Buck McKeon's High Flying DC Career Just Ran Into The Reality Of Back Home
Yesterday Lee Fang reported on how arms manufacturers and war contractors were wining and dining Buck McKeon at a fancy Ritz-Carlton gala to thank him for larding the defense budget up with wasteful pork the Pentagon doesn't want. McKeon is the number 1 recipient of bribes from war-related industries in the entire Congress, more even than any senator
Congress' top bribery-takers from arms manufacturers
And if that wasn't enough, arms makers who had maxed out to his campaign were urged-- illegally-- to contribute to his wife Patricia's California Assembly campaign. (She was badly defeated by Ed Headington and Scott Wilk Tuesday in a primary where the McKeon family corruption was a major issue.) Transparent bribes to Buck McKeon by arms manufacturers via his wife's Assembly campaign is another piece of the puzzle emerging for aghast voters in Simi Valley, Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley congressional district where McKeon once reigned supreme. He may still rule the roost at House Armed Services Committee meetings but back home his name is mud.
While government services are being slashed and every American told that they can expect less retirement benefits, Congress is moving to increase the amount taxpayers hand over to defense companies. From the F-35 jet, which will carry a lifetime cost of over $1.45 trillion dollars, to a $594 million“slush fund” of new Pentagon programs, lawmakers continue to shovel incredible amounts of precious public dollars over to military contractors.
The reason for this spending extravaganza should be obvious: Defense companies have some of the most effective and expensive lobbying strategies of any special interest.
And last Thursday, at the Ritz Carlton of Tyson’s Corner just outside the Beltway, a legion of military contractors convened to thank the biggest defense industry porker in Congress: Representative Buck McKeon (R-CA). The event was hosted by the National Defense Industries Association, a lobby group for major weapons manufacturers and other military-related companies.
A look at the sponsors of the black tie event revealed some of the biggest recipients of taxpayer money, including Lockheed Martin to General Electric, EADS North America, Bechtel, and Pratt & Whitney (a key contractor of the wasteful F-35). ...There’s plenty of reasons these lobbyists would invite McKeon to a dinner at the Ritz Carlton, and toast him with an award. McKeon has fought to restore some $450 billion in funds to the defense budget, while slashing programs for the elderly, teachers, and other essential services.
At the dinner, McKeon reportedly mocked Senator Harry Reid and the Obama Administration for agreeing to cuts to the defense budget as part of a larger deficit reduction deal.
Back home, though, his world was crumbling. Not only did his wife lose badly--22.3% in an Assembly district entirely within McKeon's congressional district-- McKeon himself barely managed a majority of primary votes-- just 50.2%. One Republican opponent, Harrison Leonard, had already endorsed Democrat Lee Rogers before the primary and other Santa Clarita Republicans, furious at McKeon's inattentiveness to crucial local issues (particularly the CEMEX mining disaster), are lining up behind Rogers. A coup against McKeon among Santa Clarita Republicans has been building for some time. Last month McKeon's candidates on the City Council were defeated, including Mayor Laurie Ender-- the first time a sitting mayor of Santa Clarita has ever lost a reelection bid. McKeon campaigned for her and helped finance her campaign. All of the candidates he backed-- and gave money to-- went down to defeat. The winners, including Bob Kellar (the new mayor) and TimBen Boydston, are lifelong Republicans, and now part of the dominant anti-McKeon faction. Kellar won by a landslide but when he traveled to Washington to meet with McKeon and Doc Hastings (Chair of the Natural Resources Committee) to try to solve the CEMEX issue, McKeon said he couldn't do anything about it. Kellar returned home and led the City Council to an unprecedented 5-0 vote on a resolution admonishing McKeon for not helping the district and demanding that he cooperate with Senator Boxer to get this bill passed-- on the most important issue people living in Santa Clarita (rather than in Washington, DC).
The biggest shock came this week when McKeon's top operative in the district, Bob Haueter, his Deputy Chief-of-Staff and district director was defeated in his reelection bid on the Republican County Central Committee. He had been chairman of the committee and only picked up 6.16% of the vote, His wife, Lynn, another McKeon operative on the central committee, was also defeated-- with 6.18%. Scott Wilk, a former McKeon staffer who beat his wife in the Assembly race, seems to be the Republican to whom conservatives are turning to to help them get rid of McKeon and his whole culture of corruption. Four of the seven members of the Republican Central Committee are Wilk backers. McKeon is threatening to disregard the intent of the voters and appoint Bob Haueter back onto the board, a threat that isn't endearing him to local Republicans. One person elected to the Central Committee is a well-liked and respected vocal anti-McKeon Republican radio talk show host, Joe Messina, who I met a few weeks ago at the Buck McKeon-Allen West fundraiser in Agua Dulce.
McKeon now finds himself with three factions so angry at him that they're willing to replace him with a Democrat-- the Ron Paul faction, which ran a slate of candidates against his committeemen-- the local Tea Party patriots who backed Dante Acosta all the way and who picket McKeon events and the mainstream conservatives who have rallied behind Scott Wilk and are sick of McKeon's double-dealing and self-serving corruption. The Santa Clarita Valley Signal has been running letters to the editor from angry Republicans who have had enough of McKeon, like this one yesterday:
As a conservationist conservative, I am deeply concerned about the Cemex mine and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon’s appearance of simple lip service to the matter.
He has time to sponsor legislation regarding ownership of big cats, and another bill to temporarily suspend a duty on mechanics’ work gloves but no time to stop the Cemex mine.
He also found time for fundraisers and a trip or two to the mountains with his lovely wife, or so the picture on his recent mailer indicates.
One can understand why he might not be quite as alarmed as those of us who actually live and work in the Santa Clarita Valley full time.
After all, since he’s in Washington, D.C., the impact of the mine on his quality of life would be virtually non-existent.
Of course, the rest of us won’t be so lucky.
Either Buck needs to change his priorities, or we need a new congressman.
And this blast in The Signal from Dante Acosta, McKeon's top Republican opponent in the primary, sounds like McKeon has a lot of bridges to repair if he expects to get Republican votes in November.
My message of Constitutional accountability and adequate representation obviously resonated with the voters. My campaign promised to rectify the CEMEX Mine issue once and for all as well as guarantee that our soldiers receive the protection they deserve. Our service men and women put their lives on the line to protect our country; we owe it to them to provide security forces that truly keep them secure.
I ran as a candidate who stood up and directly challenged the status-quo of a “tenured” 20-year incumbent that is no longer representing the district’s constituents. It is apparent that the people of our district are equally fed up with the business-as-usual politicking of our day. I have talked with people from all backgrounds, political affiliations and socio-economic circles who embrace my convictions. They desire, as I do, to bring a voice to the People. No more back-door deals, no more special interest favors.
The time has come for genuine representation and accountability.
Raymond Kutylo is the Republican who runs a popular Facebook page called Santa Clarita Letters to the Editor. It doesn't sound that he's getting back in line behind McKeon any time soon. This is how he summed up primary day for ole Buck:
In primary election results that surprised no one, Buck McKeon and Dr. Lee C. Rogers were the top two finishers in the local Congressional race in the 25th CD. A professional politician of 34 years, McKeon was politically embarassed by the stinging defeat of his wife Patricia McKeon in her run for State Assembly, and the twin defeats of staffer Bob Haueter and L.A. County Republican Committee Chairperson Lynn Haueter for the local Pub Central Committee 38th District election. Despite heavy campaign contributions by out-of-district defense contractors and mining interests, McKeon lost key grassroots support in his hometown from disaffected Republicans and the Santa Clarita City Council in a race that must have national DNC operatives talking this morning. Squeeking by with barely 50% of the vote, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is increasingly seen as a creature of the DC Beltway, no longer listening to or representing the interests of the constituents who live in and vote in the Congressional District. Look for Mr. Aw Shucks to make a lot of appearances in the District around July 4th, sporting a snazzy American flag shirt.
Lee Rogers may not be getting any help from the DCCC-- which is as much a part of Inside-the-Beltway corruption as McKeon is-- but, as he proved Tuesday, he doesn't need it. This was his statement after his win Tuesday night:
“We won our primary. We had a great night, despite a very low turnout overall and for Democrats. Our goal was to finish in the top two and we had a solid finish. The new ‘top two’ primary results can be confusing and are affected by partisan turnout. The most interesting result is that in a low-turnout, majority-Republican election, 50% of the voters rejected Buck McKeon for Congress.
“While I’m pleased to move on into the general election, I want to express my gratitude to Dante Acosta for being an honorable candidate. Dante was not afraid to debate the issues and we’ve shared a lot during the race. The Acosta family has given a lot to our country, but not been given much in return from their Congressman. It would be my honor to be a true advocate for the needs of families like the Acostas.
“We have very important issues locally that our United States Representative could influence, but isn’t. We are on the brink of turning Santa Clarita into an aggregate mining town, risking our health and clogging our freeways. As a community, we are united in our opposition to the mine, but now we need a Congressman who will represent us in Washington. We want someone who will be ethical and answer to the district, not to special interests or their party.
“Our country has the largest debt in history and Congress is to blame. We need a Congress with the right priorities. We should prioritize Medicare instead of spending on wars we already won. We should prioritize taking care of our veterans when they return home. We should concentrate on spending our money here at home and creating jobs by rebuilding our aging infrastructure. Buck McKeon is part of the problem in Washington. Will you be part of the solution and join the other 50% who said ‘no’ to Buck McKeon on Election Day?”
If you'd like to help retire Buck McKeon-- a Republican version of recently defeated corrupt Democratic incumbents Tim Holden and Silvestre Reyes-- you can do it here by supporting Rogers through ActBlue.