Monday, June 18, 2007



Corruption played a role in several congressional defeats last year-- particularly for Pombo (CA), Burns (MT), DeWine (OH), Weldon (PA), Hayworth (AZ), Sweeney (NY), Henry Bonilla (TX), Sherwood (PA), and for Joe Negron (FL), Joy Padgett (OH), and Sekula Gibbs (TX)--  respectively stand-ins for Foley, Ney and DeLay-- and turned otherwise pro forma re-election rituals into close calls in safe deep red seats for members like John Doolittle (CA-04), Rick Renzi (AZ-01), Tom Reynolds (NY), Deborah Pryce (OH), Mike McCaul (TX). Although nominally a Democrat, corrupt and reactionary Al Wynn (MD) had the same kind of brush with political extinction in the Democratic primary.

Friday Larry Sabato came out with a story, The Scandal-Tinged Six-- Whose campaigns are dead on arrival and who will survive to run again?, that examines the likely fall out from 2006 on next year's elections. He says Doolittle and Renzi are goners and throws three other ethically-challenged Republicans into the mix: Tom Feeney (FL), Jerry Lewis (CA), and Heather Wilson (NM).

Wilson's near loss last November was because she's a rubber stamp and because the district is trending Democratic. She's still a rubber stamp, the district is even more Democratic and it wasn't until this year that voters saw another, even more unseemly side, to Congresswoman Wilson.
Rep. Heather Wilson is one of the Representatives most closely associated with the fired U.S. Attorneys scandal. In mid-October of last year, less than a month before her hotly contested reelection, Wilson called the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, David Iglesias, reportedly to speed up the federal investigation into supposed corruption by New Mexico Democrats. Iglesias notified her that indictments would not be handed down until after the election, and one week later he was fired by President Bush. Considering that Wilson won that election by only 875 votes out of over 200,000, she could well be a target again.

And the fact that Albuquerque City Council President Martin Heinrich, one of New Mexico's most attractive young rising stars-- sort of like David Iglesias was before Wilson and Domenici shivved him--
is running, will make even more difficult for her to hold onto the seat.

If you read DWT even semi-sporadically it's impossible that you don't know the saga of America's most corrupt sitting congressman: Jerry Lewis. But let's get Sabato's point of view:
According to conservative columnist Bob Novak, Rep. Jerry Lewis has decided not to seek another term, an unsurprising development considering recent scandals. Not so fast, says Lewis, who claims to have not yet made up his mind about running for reelection and points to a September announcement date. Lewis was one of the committee chairs of the 109th Congress who was ousted from his post when Democrats took over this January. While some observers speculated that these Republicans used to being in the majority would take part in a mass exodus via retirement, Lewis's potential retirement would represent only the second this year from this group (the other is Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is running for the Republican nomination for president).

Lewis' past scandals primarily revolve around his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee which, detractors allege, allowed him to steer government contracts to companies that did business with a firm owned by his friend and colleague, ex-Rep. Bill Lowery. He was under investigation by a U.S. Attorney for such practices when the attorney was dismissed in the purge that turned into the U.S. Attorneys scandal. Lewis has been immune to electoral challenge throughout his career, winning with over 60 percent in all fifteen of his elections and surpassing the 80 percent mark three times. If anything, the district has been trending even more Republican in recent years, as Bush increased his winning percentage by 6 percent from 2000 to 2004, and the retirement, if true, of an embattled Congressman would remove any possible ammunition from the Democratic arsenal.

As for Feeney... his shenanigans with vote machines doesn't get much attention but his close and cuddly relationship with GOP rainmaker Jack Abramoff, currently in prison and supposedly singing like a canary (although I don't buy the canary part), could put him in jeopardy. Unfortunately, it's an exceptionally low-information district and unless Abramoff spills the beans, it looks like we're stuck with Feeney.

Sabato doesn't even touch on crooked Republicans facing possible indictments like Ken Calvert (R-CA), Gary Miller (R-CA), Virgil Goode, Jr. (R-VA), Patrick McHenry (NC), and Denny Hastert (IL). Oh and this is bipartisan. Reactionary William Jefferson-- who wasn't endorsed for re-election by the Democrats but was actually supported by Republicans in the district!-- is also a crook.

Actually, even more bipartisan-- excruciatingly so-- is CREW's latest report on nepotism and the power of committee chairs and ranking members to funnel taxpayer funds to their relatives. Highlights include tidbits like these:

• 96 (41 Democrats and 55 Republicans) used their positions to financially benefit family members;

• 64 (26 Democrats and 38 Republicans) paid family members through their campaign committees or PACs;

• 24 (10 Democrats and 14 Republicans) have relatives who lobby Congress;

• 19 (9 Democrats and 10 Republicans) used campaign committees or PACs to pay a family business or a business that employs a family member;

• 17 (11 Democrats and 6 Republicans) used campaign committee funds or PAC funds to make campaign contributions to relatives;

• 15 (3 Democrats and 12 Republicans) used their positions to benefit a family member or a family member’s client;

• At least 71 (all Republicans) paid offspring who ranged from school-age to college-age.

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At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Howie,

I was looking at your 'around the world' blog, but couldn't find anything (or much) about your stay in India. Is there any?


At 3:30 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

There's not much about any of my trips to India but-- good news-- I'm going back and will be writing about it. Maybe I'll even remember some of what happened to me there in 1969-71.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Be mindful of the weather when you go back. NASA says Pakistan and India are in the midst of a brutal heat wave for this type of year and that it is likely to get much worse through the summer. Article

Temps are in the 120's already in many regions and are likely to increase further.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger --mf said...


I’ve got SiCKO back up at my place.

I won’t be posting anymore tonight, so it will be right at the top.

They’ll find it, soon enough, and pull it down. The Genie is out of the Bottle. I’ll re-post it again, and again. Poor people need to see what is being done to them.



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