Friday, July 29, 2005
How much is $1.5 billion?
We've come up with a few ways to measure just exactly how much $1.5 billion really is...
1.5 billion dollar bills would cover more than 58 square miles, or 3397 football fields.
Lining the bills end to end, you could pave a 21.5 foot wide road from Congress to City Hall in Sugar Land, Texas, with 1.5 billion dollar bills. Or, if you'd prefer, you could go around the world 5+ times. Your choice.
A stack of 1.5 billion one dollar bills streches to 100 miles high. If you could balance them.
1.5 billion dollar bills weighs roughly 1,652 tons, the same as about 40,000 gallons of water, or enough water to fill more than 35 swimming pools.
If anyone else has other suggestions, post them in the comments.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
DeLay trying to give $1.5 billion to consortium that includes Halliburton
We gotta stop this one.
Based on a letter sent to House Speaker Dennis Hastert from California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, Reuters is reporting that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay slipped in a provision that could give more than a billion dollars to Halliburton and other members of a consortium based in Sugar Land, Texas, DeLay's hometown. The provision was inserted, apparently, after House and senate negotiators had finished their compromise on the bill.
Contact your representative today and urge that they do everything possible to remove this provision!
Read Rep. Waxman's letter here. (pdf)
News coverage here, here, and here.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Big Money Congress Doesn't Deserve a Pay Raise
It has this gem from Republican House Majority Leader Tome DeLay (R-TX): "It's not a pay raise," claimed DeLay, who will now make $183,500 a year. "It's an adjustment so that [we're] not losing [our] purchasing power."
Interesting, considering one of the areas where Congress has failed America's working families is the abysmal minimum wage.
Read the whole thing here.
Thanks, Congress, for Failing to Lower Gas Prices...
Unfortunately, as Americans head off on their summer vacations, the bill, which covers everything from hybrid cars to off-shore drilling, does almost nothing to immediately lowering staggering gas prices. I suppose it doesn't bother many Congressional leaders that gas is $2.50 a gallon at the pump when they're jetting off on lobbyist-funded junkets.
To add insult to injury, the bill gives billions of dollars in aid and tax breaks to traditional oil companies. After the Republican-led House majority on the conference committee rejected his bid to cut oil-industry tax breaks, Rep Ed Markey (D-MA) said: "We might as well be giving tax breaks to Donald Trump and Warren Buffett here tonight."
That same Republican majority also rejected: an effort to incorporate a plan passed by the Senate to require utilities to use more renewable energy and a bid directing President Bush to cut the country's oil consumption by one million barrels a day within 10 years.
The good news is that some Republican leaders in the house seem to be losing a bit of clout. In order to reach an agreement, lawmakers abandoned a 2003 plan, spearheaded by embattled Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), which would have given legal immunity to producers and distributors of the environmentally harmful gasoline additive MTBE. Senators also rejected a House proposal to relax clean air standards.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
[Update: I hear Jack Abramoff is interested.]
Schmidt, candidate in OH-02, urged to return DeLay's money
With all the scandals in Ohio -- Bob Ney, Coingate, etc. -- do Ohioans want another representative whose in DeLay's pocket?
Today, we asked that question of Ms. Schmidt by urging her to return the $10,000 from DeLay's PAC. We sent out the following release to local reporters in the Cincinnati area:
Watchdog Group Urges Schmidt to Return $10,000 from Tom DeLay
Washington, DC – The non-partisan watchdog organization Public Campaign Action Fund urged congressional candidate Jean Schmidt to return two $5,000 donations from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC) she received on June 23 and June 27.
Majority Leader DeLay’s fundraising and ethics scandals have captured national headlines since last year.
“Jean Schmidt should tell the voters of the second congressional district in Ohio that she will fight against the kind of pay-to-play politics embodied by Tom DeLay,” said David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “Washington has too many lobbyists, too much money, and too many members of Congress who are in the pocket of Tom DeLay. Schmidt should do the right thing and return the contributions.”
Public Campaign Action Fund compiled the DeLay Rankings (www.InDeLaysPocket.com) earlier this year, which ranks every member of Congress and how close they are to the scandal-plagued Majority Leader. Contributions from DeLay’s ARMPAC were a major factor of determining a member of Congress’s ranking.
Public Campaign Action Fund is a national nonpartisan organization dedicated to holding politicians accountable for the favors they provide to big money contributors, and to advancing comprehensive campaign finance reform at the state and national level.
We also urged residents of Ohio to sign a petition calling on Schmidt to return the contributions. Should a large number sign it, we'll consider some event in Cincinnati next week to deliver them to Ms. Schmidt. So, if you're from Ohio, sign away, or send to people you know in the Buckeye state.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
DeLay retaliates against American Airlines?
American Airlines does not intend to make any future contributions to Representative DeLay's legal defense fund. The $5000 contribution, made three years ago, was done by an individual who is no longer part of American Airlines.
Today, Tom DeLay apparently retaliated. Associated Press reports that DeLay offered his support for removing the 1979 "Wright Amendment," which prohibits long-distance commercial travel from Dallas-area Love Field. The other area airport, Dallas/Fort Worth, is home to American Airlines, which opposes the repeal of the Wright Amendment.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Rep. Jim Gerlach Should Immediately Cancel Rove Fundraiser
“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor swirling scandals can keep Jim Gerlach away from a big money Washington fundraiser,” said David Donnelly, National Campaigns Director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “In March this year, Gerlach received about $150,000 from a Tom DeLay-sponsored Washington fundraiser when DeLay’s name was in the news every day for ethically-challenged behavior. Today, Gerlach is raising money from a who's who of Washington lobbyists and insiders with scandal-ridden Karl Rove as the draw.
“Jim Gerlach ought to cancel the event immediately.”
Gerlach, who ranks fifth in Congress on Public Campaign Action Fund’s DeLay Rankings, has received $20,000 from Tom DeLay’s contributed $2,000 to DeLay’s legal defense fund. Public Campaign Action Fund ran TV advertising in Gerlach’s district in April urging him to return the money he received from DeLay.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Duke is Done
Just two weeks after federal agents raided his home, Cunningham said that he can do his job and defend his honor, but "I don't think I can do either of these things effectively in the midst of a political campaign."
Don't you wish you could see the internal polling?
The eight-term Congressman continues to say he has done nothing wrong, but does plan to sell his Rancho Santa Fe home and donate a portion of the money to charities.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
DeLay's Negative Coattails
Asked for his reaction to Romney's speech, House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas quipped: ''I like him, but I don't want to ruin his chances in Massachusetts."
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Ever Wonder How DeLay's Doing...in Pennsylvania?
"It just seems like you think they are going to do something and then they don't do it," Gordal, 79, said as she finished an early dinner at the High Street Diner in Pottstown, an hour outside of Philadelphia.
Amy Walters of the Cook Political Report said that, if asked to choose a district that is a bellweather for national opinion, it would be Pennsylvania's sixth Congressional district.
That doesn't bode well for Congress. The people that Roth interviewed in Pottstown expressed serious concerns over Congress' handling of Social Security and the war in Iraq, as well as a growing sense of impatience.
The town's representative in Congress, Jim Gerlach (R), has received $20,000 in campaign cash from DeLay's PAC, and in return has given $2,000 to DeLay's legal defense fund. Gerlach said he didn't think the ethics scandals surrounding DeLay would have an effect on his bid for re-election, but was quick to speculate that most people in his district "don't know who Tom DeLay is."
DeLay Reports Best Fundraising Quarter in Years
Analysts anticipate a competitive and expensive race, with each side probably spending more than $5 million, not including funds raised and spent by outside interest groups.
"Tom DeLay can outraise and outspend anyone," said Robert Stein, dean of the School of Social Sciences at Rice University in Houston. "The truth is, should his problems get worse, it won't be Nick Lampson he's worried about."
Thursday, July 07, 2005
DeLay and Energy Companies: Best Friends Forever (At a Price)
The Dallas Morning News reports that Westar Energy of Kansas was told that if they wished to meet with DeLay, they would be wise to donate $25,000 to TRMPAC. A luxury golf retreat with top DeLay aides resulted from the donation.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Democrats Run Ethics Ads in Six Republican Districts
According to The New York Times, the total cost of the ads is $36,000.
Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL), head of the DCCC, said: "These six congressmen came to Washington to be agents of change. But Washington's ways have changed them. They're working more for their special-interest contributors than for their constituents."
Sushi with a Side of Scandal
For example, Justice cites an e-mail that Abramoff wrote to his restaurant managers in May 2002 which gives instructions on how to handle VIP Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his wife.
"Table of 6," Abramoff wrote, "put it where I sit and remove that other table.
Their meal is to be comped."
The restaurant kept a list of influential customers whose food was to be comped when they came in. Among those 18 lucky patrons with "FOO Comp" (Food complimentary) next to their names were: Representatives Bob Ney (R-OH), John Doolittle (R-CA), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and former Senators John Breaux (D-LA) and Tim Hutchinson (R-AK).
When asked to comment, Breaux responded: "I never got a comped meal there
in my life. And I'm certainly not a friend of Abramoff."
Looks like the free food and wine helped Abramoff make a lot of other friends in Washington, though.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
No Pancakes, Just Search Warrants for Cunningham
The event was to have been Cunningham's first public appearance since the beginning of a federal investigation into shady financial dealings, including the sale of Cunningham's California home to a defense contractor whose company has benefited from numerous lucrative government contracts that Cunningham weighed in on.
According to the Associated Press, Cunningham's spokesman said the Congressman did not want a media frenzy to distract from the spirit of the event.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Wait, There's More
While their is no rule that explicitly prohibits members of Congress from owning a for-profit business, it does bar them from using their elected position for personal profit.
And that's where Cunningham could have problems. The website, which has just been taken down, makes a number of references to the fact that Cunningham serves in Congress, Fox reports.
And here's the kicker...
"One item being sold on the Web site could cause additional trouble for the San Diego congressman. The Duke Cunningham buck knife, which costs $595, includes an engraved likeness of Cunningham in a flight suit and what is described as 'the official seal of the U.S. Congress.' Unauthorized use of the official seal is a violation of House rules and federal law, punishable by fine and up to six months in prison."
DeLay and Drug Companies: Best Friends Forever
In recent years, DeLay (R-TX) has fought to protect energy companies from polution lawsuits, block FDA regulation of tobacco, and pass a Medicare overhaul that forbids the government from negotiating lower prescription drug prices with the drug companies.
Yeah, those are in line with the values of ordinary Americans. We want inflated drug prices, more pollution and higher rates of childhood tobacco addiction, don't we?
But hey, as long as those campaign contributions keep rolling in...
The sale is currently the subject of a federal grand jury investigation in Southern California.
"Reading these reports I was very concerned. Nothing has been stated that these
contributions were illegal, but I was concerned," said Harris.
She could be paying a lot of people back. MZM and its employees were the top contributors to Harris' 2004 campaign.
Not the kind of press you want as you anticipate a tough battle for Senate.