Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joe Barton Sticking His Oily Fingers Into Arkansas Politics


Tools: Barton & Griffin

Our friends at Blue Arkansas have started looking closely at who's been financing Karl Rove protégé, Tim Griffin, in his bid to take over Vic Snyder's congressional seat in central Arkansas. And they found something very interesting, a shady outfit called the Texas Freedom Fund has contributed a grand towards Griffin's campaign. It didn't take much digging for Blue Arkansas to figure out who and what the Texas Freedom Fund is.

If you've been following the news lately, you couldn't possibly have missed the dustup over Congress' most oily member, Joe Barton (R-TX). Turns out he's the sole owner of the Texas Freedom Fund and he uses it to funnel vast sums of cash from Big Oil executives and lobbyists into competitive campaigns around the country, particularly into campaigns where filthy oil money might prove embarrassing to the recipients. Now, keep in mind that Barton has taken more money from Big Oil than any other member of the House-- by far: $1,447,880, so far. And after his performance last week, apologizing to B.P. for being made to clean up their mess in the Gulf, there's every reason to believe that his own personal gusher will keep flowing strongly. As the Ranking Member of the House Energy Committee he is in a position to make sure the Oil Industry's agenda becomes official policy.

So who's this Griffin character Barton is so dead set on getting into Congress? Many of us first became familiar with Griffin around the time of the 2000 election when he worked as an opposition research director for Bush. His job, to smear Al Gore, was covered in Peter Marshall's BBC documentary Digging the Dirt, and viewers got the impression, which over the years has proven correct, that he is one of the slimiest and least trustworthy rogues to mount the political stage in our lifetime. After serving on the Florida Recount Commission that helped steal the election for Bush, he was appointed a Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General, Michael Chertoff, then when back into opposition research for Bush's reelection bid-- two years before the election-- and then became an aide to Karl Rove in the White House. Eventually Rove was able to force Arkansas US Attorney Bud Cummins to resign and to replace him with Griffin. Griffin, considered the sleaziest appointment in the entire Bush Regime, was never confirmed by the Senate, served on an interim basis and was eventually pushed aside when he became too embarrassing even for the Bush people.

The folks and Blue Arkansas are hoping to raise the money to match Barton's $1,000 for the progressive challenger running for the seat, Joyce Elliott. Joyce was endorsed by Blue America even before she won her tough primary race against a conservative Democrat and we would be eager to help her win this seat regardless of who the Republican opposition was. The fact that it's someone as disreputable and as utterly unfit to hold public office as Tim Griffin only makes us even more determined. So... we'd like to encourage anyone who wants to help to toss a donation into the pot. At this ActBlue page you'll find a slot for Joyce-- as well as for other Blue America-backed candidates who are being targeted by Joe Barton and his oily corporate polluters with big bucks for Republicans. Barton wrote a check from the Texas Freedom Fund for $4,000 for Ken Calvert, $2,000 for Dennis Ross, and for $5,000 for Charlie Bass, conservatives running against Bill Hedrick in California, Doug Tudor in Florida and Ann Kuster in New Hampshire. Today everyone who makes a contribution to all three candidates-- Joyce Elliott, Bill Hedrick, Doug Tudor, and Ann Kuster, will get a Blue America thank you CD and one winner will be drawn randomly to win an autographed book-- This Moment on Earth by John and Teresa Kerry. (The hardcover book was signed for us by both of them.) Again, here's the page to make your contribution.

Yesterday we got a letter from Ann Kuster's campaign warning us that Barton was in New Hampshire this month campaigning for Charlie Bass and that Bass-- another outrageous corporate toady himself-- prasied him as “a man of energy, integrity-- a good friend and great Congressman.” Ann doesn't see it quite the same way. " I couldn’t disagree more with Congressman Barton’s words, or with the long pro-oil voting record that Congressmen Bass and Barton have racked up in their combined 38 years in Congress... As your congresswoman, I will end tax breaks for big oil companies; be a voice of caution against expanding offshore drilling and using taxpayer dollars to subsidize nuclear power; stand proudly with environmental leaders; and invest in the renewable energy technologies that create jobs here in New Hampshire."

Democratic Candidates Have Taken Note

Natalie Mosher is a progressive grassroots activists running for the seat currently held by Thaddeus McCotter, a member of Boehner's leadership team. McCotter is thought to be vulnerable this year and he's running around looking for cash. He took some from the highly toxic Texas Freedom Fund. Natalie is now insisting he give it back.
“Big Oil thought they could launder a political contribution to McCotter through Joe Barton's PAC and get away with it. Well BP, Barton and McCotter need to know that it's not just me that has an eagle-eye on their underhanded campaign fund raising, both Republicans and Democrats are sick of the Washington games that career politicians are playing. I'm going to stand up for people in this election and I won't back down from telling the ugly truth about what McCotter's up to in Washington,” said Mosher.
Mosher went on to point out that as the Chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee he has the ability to lead by example on BP and Big Oil's stranglehold on the Republican Party.
“The extremist Republicans in Washington should be scared of their collectively cozy relationship with Big Oil and what it will cost them at the polls in November. As a member of the Republican leadership in Washington, McCotter should lead by example and return Big Oil's money. To do anything less would be signal McCotter's official stamp of approval on the reckless practices that have led to the largest and most economically devastating oil spill in American history. For someone who prides himself an intellectual and a history buff, McCotter sure has acted like a dunce on this one,” concluded Mosher.

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