Thursday, December 29, 2005

Analysts See Democrats Gaining in 2006 Races - December 29, 2005 - The New York Sun - NY Newspaper

Analysts See Democrats Gaining in 2006 Races - December 29, 2005 - The New York Sun - NY Newspaper: "December 29, 2005 Edition > Section: National

Analysts See Democrats Gaining in 2006 Races
BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
December 29, 2005

WASHINGTON - A Maryland politician who could become the first black Republican senator in nearly three decades, a business executive credited with bringing one of Washington state's biggest insurance companies back from the brink, and a state senator who is the son of one of New Jersey's most popular governors are among the Republican Party's best prospects to gain Senate seats in next year's election.

Meanwhile, Democrats are hoping that a young African-American congressman will make history by winning a Senate race in Tennessee, and that in Pennsylvania the son of another famous governor can oust Senator Santorum, who looks vulnerable.

Several political analysts interviewed by The New York Sun this week said they expect Democrats to narrow the Republican advantage in both houses of Congress next year. But they said Democrats are likely to fall short of winning a majority in either chamber.

The experts cautioned that many races may turn on hard-to-predict factors such as the military situation in Iraq and the vitality of the American economy. One pollster held out the possibility that the Republicans could increase their majorities if the economy grows quickly and large numbers of troops begin returning from Iraq.

"It's a pretty safe bet that 2006 will be a Democratic year. It may be a mild Democratic year, a moderate Democratic year, or a bonanza," a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, Larry Sabato, said.

An analyst of Senate races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, Jennifer Duffy, predicted that Democrats will pick up between two and four Senate seats, leaving the GOP with a razor-thin majority that has little power under Senate rules. "If the Republicans have trouble with 55 seats, it's not going to be any easier with 53 seats or 51 seats," she said.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen said surveys taken in contested Senate races in October and November suggested "a very bleak outlook" for Republicans. "The polls we've done in the last couple of weeks are less grim, but they're not anything to be enthusiastic about," he said.

While many consider it too early to ponder elections that are still more than 10 months away, some candidates say their bids are already in full swing.

"This is the phase of organizing, fund raising, and preparing," said Michael McGavick, a Republican who is seeking to unseat Senator Cantwell of Washington, a first-term Democrat. Mr. McGavick, 47, who is stepping down this week as CEO of a Seattle-based insurance firm, Safeco, said he is unconcerned about polls that showed an erosion of confidence in President Bush. "Voters, especially here in the Northwest, are very independent of those national trends," said Mr. McGavick, who also worked as chief of staff to a former senator from Washington, Slade Gorton. "Public sentiment shifts fast," the challenger said.

Ms. Cantwell, 47, who used a dot-com fortune to defeat Mr. Gorton five years ago, is in no financial position to make a similar contribution this time. The value of her holdings in an Internet firm she once worked for, Real Networks, dropped sharply after the tech bubble burst.

An aide to Mr. McGavick, Julie Sund, said he may also benefit from the perception that Maria Cantwell has largely been overshadowed by Senator Murray, another Democratic woman senator from Washington state. "People don't really have an issue they associate with Maria," she said.

Another Republican hopeful, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, Michael Steele, is taking a more restrained approach to the early phases of his campaign to fill a seat vacated by the retirement of Senator Sarbanes, a Democrat. A spokesman for Mr. Steele, Leonardo Alcivar, said the candidate intends to keep focused on his state duties at least through the spring.

Republican leaders hope Mr. Steele, who is African-American, can pick up support from black voters, who have generally been loyal to Democrats. "They'll now, have for the first time in a generation in Maryland, a real choice and they haven't had that," Mr. Alcivar said. Democrats may frustrate Mr. Steele's efforts by fielding a former congressman and ex-president of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume, though he must first face a primary contest with Rep. Benjamin Cardin.

In New Jersey, a Republican state senator, Thomas Kean Jr., appears well positioned for a bid for the seat currently occupied by Senator Corzine,a Democrat who will soon leave federal office to assume the governor's job. The Senate candidate is a son of Thomas Kean, a former governor of New Jersey, who gained national prominence as chairman of the commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Mr. Corzine's handpicked successor, Rep. Robert Menendez, who will be sworn in next month to serve out the departing senator's term, is planning to mount a campaign for the seat. He may face primary challengers as well.

The chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Senator Schumer, said Tuesday that he believes Democrats have a chance to pick up Republican seats in seven states: Arizona, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee. "If the stars align right, we could actually take back the Senate," Mr. Schumer told the Associated Press. However, in an earlier dispatch from the news agency, the senator set a more modest goal. "If we can pick up two or three, we'd be very happy," Mr. Schumer said.

A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Brian Vick, called Mr. Schumer's upbeat assessment "a nice dream." Mr. Vick noted that in six of the seven races Mr. Schumer cited, the Democrat will be facing an incumbent Republican. In recent years, 88% of Senate incumbents have been reelected, the spokesman said.

"We're in a lot better position," Mr. Vick said. "He needs to worry about the open seats they have."

However, to many non-partisan analysts, some Republican senators look a bit wobbly. One is Mr. Santorum, a staunch conservative who may face a challenge from Robert Casey Jr., the Pennsylvania state treasurer and son of the late governor. "It is the marquee Senate race, the one everybody's going to watch," Ms. Duffy said.

Mr. Casey, who opposes abortion rights, faces some primary opposition from Democrats who support legalized abortion but is expected to win the nomination. Some Republicans believe Mr. Casey's anti-abortion stance could put Senator Clinton, an abortion rights advocate, in the uncomfortable position of having to either remain silent on the pivotal race or back a pro-life candidate.

Mrs. Clinton's political action committee, Hillpac, gave $5,000 to Mr. Casey earlier this year. "Senator Clinton looks forward to supporting the Democratic nominee," a Clinton adviser, Ann Lewis, said yesterday.

In a recent Quinnipiac poll, Mr. Casey had 50% support while 38% of voters favored Mr. Santorum. The poll showed that when Mr. Casey's supporters who also favor abortion rights were told that both Messrs. Casey and Santorum believe abortion should be illegal, 22% of the abortion rights supporters said they probably would not vote at all in the race.

Mr. Santorum also faces a primary challenge from a libertarian who favors abortion rights, John Featherman. "We put abortion as the number one issue," said Mr. Featherman, a real-estate broker. "I have my work cut out for me."

In Tennessee, Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a Democrat, could win the seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Frist, who is keeping his pledge to leave the Senate after serving two terms. Mr. Ford, 35, would be the first African-American ever elected to the Senate from that state. At the moment, Republicans are splintered in a hotly contested three-way primary.

"It's going to be expensive. It's probably going to be ugly," Ms. Duffy said of Mr. Ford's race.

One-third of the Senate seats are up for grabs next year, as is every seat in the House. At the moment, because of the effects of redistricting and gerrymandering, fewer than 30 House races are expected to be competitive, though the number could increase if more members retire in the coming months.

Despite some recent improvements, ominous signs remain for the Republicans. A recent Mason-Dixon poll taken in Montana, one of the reddest of red states, showed the Democratic state auditor, John Morrison, running just 6 points behind Senator Burns, a third term Republican suffering from his ties to a Washington lobbying scandal.

Mr. Rasmussen noted, however, that early in 2002 some Democrats predicted big gains, only to be disappointed. "That same thing can happen between now and next November," he said.

December 29, 2005 Edition > Section: National"

Monday, December 26, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/26/2005 | John Grogan | Pa Has A New Hillary - Senator Flip Flop

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/26/2005 | John Grogan | Has Santorum turned a new leaf?: "John Grogan | Has Santorum turned a new leaf?By John Grogan Inquirer ColumnistWill the real Rick Santorum please stand up?
It used to be easy to know where Pennsylvania's junior U.S. senator stood. He was a red-state kind of guy in blue-state Pennsylvania, a conservative Republican Catholic who wore his religion on his sleeve and whose faith played a major role in his public-policy positions. Agree with him or not, you had to admire him for standing by his convictions. He never shied away from trumpeting his beliefs.
In many ways, he's still that man.
And yet, the bravado seems tempered. The ideology softened.
We heard it when he distanced himself from the Bush administration on Iraq. And we heard it again - loud and clear - last week when he very publicly retreated from the intelligent-design movement he once championed so vocally.
After a federal judge in Harrisburg struck down the Dover Area School District's attempt to add intelligent design into the science curriculum, Santorum surprised me.
I was expecting him to play to his Christian base. I expected him to grandstand about activist judges advancing secular agendas and to champion alternative theories to evolution.
After all, this is the man who in 2002 wrote that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes." This is the man who, with help from a leading intelligent-design proponent, sponsored the Santorum amendment to the No Child Left Behind law in 2001, designed to help school districts teach alternatives to evolution.
Behind the design
This is the man who sat on the advisory board of the conservative Thomas More Law Center, which defended the Dover school board and turned the case into a national referendum on creationism in the classroom.
But Santorum did not do that. Instead, he said he disagreed with the school board for mandating intelligent design in science classes. He criticized the law center, saying it "made a huge mistake in taking this case." And he announced he would resign from the Thomas More board.
Wow. Was this the same Rick Santorum who once blamed the Catholic clergy child-abuse scandal on Boston's liberal culture?
Could it be that Santorum is mellowing? Could he be maturing as a statesman and rethinking some of his past positions? Could he be learning that moderation is the better part of wisdom?
Or is he simply making a politically expedient - and temporary - realignment in preparation for a bruising reelection campaign next year?
It might be all of the above.
Santorum can read the poll numbers as well as anyone, and he knows he faces a formidable challenger in State Treasurer Robert P. Casey.
Like Santorum, Casey is a practicing Catholic who opposes abortion.
A pull toward center
With the abortion issue moot, and Casey more moderate on other social issues, you can't blame Santorum for feeling the pull toward center.
George Bush and John Kerry both felt it in 2004, moving toward center to try to win over fence straddlers. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been continually shifting her center of gravity since she stepped out of her role as first lady and began pursuing her own political ambitions.
Could Santorum have the Hillary chameleon gene?
Knowing he has the far right locked down, it makes political sense to shift a few notches to the left to woo from Casey those he previously had taken for granted, such as the reader named Mike who sent me an e-mail last week stating: "I am a practicing Roman Catholic, I believe in God, but I think the Dover folks over-reached trying to include [intelligent design] as part of a public school curriculum."
Santorum once could reliably count on voters like Mike on Election Day. Not so anymore.
The Casey camp, predictably, accuses Santorum of flip-flop expediency. The Santorum camp, predictably, insists that the senator's positions are consistent and not politically influenced. The truth almost certainly lies somewhere in between.
Whatever his motivation, I kind of like the senator's new sensibility.
Moderation becomes him."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Santorum to Jesus: "Get Back Jack, I have a Race To Win"

Santorum cuts ties to Christian center - The Boston Globe: "
Santorum cuts ties to Christian center
Decision follows judge's ruling in evolution case
By Associated Press | December 23, 2005

PHILADELPHIA -- Senator Rick Santorum yesterday withdrew his affiliation from the Christian-rights law center that defended a school district's policy mandating the teaching of ''intelligent design."

Santorum, the Senate's third-ranking Republican who is facing a tough reelection challenge next year, earlier praised the Dover Area School District for ''attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."

But the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was troubled by testimony indicating religion motivated some board members to adopt the policy.

Santorum was on the advisory board of the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which defended the district's policy. The law center describes its mission as defending the religious freedom of Christians.

''I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said Wednesday. He said he would end his affiliation with the center.

The leading Democratic challenger in Santorum's 2006 re-election battle, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., accused him of backtracking on intelligent design.

Casey spokesman Larry Smar said Wednesday that Santorum's statements were ''yet another example of 'Election Year Rick' changing his positions for political expediency." Casey has led Santorum in recent polls.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the center, said Santorum's withdrawal came as no surprise because several weeks earlier the senator had indicated that he was unhappy with the center's involvement in the case.

''It is a very controversial issue, as you know, and he is involved in a very hotly contested Senate race, and it's probably in his best interest," Thompson said yesterday.

US District Judge John E. Jones ruled Tuesday that the Dover district's policy of requiring students to hear a statement in biology class about intelligent design was ''a pretext . . . to promote religion" in public schools.

Intelligent design's proponents hold that living organisms are so complex that they must have been created by a higher force.

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company"

Friday, December 23, 2005

CBS 3 - Santorum Does The Dover Two Step - More Flip Flops

CBS 3 - Philadelphia's Source For Breaking News, Weather, Traffic and Sports: Santorum To Cut Ties With Evolution-Defending Firm: "Santorum To Cut Ties With Evolution-Defending Firm
Senator Said Board Members' Religious Motivation In Intelligent Design School Battle Was Troubling
Save It Email It Print It
(AP) PHILADELPHIA Sen. Rick Santorum intends to withdraw his affiliation with the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the Dover Area School District's policy mandating the teaching of intelligent design in science classes dealing with evolution.
Santorum earlier praised the district for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."

But on Wednesday, the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, the Republican senator told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was troubled by testimony indicating religion motivated some board members to adopt the policy.

The question quickly became a political issue as the leading Democratic challenger in Santorum's 2006 re-election battle, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., accused him of backtracking on intelligent design.

Casey's spokesman, Larry Smar, said Wednesday that Santorum's statements were "yet another example of 'Election
Year Rick' changing his positions for political expediency."

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled Tuesday that the district's policy of requiring students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade evolution lessons was "a pretext ... to promote religion in the public school classroom."

Intelligent design's proponents hold that living organisms are so complex they must have been created by a higher force rather than evolving from more primitive forms.

Santorum said in a 2002 Washington Times op-ed article that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

But he said he meant that teachers should have freedom to mention intelligent design as part of the evolution debate _ not be required to do so -- and said his position hasn't changed.

Santorum said he disagreed with the Dover board's policy of mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than teaching the controversy surrounding evolution. Because of that, he said the case provided "a bad set of facts" to test whether theories other than evolution should be taught in science class.

"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," said Santorum, a member of the center's advisory board. He said he would end his affiliation with the Michigan-based public-interest law firm that promotes Christian values.

(© 2005 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer | Tricky Ricky Flips and FLOPS on Dover - Both For and Against God

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/22/2005 | Santorum now critical of Dover case: "Posted on Thu, Dec. 22, 2005
Santorum now critical of Dover caseHe denies he is contradicting earlier statements of support for the cause.By Carrie Budoff and Paul NussbaumInquirer Staff WritersEarly this year, Sen. Rick Santorum commended the Dover Area School District for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."
But one day after a federal judge ruled that the district's policy on intelligent design was unconstitutional, Santorum said he was troubled by court testimony that showed some board members were motivated by religion in adopting the policy.
And, he said in an interview, he disagreed with the board for mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than just the controversy surrounding evolution.
Santorum - who sits on the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center, which defended the school board in court - said the case offered "a bad set of facts" to test the concept that theories other than evolution should be taught in science classrooms.
"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said.
He said he intends to withdraw his affiliation with the Michigan-based public-interest law firm that promotes Christian values.
Robert Thompson, chief counsel for the law center, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Santorum would not comment on the ruling itself, saying that he had yet to fully review it.
The case highlighted Santorum's high-profile role in the debate over teaching evolution. He never entered the Harrisburg courtroom where the six-week trial took place, but his actions - most notably, an effort in 2001 to insert a "teach the controversy" amendment into a landmark education bill - figured prominently into the case.
It also has become a political issue for Santorum as he faces a tough reelection in 2006. His leading Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., has seized upon the senator's seemingly contradictory statements on intelligent design to portray him as a "flip flopper" who puts an ideological agenda above other interests.
In a 2002 Washington Times op-ed, Santorum wrote: "Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
But in recent interviews, including one in August on National Public Radio, Santorum said: "I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom."
The Casey campaign and the state Democratic Party accused Santorum yesterday of backtracking in an election year on intelligent design, which holds that life is so complex that its creation must be attributed to a higher power.
It "is yet another example of 'Election Year Rick' changing his positions for political expediency," said Larry Smar, Casey's spokesman. "Santorum has spent more time in the Senate pursuing the politics of division rather than focusing on Pennsylvania priorities like health care, the economy, and jobs."
Santorum said his statements are not contradictory, nor has his position changed.
His 2002 op-ed dealt with academic freedom and argued that dissenting theories to evolution shouldn't be repressed. He said he meant that teachers should have the flexibility - but not be required - to mention intelligent design as part of the evolution debate, a position he continues to hold.
"Making sure there is academic freedom in the classroom, to bring in other points of views, is something my constituents and parents care a lot about," Santorum said. "It is not pursuing an ideological agenda."
Casey, who faces a Democratic primary challenge from Bucks County professor Chuck Pennacchio and Philadelphia lawyer Alan Sandals, says he believes that science should be taught in the science classroom, Smar said. "But if you want to talk about intelligent design, do it in religious class or church or home."
Santorum raised the national profile of intelligent design in 2001 by introducing a "teach the controversy" amendment to the No Child Left Behind bill.
The Santorum amendment was approved, 91-8, by the Senate and placed in a legislative history report. It validated the push by some school districts to teach alternatives to evolution. But science groups attacked the amendment and lobbied successfully to keep it out of the final version of the legislation.
The amendment, written with the help of Phillip Johnson, an intelligent-design pioneer and a retired law professor at the University of California-Berkeley, stated that "a quality science education should prepare students to distinguish the data and testable theories of science from religious or philosophical claims that are made in the name of science.
"Where topics are taught that may generate controversy [such as biological evolution], the curriculum should help students to understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy, and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society."
During the intelligent design trial, there had been repeated references to the "Santorum amendment" and a Dover school board newsletter highlighting the senator's support. Santorum had expressed his support in an op-ed article published in January in the Allentown Morning Call.
The Dover policy, adopted in October 2004, required teachers to read a four-paragraph statement to ninth-grade biology students pointing out "gaps" in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and directing them to a book on intelligent design in the school library.
Lawyers for the 11 parents who sued the district contended that the board was motivated by religion.
During the trial, a board member belatedly disclosed that the purchase of the book - Of Pandas and People - was funded by a local church, which gave the school $850 in donations.
Judge John E. Jones 3d, in his ruling Tuesday, rebuked the board. He said two members "tried to hide the source of the donations," and he did not find them credible when they denied making comments at a public hearing that showed they were motivated to adopt the policy for religious, not educational, reasons.
Santorum said he agreed with this aspect of the ruling, saying that religion should not be the motivating factor behind the teaching the controversy surrounding evolution. He continues to believe that intelligent design, like evolution, is a legitimate scientific theory, said his spokesman, Robert L. Traynham.
Rick Santorum on Intelligent Design
"Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
- 2002 Washington Times op-ed article"

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tricky Ricky Santorum Denies Role in His Plot To Get Jeff Habey -

Democrat state lawmakers kiss up to Kate - "Jeff who? Sen. Rick Santorum was flummoxed last week in reacting to GOP state Rep. Jeff Habay's allegations that Santorum is orchestrating a conspiracy to get him out of office.

"I have no idea what he's talking about," the Penn Hills Republican said of Habay, adding that the accusations were "completely off the wall."

Habay made the allegations after an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court jury found him guilty of a conflict of interest charge. The Shaler Republican was convicted of ordering his employees to perform campaign work on public time.

Santorum said he has had little interaction with Habay over the years. He wondered how he could have been working against him since Habay apparently has had few opponents for his seat in his decade-long career in the House.

Not only did Santorum say he does not get involved in local elections, "I didn't know there was a trial going on. I just feel sorry for him. He's swinging at shadows."

Before Habay goes on trial in February on 21 other criminal charges, Santorum suggested it would be best for him to resign.

"It would be better off for all concerned (for Habay) to move on," he said.

-- compiled by Tribune-Review staff "

Friday, December 16, 2005

Philadelphia Daily News | 12/16/2005 | Gar Joseph | A sampling: Scranton and Swann

Philadelphia Daily News | 12/16/2005 | Gar Joseph | A sampling: Scranton, Swann & 'Clean Gene': "Posted on Fri, Dec. 16, 2005
Gar Joseph | A sampling: Scranton, Swann & 'Clean Gene'IT WAS GREAT seeing Gov. Rendell in the Palestra stands for Penn-Villanova Tuesday night.
But our advice to him is: forget the Quakers; think Panthers. As in Pitt Panthers.
The guv's unfavorables are rising. His support is below 50 percent.
Everyone west of the Susquehanna thinks he's the "governor of Philadelphia."
The election is next year.
So, take in a Panther game, Guv. Have a photo-op with a Primanti's sandwich. Go West, old man.
Yet we come today not to praise Rendell, but to see who might bury him.
Who's more likely to beat Rendell, former Steeler and ABC sports reporter Lynn Swann or former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton Jr.?
They are the leading contenders for the Republican nomination to oppose Rendell.
We've spent the past week talking with pols, consultants, money guys and campaign staff trying to answer that question.
We'll sum up our findings by putting words into the mouths of the candidates.
Swann: My numbers have gone up in each successive poll, while yours have stayed flat.
Scranton: That's because you began in single digits.
Swann: Also, my pro-gun, anti-abortion views are more in step with Pennsylvanians'.
Moderate Republicans like you are a vanishing breed. That's why my campaign contributions come from conservatives across the nation.
Scranton:Can you match Rendell, who will raise $40 million?
Swann:Can you?
Scranton: All I have to do is open my checkbook. Remember, I have a city named after me.
Swann: That city and its region is 10 percent of the state's voters.
Everyone west of Harrisburg is a Steelers fan.
Scranton: You mean everyone who follows football.
What percentage of the vote total is that? And how many are old enough to remember you?
Swann: The fact is, western Pennsylvanians are far more loyal to candidates from their region.
And the anger against incumbents because of the legislative pay raise is greater there than anywhere in the state. Anger generates turnout.
Scranton: I also opposed the pay raise. Plus, my business experience gives me stature equal to Rendell's.
I look like a governor. An ex-jock can't match that.
Swann: As an African-American, I have the ability to cut into the Democratic base.
Scranton:What about James Carville's dictum? "Pennsylvania, between Paoli and Penn Hills, is just Alabama."
When did Alabama have a black governor?
Swann: My football career inoculates me against white voters who pause because of my race.
Plus, I appeal to black voters in Philadelphia.
Even the defection of 200 votes per black division would have a serious impact on Rendell's city margin.
Scranton: You've never run for office before.
I was tested in that tough 1986 campaign against Bob Casey Sr. I nearly won. Rendell will pounce on your first rookie mistake. Remember Lynn Yeakel and Juanita County?
Swann:Being an outsider and a fresh face is a positive, not a negative.
Clout: OK, OK, enough. We're more confused than when we started.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Santorum Linked to Abramoff and the K Street Project

NRSC plans multi-state attack tying Democrats to Abramoff: "A Democratic aide in Washington said the ethics charges Democrats have lodged against Republicans could tip the balance in other key Senate battlegrounds: In Pennsylvania, Sen. Rick Santorum (R) has faced criticism for his alleged role in the K Street Project, which aimed to purge Democratic lobbyists from Washington.

Jay Reiff, who is managing Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey’s campaign against Santorum, noted that Casey recently issued an ethics plan that would end the K Street Project and slow the “revolving door” between Capitol Hill and lobbying shops, among other provisions. Santorum’s media consultant, John Brabender, said Casey is trying to deflect charges lodged against the Democrat involving a fundraiser he held in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."

"Americans for Job Security" - Santorum Front Group -

Update 2: Michael Schiavo Launches PAC - "n a complaint Wednesday to the Federal Election Commission, Democrat Bob Casey Jr. alleges a third-party group that has run ads in support of Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania violated federal election laws.

Casey said the group, Americans for Job Security, violated election law by not disclosing the identity of its donors and "conspired to make illegal corporate expenditures in connection with a federal election."

Michael Dubke, president of the Virginia-based group, denied any wrongdoing. He said his group is not a political committee so it is not required to make such disclosures. Virginia Davis, Santorum's campaign spokeswoman, said there is no connection between the senator and the group.

Casey is leading in the polls against Santorum, a two-term incumbent who is the No. 3 Senate Republican."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 Quinnipiac Poll - Casey Swan Rendell Up - Santorum Scranton Soft and Weak Recent Poll Ranks Standing of Local Politicians: "Recent Poll Ranks Standing of Local PoliticiansDecember 13, 2005 - Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey continues to hold a double-digit lead over incumbent Rick Santorum in the 2006 US Senate race.

Today's Quinnipiac University poll gives the Democrat a 12-point lead, 50 to 38 percent. But that's down from the 18-point lead Casey held in October.
The poll also shows that nearly two-thirds of voters think Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for re-election.

In next year's race for the Republican nomination for governor, former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann leads former Lieutenant Governor Bill Scranton, although both trail undecided voters at this point.

And current Governor Ed Rendell's approval ratings are back up to 51 percent, which is a five percent rise since October.

Copyright Action News, 2005. All Rights Reserved." Unfavorable Rating Santorum 28% Casey 6% - Quinnipiac University poll NewsFlash - Poll: Santorum's support of Bush hurts re-election prospects: "Poll: Santorum's support of Bush hurts re-election prospects
12/13/2005, 6:30 a.m. ET
The Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's support of President Bush hurts his chances for re-election next year, Pennsylvania voters said by a 2-1 margin in a poll released Tuesday.

More than one-third of all Republicans surveyed in the Quinnipiac University poll also said Santorum's re-election prospects aren't helped by his support of the president.

The poll showed Democratic state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. leading the two-term Republican incumbent by 50 percent to 38 percent in the 2006 Senate race, compared to a 52-to-34 percent lead in Quinnipiac's October poll. Voters also said they disapprove of Bush's job performance, 59 percent to 38 percent.

"President Bush is clearly hurting Santorum in Pennsylvania, and he's still further behind than an incumbent should be entering the campaign year," said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Hamden, Conn., university's polling institute. "Santorum's best hope is for a third-party abortion-rights candidate to emerge and pull Democratic votes from Casey."

The survey of 1,447 Pennsylvania voters was released one day after Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican, attended a speech by Bush in Philadelphia that was part of the president's public relations campaign to promote Iraq war policies.

Santorum bypassed Bush's last stop in Pennsylvania, at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County on Nov. 11, citing a prior commitment in Philadelphia.

Santorum's approval rating rose, with 48 percent approving and 38 percent disapproving, up from 43 percent approving and 41 disapproving in October, the poll found.

Santorum was viewed favorably by 35 percent of the electorate, and Casey was viewed favorably by 40 percent, the poll found. But 34 percent said they did not yet know enough about Casey, the poll found.

Casey was viewed unfavorably by 6 percent of those surveyed compared to 28 percent who viewed Santorum unfavorably.

Casey is widely considered the Democratic front-runner in the race. The respondents were not asked about any other Democratic Senate primary candidates.

The telephone poll, conducted from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, carries a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The poll also shows Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell maintaining a lead in hypothetical matchups against each of four Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year.

Rendell's lead is 29 percentage points over Jim Panyard, a former director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association; 25 percentage points over state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin; 13 percentage points over former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann; and 12 percentage points over former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III.

Rendell's approval rating also improved to 51 percent from 46 percent in the university's October poll."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Worldandnation: $500,000 for Casey's campaign - an enormous sum for a Senate fund-raiser

Worldandnation: A Democrat in demand: "In September, Barack gave the keynote speech at a Philadelphia luncheon for Bob Casey, a Democrat who is challenging Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. The event netted $500,000 for Casey's campaign - an enormous sum for a Senate fund-raiser."

Santorum Weakens Republican Line-up - Klink considers running for Hart's seat in Congress

Klink considers running for Hart's seat in Congress: "
Klink considers running for Hart's seat in Congress
Saturday, December 10, 2005

By James O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klink says some leading Democrats have urged him to make a political comeback in the 4th Congressional District, a seat held for the last six years by his successor, Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Bradford Woods.

Mr. Klink said he is listening to the requests but has not reached the point of actively considering an attempt to return to Congress.

"I have said that, given the current political climate, that I would listen, but it is not something I am actively seeking," said Mr. Klink, who has worked as a consultant and lobbyist since he left the U.S. House.

Mr. Klink gave up his seat to challenge U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in the 2000 election. Mr. Klink, outspent in the race by more than three-to-one, lost to Mr. Santorum by some 400,000 votes, a margin of 52 percent to 46 percent.

Ms. Hart has won easily in each of her three runs in the district, which includes Beaver and Lawrence counties, parts of Butler and Allegheny counties and a corner of Westmoreland County that includes Mr. Klink's Murrysville home.

While acknowledging that he has had conversations about the 4th District, Mr. Klink dismissed reports that he was also considering running for an adjoining seat in the 18th Congressional District, held by Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.

"That's not accurate," he said of an Internet report that he might challenge Mr. Murphy. "I live in the 4th; if I were to give it any consideration, it would be in the district in which I live."

In Ms. Hart's district, two Democrats have emerged as competitors for the nomination. They are Georgia Berner, a Lawrence County businesswoman, and Jason Altmire, a former UPMC executive.

"They're two very good people who have their hearts in the right place," Mr. Klink said. "I know both of them and have nothing but respect for them, but they both have a tall mountain to climb in terms of name recognition."

(Politics Editor James O;Toole can be reached at or 412-263-1562.)"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

AP Wire | 12/11/2005 | Casey Leads Satorum 50 to 46 in a different kind of Poll

AP Wire | 12/11/2005 | Pennsylvania elite enjoy annual Big Apple bash: "Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. raised $50,000 at an event Friday at the Harvard Club for his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Santorum hosted his own $1,000-a-head fundraiser a day earlier, netting $46,000 for his re-election committee"

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/11/2005 | The annual gathering of the Pennsylvania Society

Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/11/2005 | Pa. pols just can't resist N.Y. bash: "Posted on Sun, Dec. 11, 2005

Pa. pols just can't resist N.Y. bash

The annual gathering of the Pennsylvania Society has attracted plenty of powerful folks, as usual.

By Marcia Gelbart and Carrie Budoff

Inquirer Staff Writers

NEW YORK - Manhattan at Christmastime was very special last year for John Perzel.

Attending Pennsylvania's premier out-of-state political party as the State House speaker, Perzel saw a $55,000 reception thrown for him by a paving contractor, a billboard giant, and 10 other politically connected companies.

And this weekend it occurred all over again - not for Perzel this time, but an equally powerful cast of political bigwigs.

With all the recent talk about ethical lapses in the Capitol corridors and Philadelphia City Hall, the drive for cleaner government has not reached New York - site of the annual Pennsylvania Society gathering of more than 1,000 politicians, business executives and lobbyists, which will end this morning.

During this three-day-weekend affair, Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will be feted twice; the state auditor general, the state House majority leader, and the Allegheny County executive will throw their own soirees; and legions of other public officials will be courted by special-interest groups.

It's the unofficial start of next year's big political season - which will include Gov. Rendell's run for reelection and Bob Casey Jr.'s race against Santorum. And with six of the possible mayoral candidates in attendance, it foreshadows that race in 2007.

"I doubt anyone gets bought there for the price of a shrimp cocktail," said Zack Stalberg, executive director of the Committee of Seventy watchdog group. "But it's that old-fashioned, and now questionable, conviviality between the people who run things and the people who run the government."

While the event is based at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, many lawmakers and lobbyists admit that one of the star attractions is New York itself: the Fifth Avenue shops, Rockefeller Center, and Broadway musicals.

All that money doled out in restaurants, hotels and shopping inevitably leads to the perennial debate over whether the Pennsylvania Society weekend belongs in... Pennsylvania.

Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp - who helped lead the successful grassroots movement to repeal the pay raise lawmakers gave themselves in July - planned to counter the high-end partying in New York with a bare-bones bash yesterday in the Capitol.

"Please bring a potluck item," Stilp wrote on the invitation. In an interview, he said, "Working-class Pennsylvanians can't even relate to the Pennsylvania Society dinner. We want to start a new tradition for the average person: the Pennsylvania People's Dinner."

Senate President Pro Tem Robert Jubelirer (R., Blair) defended the weekend: "This is not class warfare - just an opportunity to let your hair down a bit."

In Philadelphia, City Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday to bring the affair within the state's borders. The vote took place during the same week that Leonard N. Ross, a friend of Mayor Street's, became the 18th person charged in the ongoing City Hall corruption investigation.

"Look, I'm not trying to mess up anyone's vacation here," said Councilman Frank DiCicco, who sponsored the resolution and has never gone to the affair. "It's just business."

Rendell doesn't hold out hope.

"It can never happen because this has become too important a social trip for people across the state who don't get the same opportunity as Philadelphia does to come to New York," he said between handshakes Friday at a well-attended ESPN Zone reception hosted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, consulting firm Ceisler Jubelirer (one partner is the son of the senator.) and others.

The Pennsylvania Society was formed in New York City at the close of the 19th century, offering neutral ground for the state's industrialists to talk politics, charm politicians and, according to lore, give their marching orders for the coming year.

In some ways, not much has changed.

Instead of robber barons, the benefactors serving breakfast mimosas and late-night apple martinis are such corporations as Sunoco and Waste Management, and lobbying firms such as S.R. Wojdak & Associates and Buchanan Ingersoll. But the goals are largely the same.

"We look at this as a way to celebrate the captains of industry in Pennsylvania," said Jim Welty, a lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. "We talk about where Pennsylvania needs to go."

"This is a unique event," said Street's spokesman Joe Grace, who was in New York yesterday along with Commerce Director Stephanie Naidoff, City Solicitor Romulo Diaz and Housing Secretary Kevin Hanna. "It's an opportunity for us to listen to what people are saying" about Philadelphia.

Street did not attend the weekend's events because of a family matter, Grace said.

With a governor, U.S. senator, and much of the legislature up for reelection next year, followed by the Philadelphia mayoral contest, a lot of talk focused on who showed, who was up, who was down, and who might be out.

"I wanted to make sure the players who are there know that I'll be out raising money for my congressional fund-raiser," said NAACP Philadelphia chapter president J. Whyatt Mondesire, who is very publicly considering challenging U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) next year.

Casey, who agreed yesterday to debate his Democratic primary opponents in the coming months, raised $50,000 Friday at the Harvard Club for his Senate race - and ended up in a room next to where Santorum attended a reception hosted by Louis Appell, a prominent York County businessman and GOP fund-raiser.

They didn't cross paths. Neither did Casey and Rendell, who dropped by the Appell event but skipped Casey's fund-raiser. The governor cited tight scheduling.

Santorum hosted his own $1,000-a-head fund-raiser Thursday night at the Waldorf-Astoria, collecting $46,000 for his reelection committee and $130,000 for the state GOP election fund.

A short while earlier, Santorum, giving a speech at a Chester County event honoring him, asked the crowd to read his book, It Takes a Family - and not believe its critics.

"Just like everything else the Democrats do, they lie and distort," Santorum said.

From the back of the room, Democratic City Councilman Michael Nutter yelled, "Hey, senator, tone that down."

Santorum then amended his words, adding "except Michael Nutter," eliciting laughs from the bipartisan audience.

Nutter was one of the potential 2007 mayoral candidates who attended some events this weekend. But one of his potential rivals, electricians union leader John Dougherty, did more than just pop into receptions. He hosted his own party, complete with a band and "Johnny Doc 2007" Christmas tree ornaments, in a Waldorf-Astoria ballroom.

One weekend attendee, Ken Davis, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, was shopping around his candidate for lieutenant governor, Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Matthews.

"I don't know anybody who's been bought at Pennsylvania Society," Davis said. "Rented, maybe - but not bought.""

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Republicans Wrong on Dairy Program - Santorum Weak Where It Counts

Republicans Battle Over Dairy Program - Yahoo! News: "Republicans Battle Over Dairy Program By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
Wed Nov 30, 3:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON - For a few Republican lawmakers, perhaps the biggest battle facing House-Senate negotiators on a huge budget bill isn't a high-profile issue like cutting food stamps and Medicaid or opening a stretch of pristine Alaskan coast to oil drilling. It's milk.


Specifically, it's the Milk Income Loss Contract program that pays dairy farmers when prices drop.

For some, like Rep. Mark Green (news, bio, voting record) of Wisconsin and Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, their political lives could be at stake. Green and Santorum represent states dotted by family dairy farms. Their battle is with Republican colleagues from Western states with much larger dairy operations.

Compared with hot-button issues, the internal GOP battle over the Milk Income Loss Contract program seems pretty obscure. The program expired Sept. 30. Extending it for two more years would cost taxpayers $1 billion.

Green and Santorum are among the few Republicans facing challenging statewide campaigns in states won by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. Both are pulling out all the stops as they try to revive the milk program.

Green is running to unseat Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle; Santorum is lagging in the polls in his bid for re-election. Then there's Rep. Mark Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), R-Minn., running for the Senate. Two weeks ago, he cast the decisive vote in the House to pass a $50 billion deficit reduction bill after receiving assurances that the milk program would get new life.

Their opponents in the milk battle aren't Democrats. The tricky politics of dairy policy pits region against region rather than one party against another. Republicans from states like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Idaho — whose farmers don't really benefit from the program — are leading the opposition, creating the GOP family feud.

Farmers from states where dairy herds tend to be smaller — such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania — benefit more from the milk program since it pays farmers only on the amount of milk produced by about 120 cows in a year. Western states with their generally larger herds benefit far less.

"Dairy policy isn't partisan," says Green. "As a Republican in the majority, I'd love it to be partisan. It's not. It's geographic, so getting the support for it is much harder."

Most lawmakers, in fact, don't have a strong opinion about milk policy. That means that those from states where milk is important often must play hardball to get party leaders' attention.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., discovered this two weeks ago in trying to round up the last few votes he needed to pass the budget bill, a pillar of the GOP's agenda this fall.

The House version of the bill didn't contain the milk program extension. Renewing it for two years would have forced the Agriculture Committee to cover the $1 billion cost by cutting an equal amount from other farm programs or food stamps, a nonstarter for Chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va.

Scrambling for votes, Hastert wrote a letter to Green promising "to maintain a strong safety net for your dairy producers." That helped cement support for the budget from moderate Republicans from states such as New York and Pennsylvania. Green says he would have supported the budget even without Hastert's promise.

The Senate version of the budget extends the milk program, but only over stout objections from Western senators like Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who opposed it because of the resulting cuts in payments to other farmers.

Hastert's letter signaling that the House would bow to the Senate would seem to put the issue to rest. But Sen. Pete Domenici (news, bio, voting record), R-N.M., one of the Senate's powerful "old bulls," is leading a battle against extending the milk program. And since he'll be an official negotiator for the Senate in talks on the budget, Domenici's objections can't be dismissed.

Domenici's state is home to huge dairy farms that produce lots of milk but receive relatively little benefit from the subsidy program. He says the program encourages overproduction in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota, which lowers prices for everybody else.

An Agriculture Department study issued last year found that not only do states with large farms not benefit as much from the milk program, they "may be disadvantaged by the program altogether" because it encourages oversupply.

"Extending MILC in its current form is unacceptable," Domenici said, "and I will oppose it vigorously.""

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Philadelphia Daily News | 11/29/2005 | John Baer | Arlen Says Bush Was Deluded and Santorum Still Has A Chance

Philadelphia Daily News 11/29/2005 John Baer Arlen sticks to the points, etc.: " Posted on Tue, Nov. 29, 2005

John Baer Arlen sticks to the points, etc.
AND NOW an Arlen update. Or, how the senator just keeps going.

Says his health is "excellent," says the president was misled on the run-up to war and further investigation is warranted. Says Roe v. Wade stands, so does Santorum, but no casinos should stand in Gettysburg.


His comments came during an hour-long session yesterday with journalists, live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

The 75-year-old senior senator, 25 years in Congress, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, remains outspoken and controversial - though, in some cases, without specifics.

A Republican known for not parroting his party, Specter says he doesn't believe President Bush misled America in going to war in Iraq, but "I think he probably was misled by some" - unnamed - "in the intelligence community."

(And the withdrawal call made by U.S. Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa.? "I don't agree with him, but I think we ought to listen to him.")

Also, as Specter prepares to lead confirmation hearings in early January for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, he acknowledges abortion is "the dominant issue."

Asked if Roe might be overturned with Alito on the bench, Specter (who supports a woman's right to choose) notes the nearly 33-year-old decision guaranteeing abortion rights has been reviewed by the high court in 38 cases. It is, he says, "fairly well-established principle."

Asked directly if he thinks it stands, he says, "I'll give you a head-on answer. I think it will." He, of course, won't say how he votes on Alito.

On his health: A little more than nine months after he announced having Hodgkin's lymphoma, he says he is not under treatment, that his chemotherapy ended, "July 22 at 11:22 a.m." He gets periodic checkups, but "they say I'm in the clear."

He notes President Nixon started a war on cancer (in 1971) and says if the nation spent on it what it spends on "other wars," he might never have had cancer.

His hair is back, now short and darkish gray, not the odd frizzy reddish it once was. His energy level seems good, actually visibly higher the longer the interview goes. And his command of issues, including dates and details, remains impressive.

Oh, and he still plays squash, daily. And sticks to his predictions.

On Sen. Rick Santorum: He says reports that Santorum's in trouble (a Rasmussen Reports poll this month says he trails Democrat Bob Casey Jr. by 20 points, 54-34) are "vastly overblown." Says Santorum's only "in midstream," does lots for the state, is a hard worker and, "I still think Rick is going to win."

Specter reiterated that Santorum's re-election is his "top priority." Santorum was key in getting Specter past a challenge from the right by then-U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey in last year's GOP Senate primary.

Specter says he'll speak for Santorum early and often, continue to raise money for him and even put Santorum's name first on joint press releases announcing goodies for the state. (One has to understand Arlen's love of publicity to fully appreciate this gesture.)

After the broadcast, asked about anti-incumbent sentiment, Santorum's abysmal (for an incumbent) polling numbers, and pressed as to whether Santorum's in trouble, Specter just says, "No."

Actually he says, "No, no, no."

We'll see.

Gambling in Gettysburg? It's suggested a good venue for a slots casino. "I'm against gambling," he says. Opposed it since he was Philly D.A. (in the 1960s): "It breeds organized crime... infects a community." Says that in '72 he even tried to talk then-Gov. Milton Shapp out of starting a state lottery.

So there you have it. An update. And further proof, if any is needed, that the senator just keeps going."

Casey hints of campaign during appearance -

Casey hints of campaign during appearance - "Casey hints of campaign during appearance

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By Paul Peirce
Monday, October 31, 2005

Although the 2006 general election is more than a year away, Westmoreland County Democrats on Sunday got an advance taste of the much-anticipated U.S. Senate race ahead.
State Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., who is expected to challenge U.S. Republican Sen. Rick Santorum next year, lambasted the two-term incumbent as an "arrogant" politician who has grown out of touch with the concerns of average Pennsylvanians.

"What the other guy (Santorum) has done is push his own narrow ideology over the everyday concerns of Pennsylvanians. I intend to focus on issues important to Pennsylvanians ... not promote an ideology ... fueled by arrogance, and political partisanship," Casey said.

Casey told more than 300 county Democrats attending the local committee's fall banquet at Four Points Hotel by Sheraton in Hempfield Township that they can send a message to the nation next year that citizens are "sick and tired of partisan political extremism" by supporting his campaign for Senate.

The race is expected to be among the most closely watched in the nation and that was evident yesterday. A handful of protesters along the driveway leading up to the hotel held placards promoting Santorum's candidacy even though the election is more than 365 days away.

Casey pointed to his nine-year record in state office, first as state auditor general and most recently as treasurer, as an indication that he will focus on matters important to state residents. He said voters are ready to elect a senator who holds himself "personally responsible" for decisions and not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Among his first priorities, Casey said, will be curbing the rising cost of health care. He said staggering increases in health care are stifling business development statewide and throughout the country.

He also complained that the Republican administration has turned "record surpluses" under the Clinton administration into deficits.

Casey complained that despite the enormous amount of spending for hurricane relief and the war in Iraq, Republicans, including Santorum, "are unwilling to roll back the tax cuts they enacted for the top 1 percent" to help pay those costs.

He said it is time that Washington Republicans take a lesson "from the American soldiers fighting in Iraq with valor, and all of us roll up our sleeves ... working together ... we have an obligation."

Casey also pledged to "stand up for people who don't have a voice."

He complained that Santorum refuses to question the administration, even about the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response after Hurricane Katrina.

"Here's hundreds of thousands of our own people ... helpless, abandoned by their own federal government, and we hear nothing from our senator. Rick Santorum had a chance to say something, but the only thing he bothered to say is maybe there should be tougher penalties for those who choose to ride out the storms," Casey said.

After speaking in Hempfield, Casey, the son of the late Gov. Robert P. Casey, traveled to speak at the Washington County Democrats' fall banquet.

Paul Peirce can be reached at or (724) 850-2860."

Kansas City Star | 11/28/2005 | Santorum's Questionable Ethics - Same as Tom Delay

Kansas City Star | 11/28/2005 | The Buzz: OK, now we're scared: "Birds of a feather

The Center for Public Integrity says at least 13 Democrats and 18 Republicans in Congress used corporate campaign funds in recent years in the same way that Rep. Tom DeLay in hot water.

The list included former Sen. Tom Daschle, Sen. Rick Santorum, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Rep Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Compiled from news services by Darryl Levings. You can reach him at"

Monday, November 28, 2005

President Bush All But Endorses Lynn Swann for Governor -

ACLU may challenge panhandling rules - "Pittsburgh
Swann to dine at White House with prince, wife

Former Pittsburgh Steelers football star Lynn Swann planned to attend a dinner at the White House hosted by President Bush tonight for Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla.

Swann, of Sewickley Heights, until recently was chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, but he stepped down from the post in advance of his anticipated announcement that he will be a Republican candidate for governor in 2006. Swann was active in Bush's re-election campaign last year.

Former Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton, Swann's chief rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, is scheduled to be in Pittsburgh Thursday for a campaign money-raising dinner.

The prince of Wales and duchess of Cornwall began an eight-day U.S. trip in New York Tuesday."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Deficit cracking GOP's solidarity / Santorum refused to appear with Bush at campaign events.

Deficit cracking GOP's solidarity / Party-line votes no longer assured: "In the two months since Republicans pulled their tax cut bills, the atmosphere has only gotten worse. Republicans lost two important off-year gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey. Bush's popularity has hit new lows, with the public now decidedly opposing the Iraq war. Leading GOP candidates, including Sen. Rick Santorum, a conservative member of the Senate leadership who faces a tough re-election fight in Pennsylvania, have refused to appear with Bush at campaign events. "

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Montgomery Newspapers - The Globe - 11/23/2005 - James R. Matthews as a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor - Hey Why Not?

Montgomery Newspapers - The Globe - 11/23/2005 - Matthews interested in state position: "Matthews interested in state position
By: Margaret Gibbons, For The Globe

The name of Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman James R. Matthews has again surfaced as a potential candidate for higher office.

County Republican Chairman Ken Davis this week said he and Matthews, 56, of Lower Gwynedd, recently discussed Matthews' potential as a GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in next year's elections.
"He is clearly intrigued and interested but has not made a final decision," said Davis, adding Matthews will have to make a decision within the next several weeks to be a viable candidate. "We will stand by him in whatever decision he makes."
The only other prospective GOP lieutenant governor candidate currently mentioned is state Sen. John Pippy of Allegheny-Washington counties.
In Pennsylvania, a gubernatorial candidate does not select a lieutenant governor candidate. Instead, candidates for each office run in independent elections in their party's primary election and then are paired as a team in the November general election.
To date, neither Matthews nor the county GOP have expressed a preference among the three GOP gubernatorial candidates, former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton, former Pittsburgh Steeler and sports commentator Lynn Swann and state Sen. Jeff Piccola, who represents parts of Dauphin and York counties.
The Keystone Poll, conducted by Franklin and Marshall College, this week gave Scranton a slight edge over Swann, 27 percent to 24 percent, with Piccola trailing a distant third with 3 percent. However, 46 percent of the registered Republican voters contacted for the poll said they are undecided at this time.
Matthews, who heads a mortgage company, is serving his second four-year term as county commissioner. This is the second year of Matthews' reign as commissioners chairman.
Matthews could not be reached for comment this week.
Matthews' interest in running for lieutenant governor first surfaced earlier this month when, during a roundtable discussion on ABC Channel 6's "Inside Story," lawyer Gregg Melinson was preparing to take his prospective candidacy "on the road" throughout the state to determine the GOP's interest in him as a candidate.
Matthews has toyed in the past with the idea of running for higher office. He considered running for lieutenant governor four years ago and also weighed a possible bid for U.S. Congress. He never seriously pursued either of those two posts.

©Montgomery Newspapers 2005"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Swann Explores Running for Pa. Governor - Yahoo! News - Looks Like A Winner!

Swann Explores Running for Pa. Governor - Yahoo! News: "Swann Explores Running for Pa. Governor By PETER JACKSON, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 21, 8:58 PM ET

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann told a crowd of business leaders, lobbyists and journalists Monday that Pennsylvania would be a better place if he were governor, but said he has not yet declared his candidacy and eluded some questions the way he once dodged tacklers.

"I am still in the process of exploring" a candidacy, Swann said when asked about his political status at a downtown Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon. "But some people say if it walks like a swan, looks like a swan ... ."

Swann has been raising money for a prospective campaign since he formed a political committee in February. Independent polls show him running neck-and-neck with former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III and ahead of two other prospective candidates for the 2006 Republican nomination, but trailing first-term Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell by more than 10 percentage points.

Swann left open, if only slightly, the possibility that he would compete in next spring's GOP primary even if he loses the endorsement of the Republican State Committee in February. Scranton has also refused to rule out running without the committee's endorsement.

"I'd like to take a look at the process and see how it goes," Swann said, then added, "It is not my inclination to do anything that would be divisive to the party."

Swann, 53, a former star wide receiver for the Steelers who now works as a college football analyst for ABC, appeared self-assured as he fielded questions from the audience of about 200 people, but was often short on specifics other than calling for a rollback in the corporate net income tax and some other business levies.

For example, he advocated abolishing property taxes in Pennsylvania without shifting the burden of financing public schools onto another tax, such as the sales tax, as some Republican legislators are proposing. Asked how he would make up the more than $8 billion generated by property taxes, however, he declined to reveal his plan, saying it is still being refined.

"I'm not going to give it to you only because I want to see if it's going to work first," he said. "We want new thinking that's outside the box."

Swann also declined to take a stand on alternatives to public schools, saying only that state officials must constantly strive to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most out of their investment in education.

Asked if he was avoiding addressing issues because "as a sideline reporter, you've learned that a few cliches are all that make it on the TV anyway," he steered the focus toward Rendell, who moonlights as a Philadelphia Eagles post-game analyst for Comcast SportsNet.

"Let me consult with Ed Rendell after the post-game show for the Eagles," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Swann, who lives in the Pittsburgh suburbs with his wife and two sons and who would be Pennsylvania's first black governor, said he expects to declare his candidacy early next year and played down speculation that his timing is driven by the end of the college football season.

"It's a time slot that I think will be better," he said. "There are other obligations I have and, while I can continue to do those even as a declared candidate, I'm choosing to wait."

In addition to Scranton, Swann faces likely opposition in the GOP primary from state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, and Jim Panyard, the former director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association."

AP Wire | 11/21/2005 | Secret Right-Wing Group's ads try to make Santorum Look Competent - Not an easy job!

AP Wire | 11/21/2005 | Group's ad touts Santorum's record on tax relief: " Posted on Mon, Nov. 21, 2005

Group's ad touts Santorum's record on tax relief
Associated Press
WASHINGTON - A group called Americans for Job Security is spending more than $450,000 to run an ad in support of Sen. Rick Santorum's 2006 re-election bid.

The ad, showing a family playing together in the park, credits Santorum, R-Pa., with helping to provide $300 billion in tax relief, eliminate the marriage penalty and increase the per-child tax credit.

"Pennsylvania families relax a little more these days because Rick Santorum is getting things done every day," the ad says.

The campaign manager for Santorum's leading prospective Democratic challenger, Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., on Monday criticized the group, saying it has not revealed the identity of donors.

"We think the voters of Pennsylvania deserve to know who's backing Rick Santorum," said Jay Reiff, Casey's campaign manager. "They shouldn't be hiding behind these shadowy organizations. We need to have full disclosure."

Americans for Job Security, based in Alexandria, Va., is registered under 501(c) of the federal tax code, a classification that allows groups to engage in political activity without revealing contributors as long as that is not their main activity. The president, Michael Dubke, said the organization does not reveal donors because that would distract from their message.

Dubke said the ad is a kickoff to a national campaign to promote tax cuts and other issues the group backs. He said there would be a heated political and policy debate during the Pennsylvania race and "we want to be part of that debate."

The ad started running Friday and will be aired for about two weeks in all Pennsylvania markets except Philadelphia, he said.

Craig Holman, campaign finance lobbyist with Public Citizen, a liberal-leaning advocacy group, alleged that Americans for Job Security is a political front group backing conservative causes.

"From everything I've seen, they do absolutely nothing except electioneering," Holman said.

Santorum is lagging behind Casey in the polls, and Holman said the group's decision to run an ad nearly a year before the election indicates how close the race is perceived to be.

Virginia Davis, Santorum's campaign spokeswoman, said the campaign was not aware of the ad until it ran on television.

"We can't control what message third party groups choose to highlight, but Sen. Santorum has been a champion for cutting taxes of Pennsylvanians and all Americans, and that record is well-known," Davis said."

The New York Review of Books: Santorum and the Abuse of Power - The K Street Project

The New York Review of Books: Selling Washington: "Volume 52, Number 11 · June 23, 2005

Selling Washington
By Elizabeth Drew
As the criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff was underway this spring, a spokesman for the law firm representing him issued a statement saying that Abramoff was "being singled out by the media for actions that are commonplace in Washington and are totally proper." Abramoff has since said much the same thing. The lawyer was half right. Like many other lobbyists, Abramoff often arranged for private organizations, particularly nonprofit groups, to sponsor pleasant, even luxurious, trips for members of Congress, with lobbyists like himself tagging along and enjoying the unparalleled "access" that such a setting provides; i.e., they get to know congressmen and sell them on legislation. They take over skyboxes at sporting events, inviting members of Congress and their staffs.

But Abramoff has differed from other lobbyists in his flamboyance (he owned two Washington restaurants, at which he entertained), and in the egregiously high fees he charged clients, in particular, Indian tribes in the casino business. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee, headed by John McCain, found last year that Abramoff and an associate, Michael Scanlon, a political consultant and former communications director for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, received at least $66 million from six tribes over three years. Abramoff also instructed the tribes to make donations to certain members of Congress and conservative causes he was allied with. And he was careless—for example in putting on his credit card charges for DeLay's golfing trip to the St. Andrews golf course in Scotland in 2000, with a stop in London for a bit of semi-serious business to make the trip seem legitimate. It's illegal for a lobbyist to pay for congressional travel, but Abramoff is reported to have paid for three of DeLay's trips abroad. A prominent Republican lobbyist told me that the difference between what Abramoff did and what many other lobbyists do was simply "a matter of degree and blatancy."

Abramoff's behavior is symptomatic of the unprecedented corruption—the intensified buying and selling of influence over legislation and federal policy —that has become endemic in Washington under a Republican Congress and White House. Corruption has always been present in Washington, but in recent years it has become more sophisticated, pervasive, and blatant than ever. A friend of mine who works closely with lobbyists says, "There are no restraints now; business groups and lobbyists are going crazy—they're in every room on Capitol Hill writing the legislation. You can't move on the Hill without giving money."

This remark is only slightly exaggerated. For over ten years, but particularly since George W. Bush took office, powerful Republicans, among them Tom DeLay and Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, have been carrying out what they call the "K Street Project," an effort to place more Republicans and get rid of Democrats in the trade associations and major national lobbying organizations that have offices on K Street in downtown Washington (although, of course, some have offices elsewhere).

The Republican purge of K Street is a more thorough, ruthless, vindictive, and effective attack on Democratic lobbyists and other Democrats who represent businesses and other organizations than anything Washington has seen before. The Republicans don't simply want to take care of their friends and former aides by getting them high-paying jobs: they want the lobbyists they helped place in these jobs and other corporate representatives to arrange lavish trips for themselves and their wives; to invite them to watch sports events from skyboxes; and, most important, to provide a steady flow of campaign contributions. The former aides become part of their previous employers' power networks. Republican leaders also want to have like-minded people on K Street who can further their ideological goals by helping to formulate their legislative programs, get them passed, and generally circulate their ideas. When I suggested to Grover Norquist, the influential right-wing leader and the leading enforcer of the K Street Project outside Congress, that numerous Democrats on K Street were not particularly ideological and were happy to serve corporate interests, he replied, "We don't want nonideological people on K Street, we want conservative activist Republicans on K Street."

The K Street Project has become critical to the Republicans' efforts to control all the power centers in Washington: the White House, Congress, the courts—and now, at least, an influential part of the corporate world, the one that raises most of the political money. It's another way for Republicans to try to impose their programs on the country. The Washington Post reported recently that House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, of Missouri, has established "a formal, institutionalized alliance" with K Street lobbyists. They have become an integral part of the legislative process by helping to get bills written and passed—and they are rewarded for their help by the fees paid by their clients. Among the results are legislation that serves powerful private interests all the more openly—as will be seen, the energy bill recently passed by the House is a prime example —and a climate of fear that is new. The conservative commentator David Brooks said on PBS's NewsHour earlier this year, "The biggest threat to the Republican majority is the relationship on K Street with corporate lobbyists and the corruption that is entailed in that." But if the Republicans are running a risk of being seen as overreaching in their takeover of K Street, there are few signs that they are concerned about it.

When the Republicans first announced the K Street Project after they won a majority in Congress in the 1994 election, they warned Washington lobbying and law firms that if they wanted to have appointments with Republican legislators they had better hire more Republicans. This was seen as unprecedentedly heavy-handed, but their deeper purposes weren't yet understood. Since the Democrats had been in power on Capitol Hill for a long time, many of the K Street firms then had more Democrats than Republicans or else they were evenly balanced. But the Democrats had been hired because they were well connected with prominent Democrats on Capitol Hill, not because Democratic Congresses demanded it. Moreover, it makes sense for lobbying firms that want access to members of Congress to hire people with good contacts in the majority party—especially former members or aides of the current leaders. But the bullying tactics of Republicans in the late 1990s were new.

DeLay, Santorum, and their associates organized a systematic campaign, closely monitored by Republicans on Capitol Hill and by Grover Norquist and the Republican National Committee, to put pressure on firms not just to hire Republicans but also to fire Democrats. With the election of Bush, this pressure became stronger. A Republican lobbyist told me, "Having the White House" has made it more possible for DeLay and Santorum "to enforce the K Street Project." Several Democratic lobbyists have been pushed out of their jobs as a result; business associations who hire Democrats for prominent positions have been subject to retribution. They are told that they won't be able to see the people on Capitol Hill they want to see. Sometimes the retribution is more tangible. The Republican lobbyist I spoke to said, "There's a high state of sensitivity to the partisanship of the person you hire for these jobs that did not exist five, six years ago—you hire a Democrat at your peril."

In one instance well known among lobbyists, the Ohio Republican Michael Oxley, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, put pressure on the Investment Company Institute, a consortium of mutual fund companies, to fire its top lobbyist, a Democrat, and hire a Republican to replace her. According to a Washington Post story on February 15, 2003, six sources, both Democratic and Republican, said that members of Oxley's staff told the institute that a pending congressional investigation of mutual fund companies "might ease up if the mutual fund trade group complies with their wishes." It apparently didn't matter to them that House ethics rules prohibit congressmen or their staff "from bestowing benefits on the basis of the recipient's status as a supporter or contributor, or partisan affiliation." A Republican now holds the top job at the Investment Company Institute.

Last year retribution was taken against the Motion Picture Association of America, which—after first approaching without success a Republican congressman about to retire— hired as its new head Dan Glickman, a former Democratic representative from Kansas and secretary of agriculture in the Clinton administration. Republicans had warned the MPAA not to hire a Democrat for the job. After Glickman was hired, House Republicans removed from a pending bill some $1.5 billion in tax relief for the motion picture industry. Norquist told me, "No other industry is interested in taking a $1.5 billion hit to hire a Clinton friend." After Glickman was selected, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported last year, "Santorum has begun discussing what the consequences are for the movie industry." Norquist said publicly that the appointment of Glickman was "a studied insult" and the motion picture industry's "ability to work with the House and the Senate is greatly reduced." Glickman responded by hiring prominent Republicans, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert's former spokesman, for major MPAA jobs.

Norquist's organization, Americans for Tax Reform, keeps watch on other K Street firms and calls attention on its Web site to the ones that are out of line.[1] According to a report in The Washington Post in 2003, an official of the Republican National Committee told a group of Republican lobbyists that thirty-three of the top thirty-six top-level K Street positions had gone to Republicans.

Despite its effectiveness, "the K Street Project is far from complete," according to Norquist, who says, "There should be as many Democrats working on K Street representing corporate America as there are Republicans working in organized labor—and that number is close to zero." He wants the project to include not just the top jobs in K Street firms, but "all of them—including secretaries."

A prominent Democratic Party fund-raiser believes that in 2001, after nineteen years as head of a trade association, he was fired because he was not a Republican. Another Democratic lobbyist told me that one of his major clients was put under pressure to drop him because he was a Democrat. A staff member in DeLay's office called the second of the two men and told him that he was "in DeLay's crosshairs," and warned him that if he attempted to work with any committees on Capitol Hill, he would get nowhere because of his political leanings.

Episodes of this kind have created a new atmosphere of fear in Washington. (Because of that atmosphere, these people as well as several others insisted on talking "on background," to protect themselves against retribution.) The Democratic lobbyist whose client was pressured by Republicans to drop him remarked, "It's a dangerous world out there," a world where, he said, "You'd better watch what you say. People in the Republican party, in the agencies, will say, 'I hear you were badmouthing X.' You know that you're being watched; you know that it's taken into account in your ability to do public policy things—[like] get a meeting with a government agency." Another lobbyist says, "It's scary now. People are afraid to say what they feel. It's had a chilling effect on debate." According to the head of a public policy group who frequently deals with lobbyists and corporations, "They don't have to say it," but he finds them now "intimidated by the atmosphere in this town—you hire Republicans."

Business groups are under heightened pressure to support the administration's policies—even those that are of no particular interest to them. A recent article in Business Week told of business organizations, including the Business Roundtable—an association of CEOs of major corporations—being summoned to meetings with Mike Meece, a special assistant to the President, various cabinet officers concerned with business affairs, and Karl Rove. They anticipated a friendly give-and-take about economic legislation but instead they were told to get behind the President's plan to privatize Social Security. As a result, these organizations have spent millions of dollars promoting Bush's new program, particularly through ads. Business groups have been notably reticent about criticizing administration policies—even ones they deeply dislike, such as the huge budget deficit. In the past, when they differed from administration policies, for example on trade or tax issues, they spoke out. An adviser to business groups says, "They're scared of payback, of not getting their own agenda through."

The connections between those who make policy and those who seek to influence it have become much stronger in recent years because of lobbyists' increasing use of nonprofit groups to sponsor trips that give them access to lawmakers, as with DeLay's trip to Scotland and England. Jack Abramoff arranged for the trips of DeLay and other members of Congress to be officially sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, of which he is a member of the board. According to the congressional ethics rules a lobbyist cannot repay the cost of a free trip for a congressman by reimbursing the nonprofit group that organized the trip. But there's nothing to prevent him from giving large contributions to the organization or encouraging his clients to do so. Abramoff urged the Indian tribes he represents to contribute to the National Center, which paid for DeLay's trips. Owing to a major loophole in the ethics rules, nonprofit groups do not have to disclose their contributors. "It's a real abuse," the Republican lobbyist told me. Such trips are also a way of getting around the ban on gifts of more than $50 to members of Congress.

For the Washington lobbyist, the most-sought-after access is to someone who writes the nation's laws and appropriates federal money. Trips offer the best opportunity for the lobbyist to make an impression on a congressman. Since congressmen can no longer make use of soft money under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, they are increasingly using golfing weekends and hunting trips for fund-raising. The politicians in effect charge the lobbyists to play golf or hunt with them. (Members of the middle class and the poor have scant opportunity to play golf with members of Congress.)

Many congressional trips have a serious purpose; some members restrict their travel to hazardous places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Such trips can be paid for out of congressional committees' funds—but they are usually less glamorous, harder to explain to the voters since the public pays for them, and they don't include lobbyists. The rules for privately funded trips, for example that they must be "in connection with official duties," have been interpreted quite loosely. Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that studies money in politics and its influence on public policy, says, "Even where they touch base with the rules, they don't take them seriously."

According to a study of congressional travel over the past five years paid for by nonprofit institutions, the Aspen Institute, a think tank based in Aspen, Colorado, and Washington, has spent the most on congressional travel; but Aspen is a serious organization that conducts seminars in the US and abroad, and lobbying isn't involved.[2] More interesting is the nonprofit that spends the next highest amount: the Ripon Society, actually the Ripon Educational Fund, an offshoot of the Ripon Society, which was founded in the 1960s by liberal Republicans as a serious organization concerned with public policy. Now that liberal Republicans are virtually extinct, Ripon has become an organization for relatively moderate Republicans.

Like other policy groups that also lobby, Ripon has set up an ostensi-bly separate "educational" group, or 501(c)(3), to which contributors can make tax-deductible donations. The Ripon Educational Fund sponsors a large annual "Transatlantic Conference," held in such pleasant places as Rome, London, and Budapest, to which it invites between 150 and 200 US citizens. These are vaguely described in the filings by the members of Congress who participated in them as "listening tour," or "fact finding."

The Ripon trips are famous among lobbyists for the opportunities they present for pressing their cases with members of Congress. A Republican lobbyist says that a Ripon Fund excursion has "become the trip to go on, because of the luxury and the access." The Washington Post reported that a Ripon Educational Fund trip to London in 2003 was attended by more than a hundred lobbyists, including representatives from American Express, AOL/Time Warner, and General Motors. They pay the Ripon Fund an annual membership fee of $9,500, and in addition finance their own trips abroad to Fund meetings.

Both the Ripon Society and the Ripon Educational Fund are headed by lobbyists. Former Representative Susan Molinari, of Staten Island, New York, a lobbyist whose clients now include Exxon, the Association of American Railroads, and Freddie Mac, is the chair of the Educational Fund. The president of the society itself is Richard Kessler, whose lobbying firm's clients include drug and cigarette companies. According to The Hill, the other Capitol Hill newspaper, Kessler's firm paid for a trip by five members of Congress to Ireland in August 2003, including four days at Ashford Castle, where the elegant grounds include a golf course. Of the members of Congress who went on Ripon Educational Fund trips, almost all took along their wives, an additional perk that contributes to the holiday atmosphere of the excursions. While lobbyists are prohibited from paying directly for congressional trips, trade associations and private corporations are allowed to do so—not much of an ethical distinction, since practically all of them engage in lobbying.

A recently released Congressional Quarterly study said that the disclosure forms filed by members of Congress "frequently show a direct correlation between a member's legislative interests and the sponsors of his or her trips." For example, Representative Michael Oxley, who is particularly concerned with corporate finance, took several trips underwritten by companies such as MCI. A political observer who closely studied congressional trips concluded that the Republicans are invited so they can be "worked on" to pass pending legislation, while the Democrats are there largely for "maintenance," in case they take power in the future. Moderate, "swing" Democrats who can affect the outcome of legislation come in for special attention.

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill in 2002 didn't stop powerful companies and members of Congress from buying and selling influence. Representative Barney Frank, a major backer of the reform bill, says, "It works about the same as it did before." But, he adds, because the new law banned large soft money contributions by individuals, corporations, and labor unions to campaigns for federal office, and maintained overall limits on how much a person can contribute to federal elections—doubling them from $2,000 to $4,000 per election cycle—everyone has to work harder to raise the money.[3] Still, congressmen are seldom heard to complain that they can't raise enough money and in fact, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics,[4] both the political par-ties and individual candidates are raising more money than ever. Lobbyists still manage to deliver large amounts to legislators by "bundling" smaller contributions.

They contribute most of the money they raise to incumbents who can be depended on to do favors—a major reason (in addition to gerrymandering) why there is serious competition in only 10 percent of House races, and only about five seats change hands in each congressional election. Members of Congress expect to receive contributions from local industries (and their workers)—say, the coal industry in West Virginia—and they back legislation to help them out as a matter of doing constituent work. It's illegal for a firm to compensate employees for their political contributions, but, a Republican lobbyist says, a job applicant is often told that he or she is expected to make contributions, and salaries are adjusted accordingly.

It's virtually impossible to show that a particular campaign contribution resulted in a specific vote—such quid pro quo is illegal. Fred Wertheimer, of the public advocacy group Democracy 21, told me, "The system's designed so that you don't see who gets what for their money. It's designed for me to give money to you and you do something for me in the Congress—without either of us saying a word about it. But if I give money, I know it and the candidate knows it. It's an investment, and down the road you collect on it." While much of the money buys access to a member of Congress, or key staff members, that is only the entry point to making one's case. As John McCain puts it, "You give money, you get an ear." Still, one can sometimes even trace what Larry Noble carefully calls "correlations" between contributions and legislative successes.

The energy bill passed by the House in April is a striking case in point. The oil-and-gas industry, a top contributor of campaign money—80 percent of it to Republicans—benefited from several of its new provisions. A study by the staff of Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, shows that perhaps the most indefensible provision gave a waiver against lawsuits to manufacturers of MTBE, or methyl tertiary-butyl ether, a gasoline additive that's a pollutant and suspected carcinogen. According to Waxman's staff, this waiver is worth billions to energy companies; the major beneficiaries would be Exxon, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributed $942,717 to candidates in the last election cycle; Valero Energy, $841,375; Lyondell Chemical, $342,775; and Halliburton, $243,946. The bill also exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is used to make natural gas wells more productive and can also have an adverse effect on drinking water. Halliburton would benefit from this provision as well.

Another provision provided compensation to oil companies that bought leases, supposedly a speculative venture, on offshore sites where there is a moratorium on drilling. The compensation is worth billions of dollars to the oil industry. The bill also provided for the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR) to oil drilling—an invasion of the refuge that environmental groups have long tried to prevent. (Now that it contains more Republicans, the Senate passed a similar provision as part of its budget bill earlier this year.) The Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee were effectively shut out of the drafting of the energy bill. House Democrat Edward Markey, a member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, told me, "The energy companies got everything they wanted. Eight billion dollars in subsidies go to the energy companies, but to say that the conservation measures in it are modest would be a generous description."

An analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that pharmaceutical manufacturers, who received a windfall from the new prescription drug program in the 2003 Medicare bill—including a provision prohibiting the federal government from negotiating with drug companies on prices— contributed more than three times as much to those who voted for the legislation as those who voted against it. A bill passed this year in the Senate and the House to tighten the rules for filing bankruptcy had long been sought by finance, insurance, and real estate interests, and particularly by credit card companies. Taken together, they all contributed $306 million to congressional campaigns, 60 percent of it to Republicans, during 2003 and 2004. The richest interests also spend the largest amounts of money on lobbying. According to a recent study by the Center for Public Integrity,[5] the makers of pharmaceuticals and health products spent the most—$759 million —on lobbying between 1998 and mid-2004, when the last lobbying reports were filed. Next came insurance companies. Oil and gas companies were seventh on the list.

The effects of the new, higher level of corruption on the way the country is governed are profound. Not only is legislation increasingly skewed to benefit the richest interests, but Congress itself has been changed. The head of a public policy strategy group told me, "It's not about governing anymore. The Congress is now a transactional institution. They don't take risks. So when a great moral issue comes up— like war—they can't deal with it." The theory that ours is a system of one-person-one-vote, or even that it's a representative democracy, is challenged by the reality of power and who really wields it. Barney Frank argues that "the political system was supposed to overcome the financial advantage of the capitalists, but as money becomes more and more influential, it doesn't work that way."

Two House Democrats, Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois, and Martin Meehan, of Massachusetts, have introduced legislation to tighten the rules on privately funded travel, strengthen the lobbying disclosure rules, and slow down the revolving door by which former members of Congress take jobs with the trade associations and, after a year, can lobby their former colleagues. Some Republicans are talking about placing more restrictive rules on trips. But the record shows that new regulations can often be evaded.

Perhaps the greatest deterrent to ethical transgression is that members of Congress don't want to read unfavorable stories about themselves. A Republican lobbyist says that the biggest factor in the growth of corruption has been "the expectation that all this goes undetected and unenforced." He added, "If Jack Abramoff goes to jail, that will be a big message to this town." Since the scandal broke over Abramoff's payments on behalf of DeLay, members of Congress have been scrambling to amend their travel reports, in some cases listing previously unreported trips, or filling in missing details. Public outrage can also have an inhibiting effect: after the Republicans changed the ethics rules earlier this year to protect DeLay, the adverse reaction in the press and from constituents was strong enough to make the Republican leadership back down.

But the public can't become outraged about something that isn't brought to its attention. The press tends to pounce on the big scandals but usually fails to cover the more common ones that take place every day. Some of the politicians I talked to hoped that the scandal over DeLay and Abramoff might lead to real changes, including more prosecutions and stricter disclosure requirements. But even they admit that, like so many other scandals, it may simply blow over.

[1] See

[2] See

[3] In the 2004 presidential election such money was paid to so-called "527 groups," which spent $500 million in the 2003–2004 election cycle. This wasn't, as widely thought, the result of a loophole in the McCain-Feingold bill but of the failure of the feckless Federal Election Committee to enforce a section of a 1974 campaign finance law.

[4] See

[5] See

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