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  • Friday, January 13, 2006

    Perpetuating Corruption: Tom DeLay's Replacements

    Two Republican Congressmen are competing to replace Tom DeLay as the leader of the House Republicans. One would expect that the Republicans would be eyeing the most squeaky clean of their members to counter the corrupt image their party now has. And yet, one of the top contenders is Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, one of the most corrupt members of Congress. The other is at best only soft on corruption and at worst, based on the REPUBLICAN view of the Abramoff scandal (not our own), the other, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, is among the most corrupt Congressmen around. In their blind quest for power, Republicans just don't get it. Americans don't like corruption.

    Roy Blunt vs. John Boehner for top House Republican. Both claim they want "reform." But what do we know about these two regarding corruption and attempts to reform? Let's start with Roy Blunt and his son, Matt Blunt. And I have been talking about this corrupt pair from Missouri since June, 2005.


    Roy Blunt (MO-7) and his son Matt Blunt (Governor of MO) are among the most corrupt politicians in America today. Not only is Roy Blunt so caught up in Tom DeLay's web of corruption, but he and his son have their own sleaze dragging them down. Here are some excerpts from Blunt Facts regarding the corruption of the Blunt family in Missouri politics:


    Rep. Roy Blunt (MO-7) tried to help Philip Morris (one of his big donors and employer of his son, Andrew, and his then girlfriend, Abigail Perlman) by inserting a tobacco industry backed provision attacking internet cigarette sales into the, get this, Homeland Security Bill.


    From CBS NEWS


    Reported June 11, 2003


    GOP Whip Tried To Aid Tobacco Pals


    (CBS) House Majority Whip Roy Blunt is coming under fire for trying to help tobacco giant Philip Morris USA in last November's homeland security bill.


    Blunt's ties to the company include large campaign donations from the company - $150,000 since 2001 to committees affiliated with Blunt. His son, Andrew, also works as a lobbyist for Philip Morris back in his home state of Missouri.


    The Washington Post reports that just days after he was named to the House's third-highest leadership post, Blunt - who has close personal and political ties to Phillip Morris - tried to slip a pro-tobacco provision into the bill creating the new Department of Homeland Security.


    When Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., found out about Blunt's idea, he immediately yanked it out of the bill. Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex., also said he opposed Blunt's effort and "worked against it" when he found out about it.


    Several Republicans told the Post they felt a pro-tobacco provision had very little support and that Blunt's actions could have proven "embarrassing" to the party and its new Whip.


    Some Republicans also expressed concern that Blunt's close personal relationship with a Phillip Morris lobbyist named Abigail Perlman may have influenced his actions.


    Matt Blunt, Gov. of Missouri, used taxpayer's money, including Federal money, to urge people to vote. Problem was, he plastered his own name and face all over the ads even though he was a candidate. He used OUR money to plug himself.


    From SPRINGFIELD NEWS-LEADER


    Published September 1, 2004


    Blunt faces ethics complaints after primary advertising


    By Kelly Wiese


    Associated Press


    Some former Republican gubernatorial candidates and a group backing Democratic candidate Claire McCaskill have filed ethics complaints against Republican nominee Matt Blunt over newspaper ads encouraging people to vote.


    The Associated Press reported last month that Blunt, the secretary of state, spent almost $48,000 in public money on statewide newspaper advertising that includes his name and picture, urging voters to turn out for the Aug. 3 primary.


    Blunt easily defeated five little-known opponents in the Republican primary for governor to face McCaskill, the state auditor, in November.


    Blunt used federal funds to pay $47,984 to the Missouri Press Association to place the ads twice during the primary campaign in 295 daily and weekly newspapers across the state, the association said...


    Out-of-state donors who needed support from Roy Blunt in Congress donated large amounts of money to his son, Matt Blunt's, campaign.


    From THE HILL - Newspaper for and about Congress


    Published July 9, 2003


    Rep. Blunt's son aided by donors from out-of-state


    by Sam Dealey


    Campaign finance records show that Matt Blunt, the son of House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), received significant contributions from out-of-state sources during his successful 2000 race for Missouri secretary of state.


    Many of the contributors seemingly lacked a direct interest in the down-ballot state race but had significant interests pending before Matt Bluntís father.


    At the time that the contributions to his son's campaign occurred, Roy Blunt was a rising GOP star and an aggressive fundraiser. After the elevation of J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to Speaker in 1999, Blunt was named chief deputy whip.


    He also won a seat on the powerful House Commerce Committee, with assignments on subcommittees with jurisdiction over finance and hazardous materials, oversight and investigations, and telecommunications, trade and consumer protection.


    Missouri state records show contributions to Matt Blunt's campaign came from firms and individuals with business pending before Roy Blunt's subcommittees. Although some of the companies have significant interests in the state, others do not.


    Top executives at Freddie Mac, for example, contributed $4,000 to his campaign. On Nov. 6, 2000, Senior Vice President Gary Lanzara and Vice President Lelan Brendsel gave $1,000 each. Two weeks later, Freddie Mac lobbyist David Glenn and his wife, Cherie, also contributed $1,000 apiece. Cherie is listed as a homemaker; the couple reside in Great Falls, Va.


    Contributions from telecommunications-related entities accounted for over $10,000. Railway transportation companies also contributed more than $6,000 to Matt Blunt's campaign. John Scruggs, a top lobbyist for Altria, formerly Phillip Morris, contributed $1,000. Other contributions came from companies and executives in--or representatives for--such heavily regulated industries as healthcare, insurance, chemicals and defense technology.


    By far the biggest outside contributors to Matt Blunt's campaign, however, were colleagues of Roy Blunt. Campaign finance documents show 84 House lawmakers made 95 contributions to the secretary of state campaign, totaling more than $65,000.


    "What it looks like is that people were giving not because of an independent desire to help Matt Blunt but because he was Roy Blunt's son," said Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics. "Clearly, there are questions raised by the fact that so much money came from out-of-state donors, and it looks like the givers have interests where Mr. Blunt might be able to help.


    Finally, Governor Matt Blunt has tried to prevent the U.S. Attorney's office from investigating his family's scandals by putting the wife of U.S. Attorney Todd Graves (U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri) on the Blunt Family payroll to the tune of a cool half million dollars a year, and he used taxpayer dollars to do it. This is described in the Kansas City Star. And here is an excerpt from a petition to Attorney General Gonzales demanding an investigation of this corruption:


    It has recently been reported that United States Attorney Todd Graves and his family will personally benefit from no-bid state contracts valued at more than $3.6 million given by Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. This raises serious ethical and legal questions concerning Mr. Graves' ability to perform his job, which includes investigating and prosecuting public corruption in federal, state and local government, including the Blunt administration, those who might attempt to influence the Blunt administration, or Blunt's father, the United States Congressman from Missouri's 7th District.


    Awarding these contracts to the Graves family effectively undermines any attempt by the United States Attorney's Office to investigate claims of public corruption as they did against former Speaker of the House Bob Griffin or Attorney General William Webster...


    On Feb. 9, 2005 the Blunt administration announced that Tracy Graves, wife of United States Attorney Todd Graves, had been given a no-bid contract to run the second most lucrative motor vehicle fee office in Missouri, located in Gladstone. As the fee agent, Tracy Graves will gross more than $2.6 million over the next four years of Governor Blunt's term. US Attorney Todd Graves' brother-in-law, Todd Bartles, was also awarded a $1 million no-bid contract to run the Sugar Creek Motor Vehicle Fee Office.


    In addition, two congressional staffers to Congressmen Sam Graves, who is the brother of United States Attorney Todd Graves, were also given no-bid contracts, even as they continue to be on the Federal Government's payroll. Congressman Sam Graves' Deputy Chief of Staff Dean Brookshier was given a no-bid contract to run the Chillicothe office and Field Representative Naomi Boss was awarded the Keytesville office.


    This arrangement goes far beyond the appearance of impropriety. One could reasonably argue that this lucrative contract will ensure that the Blunt administration is never investigated for corruption or wrongdoing as long as United States Attorney Graves and his family are personally getting rich off of the administration.


    We also strongly feel that United States Attorney Todd Graves has violated the U.S. Department of Justice's Standards of Conduct, specifically section 1-4.320, which states:


    Conflicts of Interest. Employees may not engage in outside activities that create or appear to create a conflict of interest with their official duties. Such a conflict exists when the outside activity would: (1) require the recusal of the employee from significant aspects of his or her official duties (5 C.F.R. § 2635.802(b)); (2) create an appearance that the employee's official duties were performed in a biased or less than impartial manner (5 C.F.R. § 2635.502); or (3) create an appearance of official sanction or endorsement (5 C.F.R. § 2635.702(b)).


    It is our sincere hope that you would obtain all correspondence, including emails and phone records, between the Graves family, the Blunt transition team and the Blunt administration in connection with these arrangements. It is essential to know who approached whom in regards to this arrangement and what promises were made.


    An added concern is the fact that in his official capacity, United States Attorney Graves also was a member of the interview and hiring team for the Missouri Department of Public Safety Director. This was an official governmental body that was responsible for the review of applicants and the selection of the final panel of nominees to the Governor. Such participation now makes it impossible for United States Attorney Graves to effectively investigate or prosecute misconduct by the Department of Public Safety in the expenditure of federal dollars, including Homeland Security Funds.


    Can we tolerate this kind of corruption in American politics? The Republican party includes Roy Blunt in its leadership. This, along with their defense of Tom DeLay's corruption, is a dark stain on the reputation of the Republican party.


    But let's turn to Blunt's rival for Tom DeLay's top spot. John Boehner voted to weaken House ethics rules to try and save Tom DeLay from corruption accusations, but then flip-flopped when it became clear that Tom DeLay could not be saved. This alone shows that Boehner is weak as a reformer and soft on corruption. Not to mention, he is a flip-flopper. But there is more to Boehner as well. As part of the Ohio Republican political machine, he is tainted by the massive corruption of that state party. Ohio Republicans are massively corrupt, with Congressmen like Mike Oxley and Bob Ney as well as Ohio Gov. Bob Taft embroiled in scandals. John Boehner does not seem directly linked to coingate or the other massive scandals hitting Ohio's Republican Party, but neither has he been crusading for reform within his state's party. Again, he seems soft on corruption at best. But wait...there's more.


    We claim that the Abramoff scandal is exclusively a Republicans scandal. The Rpublicans claim that Democrats are tainted as well. The difference is that we are focusing on the politicians who are directly linked to Abramoff himself while Republicans are looking at all politicians who have received money from the Indian tribes that Abramoff has represented, as if the tribes themselves were the source of the corruption. Well, you and I realize that it is ABRAMOFF and those most closely linked to him that are the scandal. ABRAMOFF, not the Indian tribes, has pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Based on our criteria, ONLY REPUBLICANS are implicated. But the Republicans want to define ALL politicians who have taken money from the Indian tribes as being tainted. Well, based on this Republican definition, John Boehner of Ohio is one of the most tainted of Congressmen because he is one of the top beneficiaries of these Indian tribes. So let's ask the Republican Party: Which is it? If the Democrats are implicated, then Rep. John Boehner seems the most corrupt of all and should resign. If Rep. John Boehner is innocent, then there ARE NO DEMOCRATS IMPLICATED IN THIS SCANDAL. They can't have it both ways.


    Tom DeLay and Randy Cunningham have been brought low by corruption. But do the Republicans learn? NO! They are favoring one massively corrupt man (Roy Blunt) and one man who is by their own definition corrupt or by our definition merely a wimp when it comes to fighting corruption (John Boehner). Is this really the best the Republicans can do?


    You know the score. Write your Congress Critters and the media telling the Republicans that they better get a clue and stop foisting corrupt politicians on us. They better clean up their act or America will clean up for them. Speak out and be heard!

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