Friday, March 30, 2007
Person A; Organization A
1. Representative #1 - Bob Ney - GUILTY
2. Representative #2 - Tom DeLay - Not charged
3. Staffer A - Tony Rudy - GUILTY
4. Staffer B - Neil Volz - GUILTY
5. Staffer C - Will Heaton - GUILTY
Now, I'm going to broaden the scope of this analysis to include people outside of government with similar cutesy names found in court documents.
6. Lobbyist A - Jack Abramoff - GUILTY*
7. Lobbyist B - Ed Buckham - Not charged
With the recent guilty plea from J. Steven Griles, we get new court documents and new cutesy names:
3. "Person A" was the founder and operator of "Organization A", a purported tax-exempt organization created in or about 1997. Since its inception, Orgranization A operated through contributions from donors, including Abramoff and his clients.
Like the other generic names, it doesn't take a genious to figure out who "Person A" and "Organization A" are. Quite frankly, I don't understand why the Justice Department doesn't identify these people outright. Maybe the purpose is to guide people who aren't so smart (like me) into figuring out where the investigation is going. So who are "Person A" and "Organization A"?
8. Person A - Italia Federici - Not charged
9. Organization A - Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (CREA)
As I've mentioned many times before, I'm not a lawyer. It is not clear to me whether an organization like CREA can face criminal charges. I would tend to think only real human beings can commit crimes, but remember that Arthur Anderson was criminally convicted (albeit briefly) during the Enron scandal.
Five of the eight *persons* with cutesy names have been convicted. Expect the other three to be held criminally accountable, including Tom DeLay.
* Jack Abramoff has been convicted of crimes not directly related to the government-by-lobbyist scandal.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Steven Griles - GUILTY
The AP article hints that my speculation may be on the right track, but there is nothing dispositive to hang my hat on:
The extent of Abramoff's reach at Interior is still somewhat unclear. The court papers echo the Senate committee's account of events.
Abramoff directed his tribal clients to give $500,000 to [Italia] Federici's Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy from March 2001 to May 2003, about the time when Griles and Federici ended their romantic relationship. They began dating in 1998.
Federici co-founded the advocacy council with [former Interior Secratary Gale] Norton — before Norton joined the Bush administration — and with Grover Norquist, a conservative GOP activist, college friend of Abramoff and a close ally of Bush.
Griles had a dating relationship with Italia Federici? Wow! Anyone that guy dates gets in trouble. Remember that his current squeeze, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, had to resign from the Justice Department recently over this matter.
There was one disappointing sentence from the AP:
The [plea] agreement does not require Griles to help investigators with their grand jury probe.
Does this mean that the investigation into Interior is over with Griles? Maybe, maybe not. This portion of the scandal has only interested me at the margin. And it is still as murky as ever.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Bob Novak on DeLay's Book
Disappointingly, Novak declares that "DeLay was the most conservative congressional leader I have witnessed in 50 years covering Capitol Hill." It must not have been fiscal conservatism. Gingrich and Armey slowed the growth of government so much that we achieved a balanced budget far earlier than President Clinton ever thought was possible. DeLay's claim to fame is the Medicare Drug bill which he "hammered" through Congress over conservative dissent. That was the biggest new entitlement in nearly 40 years.
DeLay was certainly not an effective social conservative, either. Social conservatives really have nothing to show for their 12 year majority. No progress has been made on abortion, though that is largely out of the control of Congress. Gay marriage has ground down to a stalemate with each side making some headway in some places. Really, what is the crowning achievement for the social conservative cause during the 12-year Republican majority?
Then we have DeLay's government-by-lobbyist regime. That is the antithesis to conservatism. Judging from the behavior of the local party, perhaps DeLay was a model of the Republican Party, but he was certainly no conservative.
I end with a quote from a true conservative, a person I have previously identified as an Integrity Republican:
Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a leading conservative reformer, describes DeLay's leadership as concentrating on redistricting, fundraising and distribution of pork.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
[DeLay] acknowledges that he "let [his] eye off the ball" and allowed some big-spending turkeys to pass the House. "The No Child Left Behind bill that gave the feds a bigger role in education, the last Farm Bill and the earmarks that got out of control even though they represent only a small part of the federal budget were all failings on my part," he told me. But he also staunchly defended the Medicare prescription drug bill he helped pass in a controversial late-night vote in 2003, saying it's saving money and improving the health of seniors by encouraging spending on drugs rather than hospital stays.
So Tom DeLay holds himself halfway accountable for being a big spender. I've only really made two indictments against DeLay. First that he's corrupt, and second that he was a big spender. Incredibly, DeLay still holds on to the premise that the prescription drug bill was a good idea. I'll be paying for that for decades to come. I have no evidence that DeLay isn't sincere in his confession here. I would have preferred that he lump in the prescription drug benefit with NCLB and earmarks in general. (Notice that DeLay only bemoans Farm Bill earmarks. DeLay was an aficionado of earmarks, though I doubt many of his were in the Farm Bill.)
This is where I find DeLay particularly galling:
Though Mr. DeLay insists on honoring the media embargo, he did offer one cryptic comment about the book's contents: "I'm afraid that Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey will not be completely happy with my book."
I suspect that DeLay is trying to protect the image of his legacy here. My position is pretty well baked in the history of this blog. DeLay's actual legacy is the loss of the Republican majorities in Congress. So why would DeLay attack Armey and Gingrich to protect his legacy? Because those two are telling the truth about DeLay.
In this interview, Armey says DeLay was a liability to the Republican Party. Armey faults Republicans for excessive spending and says DeLay is "conniving" and isn't "a good person". I guess that's as close as Armey wanted to get to "corrupt".
I also observed Gingrich taking some shots at DeLay. Five months prior to the November elections, Gingrich basically predicted that the dearth of ideas in the Republican Party under DeLay would cost the GOP its majorities in Congress. Gingrich also criticized the "Hammer" style of leadership. The most irritating example of that was the Prescription Drug bill.
I like Gingrich and Armey. They were committed to conservative ideals. As I've said, when Gingrich (and later Armey) left the house, there was noone to restrain DeLay's greed. Ultimately, that led to government-by-lobbyist and the Abramoff scandal.
So don't let DeLay fool you. Gingrich and Armey are the true architects of the 1994 Republican Revolution (although DeLay did help draft the Contract with America). DeLay turned something good in the late 1990s into the cesspool of the first half of this decade. Eventually, DeLay destroyed the Republican majorities created in 1994. Don't let him revise history.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Jared Woodfill has no Principles
Some Republicans are threatening to withhold future political support for County Judge Robert Eckels unless he backs a high-profile elected official as his successor rather than a relatively obscure former lawmaker.
"This decision is extremely important to whether the base will get behind Eckels if he runs for higher office," said County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill.
. . .
Many GOP precinct chairs want Eckels and the Commissioners Court to tap a Republican official already holding countywide office, such as District Clerk Charles Bacarisse or Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt, Woodfill said.
. . .
Woodfill said precinct chairs are concerned that the Democrats will field a strong candidate in the 2008 election to serve out the remaining two years of Eckels' four-year term. The election for the next four-year term will be in 2010.
Now legally, Harris County Republican precinct chairs have no authority in selecting Eckels' replacement. That authority rests soley with the five-member Commissioners' Court. My personal guiding principle is that, in a representative democracy, decisions such as this should include the broadest segment of the electorate as possible. In this particular instance, I agree with Woodfill and the GOP precinct chairs when they contend Commissioners' Court, even though they have legal authority to appoint Eckels' replacement, should seek broader input.
There was a time, though, when Woodfill didn't think that such decisions should include any more people than legally required. After Tom DeLay won the 2006 GOP primary election, he abruptly announced he was leaving Congress. Like the Eckels case, the results of a recent election were rendered irrelevant. During a period of legal ambiguity, it was believed that GOP precinct chairs had the authority to select DeLay's replacement on the general election ballot. True to my principles, I argued that the precinct chairs should seek the input from a broader segment of the electorate. But because Woodfill has no guiding principles, he made arguements completely opposite of the ones he made this week. Woodfill insulted the Republican electorate and insisted that since the GOP precinct chairs had legal authority to select DeLay's replacement, there was no need for them to seek any other input:
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.
. . .
“The precinct chairs are probably more educated than 99 percent of the voters,” [Jared] Woodfill said.
I'm looking for Woodfill's quote regarding Eckels' departure where he says that the precinct chairs are probably more educated than 99 percent of the Harris County Commissioners. Can anyone help me out on that one?
Friday, March 02, 2007
Department of Interior IG Fingers Abramoff
''From my office's perspective,'' Devaney said, reading from written testimony, ''I would point to the Abramoff scandal as an example of how the conduct of one or two people can cause an enormous diversion of resources, best evidenced by the commitment we have made to that investigation, with 10 agents dedicated to the case, now three years running.
Now this is a little cryptic to me. Who are these "one or two people" who can "cause and enormous diversion of resources"? I infer Devaney is referring to Abramoff and his associates, not DoI employees.
I find this quote from the article much more interesting:
Despite charges of a criminal conspiracy at the Interior Department and attacks on his own investigatory report, Interior Inspector General Earl Devaney maintained a stoic insistence Feb. 16 that the department is becoming more ethical and more accountable under Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
Criminal conspiracy at the Interior Department? That may be a little hyperbole based on what we know now. I have speculated that former Interior Secretary Gale Norton has some legal liability over some payments by Abramoff and his clients to an outfit founded by Norton. What Norton did in return remains a mystery to me. But I certainly find it interesting that IG Devaney believes there is more accountability at Interior under Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
The Fat and Corrupt Republican Establishment
"We as conservatives need new leaders," Richard Viguerie, the conservative father of political direct mail told hundreds of cheering conservatives in a Washington ballroom. "Just because the Republican Party has a death wish doesn't mean we have to go down with them."
For a party that grew and achieved in large part by force of its unity, this rift between conservatives and the Republican power structure is profound. It could be either the ruin of the GOP or the re-making of it.
"[T]he ruin of the GOP or the re-making of it." I agree. Even before the November elections, I called this very rift a fight over the "heart and soul of the Republican Party".
According to Mason, a symbol of this rift is none other than our own former Congressman, Tom DeLay:
For a symbol of this shift look no further than Tom DeLay of Sugar Land. The former House majority leader last year headlined the group's marquee Reagan banquet event, along with Ambassador John Bolton.
Since then, DeLay left office under an ethics cloud and has vowed to remain a prominent voice in the conservative movement, through his Grassroots Action/Information Network. Even so, DeLay's only appearance at the event is a Saturday afternoon panel discussion on the traditionally lightly attended last day.
Part of the reason can be traced to the full-throated rhetoric of the conference's first day, which made clear that many conservatives feel betrayed by the Republican establishment, which they believe has grown fat and corrupt.
Isn't that the basic premise of this blog? I've railed against what I've termed as the "Establishment Republicans". For whatever reason, they've accepted corruption in their midst. They supported politicians who supposedly don't share their preference for fiscal restraint. I still don't understand why the local party establishment supported DeLay in the 2006 primary. Were they fat and corrupt with power, too?
The CPAC crowd wants a return to the principles that led the 1994 Republican Revolution. Those include a renewed commitment to fiscal restraint and no tolerance for corrupt politicians (Even if they happen to be Republican).
But Viguerie said DeLay was a symbol of the GOP abandoning its core principles, leaving some conservatives sitting out last week's election. -- Houston Chronicle, November 12, 2006