Tuesday, April 01, 2014

How Does Fred Upton Define Bribery?


Undoubtably, the most winnable Republican-held seat in Michigan is MI-06, in the southwest part of the state, centering on blue-blue Kalamazoo. Alas, though, multimillionaire Republican Fred Upton is extremely vulnerable, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel refuses to target his old frat brother-- or any other senior Republican policy-makers, part of a quid pro quo that leaves his own seat safe from a challenge by the NRCC. Just look at this poll PPP conducted, not for the DCCC, of course, but by MoveOn.org:

There are almost NO Republicans being targeted by the DCCC who are as vulnerable as Fred Upton. But Steve Israel refuses to allow the DCCC to take him on or to help the Democratic candidate, Paul Clements, take him on. Over the weekend, one of the most important publications in southwest Michigan, the Herald-Palladium did something of an exposé on how Upton has used Big Money to finance his political career. Staff writer Louise Wrege reports that Upton's primary opponent, as well as Clements, are both campaigning on planks explaining how corporate cash is wrecking America democracy. Neither claims Upton is doing anything overtly illegal, but his behavior is, as best, legalistic and is obviously bribery. "People are mad. The fact is we can't continue to elect people that are beholden to these large corporate interests. It's not doing us any good." And that came from the Republican, Jim Bussler of Dowagiac who is facing off against Upton in the August primary.
Democrat Paul Clements of Kalamazoo, who will face Upton or Bussler in the November election, agreed.

"It (big money) has far too much of an influence on the votes that are made and the laws that are made in Washington, and our congressman is part of that," Clements said. "... If big money and big corporations can drown out the voices of ordinary people through excessive spending, then that's distorting the debate in favor of people who have money."

Upton, R-St. Joseph, reported raising almost $1.5 million as of Dec. 31, 2013. Clements has raised $242,000 and Bussler, $1,600.

Of the money Upton has raised, just under 30 percent came from individual donors, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website run by the Center for Responsive Politics. The numbers come from campaign finance filings.

The rest of Upton's money-- more than $1 million-- came from political action committees. PACs are business, labor or special interest groups created to raise and spend money to elect or defeat candidates, according to OpenSecrets.
These PACs don't give out this kind of money as a manifestation of their civic-mindedness, but in return for special treatment. As the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, there's lots of special treatment Uption can-- and does-- dole out. Widely considered one of the worst shills for Big Oil in the entire Congress, Upton makes certain no legislation every gets out of his committee that isn't approved-- if not written-- by Big Oil. Since 1990 Upton has taken $582,250 in legalistic bribes from Big Oil. So far this cycle, he's scooped up a phenomenal $113,250 from Big Oil, even more than corrupt Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor ($96,600) or notorious Texas oil whores like Pete Olson ($101,250), who is trying to pass legislation to allow drilling in the national parks, Pete Sessions ($74,100), Lamar Smith ($54,600), John Culberson ($50,850) and Joe "Oily Joe" Barton ($48,900).
In an emailed response, Upton said people donate to his campaign because they agree with him, not because they are buying favors.

"The thousands of Michigan people and companies that donate to my campaign do it for their own reasons," he said. "Most of them know where I stand on topics and they agree with me, so that's why they donate. And that's the way it should be, not the other way around."

But Clements said that since 2010, Upton has received most of his political contributions from people who do not live Michigan.

When looking at only individual contributions, OpenSecrets found that during the last election cycle, Upton was one of 66 Senators and House members out of 535 who received more than 50 percent of their contributions from people who did not live in their home state.

During the 2011-12 election, Upton received 64 percent of his contributions from people who did not live in Michigan, according to OpenSecrets. So far this year, 59 percent of his contributions have come from people outside Michigan.

Bussler and Clements said that is wrong and is breeding a class of professional politicians.

"He is the walking, talking example of a professional politician," Bussler said. "Somebody who has never once in their life worried about if they could pay their house payment that month. That's what we're talking about here. It's serious. Where can we expect to go as a people if we keep having this predatory class controlling everything?"

…"The question is who you're going to be representing if you're getting most of your money from outside the state," Clements said.

…Since Upton was named chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the amount of money he has raised has doubled. In the 2009-10 election cycle, before he was named chairman, he raised $2 million. After he was named chairman, in the 2011-12 election cycle he raised $4.1 million.

Clements and Bussler said having money come from sources outside Michigan has influenced Upton's votes.

"It's not just where his money is coming from," Clements said. "If you watch his voting, his voting has also changed. It's become a lot more ideological. He's voting much more with extreme elements of his own party. He used to be a moderate, but he's not a moderate anymore. I can't believe that getting so much outside money is not a factor there."
In case you missed it. let me suggest you click back to this post on Marianne Williamson, formerly of Michigan and now running for Congress in California. Like Clements, she sees the flood of uncontrolled corporate cash corrupting our electoral system and threatening American democracy itself. If you'd like to chip in to help Clements get his message out and grow his grassroots campaign, you can do that here on the Blue America ActBlue page. Upton isn't leaving voluntarily-- and Steve Israel will never help dislodge him.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home