Thursday, May 09, 2013

Lobbyists Trying To Decide Who To Make Chair Of House Armed Services Committee When McKeon Retires Or Is Indicted


Wednesday, Michelle Ringuette from Amnesty International pointed to Buck McKeon's shameful hypocrisy over the den of torture that Guantánamo has become. But McKeon is unlikely to be in Congress much longer and the Military Industrial Complex top lobbyists are already working out who they want Boehner to make the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

McKeon, struggling with a still under wraps national security scandal stemming from his gambling addiction and immense sums he owes organized crime operative (and China puppet) Sheldon Adelson, is under immense pressure to retire. He's already told his closest associates and staffers that he won't run for reelection in 2014 and will seek a lobbying job instead. One of the most bribed congressman by the Military Industrial Complex in the history of the country ($1,396,400)-- and the father of the domestic spying drone industry-- should have no problem finding a job on K Street.

And the Military Industrial Complex will have no trouble in finding another patsy to run the House Armed Services Committee for them whether it's Boehner or Hoyer-- K Street's two top employees in Congress-- calling the shots. Their top candidates, along with the legalistic bribes they have accepted from arms makers, are:
Mac Thornberry (R-TX)- $546,550
Randy Forbes (R-VA)- $524,450
Mike Turner (R-OH)- $446,720
Adam Smith (D-WA)- $472,700
Politico coverage is-- as expected-- hackish and plain wrong. Even the DCCC, which ignored McKeon's obvious vulnerabilities in 2012 has moved to recruit Lee Rogers to run again in 2014 after seeing polling that shows McKeon would probably lose next year. Last year his 56-44% victory over Rogers was the closest call of his career... but budding pundits Juana Summers and Austin Wright have decided he "looks like a shoo-in." That's the problem with a shockingly shallow and lazy Beltway-based punditocracy.
“Congressman McKeon represents what’s wrong with Washington-- from out-of-touch sequester policies that hurt the local military to ethical questions that raise real concerns,” said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Even if McKeon decides to run, Ferguson said, Democrats would make it a tougher fight this time around.

“There are enough Democratic voters in this district, so Congressman McKeon should certainly be worried that this Republican congressional agenda makes him vulnerable and his best bet might be to get out while he can.”

McKeon took the helm of the committee in 2011, replacing Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton. McKeon had served as the committee’s ranking member from 2009, when President Barack Obama picked John McHugh, a New York Republican, to become secretary of the Army.

The Flash Report, an influential California political blog, reported last month that McKeon had been “talking with prominent political leaders in his district and informing them that he may be retiring at the end of his current term.” The site said it was “only a matter of time before McKeon makes his announcement formally.”

McKeon’s staffers have told industry leaders a decision could come before the end of this year.

But whether McKeon runs again or not, because of committee term limits, the Armed Services Committee could get a new chairman next Congress, provided Republicans hold the House and McKeon doesn’t receive a waiver to retain his seat.

Industry sources [which industry sources, the politics industry or the weapons-manufacturing industry?] pointed to Texas Republican Mac Thornberry as the committee’s “heir apparent,” and said he has been actively working to position himself to succeed McKeon... He has also been working to prove his fundraising mettle, hoping to show Republican congressional leaders that he has what it takes to be a successful committee chairman, according to a GOP defense industry source.

While it’s still early in the 2014 cycle, Thornberry has already raised more than $37,000 for the National Republican Congressional Committee. During the 2012 cycle, he raised more than $267,000.

And the list of top donors to his campaign committee reads like a who’s who of premier defense firms. Last cycle, Thornberry received major donations from Northrop Grumman, Textron, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and United Technologies, among others.

“He’s definitely been trying to position himself for that eventuality,” an industry lobbyist said. “If it’s not this cycle, it will certainly be the next one.”

Still, the lobbyist cautioned, “It’s never a lock with this leadership. … They’ve kind of thrown out the seniority system. It really has to do with what your current relationship with the leadership is.”

Thornberry could face GOP challenges from Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, who chairs the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, or Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, who chairs the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee. In conversations with lobbyists and industry sources, their names came up time and again as possibilities for the committee chairmanship.

Both Turner and Forbes have similar ability to attract the defense industry’s top donors. Last cycle, Forbes raked in high-dollar contributions from SAIC, BAE Systems and Raytheon, while Northrop Grumman and SAIC made big donations to Turner.

Neither Turner nor Forbes has contributed to the NRCC so far this cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records. Spokesmen for the two declined comment.

A Republican congressional aide suggested Thornberry isn’t necessarily a lock if McKeon were to retire.

“I think Mr. Turner and Mr. Forbes are really the ones to look toward. Mr. Thornberry didn’t move up. He’s not really someone that people look to as a heavyweight on HASC issues,” the aide said, adding that Forbes and Turner-- both subcommittee chairmen-- are “the ones that people talk about and look to as national security experts.”

When it comes to fundraising, the aide said, “You can probably put a corpse in a wheelchair and they can raise money as a committee chair. Just raising money is a small part when it comes to running a massive and important organization such as a House Armed Services Committee.”

Even so, another industry lobbyist said he didn’t believe Forbes or Turner would mount a serious challenge to Thornberry.

“Mac is the vice chairman and McKeon is making it clear to people that he would like him to succeed him,” the lobbyist said. “In the end, I don’t believe that they will [challenge Thornberry]. I think they’re going to make some noise about it, but they’re not serious contenders.”

“It’s Mac’s turn-- he’s got the seniority,” the lobbyist added. “They’ve skipped over people who had seniority before, but it wouldn’t make sense to skip over someone who’s got the experience and has done all the right things. …They only skip over people who are pains in the ass.”

But McKeon might not be in a position to get what he wants, the GOP aide said.

“I find it interesting that anyone would think that Mr. McKeon, the guy who was responsible for not standing up to leadership on sequestration, would get to name the next chairman,” the aide said. “If McKeon can’t stand up for the prerogatives of the committee as well as speak out on an issue as devastating as sequestration, what ability does he have to help name a name?”
And, of course, no one thinks it in the least bit odd to go to a much of overpaid, sleaze-bag lobbyists, whose primary function is robbing the taxpayers blind, to find out what plans Boehner has for staffing one of Congress' most important committees. But like the man said, "You can probably put a corpse in a wheelchair..." or a drone.

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