Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
The takeaway: Meek and Charlie each raise $3 mil
Kendrick Meek sent out one of those "thank you for your support" emails this morning to his contributors, which contained the not surprising news that he has raised more than $3 million so far this year. With no real opposition, the question is whether a sense of urgency will grip Democrats not already enamored of the campaign's self-described "movement." In short, are softer potential supporters scared enough of Charlie Crist to keep digging deep during a recession?

Look for the July 12 campaign reports to be .... well ... interesting. Both Meek and Crist will report raising more than $3 mil -- Meek pulled in $1.8 million in the first quarter and $1.2 million or so in the second, while Charlie did the same in six weeks flat. The biggest difference: Crist will have to spend real money on a primary challenge, with all due respect to Bob Smith, from Marco Rubio and his band of mama's basement-dwelling bloggers, Club for Growth losers and tea party weirdos who think Barack Obama is like Adolf Hitler ... who may be funny to normal people, but who can at least help Marco raise some money ... while Kendrick can probably keep his spending down, and keep coasting along with his "petition tour," whose real aim is to pick up some name I.D. outside of Miami.

BTW, one thing that could explode the GOP Senate primary? A Sarah Palin endorsement, either way.

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posted by JReid @ 11:17 AM  
Monday, May 04, 2009
Democrats for sale
The "dirty dozen" Democrats who blocked Dick Durbin's bankruptcy "cramdown" legislation will, no doubt, rear their ugly heads again when healthcare reform comes up for debate in the Senate. Chief among the bad guys, besides Benedict Arlen Specter, who let's face it, can't be counted on by either party, is Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who not only has no use for homeowners when he can get so much money from big banks, he also has no interest in reforming healthcare if it involves the option of a public plan. Per ThinkProgress:
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), whose biggest campaign donor is the insurance industry, said he’s not interested in a public option. HuffPost reports why:

Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”

Why so hard hearted, Ben? Could it be that your biggest contributors include insurance companies? Per, we find that over the years, Nelson's campaign kitty has been significantly fattened by the industries he's protecting now:

Sen. Ben Nelson:
Berkshire Hathaway$65,800$57,800$8,000
Level 3 Communications$56,000$47,000$9,000
Nelnet Inc$49,100$34,100$15,000
Omaha Steaks$36,100$36,100$0
Blue Cross/Blue Shield$31,400$16,400$15,000
Lawyers/Law Firms$515,785$366,518$149,267
Securities & Investment$278,799$187,199$91,600
Health Professionals$233,426$78,326$155,100

Nelson, who was first elected in 2000, raised more money for his 2006 re-election campaign than he ever has, before or since, and he out-fundraised the average Senate member two-to-one:

When you buy Ben Nelson, apparently you get what you pay for. Other potential Democratic opponents to real healthcare reform have similar fundraising profiles. Max Baucus of Montana is also heavy on insurance and financial services companies, and his top five industry contributors include insurance, financial services, health professionals and pharmaceutical companies. Not surprisingly, he too opposes a public plan that would compete with private insurers. And whither Evan Bayh, for whom insurers are only number five on his Big Industries list...

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posted by JReid @ 12:22 PM  
Friday, April 17, 2009
The Herald dissects Meek's fundraising
Let me start out by saying that I don't have a dog in the Florida U.S. Senate fight. But do you ever get the idea the Miami Herald is, shall we say, a bit cynical about a certain second-generation politician running for the job? From today's paper:

For Senate race, Kendrick Meek is raising big money from out of state

At a recent campaign rally, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami branded his U.S. Senate bid a ''grassroots campaign,'' boasting of more than 1,000 donors in Florida.

''The more Floridians that we have who are stakeholders in this campaign sends a message, a message that we're here to do business on behalf of working people,'' he told about 100 supporters in the parking lot of a small Hallandale Beach diner.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state corporate interests and Washington lobbyists also have helped Meek -- the only Florida Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee -- emerge as a fundraising powerhouse with nearly $1.5 million in donations. Democratic party officials say he appears to have raised more than any other non-incumbent running for the Senate nationwide.

''When you are in a leadership position like he is, you do develop relationships with people all over the country,'' said Ana Cruz, a senior advisor to the campaign. ``It's a testament to the number of people who believe in him in and outside of the state.''

Cruz notes that Meek received support from more than 800 Florida donors who gave less than $200 each. ''Those are dollars from working-class folks from all over,'' she said.

Since he began his campaign in mid-January, Meek accepted $293,000 from political action committees representing law firms, drug companies, payday lenders and other businesses. PAC donations also came from Democratic Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California. In total, 44 percent of Meek's money came from outside Florida.

In contrast, 10 percent of the money raised by Meek's leading Democratic rival, state Sen. Dan Gelber, came from other states. He received $9,500 from political action committees.

Stipulating that we are talking about an off-year election, but just 100 supporters? By Obama rally standards what's that, about 2 people? Another bite:

His campaign calculated that he raised nearly $17,000 a day in the first three months of the year. His total even surpassed Democratic incumbents like Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Michael Bennet of Colorado.

At the Hallandale Beach rally on Monday, Meek suggested his aggressive approach takes its cue from the president's record-setting campaign -- though Barack Obama did not accept money from federal lobbyists and political action committees.

Much of that power fundraising is coming from Kendrick palling around with Bill Clinton (they are sharing another "Thelma and Louise" moment at the upcoming commencement at FAMU, and Clinton has been hitting the streets for Kendrick since day one, as have Big Bill's major Florida fundraisers.) And they left out the fact that taking cues from Obama is ironic given the fact that had Meek had his way, Obama would be Hillary Clinton's secretary of state, rather than the other way around ...

A review of Meek's campaign report due at the FEC on Wednesday found he spent more than $200,000 on cell phones, catering, a website, plane tickets and consulting. He paid more than $14,000 for a private jet to fly former President Bill Clinton to Florida for a fundraiser.

Meek's expenses also included $428 on a ''campaign dinner'' at the Biltmore Hotel, $177 at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Washington and $149 at Houston's in Miami. ''Some of these are strategy sessions and some are cultivating donor relationships,'' Cruz said.

One of the Democratic congressman's biggest donors is the political arm of Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens-based security company that retains his mother and wife as lobbyists. Wackenhut gave Meek the maximum donations of $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election. Miami-Dade County has accused Wackenhut of overbilling; the company denies any wrongdoing.

Meek -- who would be Florida's first black senator if elected -- also received big donations from former officers of the Congressional Black Caucus and Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television. Individual donors can give a maximum of $2,400 for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election.

Cue the Dan Gelber email campaign ... though so far, they've been as quiet as a mouse.

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posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Dixie GOPer: 'riots in the streets' if Big Three bailed out
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint takes union-bashing to a new level:
We’re going to have riots. There are already people rioting because they’re losing their jobs when everybody else is being bailed out. The fairness of it becomes more and more evident as we go along. The auto companies may be hurting,” he said, but “there are very few companies that aren’t hurting and they’re going to hurt. We don’t have enough money to bail everyone out.”

DeMint blamed the unions for pushing this issue as far as it has gotten. The senator said the notion that reorganization under bankruptcy would not work was generated by the unions for fear of losing their power. “The primary driver behind this is the unions, because bankruptcy allows the auto companies to basically restructure all their contracts in a way that a bankruptcy judge says will make them sustainable,” DeMint said. “And if they do that, then essentially the unions lose all their leverage. It’s the unions that have brought them to the brink. So definitely, I think the reason they want a political solution and a car czar is because a car czar can protect the unions through this whole process at the expense of the taxpayer.”
So ... who's making cars in South Carolina, Jim?
BMW ( picked an apropos way to celebrate its 10th anniversary in South Carolina ( It announced that it's adding 400 workers in a US$400-million expansion of its sprawling 2.4-million-sq.-ft. (222,960-sq.-m.) plant in Greer, S.C. The expansion continues the German automaker's life-in-the-fast-lane modus operandi since it first announced that it was coming to the Palmetto State in 1992. With the 400 added employees, the total work force at the huge production operation in the Greenville-Spartanburg metro ( will swell to some 4,900 workers. And the $400 million in new capital expenditures will push BMW's total outlay for the plant past US$2 billion. The company's expansion in South Carolina has been on such a fast track, in fact, that one in every six BMWs sold worldwide is now made in the state.
"Our decision to place our U.S. plant in South Carolina has proven to be a successful one as we strive to keep up with customer demand for our X5 sports activity vehicle and begin to build the new Z4 roadster," BMW President Helmut Leube said in announcing the project.

Current demand is straining the plant's resources, BMW officials explained. Employees at the Greer facility are working 110 hours a week on two shifts; that's 65 percent of a week's 168 total hours, and it's almost the equivalent of a three-shift setup.
And how did they get there?
BMW, however, wasn't the only party in this deal focused on meeting demand. State lawmakers worked to meet the needs of South Carolina's corporate clientele, in the process giving the automaker's expansion a forceful nudge.

That nudge came from the General Obligation Economic Development Bond Act, which took effect on May 15th. The South Carolina legislature recently passed the bill, which provides infrastructure to boost economic development.

BMW was no idle sideline observer in the legislative change. The automaker earlier this year lobbied for a state law to reward companies that undertake major expansions. And the new law is a virtual blueprint for BMW's expansion. The bond act specifies that qualifying programs must involve a $400-million investment and 400 new jobs - precisely the numbers that BMW nailed with its expansion.
Oh yeah, government cash.

More on the south's foreign auto boom here.

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posted by JReid @ 10:00 PM  
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Don't get too full of yourself, Illinois...
Old Dixie still rules when it comes to corruption. As of 2006, according to Corporate Crime Reporter:
Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation.

That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter.

Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis.

Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10).

“If you type the word ‘corruption’ into Google News, the vast majority of news stories that come up are from overseas,” said Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, a print weekly legal newsletter based in Washington, D.C. “But public corruption is booming right here in the USA.”

“There have been more than 20,000 public officials and private citizens convicted of public corruption over the past two decades,” Mokhiber said. “That’s an average of 1,000 a year for the last twenty years.”
Interestingly enough, the site relies on statistics from the Bush Justice Department's Public Integrity Sector, which strangely, hasn't completed a report since. And many of the states in the corruption "top five" are also tops in federal spending per capita vs. tax dollars paid in: particularly the southern states of Mississippi (#2), Alabama (#7) and Kentucky (#9).

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posted by JReid @ 4:14 PM  
All in the family
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones
and the Rev. Jesse Jackson celebrate together following Barack Obama's
Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech Thursday,
Aug. 28, 2008 in Denver. Abdon Pallasch photo. Courtesy of Flickr

The media is going to have a pre-Christmas feast on the carcasses of Rod Blagojevich and the newly named "Senate Candidate #5," Jesse Jackson Jr., the latter in no small part because only he, of the two, can be tied closely to Barack Obama.

I spoke with a source close to JJJr, who also has known Barack since the days of Jr.'s run for Congress. The source told me that the relationship really goes through Michelle, who was close enough to Jr.'s sister, Santita, that Jr. used to say Michelle and Santita, as teens, would "babysit" him and his younger siblings. The source said that while the women are, or were, close, Jr. and Obama were more "political friends" than actual ones. The quote was, "they weren't going to each other's houses, or anything like that..."

So why, I asked, might Obama NOT want Jr. to have his Senate seat, as the related passages in the Blago indictment implies? My source, who is not as close to Jr. as in recent years, but who still knows all the players, says the only obvious reason would be Jesse Jackson Sr.'s antics during the campaign, and the potential for continued embarassment should Jr. ascend to the Senate. Or maybe he just doesn't think he's qualified. Otherwise, Jr.'s stumping for Obama, as his national co-chair, was pretty thorough (he was in Miami a few days before E-day, and did a great job I have to say...) And Jr. has been very openly lobbying for the seat, in what could be called tacky fashion. If you go by the indictment, he wanted it really, really bad. From the FBI affidavit:
Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife on "paid corporate boards right now." Advisor A responded that he "think[s] they could" and that a "President elect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint "[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I'll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5]." (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and "picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever" it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as Governor.
Meanwhile, among the questions that remain: where was Jesse going to get the up-front money, and who was going to deliver on the back end? What is clear is that Jr. comes across in the indcitment as both shady AND untrustworthy, even to an alleged crook like Blago:

"ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that ROD BLAGOJEVICH had a problem with Senate Candidate 5 just promising to help ROD BLAGOJEVICH because ROD BLAGOJEVICH had a prior bad experience with Senate Candidate 5 not keeping his word."

And yet, the indictment claims that Blago felt fairly confident that Jr. could come up with the dough:

"On December 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke to Advisor B and informed Advisor B that he was giving Senate Candidate 5 greater consideration for the Senate seat because, among other reasons, if ROD BLAGOJEVICH ran for re-election Senate Candidate 5 would "raise[] money" for ROD BLAGOJEVICH, although ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5 to insure Senate Candidate 5 kept his promise about raising money for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. (In a recorded conversation on October 31, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH described an earlier approach by an associate of Senate Candidate Five as follows: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator.")"

Could the "other guy" be Dear Old Dad? Or could the "other guy" be Illinois State Sen. President Emil Jones, the political ally whom Obama called during the presidential campaign to push him to switch his vote in favor of an ethics bill Blago opposed? He had been the chief suspect in blogland before today's JJJ bombshell. Either way, this whole mess doesn't say much that's good about either Illinois politics, or Illinois Black politics...

Anyhoo, watch JJ's interview with ABC News here. So far, he denies that he was involved in pay to play:

"It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers," Jackson told ABC News. "An impossibility to an absolute certainty."
Jr. will be holding a press conference shortly.


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posted by JReid @ 2:44 PM  
Oh my damn... Jesse Jackson Jr. IS Senate Candidate #5
The Chicago Sun Times outs Junior:

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is “Senate Candidate 5,” who — through an emissary — allegedly offered to raise money for Gov. Blagojevich in return for being appointed as Barack Obama’s replacement in the U.S. Senate, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times.

The alleged offering was caught on a wiretap secretly planted by the feds.

“In a recorded conversation on October 31, 2008, Rod Blagojevich described an earlier approach by an associate of Senate Candidate Five as follows: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator,” the affadavit accompanying Blagojevich's criminal complaint states.

Speculation has centered that Jackson is Senate Candidate 5 since the complaint was released Tuesday. Jackson, who has aggressively campaigned for the Senate seat, told ABC news that he has not “been informed” by federal prosecutors that he is Senate Candidate 5.

Jackson said he is “not a target” of any probe, but the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago has sought to interview him.

“I would like to do that as quickly as possible,” Jackson said.

In a statement last night, Jackson said, “I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing.”

JJJ's name has been batted around the blogosphere, but it had been kind of knocked down yesterday. Now, it's back. Sounds like Dear Old Dad was handing down the family business. The inevitable conclusion here is that Jesse Sr. may have been the third party who would raise $1 million for Blago after Jr. came up with the first $500k. Nasty stuff. Looks like Marc Ambinder had it right, while TNR and TSG (and myself) got it wrong.


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posted by JReid @ 2:07 PM  
Obama's role in Blago's fall
Sorry, Joe Scarborough. The only ties between Barack Obama and Blago are firmly in the negative. From this morning's New York Times:
In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama’s rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama placed the call to his political mentor, Emil Jones Jr., president of the Illinois Senate. Mr. Jones was a critic of the legislation, which sought to curb the influence of money in politics, as was Mr. Blagojevich, who had vetoed it. But after the call from Mr. Obama, the Senate overrode the veto, prompting the governor to press state contractors for campaign contributions before the law’s restrictions could take effect on Jan. 1, prosecutors say.

Tipped off to Mr. Blagojevich’s efforts, federal agents obtained wiretaps for his phones and eventually overheard what they say was scheming by the governor to profit from his appointment of a successor to the United States Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama. One official whose name has long been mentioned in Chicago political circles as a potential successor is Mr. Jones, a machine politician who was viewed as a roadblock to ethics reform but is friendly with Mr. Obama.

Beyond the irony of its outcome, Mr. Obama’s unusual decision to inject himself into a statewide issue during the height of his presidential campaign was a reminder that despite his historic ascendancy to the White House, he has never quite escaped the murky and insular world of Illinois politics. It is a world he has long navigated, to the consternation of his critics, by engaging in a kind of realpolitik, Chicago-style, which allowed him to draw strength from his relationships with important players without becoming compromised by their many weaknesses.

By the time Mr. Obama intervened on the ethics measure, his relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, always defined more by political proximity than by personal chemistry, had cooled as the governor became increasingly engulfed in legal troubles. There is nothing in the criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday to indicate that Mr. Obama knew anything about plans to seek money and favors in exchange for his Senate seat; he has never been implicated in any other “pay to play” cases that have emerged from the long-running investigation of the Blagojevich administration.
The article reveals Obama's penchant for some relationships of political convenience, some common ties between himself, Blago and Tony Rezko, and Blagojevich's presidential ambitions (to run in 2008, no less) but mostly, it illustrates how distant, and cool, the relationship between Obama and the fallen Illinois governor has long been. Not exactly the stuff of Whitewater. Again, sorry, Joe Scarborough. I know you were hoping for a major takedown of "the chosen one."

Moreover, it may have been Rahm Emanuel, Obama's newly minted chief of staff, who tipped off the feds about Blago's dirty dealings.

UPDATE: A source close to Rahm E is knocking down the fed tip story (via TPM).

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posted by JReid @ 10:20 AM  
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Burning questions: who is 'Senate Candidate #5"?
The parlor game begins. And whoever this guy is, he's in big trouble, because apparently he was willing to play ball with Blago on some monetary love in exchange for Obama's Senate Seat.

Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife on "paid corporate boards right now." Advisor A responded that he "think[s] they could" and that a President elect . . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to." ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint "[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I'll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5]." (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and "picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever" it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as Governor.
In other words -- if Blago doesn't get what he wanted, then he'd stiff the PEOTUS by appointing someone he didn't like -- Senate Candidate 5.
And what's more...

Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator."

On November 7, while talking on the phone about the Senate seat with Harris and an advisor, Blagojevich said he needed to consider his family and that he is "financially"
hurting, the affidavit states. Harris allegedly said that they were considering what would help the "financial security" of the Blagojevich family and what will keep Blagojevich "politically viable." Blagojevich stated, "I want to make money," adding later that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 a year, the complaint alleges.

So who are the anonymous candidates? ABC News IDs "Senate Candidate #1" as Obama pal Valerie Jarret:

The Senate candidate whom Blago at one point thought that President-elect Obama seemed most likely to be supporting -- friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett, who later took herself out of the running and will be a White House Senior Adviser -- is discussed, as "Senate Candidate 1."

Jarrett referred ABC News to the Obama Transition Team for comment; they did not have one.

Ultimately, it appears that neither PEBO nor Jarrett were willing to discuss any of Blago's various notions of how he could sell them the seat. Talking to his chief of staff on November 11, Blago said he knew PEBO wanted Jarrett to get the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F--- them."

Which leaves the burning question of who is "Senate Candidate #5"?

Could it be ... Jesse Jackson Jr.? It could, but where would he get his hands on that kind of dough? Dad, perhaps? TNR's Jason Zengerie slaps down that theory, while providing another:

Marc Ambinder speculates that it's Jesse Jackson Junior, given the timing of a meeting he had with Blago. But that doesn't seem right to me, since it's also clear from the complaint that Blago believed Obama was opposed to Candidate 5. I can't think of any reason why Obama would oppose Jesse Junior moving over to the Senate. As I reported for the print mag early this year, Obama's relationship with Jesse Senior may be fraught, but he's actually fairly close to Jesse Junior. And, presumably, their relationship grew stronger over the course of the campaign, during which Jesse Junior did yeoman's work for Obama, the least of which was slapping down his dad when he did something against Obama's interests.

The Smoking Gun, meanwhile, says that Candidate 5 is Emil Jones. Obama's relationship with Jones (who, btw, is a sworn enemy of Jesse Junior's) is much, much more complex. Yes, Obama famously cultivated Jones as his political godfather in the State Senate, but that's always seemed like one of those relationships that Obama was happy to leave behind in Springfield. Given some of the baggage that comes with Jones's old-school, machine ways--a number of his family members are on the public payroll, and he's worked hard to make sure his son inherits his legislative seat--I could see how Obama might not want Jones in Washington. What's more, Brad Plumer calls my attention to this post from the Capitol Fax blog, which points out that Jones was mentioned by Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed a few days after Blago discussed leaking Candidate 5's name, and that Jones has a huge war chest, so it wouldn't be hard for him to come up with $500k.
Interesting theory, and ont that, like the whole Rev. Wright mess, would be awkward for Obama, though no threat to him legally or in the end, politically, since Obama has done the man no favors and clearly, from the Blago tapes, doesnt' want this person in the Senate. Ben Smith of Politico adds more clues:
Here's what we know. Candidate 5 is:

-"publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat"
- not who Blagojevich thought Obama wanted
- not someone with whom, by November 10, Blagojevich had a "long, productive discussion"
- someone with fundraising wherewithal who could produce something "tangible up front"
- someone Blago was "getting a lot of pressure" not to appoint
- someone with whom Blago had "a prior bad experience...not keeping his word"

And concludes:

The complaint also says that on November 10, Blagojevich told an advisor to leak to the Sun-Times's Michael Sneed that Blagojevich "is seriously considering Senate Candidate 5 for the open Senate seat" and that the advisor agreed to call the Sun-Times to leak the story, apparently false, that Blagojevich end of the conversation Advisor A agreed to call the Sun Times columnist to leak the story had a “long, productive discussion” with Candidate 5.

Sneed's November 14 column included this:

Sneed hears Gov. Blago, who will choose Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate, privately feels there may be only one choice that makes sense: His buddy, outgoing Senate President Emil Jones.
Here we go... More of the parlor game here.

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posted by JReid @ 8:15 PM  
The Chicago Five
Feeling lonely, Rod Blagojevich? Not to worry, you've got company in the history of corrupt illinois governors:
Should Mr. Blagojevich end up in prison, he will join predecessors including the following:

Republican George Ryan, who is currently serving a 6 1/2-year stretch in federal prison for racketeering and fraud. Blagojevich, along with Sen. Richard Durbin, has publicly supported an appeal to the White House for the commutation of Mr. Ryan's sentence.

Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was convicted in 1973 on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury and other charges before being sentenced to three years in the pen. The federal prosecutor in that case, James Thompson, later ascended to the governor's chair and wound up getting his law firm to defend Ryan for free.

Dan Walker was convicted in 1987 -- years after leaving office -- of bank fraud. Serving from 1973 to 1977, with a reputation as a reformer, he was the last Democratic governor of the state before Mr. Blagojevich took office in 2003.

Lennington Small, a Republican, served from 1921 to 1929. He was indicted while in office for embezzlement related to actions taken when he was state treasurer. He was later acquitted; several of the jurors in the case ended up with state jobs.

Also, in one infamous case further down the chain, a former speaker of the state's House of Representatives and secretary of state, Paul Powell, was found after his death in 1970 to have had several million dollars in embezzled cash stashed in shoe boxes.

Mr. Powell, according to a Time magazine article at the time, had his own definition of success, believing that "there's only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that's a broke one."
And let's not leave out Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who went from the House to the Big House in 1994 on 17 counts of corruption. Rosty...
... was indicted in 1994 on 17 felony charges, including the embezzlement of $695,000 in taxpayer and campaign funds. The longtime House Ways and Means chairman plea-bargained his way down to two counts of mail fraud and served 17 months in a Wisconsin minimum-security prison.
Still, don't fool yourself. Illinois may do it flashier, but pay to play corruption is far form limited to politicians in that state. It takes place all over the country. I'd bet you could even turn some up right here in Florida, if you were keen to look for it ...

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posted by JReid @ 7:33 PM  
Nothng but sunshine
Is Rod Blagojevich the most arrogant politician in America, or just the dumbest? This was the Felonious Mr. Blag yesterday at the Republic Windows and Doors protest, daring the media, and purportedly, prosecutors, to wiretap him:

Meanwhile, Blag says that despite the evidence on tape, and his jailbird status, he will not resign:
"He didn't do anything wrong," attorney Sheldon Sorosky told reporters after Blagojevich was arraigned. "A lot of this is just politics."

Blagojevich should be in the office Wednesday, Sorosky added.

So, reporters asked, he does not intend to resign?

"Not that I know of, no," said Sorosky, who added that the governor was "surprised" by the day's events.

Yeah, that's one hell of a surprise.

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posted by JReid @ 6:35 PM  
The Blagojevich file
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (left) and prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (right)

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich gets Fitzed:

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said today that federal authorities arrested Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich this morning because the governor went on "a political corruption crime spree" that needed to be stopped.

Fitzgerald said secret tape recordings showed Blagojevich was attempting "to sell the U.S. Senate seat" that President-elect Barack Obama recently vacated. Fitzgerald said, "We make no allegations" that Obama was aware of any alleged scheming by Blagojevich.

The governor has the sole power to pick Obama's replacement under the state constitution.

"The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave," Fitzgerald said, quoting Blagojevich as saying the Senate seat is "a bleeping valuable thing. You just don't give it away. ... I've got this thing and it's bleeping golden."

Fitzgerald called the corruption charges against Blagojevich "a truly new low."

Blagojevich wasn't against the corrupt deal for the Senate seat, he was against "being stiffed in the corrupt deal," Fitzgerald said.

The remarks came at a news conference to discuss charges against Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris. Blagojevich and Harris are scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan.

Robert Grant, FBI special agent in charge of the Chicago office, characterized Illinois' place in the pantheon of political corruption.

"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor," Grant said. "Even the most cynical agents in our office were shocked."

Grant said he called Blagojevich about 6 a.m. and told the governor two FBI agents were outside his door and that they had a warrant for his arrest.

After initially asking, "Is this a joke?" Grant said, Blagojevich was "very cooperative."

Grant said the arrest of Blagojevich should serve as notice that "business as usual will no longer be tolerated. That selling your office for personal gain is a thing of the past."

So what was on those wiretaps? For that, we go to The Smoking Gun:

DECEMBER 9--The criminal complaint filed today against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich contains a remarkable section detailing the Democratic politician's alleged attempt to cash in on his ability to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Attached to the U.S. District Court complaint is an FBI affidavit, excerpted below, alleging that Blagojevich was caught on wiretaps noting that the Senate seat "is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing." He was also recorded saying that unless "I get something real good," he would appoint himself to the vacancy. "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself."

According to surreptitiously recorded conversations, Blagojevich spoke with associates about the possibility of trading the Senate post for either an ambassadorship or a Cabinet post. The politician, according to the affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Daniel Cain, "analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams."

During a wiretapped November 10 call, a frustrated and financially strapped Blagojevich referred to Obama as a "motherfucker" and said that he would not appoint an ally of the President-elect to the Senate vacancy if "I don't get anything." Referring to Obama, Blagojevich exclaimed, "Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him." In a November 11 conversation, Blagojevich remarked that he knew Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett, a longtime confidante, to succeed him, "but they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them." Blagojevich, 51, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on political corruption charges. While the affidavit does not specifically name the six prospective Senate candidates discussed by Blagojevic, Harris, and the governor's aides, it appears that several are easily identified. "Senate Candidate 1" is Jarrett. "Senate Candidate 2" is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Emil Jones, an Illinois state legislator, is "Senate Candidate 5." And "Senate Candidate 6" appears to be J.P. Pritzker, a wealthy Chicago businessman. Additionally, Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, is referred to in the affidavit as "President-elect Advisor."

TSG has the docs, too. And Fitz isn't done. He's now soliciting any new information that would-be informants would want to provide. How stupid was Blagojevich, by the way? He committed the new alleged crimes tied to the Obama Senate seat AFTER knowing he was already under investigation. Wow. Special election, anyone?

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posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
Down goes Blagojevich
The Illinois governor was taken into custody this morning in a widening "pay to play" scandal that now includes the appointment of Barack Obama's successor in the Senate. From the Tribune (which we hope survives the bankruptcy, along with the Cubs...):
The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor's North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.

Blagojevich was taken into custody hours after the Tribune reported that the investigation into allegations of pay-to-play politics within his administration had been expanded to include his pending choice of a Senate replacement for Obama. The Democratic governor has said he expects to make a decision on the state's next senator in weeks.

Sources told the Tribune that investigators intensified their investigation into Blagojevich amid concerns that the process of choosing a new senator could be tainted. The actions by federal authorities came a day before Blagojevich's 52nd birthday.

The Tribune previously disclosed that federal investigators had recordings of Blagojevich. Those recordings were aided by the cooperation of longtime Blagojevich confidant and former congressional chief of staff John Wyma.

On Monday, Blagojevich said he has done nothing wrong in his stewardship of the state and challenged critics to record him because his discussions were "always lawful."
The governor's chief of staff, John Harris, was also arrested. More:
Updated at 9:17 a.m.: Blagojevich also was alleged to be using a favors list, made up largely of individuals and firms that have state contracts or received taxpayer benefits, from which to conduct a $2.5 million fundraising drive before year's end.

Even Blagojevich's recently announced $1.8 billion plan for new interchanges and "green lanes" on the Illinois Tollway was subject to corruption, prosecutors alleged.

The complaint repeatedly references conversations secretly recorded by federal authorities.

The criminal complaint alleges Blagojevich expected an unnamed highway concrete contractor to raise a half-million dollars for his campaign fund in exchange for state money for the tollway project. "If they don't perform, (expletive) 'em," Blagojevich said, according to the complaint.

Questions, including about the secret taping of the governor, will be many... And what does this mean for Jesse Jackson Jr. and the other contenders for Obama's seat? Tick tock...

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posted by JReid @ 10:22 AM  
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Guess who's running a surplus?
The Obama camapign. Now all that's left to do is figure out what to do with all the leftover campaign cash. (And yes, I know what the Clintonistas would like him to do with at least $7.5 million of it ...)

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posted by JReid @ 9:11 PM  
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Military votes for Obama with their dollars
A few interesting stories this morning that are not about Russia or Georgia...

An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics finds that U.S. troops stationed overseas are giving to Barack Obama 6 to 1 over military veteran John McCain:
During World War II, soldiers crouching in foxholes penned letters assuring their sweethearts that they'd be home soon. Now, between firefights in the Iraqi desert, some infantrymen have been sending a different kind of mail stateside: two or three hundred dollars -- or whatever they can spare -- towards a presidential election that could very well determine just how soon they come home.

According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul.

Despite McCain's status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall -- whether stationed overseas or at home -- are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama.

With the latest campaign finance filings, detailing June fundraising, McCain has overtaken Paul among all military donors, though Paul still leads with contributors listing an overseas address. Financial support from military personnel for anti-war candidates Obama and Paul is a trend that the Center for Responsive Politics first

Individuals in the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps have all leaned Republican this cycle, but the only branch in which that ideology has carried over to the presidential race is the Marine Corps, where McCain leads Obama by about $4,000. In each of the other branches -- including the Navy, in which McCain served when he was taken prisoner during the Vietnam War -- Obama leads by significant margins.

"That's shocking. The academic debate is between some who say that junior enlisted ranks lean slightly Republican and some who say it's about equal, but no one would point to six-to-one" in Democrats' favor, said Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military. "That represents a tremendous shift from 2000, when the military vote almost certainly was decisive in Florida and elsewhere, and leaned heavily towards the Republicans."
And here are the numbers:

Contributions from All Military Personnel
Recipient Total Number
Obama, Barack $335,536 859
McCain, John $280,513 558
Paul, Ron $232,411 537
Clinton, Hillary $167,050 376
Republican National Cmte $135,902 219
Huckabee, Mike $66,751 127
Thompson, Fred $46,400 93
Romney, Mitt $43,307 96
Giuliani, Rudolph W $22,050 47
National Republican Senatorial Cmte $21,885 26
DNC Services Corp $16,873 53
Based on contributions made during the 2008 election cycle through June 31, 2008.

Could it be that members of the military have figured out, despite being bombarded daily with right wing talk radio and Fox News, which candidate will get them the hell out of Iraq, and which one will get the U.S. into even more wars, while playing out the neocon fantasy in Mesopotamia indefinitely?

Well, maybe not indefinitely, since it appears that a deal, call it a "timeline for withdrawal" -- has been worked out with Iraq.

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posted by JReid @ 11:37 AM  
Sunday, June 22, 2008
John McCain's adventures in campaign financing
John McCain and his friends in the mainstream media are having a field day criticizing Barack Obama for opting out of the public financing system, something I continue to believe the public cares nothing about. But the media obsession with it this week all-but guarantees that McCain will be successful in keeping this alive as an issue, at least until Michelle Obama wears another really spectacular dress, or Cindy McCain poaches another cookie recipe. What the televised media has so far failed to do, is delve much into John McCain's history on this same issue. So far, only "Countdown" on MSNBC has cared much about it, but if we're going to whack Obama, and be forced to watch McCain moan about Barack "breaking his word," shouldn't we at least know what McCain has been up to?

Well while Johnny Mac calls Obama's decision a "big deal," (we'll get to his actual quote later in the post,) his team (and Brian Williams, sitting on on today's "Meet the Press") fail constantly, to remind the public about McCain's own public financing "big deal." From TPM Muckraker back in Feburary:

McCain Campaign Banked on Taxpayer-Funded Bailout

By Paul Kiel -
February 18, 2008, 5:15PM

As The Washington Post reported on Saturday, John McCain's campaign struck a canny deal with a bank in December. If his campaign tanked, public funds would be there to bail him out. But if he emerged as the nominee, there'd be no need for public financing, since the contributions would come flowing.

It's an arrangement that no one has ever tried before. And it appears that McCain, who has built his reputation on campaign finance reform, was gaming the system. Or as a campaign finance expert who preferred to remain anonymous told me, referring to the prominent role that lobbyists have as advisers to his campaign, "This places
McCain’s grandstanding on public financing in a new light. True reformers believe public financing is a way to replace the lobbyists’ influence, not a slush fund that the lobbyists use to pay off campaign debts."

Here's the back story. As of December, McCain was still enrolled in the public financing system, but had yet to actually receive any public matching funds. The Federal Election Commission had certified that the campaign would be receiving $5.8 million in public funds. But they wouldn't get that money for a couple more months. In need of even more cash beyond the $3 million loan he'd already secured from a
Maryland bank (he'd taken out a life insurance policy as collateral), the McCain campaign was stuck in a bind. They needed more money, but the bank needed collateral.The promise of those public matching funds (to the tune of more than $5 million) was the only collateral the campaign could offer. But there was a problem with that. Using that promised money as collateral would have bound McCain to the public financing system, according to FEC rules. And the McCain camp wanted to avoid that, because the system limits campaigns to spending $54 million in the primary (through August). That would mean McCain would get seriously outspent by the Democratic nominee through the summer. (McCain has separately pledged to enroll in the system for the general election; that would give him $85 million in taxpayer funds for use after the party convention through Election Day but bar
other contributions.)

So here's what the McCain campaign did. They struck a deal with the bank that simultaneously allowed his campaign to secure public funds if necessary, but did not compel his campaign to stay in the public system if fundraising went well (i.e. if he won the nomination). As McCain's lawyer told the Post, "We very carefully did not do that." He was not promising to remain in the system -- he was promising to drop out of the system, and then opt back in if things went poorly. In that event, the $5.8 million would still be waiting for him. And he'd just hang around to collect it, even if he'd gotten drubbed in New Hampshire and the following states.

You can see the agreement here. The relevant paragraph is on page two.

McCain's bank deal stunk so much, the Democratic National Committee actually sued them. The suit was thrown out last month, but in doing so, the judge never addressed the substance of the claim. Instead, the dismissal was all about timing:

Judge John Bates wrote in a five-page decision that the case is the FEC's to decide, and even though the commission has been unable to obtain a quorum for several months, the matter still remains in their jurisdiction. Federal law requires a party to file a complaint with the FEC and then wait 120 days before filing suit, Bates, an appointee of President Bush, pointed out in his ruling. The DNC complaint, which asks for investigation of a bank loan agreement the McCain campaign entered into with Fidelity and Trust Bank of Bethesda, was filed in April. Before the FEC's quorum troubles, the panel asked the McCain campaign to explain the agreement.
Meaning that the FEC, if it can get a quorum, could yet decide that John McCain violated campaign finance laws that have his name on them -- somethng that would truly be unprecedented in American history, even in Bush-era politics.

The larger point here is that right up until the moment Barack Obama opted out of public financing, the McCain campaign has been trying in every way possible, legal and possibly "extra-legal," to get out of public financing as well. The difference is, Obama did so straight up, while Camp McCain has been trying to have it both ways -- in the system for the purposes of securing a loan -- out of the system once they thought the money was about to roll in.

Now, let's have Johnny Mac's quote from this past week, which you can now consider in context:

“This election is about a lot of things but it’s also about trust. It’s also about whether you can take people’s word,”
At least he didn't add, "and then take it to the bank."
UPDATE: Signs last week seemed to indicate that Team Obama would begin taking the gloves off if McCain continues to try and peddle public financing as a campaign issue (though inexplicably, they didn't prep Joe Biden to do so on "MTP" this morning.) The Politico reported early last week: that the Obama communications director, Bill Burton, was circulating the Washington Post story in an email with the subject line, "McCain Got Loan by Pledging to Seek Federal Funds."

Burton wrote:

The below Washington Post story outlines how John McCain substituted a special deal for straight talk, telling the voters one thing and his bank another. The bank wanted to be sure it would get paid: the taxpayers were used as the guarantee while he was publicly denying that he had taken their money.

He didn't say anything about the current back-and-forth, but that seems to be where this is going. [Emphasis added]

Well it's not going that way yet, but we'll see if it does going forward.

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posted by JReid @ 1:58 PM  
Friday, June 13, 2008
The shady of things to come
Three things that are certain in the current election cycle:

  1. The GOP will fight dirty (and their candidate will condone it, quietly)
  2. Dirty means accusing Barack Obama of being a Muslim terrorist, mostly because they can't directly call him the n-word. And dirty means viciously going after his wife, using the Internet, radio and any other available means.
  3. Wherever possible, the Bush administration will use government power to try and take Obama down.

Exhibit A:

A sleazy GOP operation called the National Campaign Fund has launched a website called, along with a commercial that they don't have to get paid airtime for, because they know that winger blogs and talk radio shows will help them make it viral. The ad, surprise, surprise, accuses Barack of being a closet Muslim:

The PAC, founded by a guy named James V. Lacy, isn't very well funded, so far (its donors can be found here) but they don't need money. They need talk radio and Internet hacks to do the dirty work for them, and there are plenty of those.

Exhibit B:

Michelle Obama has been termed a "target rich environment" by the GOP, and as Politico points out today, they plan to target her, big time.
Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger leveled the first blow, introducing Republican John McCain’s wife at a fundraiser this week as someone who is “proud of her country, not just once but always.” Obama wasn’t mentioned by name, but the audience got it.

The dig signaled the start of what Democrats expect will be a concerted effort to cast Michelle Obama — and, by extension, Barack Obama — as an unpatriotic radical. It also pointed out the urgency to define Michelle Obama to general election voters before the opposition goes too far in doing it for her, strategists said.

“We live now in an era where everything and everyone is fair game,” said Douglas E. Schoen, who was a pollster and adviser to former President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000. “It is certainly the case that Teresa Heinz Kerry was probably not an asset in John Kerry’s campaign, at least publicly, and the jury is still out on how the public will view Michelle Obama.”

Why do you think she's guest hosting "The View"?

Exhibit C:

During his corruption trial, Tony Rezko says the feds pushed for incriminating dirt on Barack:
Imprisoned Chicago businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko has accused federal prosecutors of improperly pressuring him to implicate Barack Obama in a corruption case.

In a letter to the U.S. District judge who presided over his trial, Rezko, who was convicted this month of 16 corruption-related counts, including fraud and money laundering, called prosecutors “overzealous.” And he singled out what he said were their efforts to get him to turn on Obama, an Illinois senator and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and Illinois Gov. Rod Bagojevich.

“They are pressuring me to tell them the ‘wrong’ things that I supposedly know about Gov. Bagojevich and Sen. Obama,” Rezko wrote in an undated letter released by the court this week. “I have never been party to any wrongdoing that involved the governor or the senator. I will never fabricate lies about anyone else for selfish purposes. I will take what comes my way, but I will never hurt innocent people.”

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago, wouldn't comment on Rezko's allegation.

Shades of Susan McDougal, no? And the U.S. attorneys scandal. I guess not much has changed over at Justice...

Make no mistake, the GOP is going to go to war to keep control of the White House, and to keep the money flowing from the Iraq war, and the various money-pumping schemes involving turning everything from war to mortgages into a sellable commodity. They aren't going to let a little thing like voters get in the way.

Hopefully, Team Obama is ready.


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posted by JReid @ 8:09 AM  
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
More crazy James David Manning (or, will someone rid Hillary of this meddlesome nut?)
This guy is truly insane! Will Hillary distance herself from this weirdo? He even made up the name of his church: ATLAH ... says God told it to him in the middle of the night ... Here he is explaining himself in detail, including why you can't call him a racist (at the end of the video, if you can stand it all the way to the end, a woman comes on and invites you to a seminar to learn how to sell. I swear to you, it's there. Check it out:

Just to review: He doesn't think Frederick Douglas is "anything so great" ... he thinks Black people owe their eternal allegiance to the Clintons because of all the things those good white folks done for us (apparently one of those good things not being Bill opening an office in Harlem, since the Right Rev wants black Harlemites to boycott the white businesses to drive them out and to have a massive rent strike so that the city will be destroyed and ultimately abandoned to its "rightful black owners" ... he believes that blacks are weak and misguided, but that we will soon regain our "greatness!" primarily by following him ... he appears to despise white women, and yet worships one in particular (Hillary Clinton) ... and he is absolutely wild-eyed at the thought of interracial marriage ... he likes calling Barack "Barack Hussein Obama," but he gets an even bigger kick out of calling him "white trash" ... he thinks Barack has been "sent by the devil to derail you" (by "you" I mean black folk. ... I mean "negroes...") ... and he hates the bloggers and TV folk playing snippets of his Youtube without inviting him on their shows. He calls Roland Martin, publisher of the Chicago Defender and CNN contributor, a "copperhead," and he thinks that people are afraid of his intellect... actually, he kind of sounds like someone I used to work with... (ahem)

And most important of all, he wants you to send him some money.

Want to be even more frightened? Check out his bio, from the ATLAH website:

James David Manning is the energetic and visionary pastor of the ATLAH World Missionary Church located in ATLAH, New York. He has founded three schools and developed a national church ministry. He holds a PhD in philosopy, the author of The Oblation Hour book, a former Marketing Executive with Proctor and Gamble and the Ford Motor Company.

Hey, I thought Procter and Gamble was The Devil's company! (But it does kind of explain why my late Ford Expedition was such a piece of crap...)

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posted by JReid @ 10:47 PM  
Friday, February 22, 2008
The REAL McCain scandal
John McCain may not be a cheater ... on his wife ... but he may be less than pure when it comes to his signature issues: campaign finance reform and Puritan ethics vis a vis Washington lobbyists.

The FEC continues to stand in the way of McCain backing out of the public financing system he is chiding Barack Obama for not wanting to get into in the first place ... an interesting confluence of hypocrisy and irony.

And his campaign is packed with -- hell, it's run by -- none other than Washington lobbyists. ... Lots of them.

First, the campaign finance ... reform:
Last year, when McCain's campaign was starved for cash, he applied to join the financing system to gain access to millions of dollars in federal matching money. He was also permitted to use his FEC certification to bypass the time-consuming process of gathering signatures to get his name on the ballot in several states, including Ohio.

By signing up for matching money, McCain agreed to adhere to strict state-by-state spending limits and an overall limit on spending of $54 million for the primary season, which lasts until the party's nominating convention in September. The general election has a separate public financing arrangement.

But after McCain won a series of early contests and the campaign found its financial footing, his lawyer wrote to the FEC requesting to back out of the program -- which is permitted for candidates who have not yet received any federal money and who have not used the promise of federal funding as collateral for borrowing money.

Mason's letter raises two issues as the basis for his position. One is that the six-member commission lacks a quorum, with four vacancies because of a Senate deadlock over President Bush's nominees for the seats. Mason said the FEC would need to vote on McCain's request to leave the system, which is not possible without a quorum. Until that can happen, the candidate will have to remain within the system, he said.

The second issue is more complicated. It involves a $1 million loan McCain obtained from a Bethesda bank in January. The bank was worried about his ability to repay the loan if he exited the federal financing program and started to lose in the primary race. McCain promised the bank that, if that happened, he would reapply for matching money and offer those as collateral for the loan. While McCain's aides have argued that the campaign was careful to make sure that they technically complied with the rules, Mason indicated that the question needs further FEC review.

If the FEC refuses McCain's request to leave the system, his campaign could be bound by a potentially debilitating spending limit until he formally accepts his party's nomination. His campaign has already spent $49 million, federal reports show. Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison.
The Mason in question is FEC chairman David Mason, a Republican who has sparred with McCain on many occasions. Analysts are saying, according to the Post, that McCain could wind up in the same spot as his friend Bob Dole, who was stuck in the public finance system in 1992, while Bill Clinton wasn't. And contrary to the signals out of the McCain camp, the campaign can't just ignore Mason.
"This is serious," agreed Republican election lawyer Jan Baran. Ignoring the matter on the grounds that the FEC lacks a quorum, Baran said, "is like saying you're going to break into houses because the sheriff is out of town."
Yeehaw, indeed.

Now to the lobbyists. The WaPo's got more on that one, too:
The Anti-Lobbyist, Advised by Lobbyists

For years, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has railed against lobbyists and the influence of "special interests" in Washington, touting on his campaign Web site his fight against "the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided."

But when McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, co-founded a lobbying firm whose clients have included Verizon and SBC Telecommunications. His chief political adviser, Charles R. Black Jr., is chairman of one of Washington's lobbying powerhouses, BKSH and Associates, which has represented AT&T, Alcoa, JPMorgan and U.S. Airways.

Senior advisers Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon work for firms that have lobbied for Land O' Lakes, UST Public Affairs, Dell and Fannie Mae.

McCain's relationship with lobbyists became an issue this week after it was reported that his aides asked Vicki Iseman, a telecom lobbyist, to distance herself from his 2000 presidential campaign because it would threaten McCain's reputation for independence. An angry and defiant McCain denounced the stories yesterday, declaring: "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust."

Even before McCain finished his news conference, uber-lobbyist Black made the rounds of television networks to defend McCain against charges that he has been tainted by his relationship with a lobbyist. Black's current clients include General Motors, United Technologies, JPMorgan and AT&T. ...

... McCain's reliance on lobbyists for key jobs -- both in the Senate and in his presidential campaign -- extends beyond his inner circle. McCain recently hired Mark Buse to be his Senate chief of staff. Buse led the Commerce Committee staff in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and was until last fall a lobbyist for ML Strategies, representing eBay, Goldman Sachs Group, Cablevision, Tenneco and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

McCain's top fundraising official is former congressman Tom Loeffler (R-Tex.), who heads a lobbying law firm called the Loeffler Group. He has counseled the Saudis as well as Southwest Airlines, AT&T, Toyota and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Public Citizen, a group that monitors campaign fundraising, has found that McCain has more bundlers -- people who gather checks from networks of friends and associates -- from the lobbying community than any other presidential candidate from either party.

By the group's current count, McCain has at least 59 federal lobbyists raising money for his campaign, compared with 33 working for Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani and 19 working for Democrat Clinton.

"The potential harm is that should Senator McCain become elected, those people will have a very close relationship with the McCain White House," Sloan said. "[That] would be very helpful for their clients, and that would give them a leg up on everybody else."

The Sloan in question is Melanie Sloan from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Going forward, when it comes to John McCain, it's not the sex (cringe...) it's the hypocrisy.

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posted by JReid @ 8:27 AM  
Friday, November 30, 2007
Man on top

Guess who's going to raise the most money among the GOP presidential wannabes this quarter? Yep. Ron Paul (unless Willard buys it out from under him...)

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posted by JReid @ 10:36 PM  
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