameny, whom the Smithsonian Institution recently honored with an exhibition documenting his lonely Washington protests for gay civil rights in the pre-Stonewall 1960s. When I spoke to him last week, the 82-year-old Mr. Kameny said that many Americans don’t seem to know how much the law has changed in recent years. Though he’s no admirer of Mr. Craig, whom he describes as “a self-deluding hypocritical homophobic bigot,” he publicly made the case for the senator’s innocence in a letter to the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com.

“Fair is fair,” Mr. Kameny wrote. Mr. Craig, guilty of no public sex act, “was the victim of a false arrest and a malfeasant prosecution.” Even had he invited the police officer to a hotel room, there still would have been no crime. The last American laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults were thrown out by the Supreme Court in 2003.

The hypocrisy in some quarters of the left about the Craig case is arguably outstripped by that on the right, heaven knows. It has been priceless to watch conservative politicians and bloggers defend their condemnation of Mr. Craig in contrast to the wide stance of tolerance they’ve taken toward David Vitter, the inimitable senator from the Big Easy.

On the same day Mr. Vitter was deploring MoveOn.org at the Petraeus-Crocker hearings two weeks ago, a (female) prostitute was holding a California press conference with Larry Flynt about her alleged participation in the unspecified sins to which the senator has publicly confessed. “He was a very clean man,” she helpfully explained to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. “He came in, took a shower, did his business and would leave.”

Mr. Vitter, a shrill defender of marriage, still has the support of the G.O.P. hierarchy. Many believe that the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his posse tried to Imus Mr. Craig and send him packing in a single week because Idaho has a Republican governor (nicknamed “Butch,” no less) who would appoint a Republican successor. (The governor of Louisiana is a Democrat.) Others argue simply that Republican leaders are homophobes who practice a double standard for heterosexual offenders. But the reality is more complicated.

As we learned in the revelations surrounding the years-long cover up of the Mark Foley scandal, there may be more gay men in the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill than there are among the Democrats. Even Rick Santorum, the now-departed senator who likened homosexuality to “man on dog” sex, had a gay director of communications. Homophilia and homophobia have been twin fixtures in the modern G.O.P. at least since the McCarthy-era heyday of Roy Cohn.

As Rich Tafel, the former executive director of the gay Log Cabin Republicans, points out, this internal contradiction could not hold once Karl Rove and President Bush decided to demagogue the issue of same-sex marriage by pushing it into center stage of a national political campaign. That meanspirited and cynical election-year exploitation of homophobia accelerated the outing of Republicans by activists on the left.

“It made gay Republicans targets,” Mr. Tafel told me last week. (Stories about Mr. Craig percolated on the Internet long before the airport incident.) In response, Mr. Tafel said, fearful gay Republicans on the Hill have retreated deeper into the closet. The Bush-Rove strategy “created the Larry Craigs,” he said. “It created that man crawling around toilets.”

Mr. Craig has denied being gay. Perhaps someone might believe him had he not, in 1982, gratuitously proclaimed his innocence in a pre-Foley page scandal, even though no one had accused him of anything. But whatever Mr. Craig’s orientation, many closeted Republicans remain in place on Capitol Hill, easy targets for political opponents who want to expose G.O.P. hypocrisy.

Were Mr. Craig now to keep his seat, maybe his trial by fire would drive him to end his perennial gay baiting and become a latent proselytizer for a return to a more open, live-and-let-live Republicanism in the retro style of Barry Goldwater. Granted, Mr. Craig has shown no leadership of any kind in his career to date. But if Trent Lott can have a second chance after seeming to embrace the Dixiecrat racialism of Strom Thurmond, why not the toe-tapper from Idaho?

The G.O.P. needs at least one minority group in its ranks if it’s going to be a viable political party in the 21st century. As the former vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp asked rhetorically last week, “What are we going to do — meet in a country club in the suburbs one day?” His comment was prompted by the news that the major Republican candidates had claimed “scheduling conflicts” to avoid a debate at a historically black college in Baltimore. This was so obvious a slight that even Newt Gingrich labeled the candidates’ excuses “baloney,” and the usually controversy-averse Jay Leno was moved to call for the Republicans to “change their minds” after the debate’s moderator, Tavis Smiley, aired the issue on “The Tonight Show.”

The brushoff of that debate followed a similar rejection by the same candidates (except John McCain) of a debate sponsored by Univision, the country’s most-watched Spanish-language network. It’s only the latest insult to Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing American minority. Without Hispanics, the G.O.P. is doomed in swing states from Florida to Nevada. If you have any doubts, just look at the panic at the staunchly Republican Wall Street Journal editorial page. It has now even started attacking its own cohort — what it calls “Fox News populists and obsessive bloggers” — for driving away once-Republican Hispanic votes with over-the-top invective about illegal immigrants.

It would be unfair to say that the G.O.P. is devoid of sensitivity to all minorities. True, Peter King, the Long Island congressman, said last week that America has “too many mosques,” but he was balanced by Mitt Romney, who sent out a press release wishing “the Jewish people” a hearty “L’Shanah Tovah” for the New Year. And let no one fault the Republican presidential field for not looking like America: Alan Keyes is back!

But the last minority with at least a modicum of influence in the party’s power structure seems to be closeted gay men. As an alternative to cruising men’s rooms, the least they could do is use their clout to stay the manifestly unjust execution of Larry Craig.


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

lofter1
October 4th, 2007, 05:49 PM
Toe-tappin' Larry Craig now says he won't resign (http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8S2KL6O1&show_article=1)from the Senate.

Instead the flip-floppin' toilet-paper-picker-upper will fight for his "good name".

Just goes to show you can't believe anything that comes out of the mouth of a Republican.

Meanwhile ...

Artist Barry Blitt presents "NARROW STANCE", a nice conflux of the men from Idaho (http://www.towleroad.com/2007/10/gop-threatens-p.html) and Iran (http://www.towleroad.com/2007/09/ahmadinejad-in-.html)
for the October 8 issue of The New Yorker ( towelroad.com (http://www.towleroad.com/2007/10/mahmoud-ahmadin.html) ) :

http://towleroad.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/10/02/mahmoudtoetapper.jpg

***

lofter1
October 5th, 2007, 09:27 AM
A man lost in the clouds of his own delusions http://wirednewyork.com/forum/images/icons/icon13.gif

lofter1
October 6th, 2007, 08:41 PM
GOP Unveils RNC Convention Logo


Crooks and Liars (http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/10/04/gop-unveils-rnc-convention-logo/)
By: Nicole Belle
Thursday, October 4th, 2007


The Republican party yet again provides unintentional comedy.
As you may or may not know, next year’s Republican Convention
will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the location of
Larry “Bathroom Scandal Senator” Craig’s arrest.


Yesterday, the GOP unveiled the official logo (http://rightsfield.com/2007/10/03/gop-convention-logo-unveiled/) for the convention (h/t Colin McEnroe (http://blogs.courant.com/colin_mcenroe_to_wit/2007/10/this-is-your-el.html)) :


http://static.crooksandliars.com/2007/10/2008conventionlogo.thumbnail.jpg (http://static.crooksandliars.com/2007/10/2008conventionlogo.jpg)


Is it me, or does that elephant have a wide stance?
Not to mention, the year “2008″ looks seriously
in danger of being mounted.


Damn, I love how clueless Republicans can be …

BrooklynRider
October 24th, 2007, 01:23 PM
This kind of says it all...

http://www.americablog.com/2007/10/sexist-or-just-different-culture.html

lofter1
October 25th, 2007, 09:08 PM
More trouble for Larry (http://wonkette.com/politics/larry-craig-scandal/exclusive-i-had-sex-with-larry-craig-314897.php) :confused:

Warning: That link ^^^ will take you to a rather explicit description by someone with lots of baggage who claims he once diddled about with Mr. Idaho-mo.

BrooklynRider
November 3rd, 2007, 02:10 AM
SW Wash. GOP lawmaker resigns seat amid sex scandal



10/31/2007
By RACHEL LA CORTE / Associated Press


A Republican state legislator who repeatedly voted against gay rights measures resigned his seat Wednesday amid revelations he had sex with a man he met at an erotic video store while in Spokane on a GOP retreat.

In a written statement, Rep. Richard Curtis, of La Center, said that while he believes he's done a lot of good during his time in the Legislature, "events that have recently come to light have hurt a lot of people."

"I sincerely apologize for any pain my actions may have caused," he wrote.

"This has been damaging to my family, and I don't want to subject them to any additional pain that might result from carrying out this matter under the scrutiny that comes with holding public office."

Three days earlier, Curtis had insisted to his local newspaper that he was not gay and that sex was not involved in what he said was an extortion attempt by a man last week.

But in police reports, Curtis said he was being extorted by a man he had sex with in a Spokane hotel room. The other man contends Curtis reneged on a promise to pay $1,000 for sex.

House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said that as more "troubling" details began to emerge "it has become clear that he can no longer effectively represent the constituents who elected him."

His resignation was delivered to Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday afternoon. A Republican successor will be chosen by county Republican leaders, and will serve until the 2008 election.

Numerous efforts to reach Curtis or his lawyer, John Wolfe, by phone have been unsuccessful.

Curtis, 48, told police he was the victim of an extortion attempt by Cody Castagna at the posh Davenport Tower hotel on Oct. 26, search warrant documents said. Castagna, 26, of nearby Medical Lake, told police that Curtis had agreed to pay him for sex, then reneged.

Curtis is married and has children, according to his legislative Web site. Elected to the state House of Representatives in 2004, he voted in 2005 and 2006 against a bill that granted civil rights protections to gays and lesbians, and in 2007 voted against a bill that created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Both measures eventually passed the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and are now state law.

Curtis was among state GOP lawmakers in Spokane Oct. 24-26 for a retreat to discuss the upcoming legislative session. He went to the Hollywood Erotic Boutique early on Oct. 26 and met Castagna, who accompanied him to the hotel, police documents said.

The two arrived at the hotel around 3:30 a.m. and had sex, after which Curtis fell asleep, according to documents released Tuesday.

Curtis alleged Castagna took his wallet and later offered to return it for $1,000. Curtis said he only had $200 and left an envelope with the money at the hotel desk, the documents said.

Police reports said Castagna allegedly called Curtis and demanded an additional $800, and threatened to expose Curtis. But Curtis had already contacted police, who listened to the call and then met with Castagna.

There have been no arrests in the case. On Wednesday, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz said a decision about possible criminal charges in the alleged extortion case was weeks away.

Castagna, who appeared Tuesday at a Spokane news conference with his lawyer, David Partovi, said Curtis gave him his wallet to hold as collateral "for the money that he promised me." Partovi refused to let his client tell reporters what he did for the money, noting Castagna had already spoken voluntarily with police.

"Cody Castagna admitted threatening to publicly expose Richard Curtis' gay lifestyle to his wife unless Richard Curtis provided the disputed money," the police documents said.

Partovi refused to let Castagna respond to a question about whether he threatened to "out" Curtis.

The lawyer noted extortion "is a violent Class B felony" and declared that his client "didn't do anything wrong, at that level anyway."

On Monday, Curtis told The Columbian newspaper of Vancouver, Wash., that he did not solicit sex.

"I committed no crime," he said. "I did not solicit sex. I was trying to help somebody out."

Curtis, a former firefighter, declared, "I am not gay."

In his initial statement to Spokane police on Oct. 26, Curtis admitted having sex with Castagna, but said he did not offer to pay for sex. He said he gave him $100 as gas money, but said he did not consider that paying for sex, according to the police reports.

Police reports said Curtis initially contacted a friend in the Washington State Patrol, in Western Washington, to investigate the case because he feared the Spokane authorities would talk to the media. But patrol officials referred the case to Spokane police.

The police reports added that Curtis told officers he only wanted his wallet back "and wanted to keep the incident as low key as possible." He did not want to pursue charges against Castagna, the report said.

The next day, police reports said, Curtis told a detective by phone that he was in Cle Elum because he had wrecked his car on the drive home.

Curtis also told the detective he "would have to tell his wife the truth and he would have to get a divorce attorney."
___ AP writers Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane and Curt Woodward in Olympia contributed to this report from Olympia

http://www.kgw.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D8SKF36G0.html

Looks like we may ned to create a new thread for posting all "I'm Not Gay" Statements by Republicans.:D

BrooklynRider
November 3rd, 2007, 10:43 PM
November 02, 2007
Ex Daytona commissioner, teacher charged in sex sting

By KARI COBHAM
Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH -- A former Daytona Beach city commissioner and a local high school teacher:eek: arrested Thursday during a sex sting at a Volusia mall bathroom were released from the Volusia County Brach Jail today, authorities said.

Former commissioner and mayoral candidate Mike Shallow and David Behringer, an athletic trainer and teacher at Seabreeze High School, posted $1,000 bail today after midnight, a jail spokesman said.

Behringer resigned today, according to officials with the Volusia County School District.



http://www.news-journalonline.com/downloads/Shallow110207.jpg
Shallow


Shallow and Behringer were among nine men charged with lewd and lascivious conduct and exposure of a sexual organ, both misdemeanors, police said.

"The reason that we did this sting is we all go to the mall; our kids go into the bathroom," Police Chief Mike Chitwood said. "That they could be susceptible to this kind of behavior is absolutely a disgrace."

Also arrested were registered sex offender Douglas Benson, 48, of Port Orange, who was previously caught masturbating in the restroom of a day care center; and Edgar Millard, 73, Daytona Beach, charged in 2006 with sexual misconduct at a beachside bathroom, police said.

Detectives received a tip from officials at the Sears department store that sexual misconduct was taking place in its second-floor men's restroom, Chitwood said.

Further investigation by police found that encounters at local places like Sears were advertised online on Web sites like Craigslist and one that provides links to other sexually explicit sites, Chitwood said.

"This is a clandestine, subculture event," Chitwood said at a Thursday night press conference. "There's a whole culture that runs under the radar doing their thing."

A team of six officers from the Police Department's criminal suppression team joined forces with undercover officers from Volusia County Beach Patrol to nab the offenders from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. The Beach Patrol regularly deals with similar misconduct at public bathrooms near the beach, Chitwood said.

"Most everything that's occurring is nonverbal," said Sgt. Jeff Hoffman, supervisor of the criminal suppression team.

Offenders coughed or sneezed, tapped their feet, sometimes under the stall beside them, or made loud zipper noises to attract attention from others interested in engaging in sexual acts, Hoffman said.

"It's scumbags like this that erode the quality of life that we have here," Chitwood said. "What scares me is that these are people that we trust to be political leaders, these are people that we trust with our children."

Shallow, 57, served two terms as a city commissioner from 1999-2003 and ran for mayor unsuccessfully in 2003, 2005 and 2007, finishing a distant fourth in the last race Oct. 9.

The Realtor and real estate broker also served as chairman of the Main Street Redevelopment Board in 2004-2005, and was on the Downtown-Ballough Road Redevelopment Board while he was a commissioner.

Daytona Beach Mayor Glenn Ritchey said he was "disappointed and sad and sorry for him and his wife and family." :rolleyes:

"There's nothing I can say. I've known him for a long time. I was shocked. It's such a sad thing," Ritchey said.

Neil Harrington, a personal friend of Shallow's, was shocked at the arrest.
"I just can't believe that; I have no indication that Mike would ever be involved in anything like that:p," Harrington said.

Others arrested in the sting include Sebastian Bach, 37, Panama City; Larry Brown, 42, DeBary; William Volage, 46, and Kenneth Halpin, 44, both of Ormond Beach; and Ransom Peterson, 73, Port Orange.

Representatives for Sears and the Volusia Mall could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

kari.cobham@news-jrnl.com (kari.cobham@news-jrnl.com)
-- Staff Writer Pamela Hasterok contributed to this report.

http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Headlines/frtHEAD01110207.htm

BrooklynRider
November 3rd, 2007, 10:50 PM
GOP will let Craig keep his earmarks
By Alexander Bolton November 01, 2007

Senate Republican leaders have backed off from pressuring Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to resign his seat, giving the beleaguered lawmaker a glimpse of hope that he may last in Congress long enough to save his career.

Leaders have opted not to use the leverage they could exert on Craig by threatening to strip more than 20 spending projects he has sponsored by himself in various appropriations bills.

Craig has used these projects to argue that his continued presence in the Senate is valuable to Idaho constituents.

“Right now we are very much working to keep everything in place, and I’m pleased about the progress,” said Craig of the earmarks, which are worth millions of dollars. “I feel like I’m being effective and I’ll continue to work.”

Republican leaders put heavy pressure on Craig to resign at the end of August after news broke that he was caught in an undercover sex sting in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.

Republican feared a replay of the public relations debacle that followed the sex-related allegations that swirled around former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) a few weeks before the 2006 midterm elections. Foley became embroiled in scandal after it surfaced that he sent sexually explicit electronic messages to a former House page.

Leaders warned Craig that he would face embarrassing public hearings delving into the circumstances of his arrest, and possibly his sexual orientation as well.

They also stripped him of his senior position on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the Appropriations interior and environment subcommittee and an Environment and Public Works subcommittee.

But as the public attention on Craig has died down, so has the pressure from leaders.

At first, Craig announced that he intended to resign Sept. 30. He has since changed his mind.

He now says that he will stay in the Senate until his term expires at the end of 2008 and work on clearing his name in court. He has filed a motion with an appellate court to withdraw his guilty plea.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters in the wake of the reversal that Craig’s decision to resign was “the difficult but correct decision.”

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), a McConnell ally, told The Washington Post that it would be a mistake for Craig to reconsider.

Craig’s relationship with his leadership, however, is much different today than it was in September.

“I have a good working relationship with them right now,” he said.

Leaders often punish or reward members of the rank and file by cutting or adding special projects they have requested for their home states in appropriations bills. GOP leaders have stopped short of using this stick against Craig, and appear to have dropped their plan to hound him out of the Senate altogether.

“He’ll be treated like all senators,” said Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking Republican on Appropriations. Cochran added that he did not think Craig’s earmarks are under threat in any way.

Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott (Miss.), the second-ranking member of the GOP leadership, said that he is not putting any pressure on Craig to resign.

He also said there was no reason to target Craig’s spending projects, even though the Idaho lawmaker is pointing to them as evidence of his continuing effectiveness, an argument he is using to justify his continued service.

“As long as a person is in the Senate, he or she has an obligation to represent the [home] state on projects that are important,” Lott said. “He has a right to do that.”

Bennett said that the leadership had washed its hands of Craig’s fate.

“The leadership is going to leave it up to the Ethics Committee,” said Bennett.
McConnell asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate Craig’s arrest shortly after it became public. Since then, little news of the probe’s progress has leaked from the secretive panel.

Craig’s name is attached to 84 earmarks in different annual spending bills. He is the sole sponsor of 22 projects, according to a database of appropriations earmarks compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Seven of those projects, worth more than $7 million, are in legislation crafted by the Appropriations interior subcommittee, where he served as the senior-ranking Republican until September.

Bennett, who is a member of that subcommittee, said there was no reason that Craig should not reap the fruits of his leadership on the panel.

“You’re assuming that earmarks are favors to individual senators,” said Bennett. “On the interior subcommittee we approve earmarks based on the merit of the program involved.

“Why punish the state of Idaho if they have a perfectly legitimate project which their senator has called to our attention?” Bennett said.

Beyond threatening Craig’s earmarks, there is little else Republican leaders can do to force his early retirement.

A GOP aide said that a lawmaker must resign a committee leadership position only if he is indicted for a felony. Craig’s crime did not rise to that level. Craig gave up his posts on Veterans’ Affairs, Appropriations and Environment and Public Works in response to a request from the leadership.

Republican leaders could call for the chamber to vote on Craig’s expulsion, but that would require a vote of 67 senators. The GOP aide said that a misdemeanor is not a grave enough transgression to reach such a high threshold.

http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/gop-will-let-craig-keep-his-earmarks-2007-11-01.html

lofter1
December 2nd, 2007, 05:11 PM
Perfect for the kids and just in time for Christmas, Hannukah & Kwanzaa ...


TALKING
SENATOR LARRY CRAIG
ACTION FIGURE


http://www.vicalecorporation.com/images/Senator%20Larry%20Craig%20web.jpg


About the photo: We JUST got the Larry Craig Action Figure (http://www.stupid.com/stat/LCAF.html) in, so excuse the poor photo. A better photo will be posted shortly. We just HAD to get this item on the site right away.


Senator Larry Craig is having a bad year -- In June he was arrested for Lewd Conduct after hitting on an undercover police officer in an airport Men's Room. In September resigned from the Senate, then in October decided NOT to resign. AND NOW HE IS A TALKING DOLL!


Sorry to STALL (ha, ha), but we have bad news and good news...


Bad News: We ran out of the Larry Craig Action Figures.


(yeah, we can't believe it either)


Good News: More will be arriving in just a few days.
Please come back soon and buy him for your very own.
If you want, we can email you when Larry comes out... er, comes IN.
Just click HERE to be notified.


We'd feel sorry for the guy it wasn't so ....
to use our favorite word ...
STUPID!


The Talking Senator Larry Craig Action Figure stands about 12" tall
and wears a t-shirt emblazoned with his declaration:

"I Am Not Gay."

His limbs are bendable, so you can put him in all sorts of poses...
even the famous "wide stance" the Senator refers to.


Best of all, THE ACTION FIGURE TALKS! Press the button,
and he delivers a portion of his Press Conference...


"Thank you all very much for coming out today. I will read a statement:

'I am not gay. I never have been gay."


It's been a strange year for politics, and we think this strange action figure fits right in.



+++

lofter1
December 2nd, 2007, 05:16 PM
Mark Foley Doll also available (http://poljunk.gloriousnoise.com/2006/10/bid_now_on_the_mark_foley_action_figure.php) (not as chatty -- but ready to play) ...


http://poljunk.gloriousnoise.com/images/foley_action.jpg

***

lofter1
December 2nd, 2007, 05:38 PM
Oh, Larry, Larry, Larry ...

More gay men describe sexual encounters
with U.S. Sen. Craig

Allegations made since news of the Minneapolis case broke
lend weight to rumors about Craig.

The Idaho Statesman (http://www.idahostatesman.com/eyepiece/story/226703.html)
December 02, 2007

Audio clip disclaimer: Some of the audio interview excerpts contain explicit descriptions of sex not appropriate for children and listeners who find such content offensive. The Statesman provides the excerpts so Idahoans can hear these accounts and decide for themselves about accusations against Sen. Craig.

David Phillips. Mike Jones. Greg Ruth. Tom Russell.

Four gay men, willing to put their names in print and whose allegations can't be disproved, have come forward since news of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea. They say they had sex with Craig or that he made a sexual advance or that he paid them unusual attention.

They are telling their stories now because they are offended by Craig's denials, including his famous statement, "I am not gay, I never have been gay." Those words, spoken on live national TV on Aug. 28, are now memorialized on a just-released-for-Christmas Talking Senator Larry Craig Action Figure. [ :D ]

David Phillips is a 42-year-old information technology consultant in Washington, D.C., who says Craig picked him up at a gay club in 1986 and that they subsequently had sex.

Mike Jones is a former prostitute who told the world he had sex with the Rev. Ted Haggard last year. The former Colorado Springs evangelist at first denied it but eventually confessed. Jones says Craig paid him for sex in late 2004 or early 2005.

Greg Ruth was a 24-year-old college Republican in 1981 when he says he was hit on by Craig at a Republican meeting in Coeur d'Alene.

Tom Russell, now 48, is a former Nampa resident who lives in Utah. Russell said his encounter with Craig occurred at Bogus Basin in the early 1980s.

A fifth gay man, who is from Boise but who declined to be named for fear of retaliation, offered a recent and telling account: He was in a men's restroom at Denver International Airport in September 2006 when the man in the next stall moved his hand slowly, palm up, under the divider. Alarmed, the man said he waited outside the restroom and then identified the man in the adjoining stall as Craig, whom he had met in Idaho.

Craig, 62, says he was a victim of "profiling" when he was arrested June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in an adjoining stall in a men's restroom. Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in August. He is appealing his conviction, financed by his 2008 re-election fund. Because of the scandal, Craig no longer needs the money to run for office; after 33 years in state and national office, he says he will not seek re-election next year. Craig also faces a Senate Ethics Committee inquiry, which was requested by Senate GOP leadership.

"I know what people feel like when they're profiled, when innocent people get caught up in what I was caught in as an innocent person," Craig told NBC's Matt Lauer in a prime-time interview that aired Oct. 16.

The appearance on NBC was the latest denial by Craig that he has engaged in gay sex.

The denials began June 30, 1982, when CBS broke news of a scandal alleging gay sex between congressmen and underage pages. The following day, before any public allegation that he was involved, then-Rep. Craig issued a denial. Craig married a year later and adopted the three children of his wife, Suzanne. In 1990, the Idaho Statesman asked Craig about an allegation that he was gay made by an opponent in his first Senate race. "Why don't you ask my wife?" Craig replied. [ :o ]

In October 2006, Craig directly denied the claims of a blogger who reported he'd spoken with three anonymous sources who said they had sex with Craig. In May 2007, after hearing a tape of an accuser who said he and Craig had sex in two men's restrooms at Washington's Union Station rail depot, Craig said, "I am not gay."

And when he emphatically told Matt Lauer he was neither gay nor bisexual, Craig persuaded 28 percent of viewers to believe he had been wrongly charged in Minnesota, according to a survey of 606 viewers by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College.

Craig declined comment on this story. He stopped replying to questions from the Statesman after the paper's Aug. 28 report that included the accounts of three unnamed men, one who said he had sex with Craig and two who said he solicited them for sex. But Craig's staff told other media that the allegations made by Phillips and Jones were false.

As with the Statesman's August report, the new evidence is not definitive. There are no videos, no love letters, no voice messages. Like last August, they are he-said, he-said allegations [ :D ] about a man seeking discreet sex from partners whom he counted on to never tell.

But the Statesman's investigation, which included reviews of travel and property records and background checks on all five men, found nothing to disprove the five new accounts. The men offer telling and sometimes similar details about what happened, or the senator's travel records place him in the city where sex is alleged to have occurred, or his accusers told credible witnesses at the time of the incident.

Craig has said he hoped to keep his guilty plea secret. Only after news of the guilty plea broke Aug. 27 did he tell his wife, staff, colleagues and constituents. His admission of guilt, taken together with the three accounts published Aug. 28 and the five new statements, add weight to the evidence that Craig has been living a double life.

HERE ARE THEIR STORIES:

[No One Under 18 Allowed :D Below This \/ Point ]

DAVID PHILLIPS: SEX IN CAPITOL HILL HOUSE

Phillips' account was first published this Oct. 25 at Wonkette.com, a liberal Web site. Shortly after the Spokane Spokesman-Review linked to the story on Oct. 26, Craig spokesman Sid Smith replied on a blog that "there is not a shred of truth to this."

In a tape-recorded interview with the Statesman, the 1985 graduate of Rice University said he met Craig on a weekday afternoon between May and August 1986 at a gay strip club called The Follies in Washington, D.C. The club was a place where gay men met for sex, often on the premises. Phillips said he mistakenly told Wonkette the incident happened in 1987.

Phillips, then 21, said he and Craig talked and then hugged. Craig said he didn't feel comfortable at the club and suggested they leave. Phillips had his car, but Craig hailed a cab, with Phillips following him to Capitol Hill. The cab stopped and Craig got out, telling Phillips to park and wait for him to return. In a few minutes, Craig came back on foot and escorted Phillips to the rear door of a house reached by an alley.

On the way to an upstairs bedroom, Phillips said Craig told him, "You've never been here. You don't know me."

Phillips said Craig removed his suit coat, but otherwise remained dressed. He said Craig first performed oral sex on him, and then unzipped his pants so Phillips could reciprocate. Craig then left the room, returning with condoms and lubricant. The two men then had anal sex. Afterward, Craig became agitated and pressed Phillips to leave.

"After the sex, he just wanted me out of there," Phillips said. He said Craig stuck $20 in his pocket and said, "'I can buy and sell your ass a thousand times over. You were never here.' "

[NOTE: Does the TALKING SENATOR LARRY CRAIG ACTION FIGURE say that, too :confused: ]

Phillips said he saw a note card addressed to Suzanne Craig as he left the house. But he said he never recognized Craig as his sex partner until the recent story broke and he heard Craig's distinctive and formal voice on TV.
"I didn't hear that voice again until August," Phillips said. "Then that 'I can buy and sell your ass a thousand times' came back to me. It just all rolled back so vividly."

Smith, the Craig spokesman, said in his blog posting after the Wonkette report that Phillips should not be believed because Craig did not live on Capitol Hill in 1987, but on his boat at the Capitol Yacht Club. "Everything in that story, from beginning to end, is pure lies and fiction," Smith wrote.

It's not clear whether Craig lived on a boat between May and August 1986, when Phillips said the encounter actually occurred. But Craig told the Statesman in May 2007 that he "went through four boats," remodeled them, "made a little money on each one," and sometimes lived on land between boats. It's also not clear whether Craig may have had access to a house on Capitol Hill.

MIKE JONES: MALE ESCORT TOOK $200 FROM CRAIG FOR SEX

Jones, 50, told the Statesman that Craig paid him $200 to have sex with him on a night between November 2004 and March 2005. Jones said he recognized Craig only after he became a big story in August.

"Once I saw Larry Craig do his news conference, that's when I go, 'My God! That guy came to see me.' "

Jones contacted the Statesman in September after Craig signaled he might back away from his vow to resign Sept. 30. After Craig said on Oct. 4 that he would complete his term in 2009 and appeared on NBC on Oct. 16, Jones went on the record with the Statesman, describing a sexual encounter with Craig. (In October, broadcast and Web reports quoted Jones saying Craig had visited him, but did not say the two had sex). Here is what Jones told the Statesman in a tape-recorded interview:

Jones said a man phoned to make an appointment, not giving his name. The man, whom Jones later recognized as Craig, then arrived at a studio apartment on Sherman Street in downtown Denver. Craig asked whether Jones followed politics but then quickly changed the subject. "When I said, 'Yes,' he said, 'Oh, gee, it's cold outside.'" Jones said he immediately deduced from his client's odd response that he was servicing a politician.

Craig removed his coat and dress shirt, leaving his T-shirt, slacks and shoes on when he climbed onto Jones's massage table. Craig asked that Jones be naked. Craig undid his own zipper and masturbated while performing oral sex on Jones. When Craig finished, he paid Jones $200 in cash and left.

The encounter lasted less than an hour, said Jones, who said he kept no records on his escort clients. Jones said he advertised his "massage" services exclusively in gay publications, including the bi-weekly newspaper Out Front Colorado and Rentboy.com.

Craig was in Denver on Feb. 11, 2005, and in nearby Keystone, Colo., on Feb. 12. On the 12th, he attended a meeting at the Keystone Center, a policy think tank. Craig's Senate travel records also show six other trips where Craig may have had layovers in Denver between November 2004 and March 2005.

Craig and his staff won't respond to questions from the Statesman. But Dan Whiting, a Craig spokesman, told KIVI-Today's 6, "Mike Jones is lying in order to sell his book - plain and simple. Larry has never met Mike Jones."

Jones has written a book about his experience with Haggard. Haggard resigned in November 2006 as president of the National Evangelical Association and was forced out as pastor of New Life Church after Jones came forward with voice mails implicating Haggard.

Jones acknowledged his allegation about Craig may help sell books, but said he is motivated by the desire to expose hypocritical conduct by men like Haggard and Craig, who has a consistently anti-gay voting record.

"Here they are putting down the gay community in a sense, treating us like second-class citizens, and they want to have their cake and eat it, too," he said.

GREG RUTH: RESTROOM PROPOSITION IN COEUR D'ALENE

Ruth attended the Republican Western Roundup in Coeur d'Alene in October 1981, where he said Craig made a sexual advance. At the time, Craig was a 36-year-old bachelor and first-year congressman and Ruth was a 24-year-old college Republican from the University of Puget Sound.

Ruth, who was openly gay in 1981, told the Statesman in a tape-recorded interview that Craig paid him unusual attention at the political gathering. Ruth said he excused himself to use the restroom, but Craig soon entered and stood next to Ruth at the urinal, looking at Ruth's penis.

"He looked over and said, 'Hi,'" Ruth said. "But he didn't touch me or anything like that. And then after we finished urinating, we washed hands. He gave me his phone number and he said, 'If you ever get to D.C., call me. You can stay with me.'"

Ruth, now a professional photographer, said he never followed up and lost the slip of paper with Craig's number. But Ruth said he has no doubt Craig was making a sexual advance. "I'm gay, and I knew he was hitting on me," Ruth said. "There's no question about that."

Returning to Tacoma, Wash., Ruth immediately told his uncle about the incident. The uncle, Gerald King, is a retired major who served 25 years in the Army. Ruth, 50, is a former Army captain who served seven years on active duty in the infantry and 12 years in the Army Reserve.

"Mind you," said King, "Greg was strikingly handsome. (Craig) was extremely friendly and overt with Greg in trying to get him to socialize with him."

King said his nephew told him in 1981 that Craig made a sexual advance. "No question about it," said King. "I don't think they were going to make Jell-O."

[ Maybe the doll should say. "Wanna make some Jello?" :D ]

ANOTHER MEN'S RESTROOM ENCOUNTER

Another gay man, a 46-year-old professional from Boise, told the Statesman that Craig reached his hand into his restroom stall in September 2006 during a layover at the Denver airport. The man, who travels in political circles, had met Craig before. He asked that he not be named by the Statesman.

The man said he was flying from Boise to Washington, D.C., on the same flights as Craig and Craig's wife, Suzanne. Denver, like Minneapolis, is a key connecting hub for flights between Boise and Washington.

During the layover in Denver, the man said he was in a men's restroom stall when a hand came under the divider and reached toward him. The hand was palm up, as the officer in Minnesota also described, and slid toward him for two or three seconds. The man said he noticed unpolished, dark, lace-up shoes [ :eek: ] worn by the man in the next stall. He did not respond to the gesture.

"I freaked out," said the man, who was traveling with his long-time partner. "I finished my business and left."

The man said he then waited outside the men's restroom on a bench. Shortly after, a man wearing the shoes he saw in the adjacent stall exited. The man was Larry Craig.

"Those shoes came out, and I looked up, and it was like, 'Oh, my God.'"

After boarding the second flight, the man told his partner about the incident. The partner confirmed having heard the details of Craig's advance that day.

The man said one reason he requires anonymity is he fears Craig will use his power to retaliate. He is afraid Craig may have recognized him and, perhaps knowing he is gay, followed him into the men's restroom thinking he would be amenable to sex.

TOM RUSSELL: MUTUAL COME-ON AT BOGUS BASIN SKI RESORT

Russell, 48, a Nampa native who lives in Utah, was among three men who contacted the Statesman about what they described as unusually attentive behavior on Craig's part. Russell was willing to be named for this story and spoke in a tape-recorded interview.

Russell worked as a food service manager at Bogus Basin ski resort and said his encounter probably occurred in the 1983-84 ski season, soon after Craig had married following the 1982 page scandal. Russell had taken a food class from Suzanne Craig [ Did she teach him to make Jello :confused: ] and had heard the rumors that Craig was gay.

Russell, openly gay at the time, said he set out to engage Craig "and attempted to show a personal interest - not in a suggestive way - but a personal interest to see if he would respond."

"I recall that he was very delighted to talk to me - smiling, happy, very delighted - and that he had suggested that we could get together sometime," he said. "Why would he have a personal interest in meeting me elsewhere?"

Russell said he became convinced Craig was gay because he used subtle signals consistent with communication between gay men in public places.

"You've heard the term, 'gaydar'? OK, it's there. You know it. You know when somebody is raising an eyebrow at you because it's their gesture when they say 'hello' or when they are subtly trying to send you a message that they recognize you as being a gay person."

Nothing came of the meeting, Russell said. But he came forward now because he is offended by Craig's denials. "I'm disgusted because it's hypocritical, and he's lying. He's lying through his teeth. Heterosexual men do not behave like that."

***

BrooklynRider
December 31st, 2007, 02:38 AM
Romney officials approved clinic loan

Worcester facility to provide abortions

Globe Staff / December 29, 2007


Former governor Mitt Romney's economic development agency granted initial approval to a tax-exempt bond last year for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Worcester that will provide abortions, just two months before he left office and began highlighting his antiabortion position as a presidential candidate.

Asked about the $5 million financial deal yesterday, the Romney campaign said the former governor was not aware it was under consideration when Planned Parenthood won preliminary approval in November 2006.

Romney repeatedly used the power of his office while governor to advance socially conservative positions, including restricting stem cell research, pushing abstinence-only sex education in schools, and vetoing a bill to increase access to emergency contraception in hospitals.

In the case of the abortion clinic funding deal, the Republican candidate's spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney would have attempted to block it - if he had known about it.

"Mitt Romney is prolife," Fehrnstrom said. "He did not know about this loan. It was made by an agency that does not report to the governor. If it did, he would have told them not to do it."

In additon to providing abortion services, the 10,000-square-foot Planned Parenthood clinic planned for Worcester will offer Plan B emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill," which also is opposed by antiabortion advocates.

Jeffrey M. Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University, said he was surprised that Romney and his aides did not catch such a politically sensitive financial deal making its way through his economic development agency. Now, Berry said, the campaign will be put in the position of defending Romney at a time when he is heading into the most critical days of his candidacy.

"It is unusual that his people at the agency did not find a reason not to fund Planned Parenthood," Berry said. "His administration was clearly focused on his run for the presidency and making sure there was no embarrassment like this. It was an administration that was pretty efficient getting everyone operating on the same page and avoiding scandal."

While Romney's campaign said the agency that authorized the deal, MassDevelopment, is an autonomous authority, it was controlled by Romney appointees. Several of its 11-member board were top officials in the Romney administration, including Ranch Kimball, the chairman who was also Romney's secretary of economic development. Other members included another representative from Kimball's office and an official from the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

In a statement to the Globe, Kimball said that it was his policy not to brief the governor's office on initial approval of loans.

"I did not brief the Governor's office on these initial reviews," he said.

The Nov. 8, 2006 vote by MassDevelopment to grant initial approval of the $5 million tax-exempt bond laid the groundwork for Planned Parenthood to begin planning the center and prepare for the loan closing.


Final approval came at the board's Feb. 8 meeting, a month after Romney left office. Democratic Governor Deval L. Patrick, an abortion rights supporter, signed off a few weeks later.

Romney's dealings with Planned Parenthood have been a source of controversy on the campaign trail. In 1994 as a candidate for the US Senate and again in 2002 as a candidate for governor, Romney declared himself squarely behind Planned Parenthood's missions: to provide abortions, increase access to emergency contraception, and to back comprehensive sex education in the schools that included both abstinence and contraception. He and his wife, Ann, attended a Planned Parenthood fund-raiser in Cohasett and Ann donated $150 to the group.

But once he began laying the groundwork for his presidential campaign, Romney dramatically shifted his positions on the issues, moves that were aimed at making him more palatable to the socially conservative Republican presidential primary voters. In 2005, he said he opposed research on embryonic stem cells and then said that discussions about stem cells had led him to oppose abortion.

Later that year, he vetoed a bill that increased access to emergency contraception, which mandated that hospitals make the pill available to rape victims. That veto was overridden by the Legislature. In 2006, he directed that federal sex education funds be used to pay for abstinence-only programs in public schools. The money had been originally used to pay for an abstinence media campaign.

Romney's shift in positions was highlighted yesterday by Planned Parenthood in a new website attacking the GOP candidate.

"This was more than just a flip-flop, this was an extreme makeover," said Angus McQuilken, a spokesman for a Planned Parenthood advocacy arm. "We feel an obligation to let America know who the real Mitt Romney is - a candidate who will say anything to get elected."

Fehrnstrom dismissed the criticism, saying such attacks on Romney are expected from abortion rights advocates.

"It's not surprising that abortion advocates are opposed to him," he said.

"Every action Mitt Romney took on legislation sent to him as governor he came down on the side of protecting life. As president, he will continue to protect the sanctity of life."

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/12/29/romney_officials_approved_clinic_loan/?page=full

miamigirl
April 7th, 2008, 10:36 PM
IS JUSTICE FOR SALE AT THE ABA?

“Hon. George Bundy Smith Partner, Chadbourne & Parke LLP; former Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, New York, NY”Chadbourne & Parke Partner George Bundy Smith Receives ABA ‘Spirit Of Excellence’…
Tue Feb 12, 2008
” Chadbourne & Parke Partner George Bundy Smith Receives ABA ‘Spirit Of Excellence”… | Reuters”
We would like to thank our generous sponsors:
Galaxy Sponsors
“Chadbourne & Parke LLP”
Sponsors
1)How much did Chadbourne have to donate to “WIN” this award?

2) Since George Bundy Smith uses his 14 year experience with Justice Judith Kaye as a requirement to win, will he be requesting her to disqualify herself off the panel that will be reviewing him? What about the other panelist?

3) Did he agree with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s article in that “we must decrease the influence of money & politics on judges?” “How can we convince people their courts are not for sale?”

JILL SCHOTTENSTEIN V STEVEN SCHOTTENSTEIN FILED IN THE APPEALS COURT FEBRUARY 20, 08 CASE # MOTION NO 08.239
(GEORGE BUNDY SMITH IS REPRESENTING STEVEN SCHOTTENSTEIN)

PARADE Magazine
How To Save Our Courts
By Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Published: February 24, 2008
“In my work as a Supreme Court justice, I was required by the Constitution to fairly and impartially apply the lawnot the law as I wanted it to be but the law as it was. Now, as a private citizen, I am anxious about the state of the judiciary in America. ”
“.What worries me is the manner in which politically motivated interest groups are attempting to interfere with justice.”
“The rule of law in the U.S. includes statutes and constitutional provisions. It also involves precedent, which is a previous judicial ruling on a matter. A judge typically defers to precedent. Like good cooking, good judging requires taking ingredients and procedures used successfully in the past and adjusting them to the case at hand. New legal recipes or rules can have major ramifications. ”
“Thus, our judicial system has safeguards to ensure consistency and preservation of the law. But it is threatened when judges ignore settled law and make decisions according to personal or public preferences. ”
.” Many legal issues are primarily decided there, including divorce, property rights, employment law, product liability and medical malpractice. ”
“How can we convince people their courts are not for sale?
“Second, be suspicious if a candidate makes a promise about how he or she would rule in a particular case. If a judge decides a case based on a campaign promise, he or she has not upheld the pledge to be fair and impartial….



I’m responding to Parade Magazine’s wonderful article entitled, “How To Save Our Courts.” For nearly a decade, I have dealt with the corrupted court system: from the Family Court System in Columbus, Ohio to the Supreme Court. I currently reside in Manhattan and have been trying for four years to receive child support for my eldest daughter, Sarah, now twenty two. Our family situation spans many years and involves: domestic violence, parental child abduction, and medical neglect.
Remarks that have been made in Justice Kaye’s own speeches regarding George Bundy Smith.
I requested Chief Justice Judith Kaye to disqualify herself from my court case due to the strong association with her lifelong FRIEND Geroge Bundy Smith
D. PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ATTORNEYS, OTHER JUDGES, AND ORGANIZATIONS
“When an allegation is made that a judge is presiding over the case in which a former law partner, associate or co-counsel of the judge began the current representation after the termination of the professional relation with the judge, as to require disqualification or discipline, some of the factors to be evaluated include: (1) the nature and extent of the prior association; 136 (2) the length of time since the association terminated; 137 (3) whether the judge continues to benefit from the relationship;138 and (4) whether personal or social relationships derived from the professional relationship. 139″

A TRIBUTE TO
HON. GEORGE BUNDY SMITH
COLLEAGUE, TEACHER, AND FRIEND
Judith S. Kaye*
Writing for this journal of Fordham Law School, where Judge
Smith is celebrated not only as a great jurist but also as a great
teacher, I feel the need to begin with a confession. I have been
keeping this a secret for a long, long time and I need finally to fess
up. It’s good for the soul.
For many years—”when Judge Smith carried the additional burden
of serving as Senior Associate Judge on the Court of Appeals,
right-hand man to the Chief Judge”…As he now marks his 25th straight year on the Fordham faculty,
And I have isolated three themes
from that experience that in “my mind typify my former Colleague
and forever friend George Bundy Smith.”
NO DUTY IGNORED
First, despite the added time demands of teaching, the fact is
George Smith never flagged in a single responsibility of the Senior
Associate Judge—whether being liaison with or heading up Committees,
or attending innumerable meetings, or simply being on
hand to consult with me. Indeed, he never flagged in any of his
responsibilities, however impossible the demands.
He is a prodigious, productive worker. Even at the Court of Appeals,
where the competition is stiff, George Smith’s working hours
were legendary. We all grew accustomed to finding faxes and e-
* Judith S. Kaye is Chief Judge of the State of New York and Chief Judge of the
Court of Appeals of the State of New York. She was a Colleague of George Bundy
Smith’s throughout his tenure on the Court of Appeals.
1150
Having had the privilege of sitting right next to Judge Smith on
the bench for several years I can tell you that he was always consummately
prepared on the briefs and on the record.
Indeed, in our fourteen years as Court of Appeals colleagues, I
can remember differences but never an unpleasant moment with
Judge Smith."



JILL SCHOTTENSTEIN V STEVEN SCHOTTENSTEIN FILED IN THE APPEALS COURT FEBRUARY 20, 08 CASE # MOTION NO 08.239
(GEORGE BUNDY SMITH IS REPRESENTING STEVEN SCHOTTENSTEIN)
PARADE Magazine

How To Save Our Courts
By Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Published: February 24, 2008
“In my work as a Supreme Court justice, I was required by the Constitution to fairly and impartially apply the lawnot the law as I wanted it to be but the law as it was. Now, as a private citizen, I am anxious about the state of the judiciary in America. ”
“.What worries me is the manner in which politically motivated interest groups are attempting to interfere with justice.”
“The rule of law in the U.S. includes statutes and constitutional provisions. It also involves precedent, which is a previous judicial ruling on a matter. A judge typically defers to precedent. Like good cooking, good judging requires taking ingredients and procedures used successfully in the past and adjusting them to the case at hand. New legal recipes or rules can have major ramifications. ”
“Thus, our judicial system has safeguards to ensure consistency and preservation of the law. But it is threatened when judges ignore settled law and make decisions according to personal or public preferences. ”
.” Many legal issues are primarily decided there, including divorce, property rights, employment law, product liability and medical malpractice. ”
“How can we convince people their courts are not for sale?
“Second, be suspicious if a candidate makes a promise about how he or she would rule in a particular case. If a judge decides a case based on a campaign promise, he or she has not upheld the pledge to be fair and impartial….


“The reasons Sarah gave for moving to New York should be taken as a complete list of all her reasons.” Here are the reasons she gave:
1) She could not bear to live with her father.
2) Her father said he was going to hurt her.
3) Her father said he would never pay child support.
4) Her father said she would never see her mother again.
5) Her father interfered with her medical treatment.
6) Her father grabbed her once when she was 15.
7) Her father yelled a lot.
8) She did not feel safe.
9) She was not treated like a daughter or a person.
10) Her father sent her to a delinquent camp.
10. George Bundy Smith states clearly that Steven placed Sarah in a delinquent camp. His partners at Chadbourne agree with him that he took her to this delinquent place against Sarah’s will and state this is a crime. (exhibit I)
Sarah herself testified to the following:
11. Sarah’s sworn testimony on November 16, 2005, included the following:
“In 2001 my father . . . locked me up. He sent me to a delinquent camp and psych ward where in the delinquency camp they ship people off to Mexico and the people are in handcuffs and if I was sent there I’m sure no one would have ever found me.”
“I left Ohio because I couldn’t bear another day living there. I was afraid to stay. Before I left my father said he was going to hurt me. He said actually- I know we’re here today for child support but he told me he’ll never pay child support and he told me he never wanted me to see my mother again and he wanted her locked up in jail.”

lofter1
April 10th, 2008, 05:27 PM
Seen in SoHo ...

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p242/Lofter1/Downtown%20Graffiti/OnGreene_01b.jpg

http://i130.photobucket.com/albums/p242/Lofter1/Downtown%20Graffiti/OnGreene_01c.jpg

esda

lofter1
April 10th, 2008, 05:41 PM
To even the score another Republican steps up ... and, boy oh boy, this one has been BUSY ...

A shot of Pol-in-quesiton with fellow-Republican Karl Rove (from Wonkette (http://wonkette.com/378324/ex+pa-official-taped-sex-with-hundreds-of-male-prostitutes)):

http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/comment/3/2008/04/378324/35102/smallish_Rove.jpg (http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/comment/3/2008/04/378324/35102/smallish_Rove.jpg)

Who ^ is he? The (former) Cumberland County Commissioner (Pennsylvania), a Republican and wealthy "self-made" businessman by the anme of Bruce Barclay, who apparently has a knack with gadgetry ...

Police: Barclay secretly videotaped “100 to 500”
sexual encounters with hidden camera network

Former commissioner's attorney: Footage shows rape charge unfounded

The Sentinel (http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2008/04/09/news/local/doc47fcbe3f506da892431817.txt)
www.cumberlink.com (http://www.cumberlink.com)
April 9, 2008

State police say former Cumberland County commissioner Bruce Barclay videotaped hundreds of sexual encounters — many with male escorts — using cameras hidden throughout his Monroe Township home.

Police say the sexual encounters were videotaped without the knowledge of the participants, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed Tuesday with Magisterial District Judge Susan Day. Court documents say cameras were installed in January of 2007.

Investigators are searching items seized from Barclay's residence a second time in relation to a rape investigation.

Reading a prepared statement, Barclay's attorney, Matthew Gover, said although he and Barclay do not agree with everything in the affidavit, “It is clear in my client’s private life he has made an error of judgment. What is striking is this very same lack of judgment exonerates him from a rape allegation that wasn’t going anywhere.”

Gover emphasized the Barclay’s misjudgment never extended into his role as a county commissioner, which he said Barclay “always handled with honor.”

Neighbors react

Nobody answered the door at Barclay’s residence early today.

When informed of the new allegations, Gene Hertzler, a neighbor of Barclay’s, said he still stands behind the former county commissioner.

“My opinion of Bruce has not changed,” said Hertzler, who lives at 262 Brindle Road in Monroe Township.

He had been inside Barclay’s house several times, for Christmas and Superbowl parties.

The other side of the story, he thinks, has not come out.

“I still think the community will respect him at the end of the day.”

‘Hiring of prostitutes’

According to court documents, Trooper Bryan R. Henneman said he “received information prior to the search warrant that Barclay had been involved in the hiring of prostitutes.”

During a subsequent interview, Henneman said Barclay admitted to hiring prostitutes on a weekly basis at his residence in Monroe Twp.”

The affidavit describes several such encounters with an Internet escort service known as “harrisburgfratboys.com.” Court documents indicate Barclay twice flew a 19-year-old man referred to as “W.M.” to his West Palm Beach home. During a trip last month, “W.M” told investigators that Barclay flew a male prostitute from Binghamton, N.Y., and paid that man $1,500.

Hidden camera network

The affidavit describes a hidden camera network that included cameras hidden in a bathroom, bedrooms and “indoor recreational areas.” Cameras were hidden inside AM/FM radios, motion detectors and intercom speaker systems, court documents say.

During an interview with Barclay, Henneman said he “admitted to using the cameras to record sexual encounters.” Police say Barclay saved between 100 and 500 encounters on his computer system.

According to court documents “Barclay stated that no one else was aware of the hidden cameras and also that no one else was aware that the sexual encounters were videotaped or gave him permission to videotape the encounters.”

Business camera

Henneman said Barclay also admitted to having a camera installed at his business along the 500 block of North York Street in Mechanicsburg. According to court documents, Barclay told Henneman that one sexual encounter was filmed on that camera, which also fed into his home computer network.

Barclay told Henneman that “at least” five additional males were filmed having sex “who were unaware that they were being filmed.”

Police seeking help

Barclay is the focus of the investigation, according to court documents.

Trooper Karl Schmidhamer said the state police are asking anyone who “feels they may have been a victim” of illegal acts inside Barclay’s home to call 1-866-898-8477. No charges have been filed against Barclay, he stressed.

The search warrant was obtained from Day’s office. The warrant has not been sealed and police say “it contains probable cause to further an investigation into invasion of privacy and prostitution.”

Barclay resigned April 2 after his home was searched upon the news of allegations of a March 30 rape at his home.

©2008 The Sentinel