What Does Buck McKeon Fear?
I hope you're following the Buck McKeon saga. The ending will be explosive. Monday's episode will catch you up and put what we're going to look at today in perspective.
So what does ole Buck fear? His life is one big tangle of fears, but today he has three big ones, two from federal prosecutors and one from voters in CA-25 (Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley). He's scared witless that voters in his district will figure out that his vote in favor of the TARP bankster bailout was connected to his huge Countrywide bribe. And of course it was. That leads to what scares him about the feds. Sooner or later someone is going to ask how it's possible that the house he bought at 25305 Joyce Place in Stevenson Ranch cost him $261,000 on August 15, 1997, but one year later his pal Angelo Mozilo let him refi it, under extraordinary terms, for an additional $315,000. What was the quid pro quo?
His other fear is that one of the shady donors-- a defense contractor who funneled money into his wife's campaign at his request-- will, under pressure, turn state's evidence and put him behind bars. One has to wonder if he will figure out that following Elton Gallegly into retirement is his only way to extricate himself from this mess.
When the Countrywide scandal started to break, McKeon's emergency damage-control team sent him a memo advising him to keep away from local reporters and to set up a meeting with the newspaper's editors instead. They suggested a practice session so he could go over possible tough questions and get his story "straight." They outlined 11 tough questions he'd have to prepare for:
1. How could you not know?
2. Did you not review your own loan documents?
3. You may not have known when you applied for the mortgage, but didn't you notice a difference in the rates when you signed fr the mortgage?
4. Why did you go to Countrywide to obtain a mortgage?
5. How were you given an FOA [Friend of Angelo] designation?
6. Did you ever meet Angelo?
7. What is your relationship with Countrywide? Lobbyist?
8. How much money have you been given by Countrywide? Was Countrywide part of teh bailout?
9. You voted for TARP; was it because of special interest money/treatment you received by big banks?
10. Are there any other instances where you were given special tratment because of your position?
11. If you don't remember receiving this special treatment, how can you be so sure that you haven't received special treatment in other instances?
If the House Ethics Committee wasn't part of DC's incumbent-protection racket, McKeon would already have been asked to resign from Congress by his pal Boehner. Inside the Beltway media is starting to notice you're running a House of Crooks, Mr. Speaker, just like Tom DeLay was.
An increasing number of House Republicans are getting wrapped up in allegations of ethics violations ahead of the November elections, handing Democrats easy campaign fodder and putting the GOP in an unexpected bind.
Republican leaders in the lower chamber pledged to run an ethically sound ship when they took control last year. But as the second session gets under way, nearly a dozen GOP lawmakers are being questions on a wide array of their financial dealings, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not publicly admonished them.
...By next Monday the House Ethics Committee is slated to decide whether to formally investigate Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.). Moreover, allegations arose over this past weekend that Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) might have accepted illegal campaign donations, according to The New York Times.
Additionally, there are the three Republicans-- Reps. Pete Sessions (Texas), Buck McKeon (Calif.) and Elton Gallegly (Calif.)-- who earlier this month were referred to the House Ethics Committee for taking part in Countrywide’s VIP mortgage program, aimed at gaining special favor from lawmakers.
Sessions serves as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), while Buchanan serves as the GOP reelection arm’s finance chairman. Grimm is one of the NRCC’s regional chairs.
...“House Republicans are standing idly by while federal investigations and scandals mount against leading members of their own caucus,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Republicans pledged a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on ethics but after all these scandals, voters are going to send a forceful and unmistakable message: they have zero tolerance for scandal-plagued House Republicans,” Ferguson said.
So the damage control memo-- which also suggests dragging another FOA, neighboring Elton Gallegly, into the mess-- was dated January 6, 2012. Ole Elton suddenly announced he was retiring January 7, 2012. Also that memo on the 6th discusses how McKeon should respond-- as in mislead-- the press about the Countrywide revelations. On the 13th he announced he was shocked to hear them, a blatant borne out by the memo. His opponent, Lee Rogers, has a post up on his campaign blog that points out McKeons denials raise more questions than they answer.
“On Friday, Representative McKeon met with The Signal and the Antelope Valley Press to review the documents related to his controversial Countrywide VIP loan. I’m glad Mr. McKeon listened to me and many of his constituents, who called for him to be more transparent on the issue and release his loan documents. In his interview, he defended himself by stating that his loan interest rate was near the prevailing rate in October of 1998, which constituted evidence that he didn’t receive favored treatment.
“However, this doesn’t exclude favoritism because he may not have qualified for the prevailing rate. His business was failing and went bankrupt shortly after that time. Howard and Phil’s Western Wear was millions of dollars in corporate debt, including $400,000 in unpaid state sales taxes.
“The House Oversight Committee uncovered evidence that Rep. McKeon was referred to the Countrywide VIP program by a lobbyist from the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. They also reported that CEO Anthony Mozilo intervened in McKeon’s mortgage and personally approved his loan without any documentation of assets, liabilities, or income.
“Mozilo instructed the loan officer to cut the interest rate by 1 percent, which equates to $68,000 in savings for McKeon over 30 years. This would be a mortgage not available to other borrowers. Those are the facts. Additionally, this also raises a question about how McKeon was able to refinance a home he purchased one year earlier for an additional $315,000.
“The House Oversight Committee reviewed the same documents and found enough evidence to refer this matter to the House Ethics Committee for an investigation.
“Because of the atrocious acts of Countrywide Financial Corp., we must hold accountable those who instigated the housing crisis. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has previously stated that the Countrywide VIP program was nothing less than a bribe to those who were in positions of power. We await the results of the House Ethics Committee’s investigation.”
Other Things Buck McKeon Fears
Interviews like the one investigative journalist Lee Fang did with KHTS, which expose his corruption to a wider audience of voters.
KHTS: I’m reading the article and I’m saying to myself is there anything illegal or just inappropriate?
LF: I talked to some McCain-Feingold experts, that’s the campaign finance law on the books, and they said in this case there’s no evidence of illegal conduct. That being said, it’s clear that this lobbyist Mark Valente, this defense contract lobbyist, is trying to get around the Federal limit. The law that limits the amount he can give to a member. He’s basically circumventing the Federal law and giving to McKeon’s wife who is running for the State Assembly. This is legal, but it raises serious ethical concerns, because California has different rules and by giving to Patrician McKeon, or coordinating funds to her, he can basically give her unlimited amounts.
KHTS: He might say just because you give to my wife that’s not any influence on me.
LF: Sure, and that’s completely fair but there’s an interesting kind of pattern here. Buck McKeon has been very unusual for a member of Congress. He’s put his wife on his Congressional campaign staff for the last 10 years. A few members of Congress have done this but in various small kind of ways. I know there’s a Congressman in Maryland who puts his aunt as bookkeeper and pays her about $10,000 a year. But for Buck McKeon he’s put Patricia on his payroll and paid her over half a million dollars over the last 10 years and I believe he’s also paid other family members for Web development, for maintaining his campaign website. Large payments as much as $1,000 a month. So, there’s a strange pattern here where it at least gives the appearance that McKeon is open to the idea of his campaign contributors funneling money to his family.
KHTS: Other than this instance with Patricia, is there another instance that you’re seeing?
LF: I’ve seen reports that David Logan, who is the husband of McKeon’s daughter Tricia, has been paid by the McKeon campaign. And more than that, the Wall Street Journal had a big story, I believe two or three weeks ago, showing that Countrywide, which was caught giving bribes to several Democratic senators several years ago also gave a preferential mortgage to Buck McKeon in the late '90s, so this is a serious ethical cloud and the payments to Patricia McKeon add to that pattern.
(Editor’s note: McKeon officials have rebuffed requests from KHTS to provide copies of the Countrywide loan documents.)
And there's the local newspapers. Who reads them? Just the local voters. Most people in CA-25 don't read the Ventura Star, except the folks in Simi Valley, a new part of the district that's never been represented by McKeon, but have just met him in this feature story:
As a general rule, major defense contractors don't get involved in campaigns for state political offices. There's no Pentagon in Sacramento, and the governor doesn't have an army.
That is changing this year in the race for the new 38th Assembly District, campaign finance reports filed Tuesday revealed.
Republican candidate Patricia McKeon, wife of Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, reported $19,200 in contributions from seven defense contractors or their representatives, including four of the top five recipients of U.S. military contracts. That amount represents more than one-fifth of the money she raised last year, other than a personal loan she made to her campaign.
The contributions, said a spokesman for Common Cause of California, are a clear sign that military contractors are seeking to gain favor with the Republican congressman whose committee oversees U.S. military operations.
"We believe this is a way for these companies to influence Congressman McKeon," said Phillip Ung. "The success of her candidacy absolutely affects him. It affects their family's income and the family's political future."
Hi, Simi Valley, meet your new (corrupt, scumbag) congressman, old Buck McKeon! And of course, Buck is very fearful that Boehner will ask him to step down as chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Why would Boehner do that? Buck sure seems to be taking an inordinate amount of bribes from defense contractors and laundering them through his wife's campaign. Could get embarrassing for the GOP as the election ramps up.
Disclosures posted last evening at the California Secretary of State’s Web site confirm that a flood of military contractor money has flowed to Patricia McKeon, who is running for an open Assembly seat in a district that overlaps that of her husband Republican Congressman Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
...In her first few months of fundraising, Patricia McKeon collected at least $19,200 from defense contractors or their registered lobbyists. Her husband of 49 years is already the top recipient of military industry cash in Congress, so some of the contributions to his wife appear to be an attempt to get around federal campaign contribution limits.
Lockheed Martin, a company locked in a pitched battle to stave off cuts to the lucrative F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, cut Patricia McKeon’s campaign a $3,000 check.
Congressman Buck McKeon has rigorously defended the jets, despite growing concerns that the planes will run almost $90 million over budget each.
The lobbying firm Beau Butler LLC gave Patricia McKeon as well. Beau Butler lobbies for Proxy Aviations, a drone company. Although its not clear why a drone maker would rally to Patricia McKeon’s call to end plastic bag taxes, the industry is an important cause for Buck McKeon. He’s co-chair of a caucus dedicated to promoting drones for both military and civillian purposes.