Sunday, April 30, 2006
Eric Thode Says the Right Things . . . But . . .
Despite Thode's efforts at making the Republican Party more inclusive, open and transparent, he does have his detractors. Some are opposed on the mechanics of the "Primary", not its intent. But there are a lot of detractors who appear to be opposed to the of inclusiveness and transparency. Of course, the latter group of opponents cannot publicly articulate their position, but simply judging by some of the comments left on my blog, many people do not want voters who are not active members of the Republican Party to have any say or even opine of the nomination procedure.
The way I see it, there are several layers of support the Republican Party critical to the Party's success in TX22:
Organized Republicans. First, there needs to be strong local organization. This group is a very small group that vets candidates and has outsized influence in nominations for public office. This group probably numbers just a few thousand throughout the district. Precinct chairs and members of local Republican organizations are included in this group.
Primary Voters. Secondly, there is a much larger group of self-identified Republican voters who routinely participate in the primaries. This group is ten times larger than the first group. The role of this group is to settle disputes among competing factions in the first group by deciding primary winners. This group also provides an early warning system to the mistakes of the establishment Party. For example, it was the large number of Campbell voters in this group that convinced Tom DeLay that he couldn't win the general election due to his corruption. I am a member of the Primary Voters.
Republican Voters. Lastly, we have all voters who are inclined to vote Republican in the general election. This group numbers over a hundred thousand in the district. Without these people, the Republican Party could never win elections in TX22. The Republican Party needs these people as much as they need the first two groups.
One of the lessons we should learn from the March 7 primary is that the Organized Republicans have become a little politically tone deaf. Significant numbers of the lower two levels of Republicans could not support DeLay due to his corruption. That was reflected in Tom Campbell's good showing in the primary. (Tom Campbell should be placed in the second group of Republicans, the Primary Voters, even though he was a candidate.) Unfortunately, many of the Organized Republicans fear that if the Primary Voters get to participate, Campbell may emerge as the plurality-winning Republican.
Thode’s "Primary" plan is intended to gain the participation of the Primary Voters and give them ownership in the process. I believe Thode genuinely wants the process to be inclusive, and I applaud his efforts. But there are limitations to what Thode is doing. It only applies to Fort Bend County, and the results are not binding. Nevertheless, it is a step in the right direction. I desperately want to believe Thode when he says, "We as a party need to do everything we can to make this process open".
Here is where we differ: I want a full-fledge emergency special election to fully align the interests of all three Republican groups. TX22 is an overwhelmingly Republican district. Lampson would not win an emergency special election. As Thode says, this district is so Republican that his "Republican dog" could win here. The only question is, which Republican will win TX22? An emergency special election would allow all three groups of Republicans to have a voice in answering that question, although the notoriously low historical turnout for special elections means that the Organized Republicans and the Primary Voters would dominate.
For me personally, it would be easier to vote for the Republican who emerged with a plurality in an emergency special than it would be to vote for a Republican selected by four people from a group which has already demonstrated its lack of judgment by supporting the corrupt DeLay in the primary. We are in the situation we're in because a significant number of Republicans were prepared to defect the corrupt DeLay in the general. Every effort should be made to unite the Republican Party now that DeLay is gone. After an emergency special, the "Four" would know which candidate to nominate. Even if the winner of an emergency special was not the first choice of the "Four", he should be nominated for Party unity. It would be unwise for the "Four" to buck the collective preference of tens of thousands of voters.
Admittedly, the big drawback to this plan is that the runoff after an emergency special would undoubtedly be between Lampson and the plurality-winning (not majority winning) Republican. Many states allow plurality wins in primaries already and this would be only a single instance of a plurality-winning Republican getting the nomination. Hey, I’m willing to risk that DeLay’s hand-picked successor, David Wallace, could win in the interest of party unity; why can’t the Organized Republicans risk that Tom Campbell could win in the interest of party unity? (The Organized Republicans fear the Primary Voters may give Campbell a plurality so much, Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill went so far as to suggest the voters are less educated.)
Eric Thode says he wants to have an open process. If he really wants an inclusive process in order to unite Republicans, he should advocate an emergency special. When Chris Elam fingers Thode as the primary opponent to an emergency special, I must concur. If Thode changes his mind and supports an emergency special election, I'm sure he'll be able to change Governor Perry's mind again.
C'mon Eric, put your money where your mouth is. Support an emergency special.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Time Mag: Possible Buckham Indictment may Implicate Two or Three More Republicans
Congress is bracing for the possibility of another round of Abramoff-related news. Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio and his former Chief of Staff Neil Volz both signed waivers last fall extending for six months the statute of limitations on any potential crimes relating to Abramoff; that deadline comes this weekend, and there is much speculation among those who follow the corruption scandal that the first Abramoff-related indictment of a sitting Congressman may be around the corner. And everyone is holding their breath to see if Tom DeLay's former Chief of Staff, Ed Buckham, is indicted — which could ultimately bring another two or three Republican congressmen into the mix.
This is a little more specific than the statement from Sen. Coburn (R-OK) from a couple of weeks ago that six Congressmen and a Senator (no party affiliation mentioned) would go to jail over investigations related to Abramoff and others.
So who are these Republicans specifically linked to Buckham that may be in trouble? Here's my list, more or less in order of culpability:
1. Tom DeLay (R-TX). Wife Christine "employed" by Buckham's Alexander Strategy Group. Conservative Weekly Standard magazine finds no evidence Christine DeLay did any work. Federal investigators are known to be looking into the details of this "employment". Fits the modus operendi of the "Wives Club".I'm thinking about adding JD Hayworth (R-AZ) if I can become more convinced that Mary Hayworth's connection to Buckham is worthy of "Wives Club" status. I did include Mary Hayworth in my "Wives Club" list for her contacts with Abramoff-linked entities in general.
2. John Doolittle (R-CA). Wife Julie Doolittle operated consulting company called Sierra Dominion Financial Services. A full list of SDFS's publicly named clients: John Doolittle's campaign; Abramoff's Signatures Restaurant; Greenberg Traurig (lobbying firm employing Abramoff); and Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, a Buckham-created entity. Fits "Wives Club" profile.
3. Dave Weldon (R-FL). Weldon was instrumental in providing federal funding for Map Roi, a private company owned by a Buckham client. Tenuous link: Weldon received campaign contributions that roughly match the timing of the Map Roi funding. Be prepared to learn much more about Map Roi in the future. I suspect the shareholders of Map Roi might be an interesting reading list, too.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Arrogance in Harris County
Others expressed confidence that the precinct chairmen, whom Texas election law has made kingmakers under the current scenario, best reflect the will of the people.
James Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County GOP, said that his precinct chairmen are writing a questionnaire for prospective candidates to answer and that the chairmen will meet next week to interview the candidates.
“The precinct chairs are probably more educated than 99 percent of the voters,” Woodfill said.
This is the kind of thing Thode was saying two weeks ago! All hail the precinct chairs! Their knowledge is omnipotent! Well, I'm not a precinct chair. With this kind of attitude, this Republican voter may be too stupid to vote for the Republican nominee in November. I'm pleased Thode has recognized the error of his ways. I hope Woodfill learns the same lesson.
Here's the Fort Bend Herald. Thode plays the Goldilocks routine: Those who critize his ballot idea are from the "far right" or "far left". (I don't think I've ever seen Shelley Sekula-Gibbs described as "far right". Maybe she's "far left". I dunno.) Suffice it to say that my support of Thode's "primary" shows that I am well-grounded.
Here's more from the Herald:
"I have received over 100 e-mails from people saying it's a great idea. I even got two or three people, who quite frankly hate me, to support the idea," he [Thode] said.
I don't hate you, Eric.
There seems to be a common theme regarding the criticism of Thode's ballot. Starting with Chris Elam, many are now questioning safeguards against fraud. Fraud is a serious issue, and I hope Thode is prepared to address it. Up until now, he hasn't.
At the end of the day, though, this ballot will be a footnote in the selection process. I can't imagine that the Brazoria, Galveston or Harris precinct chairs will care one bit about Fort Bend's ballot. Besides, Harris County's chairs are smarter than the voters. But I again want to praise Thode for trying to be inclusive in the process to select a candidate. Thode's idea may not work as he intended, but I believe his intent is genuine.
April 26, 2006
OK, so I expressed outrage over Jared Woodfill’s comment that the precinct chairs are more educated than the voters. Chris Elam reminds me that after ranting, I never responded to Woodfill’s claim. Insulting the voters is never a good idea, but I’m learning that one of my weaknesses while writing a blog is that I often sacrifice clarity. I appreciate that Chris gently guided me into something I should have done in the first place.
As regular readers know, I have repeatedly asserted that there is a schism in the Republican Party. On one side are the integrity Republicans who are disenchanted with Tom DeLay’s corruption. During the primary, candidate Tom Campbell articulated the thoughts of most of these Republicans. This group is nearly unanimous in its evaluation of the public record that DeLay at the very least provided the appearance of impropriety with his dealings with Abramoff/Buckham. In fact, for many of this group, the evidence points to basic corruption (see the Wives Club). This group of Republicans values transparency and openness (including an emergency special election to replace DeLay when he resigns) in government. They also want to purge corruption completely out of the Republican Party. Integrity Republicans voted against DeLay in the primary (most voted for Campbell).
On the opposite side of the schism is the establishment Republicans. They feel a sense of entitlement because many of them are members of local Republican Party groups and hold formal positions like the precinct chairs. This is the good-ol-boy Republican Party. They were horrified that Campbell opposed DeLay because noone is supposed to upset the status quo. The establishment Republicans are nearly unanimous that DeLay has been falsely accused of various ethical breaches. This is true when it comes to the Abramoff/Buckham scandal. Establishment Republicans voted for DeLay in the primary.
Now I don’t hide the fact that I have chosen sides and have aligned with the integrity Republicans. I think I am a distinct subset of the majority in that I don’t feel any allegiance to Tom Campbell. But my interests are certainly aligned with Campbell’s supporters.
Obviously integrity Republicans don’t understand how establishment Republicans still support DeLay. Two possibilities enter my mind: (1) Establishment Republicans haven’t evaluated the facts surrounding the Abramoff/Buckham scandal; or (2) Establishment Republicans recognize DeLay’s corruption but condone it. I’m more comfortable with believing that establishment Republicans haven’t acquainted themselves with the facts of DeLay’s corruption rather than believing they condone DeLay’s corruption.
So when Woodfill says that precinct chairs are “more educated” than 99% of the voters, it rings hollow. To the eye of the integrity Republicans, 30-38% of the Republican Party (the integrity Republicans) are very aware of what’s going on. It is the establishment Party that is in denial. Integrity Republicans are very wary of letting the establishment Republicans choose the nominee because the establishment Republicans either can’t see or accept corruption in their midst. On top of that, to be told by the establishment Republicans that they are “better educated” than us? Such hubris!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
DeLay's Letter to the Editor
But Tom DeLay served me up a softball in the Letters to the Editor section in the Chronc. Most of the letter is an angry screed targeting Chris Bell, who had written an unremarkable op/ed piece of his own about DeLay. But what DeLay writes is absolutely amazing:
Secondly, Bell conveniently never mentioned that it was he — not I — who was cited by the ethics committee as having broken House rules.
Now I've seen some uninformed people try to claim that DeLay had never been admonished by the Ethics Committee, but this takes the cake! Let's look at the letter the Ethics Committee sent to DeLay:
As you are aware, the Committee has made a number of decisions regarding the allegations made in the complaint that was filed against you by Representative Bell on June 15, 2004. This letter implements determinations made by the Committee that you be admonished for your conduct in two respects: your participation in and facilitation of an energy company golf fundraiser at The Homestead resort for your leadership PACs on June 2-3, 2002. Those actions were objectionable under House standards of conduct because, at a minimum, they created an appearance that donors were being provided special access to you regarding the then-pending energy legislation.
your intervention in a partisan conflict in the Texas House of Representatives using the resources of a Federal agency, the Federal Aviation Administration. This action raises serious concerns under House standards of conduct that preclude use of governmental resources for a political undertaking.
What in the world is DeLay talking about when he says he hasn't broken House rules? Is he playing some kind of Clintonian word game?
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Senator Coburn (R-OK): Seven Lawmakers Going to Jail
WAGONER, Okla. U-S Senator Tom Coburn isn't naming names, but he expects six congressmen and a fellow senator will go to jail.
That's because he thinks they'll be facing corruption charges following investigations involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Wagoner last night, Coburn said that "if you've been keeping up with things, you've got a pretty good idea" of who the seven lawmakers are.
The Oklahoma Republican says members of both parties have been involved in questionable dealings.
OK, we've got a lot of vagueness here. I'm not 100% sure Coburn is limiting his prediction to Abramoff-related fallout ("investigations involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others"). But I am hopeful that readers of this blog have "been keeping up with things". Therefore, we should have "a pretty good idea" of who the seven are.
Let me kick off with my speculation:
1. *Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA). OK that one may be too easy. Does Coburn even count him?
2. *Rep. Robert Ney (R-OH). Another easy one.
3. *Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). Buckham will give him up. Bribes to Christine DeLay fit "The Wives Club" profile.
4. *Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA). Wife Julie Doolittle looks like she belongs to "The Wives Club".
5. *Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL). Coburn's jail remark came in context to earmarking. Weldon earmarked funds to Buckham client Map-Roi.
6. *Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). Coburn specifically mentions Mollohan's abuse of earmarks in this password protected article.
7. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). Implicated in post Hurricane Katrina corruption. For some reason, I consider Jefferson's malfeasance to be unrelated to the above. But nevertheless, Jefferson's actions deserve detailed attention from the Justice Department.
8. Rep. JD Hayworth (R-AZ). Wife may be linked to "The Wives Club".
1. *Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). Burns is implicated in Abramoff-linked legislation.
2. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). Recipient of Abramoff-linked funds in campaign and non-profit.
3. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND). Recipient of Abramoff-linked funds.
I'd like to make this list more bi-partisan, but unfortunately, I fear Republicans are more culpable than Democrats.
Feel free to make me justify anyone appearing on this list. But more importantly, feel free to use the comments to add names worthy of consideration.
* Denotes the original legislators that I fingered as being likely to be thrown in jail.
April 17, 2006
Right of Texas takes me to task for omitting Harry Reid (D-NV) as our Senatorial candidate. He was right to do so. I'm trying to limit my list to lawmakers who have been named as being the focus of investigators/prosecutors. Harry Reid belongs on that list. I'll see Right of Texas' Harry Reid and raise him one Byron Dorgan (D-ND). Both were mentioned in this Washington Times article as gaining the attention of the Justice Department. Of course, that means I have to add JD Hayworth (R-AZ), too.
While I'm at it, I'm going to reorganize my list above to separate House and Senate members we know are under investigation.
My excuse is that Conrad Burns had been mentioned in articles just last week of being tied to the Abramoff scandals. My crime is that just because something is more recent, it doesn't make the items in our memory less reliable. That's one of the beauties of blogs . . . they have long memories.
Good catch, Right of Texas!
Sunday, April 09, 2006
"The Wives Club"
It is difficult to determine where the U.S. Family Network ends and the Alexander Strategy Group begins. From 1998 to 2002, Christine DeLay was an employee of the Alexander Strategy Group, yet she seems to have been paid out of commissions the Buckhams took from the network. Those payments amounted to around $3,000 a month.
Last November, the DeLays' attorney, Richard Cullen, told the Washington Post that Christine DeLay had been paid $115,000 over three years to, as the Post put it, "determine the favorite charity of every member of Congress." To date, there is no evidence that DeLay compiled a list of 535 charities.
To be fair to the Weekly Standard, the magazine has been consistently difficult on DeLay for his relationship with Abramoff. So it is unjustified to suggest that the Weekly Standard is just now calling DeLay's behavior on the carpet. But I do hope that other conservative publications will now quit defending DeLay's corrupt behavior.
April 10, 2006
I don't know how I missed it, but the New York Times had an on-point article about the lucrative "employment" of Congressional and lobbyist wives:
Lawyers with detailed knowledge of the Justice Department's investigation, who were granted anonymity because of rules barring public discussion of grand jury evidence, say that so many of the wives of lawmakers and lobbyists have become tied up in the investigation that F.B.I. agents have begun referring to them as "The Wives Club."
. . .
Christine A. DeLay, Mr. DeLay's wife, received $115,000 in consulting fees from 1998 to 2002 from a lobbying firm set up by her husband's former chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham, who is also under scrutiny by the Justice Department because of his lobbying contacts with Mr. DeLay's House office.
Although there is no suggestion of any criminal investigation focused on Mrs. DeLay, lawyers involved in the investigation say prosecutors have asked about the circumstances of her hiring by Mr. Buckham and whether it was an effort to influence Mr. DeLay, the former House majority leader. Mr. DeLay announced this week that he was resigning from Congress, saying he wanted to avoid an "ugly" re-election fight this fall that might focus on ethical issues.
I liked the term "The Wives Club" so much, I changed the title of this post. But a Google search of the term indicates I'm a little late to this game.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
After Resigning, Tom DeLay Continues the "Chicken Republican Offensive"
[DeLay] considered his three Republican challengers gadflies and traitors and he was determined to try to block them from succeeding him.
I voted for Campbell. I suppose DeLay thinks I'm a gadfly or traitor simply for wanting my corrupt Congressman out and a solid conservative in. That's OK. I'll be calling DeLay a convicted felon in due time. I'll have the added benefit of actually being accurate.
We also have an article in the National Review. DeLay just can't help but attack the Republicans who voted against him:
Such polarization, DeLay said, left very few undecideds. "What's left are soft moderate Republicans," DeLay explained, "and independents that will vote for anybody but Tom DeLay, that believe for whatever reason that he's a crook, or where there's smoke, there's fire, so the beating that I've been taking has had that impact. And what I saw was it would take a ton of money to take that small group that I could appeal to and turn them around — in the face of getting beat up every day by the mainstream media and paid-for 527s."
I am not an independent. I can count on one hand the number of Democrats I've voted for in my life. So DeLay must think I'm a moderate Republican. I disagree with that label, too (unless moderate means opposed to corruption). My top three voting issues are:
1. Integrity and Character (DeLay failed)
2. National Security (win the War on Terror)
3. Fiscal policy (lower spending and growth-oriented tax cuts -- I'm a supplysider)
I'm pro-life and pro-immigration. The Wall Street Journal editorial page almost never takes positions I disagree with. Is that a moderate Republican? Why did DeLay say that?
But this is the quote that irritates me the most:
"I have a very strong base, an incredibly strong base," DeLay continued. "I've never seen anything like it. People that would die for me. I also have a very strong opposition that would kill me if they could get hold of me."
My opposition was based on principle. DeLay did not exhibit the integrity and character I demand. For this, he suggests the metaphor that I'm his assassin? No, Mr. DeLay, I do have integrity and character. I merely want you held accountable in a court of law.
I would prefer that Mr. DeLay make statements to bring the Republican Party back together. He certainly has done enough through his actions to tear it apart. The man has zero class.
Click this for background on the "Chicken Republican Offensive"
April 5, 2006
It looks like Tom DeLay isn't the only one to attack those Republicans who voted against DeLay in the primary. Here is what HoustonDemocrats.com has to say:
The only question is whether the reformer Pugs are gonna take this lying down, or put up a fight to get one of DeLay's former challengers in there. What move they make next will show how serious they are about fixing Congress. Takers, anyone?
But my substantive answer to that question is that there's no need to choose one of the former challengers. I'm not sure why this website would even claim that should be a priority. For me, I'll say that I'm pretty confident that the Republican powers that be won't choose someone with ethical baggage. Most anyone would be acceptable over a Democrat. We did the serious work. We got rid of DeLay. That was something the Democrats couldn't do. Don't suggest we're not serious because we don't insist on a primary challenger.
I think that HoustonDemocrats.com just wants to create more dissension in the Republican Party. But their tactics make them look foolish. Besides, with DeLay attacking us and the Republican powers that be plotting to keep us from voting for DeLay's replacement, the Republican Party is doing plenty to keep the base fractured.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Tom DeLay to Resign
I am pleased that the corrupt Congressman from TX22 will resign. I see Sugar Land mayor David Wallace is running in a May special election to replace DeLay. I will make a broad, unsubstantiated statement that I think that the Fort Bend Republican Party is, in general, unethical. Anyone outside of FBC will have my vote in a special. I'd like to see Harris County Judge Robert Eckels on my ballot in November. Whoever the Republican candidate is will have my vote.
Let noone say that Republicans don't hold their own accountable. 38% of GOP primary voters voted against DeLay, primarily for issues of ethics, integrity and character. DeLay, unlike Clinton, at least had the integrity to resign.
I see that DeLay is claiming that he is still innocent. It doesn't take a genious to figure out that is spin. I still want him held accountable in the judicial system.
The GOP remains the party of ethics, integrity and character.
So long . . .
April 3, 2006
From Time Magazine
Tom DeLay: "The state Republican executive committee will go to work and I will move to Virginia."
Move to Virginia, eh? I hope he has no plans to become a lobbyist! :)
Sunday, April 02, 2006
"Employment for the Relatives of Officials"
The most interesting thing I read in The Factual Basis for the Plea of Tony Rudy appears on page three. In paragraph nine, I learn that "The things of value corruptly given to . . . others included . . . employment for the relatives of officials."
The vagueness of this statement leads me to believe that this is, in part, some of the information Rudy will give to investigators. Here is my bleg: What relatives of officials were given employment? I assume that "officials" must be government employees, but I would also like to hear any disagreement on that assumption.
Let me kick off:
1. Lisa Rudy. According to Tony Rudy's statement, Lisa Rudy's consulting firm, Liberty Consulting received payments from Abramoff related sources for seven months while he was still employed by DeLay. The fact that Tony Rudy went into some detail about this in his statement leads me to believe that his own wife is not one of the "others" mentioned in paragraph nine.
2. Christine DeLay. Wife of Tom DeLay, she was paid in excess of $100,000 by Ed Buckham's firm, Alexander Strategy Group. DeLay's lawyer said that Christine DeLay earned this money by providing Buckham a list of lawmakers' favorite charities.
3. Julie Doolittle. Wife of Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), Julie owned Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions. Her firm had four clients according to the San Diego Union Tribune: John Doolittle's PAC, Abramoff's lobbying firm, Abramoff's restaurant, and an organization created by Ed Buckham.
4. Mary Hayworth. Wife of Rep. J. D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Mary Hayworth is the sole employee of J. D. Hayworth's PAC, T.E.A.M. PAC. According to KPHO-TV, T.E.A.M. PAC has paid Mary Hayworth $130,000 while receiving $83,000 in Abramoff-related contributions. I'm sure T.E.A.M. PAC did a lot more than receive money from Abramoff. This means the Mary Hayworth connection is much less direct than the others, but I'm trying to populate my list with plausible candidates.
Please respond in the comments if you have any other possibilities for our "relatives of officials" who may have received sham employment.