Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Dirty Is David Vitter?


With his November re-election prospects shaky, David Vitter is running up and down the Louisiana coast like a chicken without a head trying to identify himself with every effort the Federal government-- the one he has fought so long and hard to defund-- makes on behalf of his constituents threatened by the oil gusher threatening their livelihoods. He tends to not mention that he has been one of the most ardent supporters of the Republican "Drill, Baby, Drill" nonsense and that he has worked consistently to thwart the kinds of regulations that could have prevented the catastrophe now playing out in the Gulf. In fact, he's been the Senate's #1 proponent of getting rid of "red tape" to give oil companies like BP a free hand to drill away without safety regulations. I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but this year Big Oil has given $225,300 in thinly veiled bribes to Vitter, second in Congress only to equally greasy corporate shill, Blanche Lincoln ($265,650). Since Vitter first ran for Congress Big Oil has been a real gusher for him-- donating $766,535 towards his political career. And don't worry; he's paid them back-- with interest. With the worst environmental score of any member of the Senate, Vitter has also worked assiduously on the side of Big Oil and against the interests of ordinary Louisiana residents.
Vitter hasn't been shy about defending oil companies, even since the spill began. During Tuesday's hearing examining the crisis, Vitter announced that the whole thing was "a mistake," saying the hearing was "pulling some amount of focus and resources away from that ongoing disaster." [he] still supports offshore drilling.

But considering the administration has, effectively, admitted that the oversight and regulation of offshore drilling wasn't tight enough-- by proposing to split the federal agency that oversees the industry into two parts, one that enforces the rules and another that collects checks from oil companies-- perhaps reducing "needless regulatory red tape" on ocean wells, as Vitter's proposal would have done, isn't the solution to America's problems right now.

Thing is, Vitter may be a lot of things-- a whoremonger and pervert probably comes first to mind, then a knee-jerk partisan obstructionist and reactionary-- but he has one trait every lobbyist on K Street ad back in Baton Rouge knows they can count on: when you buy David Vitter, he stays bought. His extensive diaper collection has brought him into close proximity with the dry cleaning industry and he's developed quite the relationship there.

Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has been all over Vitter's case over his serial ethics violations and especially for his cozy and probably criminal relationship involved with the dry cleaning scandal. (By the way, he's still refusing to return the money; more about that below.)
CREW’s complaint alleges that the [U.S. Dry Cleaning Corporation] reimbursed four of its employees and their spouses for $38,400 in illegal campaign contributions to David Vitter for U.S. Senate in order to obtain Sen. Vitter's assistance in obtaining federal stimulus funds. One of the four employees, Jamal Ogbe, had admitted to the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the corporation had reimbursed him for his $4,800 contribution to Sen. Vitter's campaign."

Melanie Sloan explained CREW's rationale:
Corporate conduit contribution schemes like the one described by Mr. Ogbe rarely involve a single employee. Investigations of such schemes often show that a corporation has used its employees as straw donors to funnel tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress in an effort to obtain an unfair advantage over competitors seeking federal funds. The FEC should investigate to determine the extent of U.S. Dry Cleaning’s campaign finance law violations as well as whether Sen. Vitter knowingly participated in this illegal scheme.

There has been no word on what kind of discounts U.S. Dry Cleaning gives Vitter in his never-ending stream of soiled diapers and BP refuses to say if Vitter's diaper collection will be part of their junk shot to plug up the oil gusher. Funny? Well it wasn't funny that Vitter's presence was missing from this news clip:

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