Sunday, January 08, 2006



California is a thoroughly gerrymandered state. The congressional districts have been drawn by politicians for politicians in an attempt to maintain the status quo and protect the careers of politicians from both major parties. It's repulsive. Last year no incumbents were defeated and the only one who even came close to losing his job was David Dreier, a conservative in a moderate suburban L.A. district who was exposed for spending immense sums of taxpayer dollars on his chief of staff (who is also his gay lover, although both are typical Republican homophobic closet cases.) But even he managed to hold on to his seat.

After being caught by authorities taking bribes and stealing millions of dollars-- and possibly compromising the security of our country and definitely jeopardizing the safety and well-being of our fighting men and women in Iraq-- Randy "Duke" Cunningham announced he wouldn't run for re-election so he could devote his time to clearing his "good name." (He later confessed to a few of his crimes, plea-bargained, strapped on a wire for the police to help them nab some of his corrupt colleagues, and, finally, resigned. He will die in prison unless unidicted co-conspirator in his corruption, George Bush, pardons him... which is likely.) Had Cunningham toughed it out, he may possibly have won re-election in a specially designed solidly Republican district. As is, another ethicless far right loon, Howard Kaloogian, who has shown every indication of being exactly like Cunningham in every way, has an excellent chance of replacing him in Congress (although he is being challenged by a well-liked, good-government progressive named Francine Busby, who will give him a run for his [and the fat cats' who support him, Cunningham and a Republican Party that is rife with bribery and corruption] money).

So could anything shake the stranglehold incumbents enjoy over California's congressional delegation? Maybe. Professional political prognosticators like Charlie Cook watch the details and often miss an overwhelming tide. Will 2006 be a tsunami that sweeps the arrogant, corrupt Republicans from power? Conventional wisdom says no. Democrats, according to the pros, could gain a few seats here and there but not the 15 needed to take power in the House or the 6 needed in the Senate-- unless Americans grow sick enough of the GOP excesses to rise up in disgust and throw the bums out. Will they?

Americans are slow to change their political opinions; most are too busy with their day-to-day struggles to pay much attention to what's going on in Washington. I found more Europeans and Moroccans aware of who Jack Abramoff is and what the implications of his corruption are for the GOP than I had been finding right here in America! But that's changing, somewhat imperceptibly, but steadily. And California is faster than most of America... much faster.

Basically there are 5 Republican congressmen seriously implicated with the GOP culture of corruption and possibly facing indictments in the myriad of bribe cases: John Doolittle, Dick Pombo, Duncan Hunter, Jerry Lewis, and Darrell Issa. (There is also speculation that Dana Rohrbacher's strong and questionable relationships with DeLay and Abramoff could drag him into the mess as well.)

It's difficult to know where to start first with this sorry gaggle of crooked pols. Probably the mostly likely to actually serve hard time are Jerry Lewis and Duncan Hunter, both of whom were partners in crime of Cunningham's, both of whom were long raking in immense bribes from corrupt defense contractors, and both of whom are thought to be targets in Cunningham's wire-wearing escapade for the feds. Oh, and John Doolittle, in non-Cunningham related cases, is also destined for federal prison. I'll get back to Lewis, Hunter and Doolittle in a moment, but I want to point out another right-wing congressloon just as foul, corrupt and contemptible who's a star of today's L.A. TIMES, Dick Pombo, the man who has done more to wreck the environment in the last few years than anyone short of George W. Bush himself. Pombo is considered to be one of the least burdened by any sense of ethics of anyone in the U.S. House of Representatives-- and in this Congress, that is saying a lot!

Today's L.A. TIMES story is an example-- one of many-- of how the Republican culture of corruption works in D.C. and why men like Richard Pombo should be in prison, not in Congress. This particular story is about how DeLay, Pombo and Doolittle used their offices to derail an investigation into a multimillionaire Republican briber/bank robber, Charlie Hurwitz. The FDIC was investigating Houston-based Hurwitz for his role in the looting of a Texas savings and loan (that cost taxpayers $1.6 BILLION-- who does he think he is, Neil Bush?). The deadly trio, DeLay, Pombo and Doolittle, pressured the FDIC into dropping the investigation, saving Hurwitz at least $300 million (and earning each of them very hefty bribes; Hurwitz' legal contributions to right-wing pols like DeLay, Pombo, Doolittle and Bush are around half a million dollars; no one knows how extensive his illegal bribes were but estimates are shocking). After DeLay charged the FDIC was "harassing" Hurwitz (one of his big campaign contributors) and the FDIC refused to buckle, "Doolittle and Pombo — both considered proteges of DeLay — used their power as members of the House Resources Committee to subpoena the agency's confidential records on the case, including details of the evidence FDIC investigators had compiled on Hurwitz. Then, in 2001, the two congressmen inserted many of the sensitive documents into the Congressional Record, making them public and accessible to Hurwitz's lawyers, a move that FDIC officials said damaged the government's ability to pursue the banker. The FDIC's chief spokesman characterized what Doolittle and Pombo did as 'a seamy abuse of the legislative process.'"

"Seamy" is the kindest characterization I've heard anyone make who's been looking into Pombo's or Doolittle's ethical (and legal) lapses to date. All the public information necessary for any sane, informed person to crawl on all fours over cut glass to get to the polls are vote Pombo out of office is available in an incredibly complete catalog of stories by reputable media sources like Think Progress (which writes about how Abramoff's bribes to Pombo have paid huge dividends), TMP Cafe (which writes exhaustively about how Pombo has been behind selling off the nation's natural resources to benefit... himself), and even one of his district's local mainstream newspapers, The Contra Costa Times (which tells the story of Pombo's illegal trips and tax violations). On top of that, there are several great websites exclusively devoted to getting the truth out about Pombo's criminality and corruption: Vote Pombo Out, Pombo Watch, and the always dependable Say No To Pombo.

If anything, Doolittle is even more mired in scandal and corruption than Pombo-- hard as that is to believe! Dump Doolittle does an excellent job in keeping a light focussed on the gross criminal of just how tied in to every single Republican scandal rocking Washington Doolittle is-- plus a few of his own! California's 4th District has been badly served by this reprehensible crook from Roseville. Wikipedia's entry on Doolittle is more damning than the Democratic Party's exposes on him! It points to a shameful record of greed, avarice, hypocrisy and criminality, piecing together seemingly disparate pieces of a puzzle that rival records of GOP Crime Boss Tom DeLay and prison-bound Republican salons like "Duke" Cunningham and Bob Ney. A professed Mormon "and an 'ardent opponent of casino gambling,' (Doolittle) held a fundraiser at Jack Abramoff's skybox at the MCI Center-- a skybox paid for by casino-operating Indian tribes. (Washington Post, December 26, 2004) Doolittle is also an avowed teetotaler, although he has accepted campaign funds from Anheuser-Bush and from the Sacramento distributor of Coors Beer [] Doolittle, who according to the Washington Post, 'was particularly close to Abramoff' compounded the hypocrisy by illegally failing to report the use of the skyboxes in his FEC filings; his spokesperson, Laura Blackman, claims 'It was an in-kind contribution, and it was an oversight that it wasn't reported, but we are taking steps to correct that.' (Washington Post, December 26, 2004)." In addition to giving Doolittle access to his skyboxes, Abramoff also personally donated a great deal of money to Doolittle's campaigns, making him the 5th largest recipient of Abramoff's largesse.

Doolittle's wife, Julie, has worked as a fundraiser for Jack Abramoff's fake "charity" operation and has raked off over $100,000 in "commissions" for arranging fundraisers for her husband's campaign, a convenient, albeit of questionable legality, way to launder money from campaign coffers into pocketbooks. (This is an unscrupulous tactic Doolittle and Pombo have long shared.) On top of this, ole Julie's records have been subpoenaed twice by the Justice Department, once in connection with her work for Abramoff and the second time in connection with her work for KORUSEC, a Korean lobbying firm also connected to Abramoff and to Kevin Ring, one of Doolittle's former assistants.

Name any Republican scandal of the last few years and John Doolittle's name shows up. Will it matter way, way up in northern California? Recently one of the most influential hometown papers up there, the Auburn Journal, ran a devastating expose on Doolittle's unending record of corruption. It's a very Republican district... but he's a very, very corrupt politician.

Let's back away from the specifically DeLay/Abramoff scandals for a moment and get into the more rogue operation that has long been run by Cunningham's 2 senior partners, each more powerful and each more venal than the hapless antiques-addicted Cunningham: Jerry Lewis and Duncan Hunter. These two powerful GOP committee chairmen Armed Services (Hunter) and Appropriations (Lewis), have become incredibly wealthy taking bribes from corrupt contractors. Both are major recipients of gigantic bribes from the crooked defense contractor who "donated" between $500,000 and $1 million to Cunningham, Brent Wilkes. Wilkes gave FAR more to Hunter and Lewis than to Cunningham. (Wilkes is referred to as "co-conspirator No. 1" in the Justice department documents pertaining to Cunningham's case and conviction for accepting bribes.) Hunter and Cunningham worked hand in hand to assist the companies Wilkes directed them to: ADCS and Audre, assistance that amounted to almost a quarter BILLION dollars in taxpayer money (from which Hunter had generous kickbacks). Meanwhile moneybags Wilkes had procured the services of Jerry Lewis via a crooked "lobbyist" (aka- bagman) named Bill Lowery. He gave Lowery (and Lewis) over a quarter million dollars and in return Lewis made sure hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars flowed into Wilkes' hands. Close to 40% of all Lewis' "campaign contributions" came through Lowery and his cronies.

DWT will focus on these California races as we head towards November. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on the comings and goings (hopefully to prison) of these Republicrooks.


Apparently Dana Rohrbacher's record of graft and corruption needs to be looked at a little more closely. Lost among the howling, massive criminality of the DeLays, Cunninghams, Hunters, Pombos and Doolittles, people have tended to overlook Rohrbacher's long-time association-- financially and politically lucrative for both men-- with Abramoff. It turns out that Rohrbacher was involved with many of Abramoff's criminal schemes, from his Mariannas Islands scams to his bilking of the American Indian tribes, and even including the Florida cruise line shenanigans which resulted in the murder of Abramoff's partner by 3 mafia thugs employed by... Abramoff.


At 7:19 PM, Blogger Timcanhear said...

Thanks for the update on the corruption. Very interesting reading.
If we allow corruption to continue we'll surely suffer as a nation. I just can't imagine how west coast voters could be so naive about it all. And there is truly no explanation of how Arnold became governor. If there is, I'd like to know.
Comparatively, the corruption in the middle east, especially Saudi Arabia, leads people to do evil things. Is there a connection between the terrorists and the corruption? Absolutely.
Terrorists are evil souls to be sure but they are also the victims of evil and corrupt government. Power corrupts - evil kills and a cycle of destruction prevails.
We absolutely positively have to end our current relationship with Saudi Arabia. We must demand open and transparent government or else.
And here in the states, these goons on the right who have taken advantage of their voters MUST go.
Welcome back Howie.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I'm glad Say No to Pombo is useful to people. I get a lot of static from people who don't like what I say, so it's nice to see that people find what I write useful.

In any event I think you're much better on the big-picture Republican corruption angle than I am. E-mail me if you want to cross post something at some point. I'd definitely be happy to have you at my humble little blog. :)

At 6:40 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I bet right-wing crooked congressloons Jerry Lewis and Duncan Hunter are breathing sighs of relief today. A.P. is reporting that the TIME story about Cunningham wearing a wire to entrap his two former partners in crime is false. Hunter and Lewis are both destined for prison-- it'll just take longer without the evidence from the Dukester's wire. This is the AP report:

SAN DIEGO, Calif. Attorneys for Randy "Duke" Cunningham are denying reports that the disgraced ex-congressman wore a wire to surreptiously gather evidence for the U.S. government.

Cunningham's defense attorneys issued a statement Monday denying a report that appeared in Time magazine and prompted fierce speculation in Washington. Time reported Friday that Cunningham wore the wire before he entered his plea on November 28th.

Cunningham, a 64-year-old Republican, resigned from Congress after admitting that he pocketed $2.4 million from defense contractors and others in exchange for government business and other favors.

Attorneys Lee Blalack and Mark Holscher say Cunningham has never wore a body wire during conversations with his former congressional colleagues or any other public official.

They also say he has not surreptitiously gathered evidence against any public officials.


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