Friday, January 06, 2006

Rep. Slaughter to give national Radio Address this weekend

I focus this blog squarely on New York state and Rochester related items. From the outset, I decided that because everyone there were so many blogs dealing with national politics, I wanted to go for the underserviced local route.

I also decided that I would cover an item at the federal level if it involved Rochester or the state. Well, I think this is the first time I'm employing that special privilege.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter will be giving the Democratic Radio address this weekend and she'll be speaking about the current Republican ethics scandal.

From her post at The Daily Kos:

Hi folks. Again, please only recommend this diary if you think others should see the information I'm posting.

I wanted to let you know that the Democratic leadership requested me to give our party's response to this weekend's (Saturday January 7, 2006) radio address of President Bush. While local radio stations do not carry this speech, the cable network channel C-Span will carry both starting at 2:50 p.m. You will also be able to listen and read my speech at the national Democratic Committee's web site.

The topic of my address is going to be what else - the Republican culture of corruption. Speaking of which, I am posting below a backgrounder I distributed to the national media on Jack and his Republican pals in Washington, making it clear - THIS IS A REPUBLICAN SCANDAL. Keep repeating this over, and over, and over again.

So, again please tune in this Saturday. Let me know what you think by posting your comments here.

Thank you again for making me so welcome to your wonderful community. -LMS


The Jack Abramoff scandal is a bipartisan scandal.


The Abramoff scandal reveals the scope and depth of the corrupt Republican power structure that dominates Congress and Washington today:

Jack Abramoff personifies the Republican culture of corruption through cozy relationships (going well beyond giving out campaign contributions) between Republican Congressional lawmakers, various high level administration officials from government agencies, and the powerful lobbying interests in Washington's K Street. His central role in the numerous, inter-related scandals weave a web of corruption that exemplifies the dangers of one party rule, and one that is truly unique in its scope, nature and impact to the Republican Conference which runs both houses of Congress.

*Abramoff was a Bush "Pioneer," raising more than $100,000 for the President's reelection in '04.
*Tom DeLay once called Abramoff one of his "closest and dearest friends"
*Abramoff was a major part of the Republican's "K Street Project"
*All four lawmakers said to be under Justice Department investigation for the Abramoff scandal are Republicans (Ney, Burns, Doolittle, and DeLay)
*Nearly 2/3rd of contributions from Abramoff's tribal clients, Abramoff himself, his lobbying team, and their spouses from 1999-2004 went to Republicans.
*64 of the 72 skybox fundraising events held by Abramoff between 1999 and 2003, were put on for Republicans, many of them members of the House leadership, and many of them undisclosed.


HE AND HIS WIFE ONLY DONATED TO REPUBLICANS AND CONSERVATIVE PACS:From 1992-2004, Jack Abramoff and his wife personally donated $189,003 to Republican candidates, and $111,735 to Republican and conservative PACs. They donated no money to Democrats. []

A BUSH "PIONEER":Abramoff was a Bush "Pioneer," raising more than $100,000 for his reelection in '04. [R. Jeffrey Smith, "A High-Powered Lobbyist's Swift Fall From Grace," Washington Post, 8/12/05.]

MEMBER OF BUSH'S PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION TEAM:Abramoff was a member of Bush's Presidential Transition Team, "advising the administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees Native American Issues." [Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey, "Oil Dilemma," Newsweek Web-Exclusive Commentary, 4/21/05.]

TOM DELAY'S "CLOSEST AND DEAREST" FRIEND: Tom DeLay once called Abramoff one of his "closest and dearest friends." [Jeff Shields, "GOP's best friend could be its nightmare," Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/7/05]

CHAIRMAN OF THE COLLEGE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Abramoff was chairman of the College Republican National Committee in the early 80's, where he met his longtime associates Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. [Michael Crowley, "A Lobbyist in Full," New York Times, 5/1/05]

MAJOR PART OF THE REPUBLICAN'S "THE K STREET PROJECT": Abramoff was a major part of "The K Street Project," in which lobbying firms were pressured to hire and donate to Republicans. ''It was my role to push the Republicans on K Street to be more helpful to the conservative movement.'' [Michael Crowley, "A Lobbyist in Full," New York Times, 5/1/05]

NEARLY 2/3RD OF CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ABRAMOFF'S TRIBAL CLIENTS, ABRAMOFF HIMSELF, HIS LOBBYING TEAM, AND THEIR SPOUSES FROM 1999-2004 WENT TO REPUBLICANS: Of the $5,355,039 in contributions from Abramoff's tribal clients, Abramoff himself, his lobbying team, and their spouses from 1999-2004, 63.7% of it went to Republicans. [Derek Willis and Laura Stanton, "How Abramoff Spread the Wealth," Washington Post, 12/12/05]

ALL FOUR LAWMAKERS KNOWN TO BE UNDER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION FOR THE ABRAMOFF SCANDAL ARE REPUBLICANS: All four lawmakers known to be under Justice Department investigation for the Abramoff scandal are Republicans (Ney, Burns, Doolittle, and DeLay). A former Bush Administration official has also been charged in the case. [Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi, "Lawmakers Under Scrutiny in Probe of Lobbyist," Washington Post, 11/26/05]

64 OF HIS 72 SKYBOX FUNDRAISING EVENTS BETWEEN 1999 AND 2003 WERE PUT ON FOR REPUBLICANS: Of the 72 skybox fundraising events held by Abramoff between 1999 and 2003, 64 were put on for Republicans, many of them members of the House leadership, and many of them undisclosed. [Susan Schmidt and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Tribal Money Linked to GOP Fundraising," Washington Post, 12/26/04]

ACCORDING TO THE HILL, BIGGEST FIGURES IN THE ABRAMOFF SCANDALS ARE ALL REPUBLICANS: In a December '05 article, The Hill listed the 17 biggest figures in the Abramoff scandal. All were Republican lawmakers, officials, and aides save one, a business partner of Abramoff's with ties to the mob. [Josephine Hearn, "High-stakes players who gambled at the table with Casino Jack," 12/7/05]

Rep. Slaughter has been an outspoken critic of House Republican ethics abuses for quite a while now. It's good to see our local representative gain some national prominence.

A Great Fast Ferry Piece

Mike Caputo launched his newly re-minted Political Notebook site last month with little fanfare from this blog, which wasn't very sporting of me. However, I'm going to make sure to keep a close eye on the great material that Mike puts out and will steer you all over there accordingly. Which is to say, you should be surfing over there frequently.

Not waiting long to hit his digital stride on his new typepad home, Mike has already posted an interesting three part piece looking into how the Fast Ferry company is structured and the reasons why the City Council constructed the organization in that way. Mike Caputo is an accomplished journalist, having once worked at the Democrat and Chronicle, and is currently the News and Public Affairs Director at WXXI. He also hosts WXXI's Need to Know, and does columns for the Messenger-Post Newspaper.

If you only follow one Rochester-based blog, it is his you should be reading.

His Fast Ferry features are linked below:
Rochester Ferry Chronicles pt. 1
Rochester Ferry Chronicles pt. 2
Rochester Ferry Chronicles pt. 3

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pataki's Final State of the State Address

Yesterday, New Yorkers saw Governor George Pataki give his final State of the State address. These addresses are usually fairly innocuous. After their delivery, most consideration deals with sifting through them to find anything that is remotely noteworthy. They are, generally speaking, wishful and hopeful. Two qualities that all our lives could use more of. However, they are fairly divorced from reality. I'm not coming down on the Governor for what was an optimistic speech. This speech was built on optimism. I'm only pointing out that both his perception of New York over the last 11 years and his vision for his last year do not track with reality.

First, I believe the Governor will run for President in 2008 and that he will also lose the race for the nomination quickly and without contention. The first he is already planning for, the second he needs to consider. Yesterday’s speech does little to further his ambition. I disagree with Assemblywoman Susan John who said:

"He is offering few new programs to revitalize our economy. To me, this seemed more like a speech aimed at the citizens of Iowa."

I don't see what that speech held in it for the people of Iowa or New Hampshire. Let's face it. Those folks want to see what we want to see: results. And the bottom line is that the Governor has done very little to improve things in New York. And the things that he did accomplish, notably Albany reforms, came much too late in his term to warrant him any special credit. No, it would seem that Governor Pataki did what he had to do at that point in order to satiate voters. He didn't lead us to the reforms, he was taken there kicking and screaming. So did the rest of the representatives in Albany. Both sides of the party lacked solid leadership in this achievement. It was an achievement in spite of itself.

And so that is the reality from where we sit in Rochester. The optimism is wonderful though. Optimism can be a powerful thing, because it can surge like breaking tide and carry us over rocks of disappointment that could break us apart. Considering it now, a positive pragmatism seems to be in very short supply here in western New York. Too often are we left to ponder the latest closings of businesses that have either migrated away or burned out. Everyday, we see the fallout from closing a budget gap, or another night of violence. These things hover about us like spirits while obscuring our vision of where the future leads us.

These are hard times in western New York. We do not feel like we live in "a stronger, safer, cleaner, more prosperous state than it's been in generations".

Given that, I do not fault the Governor for his optimism. I don't think I ever have. I find fault with him that he has never pursued his vision with enough vigor to see it carried out. It is not his vision, it was his execution. The hard times we face in western New York require big men* who sense that large problems require brave, bold solutions. Pataki was never willing to put too much of his own reputation on the line to solve these problems. This is why he won’t be regarded as much of anything in the long run, I’m sorry to say.

Let's hope our next Governor, whoever it may be, will not only have an ambitious vision for New York, but the courage and conviction to make it a reality.

*"big men" was used for its cadence. Don't get all up in my face about it please.