Pelosi: Time to drain the swamp and get rid of Charlie Rangel

Yesterday, the Washington Post broke a blockbuster. A memo was leaked detailing all the current House Ethics Committee investigations. And guess what, most of them are Democrats. In fact, the only Republican mentioned in it was Sam Graves, who has been cleared by the Committee.

So what did we learn? The Post says, regarding the inquiry of lawmakers tied to PMA, a now defunct lobbying shop, that “the inquiry was broader than initially believed”. And we learned that there is yet another investigation of Charlie Rangel:

Ethics committee staff members have interviewed House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) about one element of the complex investigation of his personal finances, as well as the lawmaker’s top aide and his son. Rangel said he spoke with ethics committee staff members regarding a conference that he and four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended last November in St. Martin. The trip initially was said to be sponsored by a nonprofit foundation run by a newspaper. But the three-day event, at a luxury resort, was underwritten by major corporations such as Citigroup, Pfizer and AT&T. Rules passed in 2007, shortly after Democrats reclaimed the majority following a wave of corruption cases against Republicans, bar private companies from paying for congressional travel.

This is in addition to all the other problems that Rangel has, including his not disclosing bank accounts, breaking New York City laws about rent control, and his holding hostage Puerto Rican grandmas for his rum buddies.

David Corn at Politics Daily has a smart take that Rangel will ultimately become a symbol of a corrupt Democratic Congress and Nancy Pelosi’s broken promise to drain the swamp.

Why might the Post article and this widening investigation of ties between lawmakers and lobbyists — neither of which relate to Rangel — matter for him? Though the probe has not yet found any of these House members guilty of wrongdoing, this episode will place pressure on Pelosi and her colleagues to show they’re not a party of sleaze. Consequently, Rangel is more vulnerable to the Republican’s campaign against him. If the PMA investigation heats up, he would make a great sacrificial lamb. And if the GOP continues to pursue Rangel, his party, burdened by this other ethics investigation, will have a tougher time protecting him.

Stock tactic: Sleazy bigoted phone calls

The Politico’s Jonathan Martin asked one of the kings of political sleaze what he thought of the Mitt Romney phone calls. He sees a historical antecedent in the the 1960 JFK race:

Just as Bobby Kennedy was behind anti-Catholic calls and literature to Catholic Households in The 1960 Democratic Party. I smell a dirty trick. I suspect a pro-Romney motive to inoculate against future use of the religious issue and to breed sympathy for Romney

No respectable Republican polling firm like Tarrance would be involved with this. 

PS- a 20-minute call is the work of an amateur. The long call is designed to get ALL the negatives out, to put them off limits for future attacks.

To paraphrase, either the Romney campaign is behind it or someone allied with them is. An inoculation strategy.

That strategy depends on getting a media hit. Like hitting a Romney-supporting State Rep. Or a county chairman. I described a similar thing that happened in a campaign that I am familiar with. The campaign of a Democratic Jewish candidate called voters attacking the religion of their own candidate to drive attention.

Erick Erickson at Redstate describes a similar thing.

Let’s be clear. This is a stock technique of sleazy politics.

And, the Romney campaign has managed to include a number of practitioners of sleazy politics. Warren Tompkin’s, who is alleged to have attacked John McCain in 2000, is in charge of a firm that ran a sleazy website attacking Fred Thompson. Not to mention the faux-cop scandal, which eventually led to the firing of Jay Garrity, Romney’s long-time director of operations. As I said at the time of the PhoneyFred scandal:

This is another in a long list of thuggery and illegality of Romney associates and campaign staff. Including Romney’s former Director of Operations Jay Garrity, Romney’s former national finance co-chair,  Romney’s other indicted former national finance co-chair, etc. And then the Romney campaign threatens voters if they do things like ask questions (note that in South Carolina, the Romney campaign doesn’t even allow that)

To prove a crime, you need means, motive, and opportunity. The Romney campaign has the motive.  They have the means financially, intellectually, and logistically. And there is lots of circumstantial evidence linking the Romney campaign and his supporters to the people that used the weapon. Opportunity? Well, that’s self-evident, if it happens.

There’s a case here. More facts are necessary, but there’s a real case.

Romney plays for the gutter; attacks Hillary over sex

I’ve been out of the country for about a week. So I come back, and start digging through the news. And I come to this ad by Mitt Romney.

Romney is classing this election up by attacking Hillary Clinton over sex with his "internship" line. I want to be clear about something.

We will lose with this kind of behavior. We will get crushed with this kind of behavior. Attacking Bill on sex in the 90s didn’t work. He left office with twice President Bush’s approval rating.

Furthermore, as I have pointed out repeatedly, Hillary is a crook. She makes Bob Ney look like a choir boy. It is clear that she has been involved in profound campaign finance fraud related to Norman Hsu, etc. There was also the party that she accepted a $1m in-kind for several years ago. There is all the 90s era stuff with Bill.

But attacking her for sex is going to put us in the same place. Mitt Romney should be ashamed of himself, not that he’s capable of that. And not that he’s at any risk of winning the presidency anyways.

Matt Margolis is doing the right thing. Mitt Romney is not.

Richardson’s employees giving to their boss

You don’t often get to write this sentence, so I had to do it:

State of New Mexico $277,230
University of New Mexico $31,950
Total from NM State Employees $309,180

Bill Richardson would be violating congressional ethics if he were still in Congress.

What am I talking about? Bill Richardson received over $300,000 from his employees. Open Secrets has the details. Congressional ethics (at least House ethics) prohibit staff from giving money to (1) their boss (because of the possibility of a raise for a donation) or (2) other members (because it would look like a back channel version of the same)

Shouldn’t it be an issue that his largest block of donors get paid by him?

Make presidential candidates live by the same ethics rules as Members of Congress.

Normally that would sound farcical, but it might be a good idea here.

Hillary’s pork: Crowdsourcing project for the GOP

Yesterday, Kevin Hassett, an economist at AEI and a member of John McCain’s economics team, pointed out something that we forget. Hillary Clinton is a big ole porker:

Democrats have been so busy preparing the coronation of Hillary Clinton that they have failed to train a critical eye on her record.

When it comes to earmarks, an issue that voters responded to more than any other in the last election except for Iraq, her record is about as bad as it gets. If Dennis Hastert was the king of earmarks, Hillary Clinton was his queen. Republicans had their “bridge to nowhere.” Hillary has her knitting mill. …

The Clinton campaign refused to respond at all to requests that she identify her earmarks.

Here’s a project for diligent GOP and conservative activists:

  1. Identify the pork projects. How much taxpayer money does she spend on ridiculous things?
  2. Identify how the projects are being used politically. Which of her donors or allies are making money off of the projects?

We have the time to do the research. And the press believes that the Clintons are crooks. This will just be another fact after Norman Hsu, etc. If we get the facts, I think that these facts will get told on more than Fox.

Clarity on Clinton

Andrew Sullivan makes a powerful argument against Hillary Clinton:

A thief and liar is hired by Clinton. But his thievery is less important to Clinton than his loyalty. After all, his theft was an attempt to keep president Clinton’s failures with respect to al Qaeda under wraps. And so he gets a pardon. Remember: the Clintons are on their best behavior right now. And they still rehire their corrupted loyalists. Like the other royal family, the Clinton court exists to reward loyalty, protect the brand, circle the wagons and to punish dissenters. With post-Cheney executive powers, the potential for the Clinton machine to abuse their power more profoundly than in the 1990s is high.

The Clintons are crooks. No question about it. And the inability of our party to stand anywhere credibly of corruption is going to make it hard to attack her.

Ironies of the Hsu scandal

I keep giggling whenever I read about the Norman Hsu scandal.

First, Fred Thompson got it right. Didn’t the Clinton’s learn anything from the fundraising scandals of the 90s?

Second, the first great fundraising scandal of the post-Abramoff ethics era is about an illegal donor. He didn’t give money for ideological reasons. He gave money so that he could pretend to other people that he had access.

Third, it was about bundling. The new ethics reform legislation addressed bundling … by lobbyists. Not felons. And not random donors.

Oh well. Somehow, I don’t think that the Democrats are looking for ethics reform.