Thursday, May 31, 2012

Voters Are Getting Sick Of Political Corruption-- As Buck McKeon Is About To Discover


Can corrupt incumbents, heavily financed by lobbyists and the industries they're supposed to regulate, be defeated? Historically, the answer would have to be, "almost never." This year, though, something is changing. Pennsylvania Blue Dog Tim Holden's defeat at the hands of political newcomer Matt Cartwright was nothing short of stunning for the corrupt Beltway establishment. Tuesday night we saw an almost identical phenomenon in El Paso, when a young and energetic reformer, Beto O'Rourke, vanquished one of the worst Military Industrial Complex shills in Washington, Silvestre Reyes. Reyes was elected in 1996 and Holden was elected in 1992. Both are likely to cross the real DC aisle and become lobbyists themselves. Yesterday's win for Beto O'Rourke in El Paso was surely the best news for progressives but it wasn't the only good news. Kenneth Sanders beat a fake Democrat, Brianna Hinojosa-Flores, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex district currently held by Big Oil's most prominent congressional whore, Joe Barton. Sanders won big and he won early and now he has to go up against the biggest recipient of Big Oil cash in DC. Sanders, Tuesday night after his victory: "It took a lot of passion and energy to get to this moment, but I have a lot more commitment and drive to offer in the upcoming general election." He'll need it.

the 10 biggest congressional Oil briber-takers since 1989

He took the moment as an opportunity to remind his supporters that Barton is not the candidate for District 6, but the candidate for Washington lobbyists.

“I am a strong democrat who stands for democratic values. Unlike Joe Barton, I’m not a leader in the “Party of NO.” I am going to work for the people of District 6, not the Washington lobbyists who are out of touch with our needs,” Sanders said.

Sanders continued, “I am prepared to fight for healthcare and Medicare, to create jobs, and to improve schools. I’m prepared to stand up for every resident in District 6, not just the wealthy. I know this district, and unlike Barton, I’m ready to fight for its needs.” He ended his speech by asking for continued support throughout the rest of election season and reminding everyone it’s not going to be easy, but he is prepared.

“We’ve just completed one part of the race, but the last leg is the hardest. I’m fired up, and I hope you are too,” Sanders said.

Sanders will have a very rough time. The old 6th CD gave Bush 66% against Gore and 66% against Kerry. And in 2008 it gave McCain 60%. Under the new boundaries, McCain would have won with 57%. Big Oil isn't likely to lose their most dedicated congressional servant this time around-- but, of course, "no one" though Holden or Reyes could possibly lose either. Still, a far better bet for cautious insiders would be Lee Rogers' race against another corrupt incumbent, Buck McKeon, in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County, the last Republican left in a primarily L.A. district. Obama won the old district 49-48% and he would have won under the new boundaries by the same percent. But the Republican civil war in CA-25 makes it nearly impossible for McKeon to win-- to the point where Republicans are already endorsing Rogers against him-- even before a primary with 3 Republicans in it!

McKeon's corruption, much like Reyes' and Holden's is perfectly normal in DC. It's what makes the system work. Let me repeat how Jack Abramoff-- and if anyone understands Beltway corruption it's him-- defined bribery in his book Capitol Punishmen:
[C]ontributions from parties with an interest in legislation are really nothing but bribes. Sure, it's legal for the most part. Sure, everyone in Washington does it. Sure it's the way the system works. It's one of Washington's dirty little secrets-- but it's bribery just the same...

But the voters back home are stunned when they find out. They were in PA-17 and they were in TX-16. TX-6, Barton's district, might be a stretch, but in CA-25, where McKeon is sinking in a swamp of scandal after scandal, voters are taking note. And now, even DC is starting to notice. (Not the DCCC, of course. They'll notice after the Cook Report does and that will be the first Wednesday of November. But yesterday one of the big DC think tanks took note that there's a bad guy in California taking a lot of bribes from the Military Industrial Complex. Here are the ten biggest bribe takers from the war industry so far this cycle; and it includes both houses of Congress:

And here's Eli Clifton's report, Defense Industry Campaign Contributions Create Incentive For 'Pentagon Pork' from Think Progress. No mention of Lee Rogers, but at least they spelled McKeon's name correctly.
Earlier this month, House lawmakers passed a $643 billion defense budget draft, $4 billion more than the president’s defense budget request and $8 billion more than the cap set on defense spending Congress last year. The bill’s passage brought criticisms from House Democrats and Pentagon officials-- including Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey-- and stood in striking contrast to recent polling data showing that 65 percent of Americans would support cuts to military spending. But generous campaign contributions from the defense industry, and related industries that benefit from other Defense Department contracts, may explain the willingness of House Republicans to ignore the preferences of the American public and the military’s leadership.

An investigation for by defense budgeting expert Winslow Wheeler into “Pentagon pork” found that “the money being added for ‘Restoration & Modernization of Facilities’ was being added without any meaningful guidance, none whatsoever.” Funding for “Restoration & Modernization of Facilities,” which Wheeler characterizes as a having “the distinct odor of being a slush fund,” totals $594.7 million.

But the House Armed Services Committee members who passed the oversized defense budget draft may have other interests in mind. Four of the top-ten industry campaign donors to House Armed Services Committee members, as categorized by, would appear to benefit from this “slush fund.” “Defense Aerospace,” “Real Estate,” “Misc Defense,” and “Building Trade Unions,” already contributed a total of $4.89 million to House Armed Services Committee members in the 2012 election cycle. The majority of that went to Republicans.

And House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and his leadership PAC are the top congressional recipients of defense industry campaign dollars.

...The apparent contradiction of House Armed Services Committee members passing an oversized defense budget which exceeds that requested by the military and defies the U.S. public’s preference for a reduction in defense spending makes more sense when viewed in the context of defense industry, and industries which benefit directly and indirectly from defense related appropriations, contributions to committee member’s campaign committees and leadership PACs. Indeed, the contributions offer a monetary incentive for committee members to advocate for additional budget items-- such as an East Coast missile defense system which Gen. Demspsey said was unnecessary-- and create “Pentagon pork.”

The Antelope Valley, which is filled with defense industries is not sympathetic to McKeon's reelection bid. A recent poll showed him being slaughtered by Rogers, 46.25-25.0% in a 4-way jungle primary. His morning Rogers told us that he supports a strong national defense program, strong and smart and effective. "But Buck McKeon's idea of a strong defense is overfunding the Pentagon beyond what they need or even want," Rogers told us. "Where will that extra funding go? To his campaign contributors, of course. His budget violates the Budget Control Act of 2011, which he voted for. But as the spending caps on defense and domestic spending become a reality for him, he's resorted to hysterics. He's all of a sudden discovered Keynesian economics and now believes that government spending will lead to more jobs and prevent an economic downturn, but only if that spending is on defense. People in our district want their Congressman to be responsible with our tax dollars and be responsive to the needs of the district. He's failed at both tasks."

Matt Cartwright and Beto O'Rourke won without any money from the DCCC or the corrupt DC Establishment. Lee Rogers will win the same way. Will you help him, the way so many of us helped Matt and Beto? You can do it here at the Blue America ActBlue page. The more candidates elected who are not supported by the corrupt DCCC-- and who owe them nothing-- the better off for progressives and the better off for American working families. Let's say NO to corruption. That's what the GOP is for & that's one place we don't need any bipartisanship.

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