Another Horribly Corrupt PAC Backs Hillary, Attacks Bernie
How does anyone determine who the most corrupt Member of Congress is? Not even counting Republicans-- another universe of self-justified ideological crookedness-- Congress is such a rat's nest of career criminals that every time you focus in on a Debbie Wasserman Schultz or a Steve Israel, up pops a Donald Norcross, an Alcee Hastings, a Patrick Murphy or a Sean Patrick Maloney. But no matter who draws up a list-- or what year it is we're looking at-- one name that is always mentioned in relation to grotesque serial corruption is Gregory Meeks, who represents NY-05, mostly in southeast Queens-- Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Queens Village, South Ozone Park, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, Rosedale, JFK-- with a bit of Nassau County-- Valley Stream, Inwood and Elmont.
The other day, a friend of mine in Congress told me that if you want to find the worst crooks in Congress, just get the membership list of the House Financial Services Committee. "The only straight shooters on that committee are Keith Ellison and Brad Sherman." It's the committee from which Meeks, a member of the Wall Street-owned New Dems Coalition, sells his votes. In 2008 he endorsed Hillary Clinton over Obama-- until he got a primary challenge and flipped over to Obama. This week he engineered an endorsement for Hillary from the Congressional Black Caucus PAC of which he is the chairman. The endorsement was made to sound like the Congressional Black Caucus had endorsed her, which isn't true, as Keith Ellison made clear:
Like Clinton, Meeks is a complete shill for Wall Street. He's taken $2,724,888 from the Finance Sector, a nice payoff for a Congressman from a D+35 district where Obama beat Romney 200,004 (90%) to 22.026 (10%) and where even the notoriously corrupt Meeks took 80% in his 2014 primary. Republicans don't run in his district, where only 10% of the population is white. And, like Clinton, Meeks bristles at the thought of being part of The Establishment. "We are not from the establishment, we are from the street," he asserted.
Covering the endorsement Thursday for The Intercept, Lee Fang spoke to Ben Branch, the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, who said that the PAC's 20-member board, made up of 11 lobbyists, seven elected officials, and two PAC staffers, made the decision.
Members of the CBC PAC board include Daron Watts, a lobbyist for Purdue Pharma, the maker of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin; Mike Mckay and Chaka Burgess, both lobbyists for Navient, the student loan giant that was spun off of Sallie Mae; former Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., a lobbyist who represents a range of clients, including work last year on behalf of Lorillard Tobacco, the maker of Newport cigarettes; and William A. Kirk, who lobbies for a cigar industry trade group on a range of tobacco regulations.
And a significant percentage of the $7,000 raised this cycle by the CBC PAC from individuals was donated by white lobbyists, including Vic Fazio, who represents Philip Morris and served for years as a lobbyist to Corrections Corporation of America, and David Adams, a former Clinton aide who now lobbies for Wal-Mart, the largest gun distributor in America.
The caucus itself, while presenting itself as a champion of progressive causes, has a mixed legislative record. As some reporters have noted, Wall Street and corporate money has flowed to the CBC, through its PAC and nonprofit arms, while a number of CBC members have taken a leading role working with Republicans to chip away at the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
The CBC PAC endorsement comes as Clinton is working furiously to demonstrate that the African-American community stands solidly behind her campaign. Shortly after her crushing defeat in the New Hampshire primary, her campaign hosted a conference call with surrogates who dismissed Sanders as being “absent” on issues important to African-Americans, and belittled his role in Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington as insignificant. Hazel Dukes, the New York state NAACP leader who disparaged Sanders’ role in the civil rights movement, previously helped Wal-Mart in its bid to open stores in New York City after her group received donations from the company.
Not all CBC members have embraced the Clinton endorsement. Speaking this morning on Democracy Now, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a CBC member, said she has not endorsed either candidate in the Democratic primary, and reminded viewers that the CBC “has nothing to do with the” CBC PAC, which is a legally distinct entity. NBC Capitol Hill producer Frank Thorp tweeted that Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., was one of two abstentions on the CBC PAC board.
"What you find," one Member told me, "is that crooks like Meeks and other New Dems instinctively line up behind Clinton. They're drawn to the stench of corruption. Members who care about policy, like Keith [Ellison] and Barbara [Lee], keep as far away from her campaign as they can... Take someone like Barbara and ask yourself what's she doing in Congress. She's there for peace; she's there for equality and justice. She's there to make the lives of her constituents better; that's what she works on day in and day out. And Meeks? To line his pockets; period." Maybe the PAC board members have forgotten how destructive characters like Lloyd Blankfeld and Henry Kissinger, her mentors and allies, have been. Bernie reminded them last night:
Blue America's worthy incumbents ActBlue page includes congressmembers who have endorsed Bernie, Hillary and who have remained neutral. None of them are corrupt though. You can contribute to any of the Members-- which includes both Ellison and Lee-- by tapping on the thermometer: