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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

RNC Statement on Minnesota Senate Recount

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan announced the following statement tonight.

"Al Franken's declarations of victory are as inaccurate as they are premature. This recount has taken some time and we won't know a winner for weeks to come. And, when a winner finally does emerge, we are confident it will be Norm Coleman.

"During this process, Minnesotans have shown a great amount of patience and respect; Al Franken and Washington Democrats should follow their lead and do the same."

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

RNC Launches New Web Video: 'Questions Remain'

The Republican National Committee (RNC) today launched a new Web video, titled "Questions Remain." The video highlights the evolving explanations delivered by President-elect Obama and his advisors concerning their contact with the embattled and scandal-plagued Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich despite Obama's promises to instill greater transparency and confidence in government.

Click here to see the video.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

New Blog Added!

Now that the election furor has died down we realized we didn't have a good blog for posting "non" ELECTION news. We have Republican Candidates, Republican News Sweep, JMac Politics (commentary), Political Pitstop (commentary) and a few others but nothing for plain old interesting political news stories and articles.

Now we do!

We kicked off State and National Politics yesterday and it's already chocked full of interesting stories. We invited you to go check it out: http://statenationalpolitics.blogspot.com/

We'll make it prettier for you over the next few days.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Poll Warns Daschle, Obama: Mandatory Health Insurance Big Loser With Public; Voters Want Return on Stem Cell Research

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Less than 15% of U.S. voters support, and 53% oppose, a proposal pushed by health insurers requiring every American to provide proof of private health insurance or face tax penalties or other fines, according to a new poll. The poll, conducted by Consumer Watchdog, also found that by just under a two-to-one margin voters favor requiring a return on taxpayer-funded research that leads to new medical treatments or prescription drugs.

Download the poll here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/healthcarepollmemo.pdf. The poll is based on 840 interviews among registered voters in the United States conducted on December 4 thru December 7, 2008. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

President-elect Obama opposed policies requiring all Americans to buy private health insurance coverage, the so-called "individual mandate," as a candidate. Senator Tom Daschle left open the possibility of his support for the approach in his book, "Critical," under the pretense that he is "not willing to sacrifice worthy improvements on the altar of perfection." Unlike plans pushed by health insurers, Daschle's proposal importantly would give Americans access to a public insurance program "modeled after Medicare."

Overall, 40% of voters say they are "strongly" opposed to mandating that "every American show proof that they have health insurance coverage or face tax penalties." Less than 15% say they would support it. Another 31% are undecided. Opposition is also strongest in the West (61% oppose; 16% favor), North Central states (54% oppose; 16% favor), the South (51% oppose; 13% favor) and in the Northeast (45% oppose; 18% favor). Download a detailed breakdown of the poll returns here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/healthcarepolltabs.pdf

"With the cost of health insurance coverage for a family topping $12,500 a year its no wonder Americans overwhelmingly oppose a plan that requires them to buy coverage or face penalties. When voters are told they will have to reach into their own pocket to pay for health insurance they quickly turn against proposals requiring them to buy from insurance companies that are unrestrained in how much they can charge," said Jerry Flanagan, Health Care Policy Director for Consumer Watchdog.

Read a recent letter Consumer Watchdog sent to President-elect Obama detailing the policy concerns with the individual mandate: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patients/articles/?storyId=24046

California's debate over health care reform collapsed based on popular opposition to mandatory insurance. A January 2008 poll by Consumer Watchdog's campaign affiliate, the Campaign for Consumer Rights, found that only 16% of California voters support such a plan. Download the January 2008 California poll here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/hcpoll.pdf. The California legislature refused to pass a measure supported by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders which would have required middle-class Californians to buy insurance regardless of its cost without regulating what insurers can charge for coverage, and with no guarantee that essential services would be covered. According to a recent poll by the Harvard School of Public Health, only 37% of those impacted by the individual mandate in Massachusetts -- the only state with such a requirement in place -- support it.

Voters Favor Providing a Return on Taxpayers' Investment for Any New Treatments or Prescription Drugs Developed By Taxpayer-Funded Research

By just under a two-to-one margin Americans favor requiring a return on taxpayer-funded research that leads to new medical treatments or prescription drugs. The issue is particularly important as President-elect Obama is proposing doubling research funding from the National Institutes of Health. He is also expected to end the Bush Administration's ban on federal fund of most embryonic stem cell research.

"California's $6 billion stem cell research program which provides for a payback to taxpayers should serve as a model for federally funded research," said John M. Simpson, Stem Cell Project Director. "When taxpayers fund research they deserve affordable access to what they've paid for. California's stem cell program demonstrates this works."

37% of voters approve of this proposal, while only 21% are opposed. In addition, those who "strongly" favor the proposal outpace "strong" opposition by 12 points (28% strong favor; 16% strong oppose). 42% remain undecided. Support passes the 40% mark among a number of critical subgroups including voters who earn over $75K a year (48%), voters ages 55 to 64 (45%), voters in the West (44%), Northeasterners (42%) and college graduates (42%).

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National Leaders Say Need for Health Care Reform 'Urgent'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Reforming America's health system is critical to any efforts to rebuild the nation's economy, leaders from the business, health, and policymaking communities declared at a forum in Washington, D.C. today. Participants in "Rhetoric to Reality: The Urgency of Health Reform" also said effective health reform would help stem costs that are overwhelming the health care system by addressing the rise in chronic diseases that are currently driving 75 percent of health spending.

The event brought together business and health care leaders, members of the media, and key Congressional staff for one of the most wide-ranging public discussions of health reform since the November election. It was sponsored by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Partnership for Prevention, Divided We Fail and the Emory Institute for Advanced Policy Solutions.

"President-elect Obama has signaled that he would like to make health care a key priority, but with so many pressing domestic issues as well as a war in Iraq, how do we move health reform from the realm of rhetoric to a tangible reality?" said Kenneth E. Thorpe, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and the Emory Institute for Advanced Policy Solutions, in his keynote address to open the half-day event.

"For many of us, the answer is clear: We must draw upon the overwhelming support from all those with a stake in Americans' health - interests from the public and non-profit sector, as well as private industry - and look for areas of true consensus in health care. At the top of the list is the need for better public and private policies to promote prevention and management of chronic illness."

The first panel of the day brought together leaders from some of the most influential groups in the health care debate, including representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, health insurance industry, labor and business, to talk about what their expectations are for health reform in 2009, and how they are contributing to finding consensus. Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President of AARP, participated in the panel on behalf of Divided We Fail.

"We cannot afford to keep our broken health care system," said Davis. "Divided We Fail has brought together employers, workers and consumers because we understand that the status quo isn't working for anyone. Preventive care is an important part of moving the focus of the system to how we get and stay healthy. In short, preventive care is a necessity in order to transform the patchwork of health care services we currently use into a functioning health system."

Corinne Husten, M.D., Interim President for Partnership for Prevention, participated in a panel focusing on prevention. She unveiled legislative recommendations from Partnership for Prevention that she said would give a higher priority to disease prevention and health promotion. The recommendations include requiring federally funded insurance programs to provide recommended clinical preventive services, and providing incentives to states and health providers to deliver such services. They also call for identifying a discrete revenue source to fund core state and local public health prevention activities, and for the establishment of a Public Health Advisory Commission to recommend how that funding should be allocated. The full recommendations are available online at: www.prevent.org/HealthReform.

"Changing the way we pay for health care reform without addressing the chronic diseases that are driving health costs is not real health reform," said Husten. "Real health reform starts with prevention."

More than two-thirds of all deaths in the U.S. are caused by one or more of five chronic diseases: heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic disease accounts for about 75 percent of the nation's aggregate health care spending - or about $5,300 per person in the U.S. each year.

"Unfortunately, the current health care delivery system focuses much more on treatment and reaction than it does on prevention and predictive action," said Fred Sanfilippo, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University. "This is largely the result of a payment system that's more interested in reducing short-term expenses than in improving long-term outcome and patient satisfaction."

In his remarks, PFCD Executive Director Ken Thorpe noted the importance the Obama Administration and leaders in the 111th Congress have placed on moving forward a comprehensive health reform bill to address cost, quality, and coverage early in 2009.

"Senate leaders like Senators Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy have been very active in anticipation of the new Administration and have already begun to lay the framework for legislation. By developing comprehensive proposals at the outset of the 111th Congress, these efforts signal that this is going to be a very high priority in the next session and will move quickly."

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The GOP Has Some Fight Left

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an excerpt from an article by Robert M. "Mike" Duncan from Townhall, and was released December 10 by the Republican National Committee:

The 2008 election was certainly historic and unique as Republicans faced an extremely challenging -- almost unprecedented -- political environment. Despite experiencing one of the most difficult political cycles in modern times, our successes in Louisiana and Georgia show that with strong, conservative candidates coupled with an effective grassroots program, the Republican Party can win at every level.

With the election of Joseph Cao (LA-02) and John Fleming (LA-04), the voters of Louisiana embraced the conservative values of fiscal responsibility, strengthened national security and increased domestic energy production. Dr. Fleming, a Navy veteran and doctor, will strongly support the needs of veterans and their families and will work hard to reform our nation's healthcare system.

Voters in the Second District rejected greed and corruption by embracing Mr. Cao's commitment to preserve the dignity of public office by championing comprehensive ethics reform, keeping taxes low, and providing greater accountability for Congressional spending.

Senator Saxby Chambliss' reelection was not only a victory for the people of Georgia; it also denied Democrats any argument concerning a liberal mandate and unchecked power by way of a filibuster-proof Senate. Georgians voted against Jim Martin, a rubber stamp for President-elect Obama and instead reelected Chambliss, a proven leader who best represents the principles and values of working families in Georgia.

Despite strong support from President-elect Obama and Democrat organizations in Louisiana and Georgia, Republicans were victorious because we combined principled candidates with an aggressive ground game that enabled us to contact and turn out voters. Over the past two years, the RNC has concentrated on refining the basic fundamentals of winning elections. By investing in programs and technology, and training staff and volunteers across the country, we are giving candidates the necessary tools to get their message out and mobilize supporters.

In Louisiana, Republicans were victorious thanks to the efforts of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Louisiana Republican Party (LAGOP), Cao and Fleming Campaigns, and the RNC. Our investment in technology allowed our team to maximize every volunteer and contribution. Through sophisticated online advertising techniques we targeted and reached Republicans who requested absentee ballots and we pushed them to the polls.

In Georgia, the seamless collaboration of the Chambliss Campaign, Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and the RNC enabled us to execute a statewide Victory plan that included nearly a dozen regional Victory offices, as well as paid staff and volunteers on the ground. Those Victory centers served as staging locations for the get-out-the-vote (GOTV) program with thousands of volunteers, reaching nearly a half-million Georgians in the last five days alone.

In both Louisiana and Georgia, we provided volunteers the tools to make phone calls and send emails that resulted in Republicans turning out in greater numbers than what the much-vaunted Obama grassroots operation was able to produce.

While November was certainly a challenging time for our party, we have been reminded in December that we know how to win races. As a party - we continue to improve our mastery of the blocking and tackling of politics - and remain committed to learning and passing on what we learn to operatives and officials in the states. We will continue to harness new technologies and leverage operative strategies that allow us to refine our approach, and improve upon our efficiency and effectiveness. For all those who were counting out the Grand Old Party, keep counting because we still have a lot of fight left in us, and both Georgia and Louisiana serve as reminders of what we can accomplish when we work together and remain committed to our principles.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Leading State Officials Urge Reforms to Voting System

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Leading state election officials, policymakers and experts meeting here this week called on state and federal governments to improve voter registration, expand early voting and better serve military and overseas voters. Their recommendations came at a major national conference, "Voting in America," sponsored by the Pew Center on the States' Make Voting Work initiative, in partnership with the JEHT Foundation.

Held at the Newseum, the conference, which concludes today, highlighted the growing momentum by state and local officials to:

-- Improve voter registration procedures. Participants agreed on the need
for changes in the current system and discussed reforms such as
automatic voter registration, integrating state registration systems,
and making registration more convenient.

"We need a new approach to voter registration that matches the reality of voters' lives in the 21st Century," said Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. "Instead of relying on the piecemeal system we have today, government has an opportunity to innovate and act affirmatively to ensure voter rolls are integrated and accurate."

-- Provide more opportunities for voting prior to Election Day.
Participants agreed that states and localities should expand
opportunities for early voting and improve absentee voting or other
alternative voting systems. In Florida, for example, voters had 15
days prior to Election Day to cast their votes.

"In Florida we operated from the assumption that the whole idea of having to vote within one 12-hour period on one particular day is antiquated," said Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning. "Now we need to take the next step and work with the legislature to create more flexibility in the selection of sites, and in the hours available for election supervisors during early voting."

-- Improve the voting system for military and overseas voters.
Participants discussed the difficulty of registering military and
overseas voters, and the complications of ensuring ballots are sent
and returned so that they can be counted. There was a consensus that
the system for military and overseas voters is broken and that
long-term and sustained improvements are needed.

"Our history of trying to fix military and overseas voting is one of the classic examples of band-aid upon band-aid upon band-aid," said Oregon State Election Director John Lindback. "We need to change the system so these voters have a fighting chance of getting their ballots back on time."

Representatives from both the Obama and McCain presidential campaigns agreed on the need to improve elections. Robert F. Bauer, who served as general counsel to the Obama campaign, recommended steps to measure the success of the election system by ranking the performance of states and localities and encouraging competition as a means for improvement. Bauer cited a forthcoming book, The Democracy Index; Why Our Election System is Failing, and How to Fix It (Heather K. Gerken; Princeton University Press) as a primer on how to improve the election process. Building on a model supported by PCS and the Pew Government Performance Project, the book highlights measures for ranking the performance of election systems with hard data and verified outcomes. Attendees also cited practices called for in Being Online, Data for Democracy, a Pew report issued through the Make Voting Work project that compares state performance.

Trevor Potter, who was counsel to the McCain campaign, spoke to the importance of reforming the system of voter registration. "It is clear that the current system of voter registration which relies on actions of individuals and private groups to put names on the registration rolls is flawed," said Mr. Potter. "Why isn't it a fundamental obligation of government to ensure comprehensive and accurate voter registration? Why don't we publish the voter registration rolls in advance of the election as many countries do so that voters can ensure the accuracy and integrity of the list?"

Make Voting Work, a project of the Pew Center on the States, seeks to foster an election system that achieves the highest standards of accuracy, accessibility, efficiency and security. The initiative examines the most pressing election problems, and undertakes and evaluates pilot projects and experiments designed to address them. This research will inform our efforts to identify effective solutions through changes in policies, practices and technology. Further information is available at pewcenteronthestates.org

The JEHT Foundation was established in April 2000. Its name stands for the core values that underlie the Foundation's mission: Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. The Foundation focuses on criminal and juvenile justice, international justice, and fair and participatory elections. Working directly with states, in some cases in-depth, is a key part of the Foundation strategy to implement practical change related to its mission.

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Libertarian Party Calls Logic Behind Auto Bailout 'Insanity'

The nation's largest third-party is calling for Congress to strike down a measure backed by the White House that would risk at least $15 billion of taxpayer dollars to bailout the American automotive industry.

"It's insanity," says Libertarian Party spokesperson Andrew Davis. "It's insane that we keep going back to the taxpayers to bailout struggling corporations who, for lack of good management and sound business practices, have become unprofitable. Who in Congress is standing up for the taxpayers? Where are the Republicans, who claim they stand for the free market? Where are the Democrats, who claim they oppose corporate welfare?"

The current plan seeks to initially give Detroit automakers a $15 billion, taxpayer-backed loan with a deadline of March 31 to develop a plan for profitability. If, by the deadline, automakers fail to reach what the White House has established as "viability," the loans would be recalled—something Davis says is "already written in the stars."

"We all know what's going to happen, and it's not going to be the outcome proponents of the bailout want us all to believe," says Davis. "Automakers will get $15 billion of taxpayer money, and when April rolls around, they'll be asking for more time and more money. There are absolutely no provisions in the bailout bill that require any type of change to management, union contracts or company structure before receiving taxpayer money. All taxpayers have is a promise that the same CEOs who put their companies in this mess will get it right the second time."

"Or, the third time, if you're talking about Chrysler," Davis adds.

"The end goal of any restructuring should be removing the management that led companies into this pitfall," says Davis. "This should be done by the companies—not the government. The Libertarian Party favors letting these companies file Chapter 11, instead of risking taxpayer dollars for promises of reform. It will be tough in the short-term, but better for the long-term stability of our economy."

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Ethics Group Says Obama Cannot Distance Himself From Blagojevich

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement was released December 9 by Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center:

"The Blagojevich arrest is a problem for Barack Obama for two reasons. First, Blagojevich's bagman Tony Rezko was Obama's political sponsor.

"Second, Blagojevich's intercepted comments speak volumes about the way political business is conducted in Illinois. Blagojevich certainly expected Obama to be a willing participant in the dealings over Obama's Senate seat. Of course, Obama is pleading ignorance, but he is either part of the political culture that produced Blagojevich or he is not. I doubt Rezko had one set of ethical standards when Obama was in the room, and another when he was with Blagojevich.

"The 76-page FBI affidavit alleging Blagojevich sought to silence critics at the Chicago Tribune and sell Barack Obama's Senate seat is shocking but not surprising. Corruption is endemic in Chicago and in Illinois state government. We may soon see two Illinois Governors in prison at the same time -- one Democrat and one Republican.

"I believe that the US Attorney acted now not only for the reasons he specified in his press conference, but also in the expectation that Obama might fire all U.S. Attorneys when he is inaugurated, like Bill Clinton did. Obama would be poorly advised to replace U.S. Attorneys who are conducting ongoing political corruption investigations.

"The cautionary tale here is that more government intervention in the economy guarantees increased corruption. Obama's plan to saturate state and local governments with stimulus funds will empower corrupt politicians and union bosses. Transactional politicians of the Blagojevich ilk will be the big beneficiaries. As we have documented in our newsletter Union Corruption Update, corrupt politicians and corrupt union bosses have a symbiotic relationship."

NLPC promotes ethics in public life, and sponsors the Organized Labor Accountability Project and the Corporate Integrity Project.

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Did The Obama Campaign Use The SEIU To Keep Blagojevich At Arms Length?

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Republican National Committee:

The Service Employees International Union Acted As The Intermediary Between Blagojevich And The Obama Camp:

An SEIU Official Acted As "An Apparent Intermediary Between The Governor And Barack Obama's Camp." "Among the revelations contained in the complaint brought against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday was the description of an official with the Service Employees International Union acting as an apparent intermediary between the governor and Barack Obama's camp in discussions over Obama's Senate seat." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

Negotiations Were Underway To Appoint Obama's Close Confidante Valerie Jarrett To His Vacant Senate Seat. "Blagojevich and his chief of staff wondered aloud about a 'three-way deal' in which he would appoint Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago businesswoman believed to be the woman identified in the complaint as 'Candidate 1,' to Obama's Senate seat..." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

Blagojevich Believed That The SEIU Official Was An Emissary From Obama To Discuss Jarrett For The Senate Seat. "The complaint also states that on Nov. 12, Blagojevich spoke by phone with an "SEIU official" who was in Washington and with whom Blagojevich had met a week before on the understanding that the official was an emissary to discuss Jarrett's interest in the Senate seat." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

The SEIU Has Become A Powerful Force In Democratic Politics And Hopes To Play A Major Role In The Obama Administration:

Labor Has Become So Strong That A Sitting Governor Was Willing To Trade A U.S. Senate Seat For A Position As Executive Director Of A Labor Coalition. "[B]lagojevich in return would become Change to Win's executive director; and Obama would reward Change to Win with pro-labor policies." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

SEIU Has Become "An Omnipresent Force In Democratic Politics." "But on another level, the SEIU's apparent involvement is an indication of the extent to which it has, under the leadership of its ambitious and controversial president, Andrew L. Stern, become an omnipresent force in Democratic politics." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

Organized Labor Has "High Expectations For The Obama Administration." "With organized labor holding such high expectations for the Obama administration -- notably, hopes for legislation fiercely opposed by business leaders that would make it easier to form unions -- officials of other unions were hoping yesterday that the SEIU's apparent involvement in the Illinois scandal would not undermine their cause in Washington." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

Obama Picked A Former SEIU Official To Be His Political Director And Has Close Ties to SEIU Officials In Illinois:

"A Former SEIU Official, Patrick Gaspard, Was Named Obama's Political Director." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

In 2004, Patrick Gaspard Served As National Field Director For 527 Organization America Coming Together. "The Kerry effort will be aided by America Coming Together, an independent group working to get out the Democratic vote. The group plans to stage marches before Election Day to polling stations that open early in key states to put 'peer and community pressure' on low-propensity voters, said Patrick Gaspard, the group's national field director." (Jo Becker, "Voters May Have Their Say Before Election Day," The Washington Post, 8/26/04)

The SEIU Helped To Coordinate America Coming Together, With SEIU Members And Staff Doing Much Of The Management Of The GOTV Effort. "Despite Stern's criticism of labor's relationship with the Democratic Party, he does understand the importance of political work. Last fall, SEIU generously lent its clout, helping to coordinate America Coming Together and America Votes, an alliance of Democratic interest groups that included the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and women's organizations. Much of the management of this joint get-out-the-vote effort was done by SEIU members and staff (like me) in a massive union campaign effort without recent precedent." (Clayton Nall, "Gompers's Ghost And Labor's New Look," The Washington Post, 9/4/05)

Tom Balanoff, Head Of SEIU In Illinois, Is Obama's Closest Tie To SEIU. "But the SEIU official with the closest ties to the Obama team is Tom Balanoff, head of SEIU's Illinois chapter." (Alec MacGillis, "Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team," The Washington Post, 12/10/08)

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Endorsed Barack Obama's Presidential Campaign :

"Sen. Barack Obama Won The Support ... Of The 1.9-Million Member Service Employees International Union..." (Jesse J. Holland, "SEIU Endorses Obama," The Associated Press, 2/15/08)

"SEIU Will Mobilize Thousands To Go Door-To-Door, Work The Phones, And Will Send Mail About Their Support For Obama." "SEIU members are supporting Obama with an aggressive political effort. With more than 150,000 members in the upcoming primary states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas, SEIU will mobilize thousands to go door-to-door, work the phones, and will send mail about their support for Obama. SEIU also will have a substantial presence on television and radio in every critical state." (Service Employees International Union, "SEIU Members Endorse Sen. Barack Obama," Press Release, 2/15/08)

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RNC Chairman Calls on President-Elect Obama to Disclose Communication Concerning Governor Blagojevich

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan released the following statement today.

"President-elect Barack Obama's carefully parsed and vague statements regarding his own contact and that of his team with Governor Rod Blagojevich are unacceptable. Considering the severity of the allegations against Governor Blagojevich, the President-elect should immediately disclose any and all communications his transition team has had with the governor's office along with any Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials involved in the matter. Obama's promise of transparency to the American people is now being tested."

Paid for by the Republican National Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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Obama Will Allow Fortune 500 Firms to Receive Federal Small Business Contracts

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President-elect Barack Obama has dropped a campaign promise to end Bush Administration policies that have allowed Fortune 500 firms to receive federal small business contracts.

In February, President-elect Obama released the following statement, "Over half of all Americans work for a small business. Small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy and we must protect this great resource. It is time to end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants." (http://www.barackobama.com/2008/02/26/the_american_small_business_le.php)

Just two days after the election, the Obama-Biden Transition Team launched its transition website, Change.gov. Any mention of President-elect Obama's campaign promise to stop Fortune 500 firms from hijacking government small business contracts had vanished without explanation. (http://www.asbl.com/documents/Economy_Change.pdf)

Since 2003, more than a dozen federal investigations have found widespread fraud and abuse in virtually every federal small business contracting program under the Bush Administration. (http://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html) Several investigations found Fortune 500 firms and thousands of other large businesses had received billions of dollars in federal small business contracts. Two separate investigations found large businesses had received federal small business contracts illegally through "vendor deception" and "false certifications". (http://www.sba.gov/IG/05-16.pdf)

In July, the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General found the agency had awarded millions of dollars in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms such as, Xerox, John Deere, Sherwin Williams, Dell, World Wide Technology, Home Depot, McGraw-Hill, Ricoh, Starwood Hotels and Weyerhaeuser. (http://www.doioig.gov/upload/2008-G-0024.pdf)

In October, the Washington Post released an independent study, which found approximately 40 percent of all federal prime small business contracts had actually gone to Fortune 500 firms. Based on the sample used by the Washington Post, as much as 80 percent of government small business contracts could be going to Fortune 500 firms and thousands of other large businesses. (http://www.asbl.com/showmedia.php?id=1179)

The diversion of billions of dollars in government small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms has been reported by most of the nation's largest newspapers, over two hundred radio stations and by ABC, CBS and CNN. (ABC, http://www.asbl.com/abc_evening_news.wmv; CBS, http://www.asbl.com/cbs.wmv; CNN, http://www.asbl.com/showmedia.php?id=1170)

Considering the current state of the U.S. economy, Obama's decision to drop his campaign promise to rescue millions of middle class firms and end the diversion of federal small business contracts to "corporate giants" is seen by small business owners and advocates as a clear indication that the Obama Administration will not be pro-American small business.

The American Small Business League (ASBL) predicts that President-elect Obama will enact legislation and policies that will hurt American small businesses and even create more loopholes that will allow some of the nation's wealthiest investors to take federal contracts earmarked for legitimate small businesses.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Richard Viguerie on Rod Blagojevich: 'There's Still Time to Save America From Becoming One Big Chicago'

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The corruption uncovered in the investigation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is just a tiny part of the criminality that runs throughout the country's politics, Richard A. Viguerie, the Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, said.

"Before we turn over the car companies, the financial sector, the health care system, and much of the rest of the American economy to these guys, we need to realize: We are opening doors to a level of corruption like we have never seen before," he said.

"The American Way is not supposed to be 'the Chicago Way,'" said Viguerie. "And it doesn't have to be. There's still time to save America from becoming one big Chicago."

Blagojevich is alleged to have, in effect, put his state's open U.S. Senate seat up for bid. He is also alleged to have made support for a bailout of the Chicago Tribune contingent on the firing of certain members of the newspaper's editorial board.

"First, this should mean that, whatever else happens in terms of bailouts, media organizations should be excluded absolutely. People should simply assume that any media bailout comes with political conditions, and that any media organization that receives taxpayers' money is working for the politicians who give them that money.

"Second, we should look at all bailouts and infrastructure spending, with an eye on the connections between the politicians who spend taxpayers' money and the special interests who benefit from the projects."

Corporations that spend inordinate amounts of money on lobbying, hiring former politicians, or hiring relatives of politicians, or making large Political Action Committee contributions to politicians should be barred absolutely from receiving bailouts, Viguerie said. Forensic accountants should closely examine all "infrastructure" money that goes to such corporations, he added.

Said Viguerie, "Almost daily, we read of another politician at the federal, state, or local level being forced to resign because of a scandal or a crime. Americans are sick and tired of corrupt and immoral leaders - not just in politics, but in business, in the law, in the media, and in nonprofit organizations. Across the board, America's leaders have let the people down.

"How are the people supposed to have faith in our government, when the people in charge of investigating the financial crisis are the same ones who forced lenders to give mortgage money to people who couldn't repay their loans? That includes Chris Dodd, who got a sweetheart deal from mortgage lenders, and Barney Frank, who was censured by the House."

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Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and His Chief of Staff John Harris Arrested on Federal Corruption Charges

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.

Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They were charged in a two-count criminal complaint that was sworn out on Sunday and unsealed today following their arrests, which occurred without incident, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Both men were expected to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

A 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps during the last month conspiring to sell or trade Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife. At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:

* A substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
* Placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
* Promises of campaign funds – including cash up front; and
* A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

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

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

On November 10, in a lengthy telephone call with numerous advisors that included discussion about Blagojevich obtaining a lucrative job with a union-affiliated organization in exchange for appointing a particular Senate Candidate whom he believed was favored by the President-elect and which is described in more detail below, Blagojevich and others discussed various ways Blagojevich could “monetize” the relationships he has made as governor to make money after leaving that office.

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism. The citizens of Illinois deserve public officials who act solely in the public’s interest, without putting a price tag on government appointments, contracts and decisions,” he added.

Mr. Grant said: “Many, including myself, thought that the recent conviction of former governor would usher in a new era of honesty and reform in Illinois politics. Clearly, the charges announced today reveal that the office of the Governor has become nothing more than a vehicle for self-enrichment, unrestricted by party affiliation and taking Illinois politics to a new low.”

Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Grant thanked the Chicago offices of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General for assisting in the ongoing investigation. The probe is part of Operation Board Games, a five-year-old public corruption investigation of pay-to-play schemes, including insider-dealing, influence-peddling and kickbacks involving private interests and public duties.

Federal agents today also executed search warrants at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich located at 4147 North Ravenswood, Suite 300, and at the Thompson Center office of Deputy Governor A.

Pay-to-Play Schemes

The charges include historical allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with others – including previously convicted defendants Antoin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others – since becoming governor in 2002 to obtain and attempt to obtain financial benefits for himself, his family and third parties, including his campaign committee, Friends of Blagojevich, in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts and access to state funds. A portion of the affidavit recounts the testimony of various witnesses at Rezko’s trial earlier this year.

The charges focus, however, on events since October when the Government obtained information that Blagojevich and Fundraiser A, who is chairman of Friends of Blagojevich, were accelerating Blagojevich’s allegedly corrupt fund-raising activities to accumulate as much money as possible this year before a new state ethics law would severely curtail Blagojevich’s ability to raise money from individuals and entities that have existing contracts worth more than $50,000 with the State of Illinois. Agents learned that Blagojevich was seeking approximately $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, principally from or through individuals or entities – many of which have received state contacts or appointments – identified on a list maintained by Friends of Blagojevich, which the FBI has obtained.

The affidavit details multiple incidents involving efforts by Blagojevich to obtain campaign contributions in connection with official actions as governor, including these three in early October:

* After an October 6 meeting with Harris and Individuals A and B, during which Individual B sought state help with a business venture, Blagojevich told Individual A to approach Individual B about raising $100,000 for Friends of Blagojevich this year. Individual A said he later learned that Blagojevich reached out directly to Individual B to ask about holding a fund-raiser;
* Also on October 6, Blagojevich told Individual A that he expected Highway Contractor 1 to raise $500,000 in contributions and that he was willing to commit additional state money to a Tollway project – beyond $1.8 billion that Blagojevich announced on October15 – but was waiting to see how much money the contractor raised for Friends of Blagojevich; and
* On October 8, Blagojevich told Individual A that he wanted to obtain a $50,000 contribution from Hospital Executive 1, the chief executive officer of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which had recently received a commitment of $8 million in state funds. When the contribution was not forthcoming, Blagojevich discussed with Deputy Governor A the feasibility of rescinding the funding.

On October 21, the Government obtained a court order authorizing the interception of conversations in both a personal office and a conference room used by Blagojevich at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich. The FBI began intercepting conversations in those rooms on the morning of October 22. A second court order was obtained last month allowing those interceptions to continue. On October 29, a court order was signed authorizing the interception of conversations on a hardline telephone used by Blagojevich at his home. That wiretap was extended for 30 days on November 26, according to the affidavit.

Another alleged example of a pay-to-play scheme was captured in separate telephone conversations that Blagojevich had with Fundraiser A on November 13 and Lobbyist 1 on December 3. Lobbyist 1 was reporting to Blagojevich about his efforts to collect a contribution from Contributor 1 and related that he “got in his face” to make it clear to Contributor 1 that a commitment to make a campaign contribution had to be done now, before there could be some skittishness over the timing of the contribution and Blagojevich signing a bill that would benefit Contributor 1. Blagojevich commented to Lobbyist 1 “good” and “good job.” The bill in question, which is awaiting Blagojevich ’s signature, is believed to be legislation that directs a percentage of casino revenue to the horse racing industry.

Sale of U.S. Senate Appointment

Regarding the Senate seat, the charges allege that Blagojevich, Harris and others have engaged and are engaging in efforts to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, to benefit Blagojevich and his family through corruptly using Blagojevich’s sole authority to appoint a successor to the unexpired term of the President-elect’s former Senate seat, which he resigned effective November 16. The affidavit details numerous conversations about the Senate seat between November 3 and December 5. In these conversations, Blagojevich repeatedly discussed the attributes of potential candidates, including their abilities to benefit the people of Illinois, and the financial and political benefits he and his wife could receive if he appointed various of the possible candidates.

Throughout the intercepted conversations, Blagojevich also allegedly spent significant time weighing the option of appointing himself to the open Senate seat and expressed a variety of reasons for doing so, including: frustration at being “stuck” as governor; a belief that he will be able to obtain greater resources if he is indicted as a sitting Senator as opposed to a sitting governor; a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016; avoiding impeachment by the Illinois legislature; making corporate contacts that would be of value to him after leaving public office; facilitating his wife’s employment as a lobbyist; and generating speaking fees should he decide to leave public office.

In the earliest intercepted conversation about the Senate seat described in the affidavit, Blagojevich told Deputy Governor A on November 3 that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open seat, then he will take it for himself: “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” Later that day, speaking to Advisor A, Blagojevich said: “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” He added later that the seat “is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

Over the next couple of days – Election Day and the day after – Blagojevich was captured discussing with Deputy Governor A whether he could obtain a cabinet position, such as Secretary of Health and Human Services or the Department of Energy or various ambassadorships. In a conversation with Harris on November 4, Blagojevich analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to the highest bidder. The day after the election, Harris allegedly suggested to Blagojevich that the President-elect could make him the head of a private foundation.

Later on November 5, Blagojevich said to Advisor A, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there,” the affidavit states.

Two days later, in a three-way call with Harris and Advisor B, a consultant in Washington, Blagojevich and the others allegedly discussed the prospect of a three-way deal for the Senate appointment involving an organization called “Change to Win,” which is affiliated with various unions including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

On November 10, Blagojevich, his wife, Harris, Governor General Counsel, Advisor B and other Washington-based advisors participated at different times in a two-hour phone call in which they allegedly discussed, among other things, a deal involving the SEIU. Harris said they could work out a deal with the union and the President-elect where SEIU could help the President-elect with Blagojevich’s appointment of Senate Candidate 1, while Blagojevich would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future. Also during that call, Blagojevich agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding him.

In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.” Earlier in that conversation, Blagojevich suggested starting a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, which he could head and engage in political activity and lobbying. In that conversation with Harris and other discussions with him and others over the next couple of days, Blagojevich suggested by name several well-known, wealthy individuals who could be prevailed upon to seed such an organization with $10-$15 million, and suggesting that he could take the organization’s reins when he is no longer governor, according to the affidavit.

On November 12, Blagojevich spoke with SEIU Official who was in Washington. This conversation occurred about a week after Blagojevich had met with SEIU Official to discuss the Senate seat, with the understanding that the union official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1's interest in the Senate seat. During the November 12 conversation, Blagojevich allegedly explained the non-profit organization idea to SEIU Official and said that it could help Senate Candidate 1. The union official agreed to “put that flag up and see where it goes,” although the official also had said he wasn’t certain if Senate Candidate 1 wanted the official to keep pushing her candidacy. Senate Candidate 1 eventually removed herself from consideration for the open seat.

Also on November 12, in a conversation with Harris, the complaint affidavit states, Blagojevich said his decision about the open Senate seat will be based on three criteria in the following order of importance: “our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon that. Legal. Personal. Political.” Harris said: “legal is the hardest one to satisfy.” Blagojevich said that his legal problems could be solved by naming himself to the Senate seat.

As recently as December 4, in separate conversations with Advisor B and Fundraiser A, Blagojevich said that he was “elevating” Senate Candidate 5 on the list of candidates because, among other reasons, if Blagojevich ran for re-election, Senate Candidate 5 would “raise [] money” for him. Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Blagojevich with something “tangible up front.” Noting that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to reach out to an intermediary (Individual D), from whom Blagojevich is attempting to obtain campaign contributions and who Blagojevich believes is close to Senate Candidate 5. Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was a very realistic candidate but Blagojevich was getting a lot of pressure not to appoint Senate Candidate 5, according to the affidavit.

Blagojevich allegedly told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that if Senate Candidate 5 is going to be chosen, “some of this stuff’s gotta start happening now . . . right now . . . and we gotta see it.” Blagojevich continued, “You gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody’s listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?” Blagojevich further directed Fundraiser A to talk to Individual D in person, not by phone, and to communicate the “urgency” of the situation.

Blagojevich spoke to Fundraiser A again the next day, December 5, and discussed that day’s Chicago Tribune front page article stating that Blagojevich had recently been surreptitiously recorded as part of the ongoing criminal investigation. Blagojevich instructed Fundraiser A to “undo your [Individual D] thing,” and Fundraiser A confirmed it would be undone, the complaint alleges.

Also on December 5, Blagojevich and three others allegedly discussed whether to move money out of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund to avoid having the money frozen by federal authorities and also considered the possibility of prepaying the money to Blagojevich’s criminal defense attorney with an understanding that the attorney would donate the money back at a later time if it was not needed. They also discussed opening a new fund raising account named Citizens for Blagojevich with new contributions.

Misuse of State Funding To Induce Firing of Chicago Tribune Editorial Writers

According to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) relating to the Tribune Company’s efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field. In a November 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform Tribune Owner and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment. In a November 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, Cubs Chairman and Tribune Owner, “our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get ‘em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support.”

On November 6, the day of a Tribune editorial critical of Blagojevich, Harris told Blagojevich that he told Tribune Financial Advisor the previous day that things “look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page.” Harris also told Blagojevich that he was meeting with Tribune Financial Advisor on November 10.

In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.” Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he’s going after that section.” Blagojevich allegedly responded. “Oh. That’s fantastic.” After further discussion, Blagojevich said, “Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You’re the man. Good job, John.”

In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune’s deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, “as somebody who was the most biased and unfair.” After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field. On November 30, Blagojevich spoke with the president of a Chicago-area sports consulting firm, who indicated that he was working with the Cubs on matters involving Wrigley Field. Blagojevich and Sports Consultant discussed the importance of getting the IFA transaction approved at the agency’s December or January meeting because Blagojevich was contemplating leaving office in early January and his IFA appointees would still be in place to approve the deal, the charges allege.

The Government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reid Schar, Carrie Hamilton, and Christopher Niewoehner.

If convicted, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Statement by the Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) National Transportation Policy Project Regarding Economic Stimulus Bill

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In response to the growing debate about a stimulus bill, the BPC's National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) urges Congress to put Americans to work immediately on transportation investments that protect the nation's economic prosperity and competitiveness.

The likelihood that a major stimulus bill will be enacted early next year creates a unique opportunity to undertake a transportation infrastructure investment program that generates good secure jobs for American workers immediately and produces long-term growth for the nation's businesses. Transportation is essential in enabling economic activity and enhancing the productivity of businesses and workers. However, simply following historical funding approaches runs the risk of failing to use taxpayer funds wisely. Reform should accompany the stimulus effort because not all transportation investments are created equal. NTPP proposes the following guidelines for transportation stimulus funds:

-- Emphasize ready-to-go projects. Our surface transportation network
and facilities are in poor physical condition and suffer from poor
performance. With limited funds we must prioritize construction that
can be undertaken without delays and can put people to work as
promptly as possible. Experience has shown that projects that focus
on improving the operations of the existing transportation system are
often those that can be undertaken most quickly and can bring the
greatest returns, in terms of creating immediate construction and
other transportation jobs, and promoting longer-term economic growth.
-- Provide spending flexibility across all modes of transportation.
States and local authorities should have the flexibility and
discretion to invest in the transportation projects that bring the
greatest economic, environmental, and energy security returns in the
shortest possible time. Federal stimulus dollars should not be
constrained by current funding formulas that limit spending to one
form of transportation over another.
-- Hold states accountable for meeting stimulus goals. With flexibility
comes responsibility. States and localities that receive these
stimulus investments should use them to maximize near-term jobs and
long-term economic benefits. After the funds have been spent,
recipients should evaluate and report on how well the projects they
selected have achieved these goals. If the stimulus program is
extended to become part of a longer-term transportation funding
program, additional and more comprehensive performance and
accountability measures should be introduced.

The NTPP is a broad coalition of policy experts, business and civic leaders chaired by former Mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer, former New York Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, former Washington Senator Slade Gorton, and former Minnesota Congressman Martin Sabo. Its members are currently developing a long-term vision for the federal role in transportation policy, with a report due out early next year. NTPP is a project of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

About the Bipartisan Policy Center:

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Baker, Daschle, Dole, and Mitchell formed the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) to develop and promote solutions that can attract the public support and political momentum to achieve real progress. The BPC acts as an incubator for policy efforts that engage top political figures, advocates, academics, and business leaders in the art of principled compromise. For more information please visit our website: http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/

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Monday, December 8, 2008

What Gun Owners Really Want to Hear From Mr. Obama

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is the text of a statement released today by ISRA Political Victory Fund (ISRA-PVF) Interim Chairman, Richard Pearson:

During a weekend press conference, President-Elect Barack Obama responded to reports of a large, nation-wide run-up in gun sales by reiterating his well-traveled campaign rhetoric about how he supports the Second Amendment and how lawful firearm owners have nothing to fear from him.

With all due respect to the President-Elect, his stump speeches on gun rights really did not resonate with the nations law-abiding firearm owners. That is why good citizens are flocking to firearms dealers in record numbers. That is why Illinois firearm owners -- the people who know Mr. Obama best -- purchased at least 38% more firearms in November 2008 than they did in November 2007. Mr. Obama's campaign promises notwithstanding, citizens look to his past record on gun rights, and they look to his recent cabinet selections, and are now understandably convinced that he's about to pull a fast one on them.

What the nation's law-abiding firearm owners really want to hear from the President Elect is that, should the congress send him a bill even remotely resembling the 1994 'Assault Weapons Ban,' he'll veto it immediately.

What gun owners really want to hear from him is that he will veto any attempt to institute a nation-wide ban on concealed carry.

What gun owners really want to hear from him is that he will direct his Treasury Secretary to refrain from imposing burdensome new regulations on firearm dealers.

What gun owners really want to hear from him is that he will not try to muscle state legislatures into passing gun control laws under the threat of federal funds withholding.

What gun owners really want to hear from him is that he will veto any punitive taxes levied on firearms, ammunition, and shooting supplies.

Those are the sorts of things that gun owners want, and expect to hear from President-Elect Obama. Hearing that he respects the Second Amendment offers lawful gun owners no comfort. It does not make Obama unique. Everyone is supposed to respect our Constitution, right?

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Research Finds Large Increase in Turnout with Vote-by-Mail System

With the crowded lines for advance voting making news in the 2008 presidential election, it’s evident that voters are enthusiastic about reforms that make civic participation more convenient.

In 2000, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to hold elections exclusively by mail. According to research conducted by Georgia State political science Assistant Professor Sean Richey, Oregon’s vote-by-mail reform has led to a 10 percentage point increase in turnout for both midterm and presidential elections.

“That’s a fairly large increase,” he said. “When you think that even in the most exciting elections, such as the one we just had, turnout only increased by 8 percentage points, that’s a pretty massive effect.”

In Oregon, every registered voter is mailed a ballot, which he or she then completes and mails back or turns in at a ballot drop-off location. In addition to being convenient for voters, the move has also saved the state about $3 million per election.

“Polling places are actually quite expensive. People don’t think of the administration of elections, but it’s quite costly to hire workers and monitoring and that kind of thing,” Richey said.

“This is a much more efficient system, and what you really hear about is obviously that it improves turnout and democratic participation, but a nice sub-effect is that it’s actually inexpensive.”

Another reason voters find the vote-by-mail system attractive is the added time it gives to research the issues. In a state such as Oregon, which typically features many ballot initiatives, this is especially important to voters, Richey said.

“In the polling place, it’s difficult to give 25 questions a lot of detailed consideration,” he said. “But if you’re mailed a ballot, you can go on the Internet, you can discuss it with friends and family, you can ask knowledgeable people that you know. This allows you to have much more deliberative, reasoned choices for the questions. And that’s one of the things people find most positive.”

With Oregon’s increased voter turnout and the popularity of vote-by-mail among the state’s residents, other states could turn to a similar voting system, Richey said.

“If a neighboring state has tried an innovative new reform and they try it for 10 or 15 years and it is successful, it’s much easier for you to adopt it,” he said.

“Oregon has about 2 million voters and they’ve done three presidential elections, two midterm elections and all the sub and county elections in between by this vote-by-mail system, so there’s lots of data on it. There’s very little fraud, there’s been no reports of abuse of the system, and so it makes it much easier for a state like Washington or even Colorado, two of the states considering it, to choose it.”

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Barr Condemns Government Plans for Domestic Troop Deployment

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr says government plans to deploy 20,000 uniformed soldiers inside the United States "ignores all the tragic lessons we have learned from using the U.S. military in domestic crises."

"When combat troops are used for domestic law enforcement, rights are inevitably violated and tragedies occur, such as when the military was improperly activated to assist in the tragedy at Waco, Texas in 1993. This domestic use of the military resulted in the loss of some 80 men, women and children," says Barr, the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nominee. "The government's plan to deploy initially 20,000 uniformed military personnel inside the United States goes against everything we have learned about using soldiers as police officers. Not only do these plans appear to be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act—which forbids the use of the military in law enforcement on non-federal property—but it also opens up the American public to dangerous Constitutional violations."

Barr says his concerns are greatly heightened by the conclusion reached by the current Bush Administration in a classified 2001 Department of Justice memo. The memo stated that the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, does not apply to the U.S. military when it engages in “domestic” operations.

"When the military operates in the United States, as the federal government now intends it to do, it does so without respect or deference to the Constitution," says Barr. "The federal government plans to render every American citizen defenseless against government abuse during any crisis situation—be it a flood, hurricane, or other natural disaster—where U.S. military personnel will be used to supplement local law enforcement."

"We do not need to militarize Mayberry," says Barr.

"I fought against this type of gross expansion of government authority while I was in Congress," says Barr. "I called for a full investigation of the Waco Siege when it became clear that government used excessive force in their raid, which cost the lives of many innocent Americans. The 'culture of militarism' in the federal government turned Waco into an American tragedy. Should this trend of militarism be allowed to continue, it will only be a matter of time before we have another avoidable tragedy on our hands."

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

FRC Action PAC Applauds Re-election of Saxby Chambliss

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- FRC Action PAC applauded the re-election of Senator Saxby Chambliss to represent the state of Georgia in the United States Congress. The PAC ran radio ads across Georgia in support of Senator Chambliss.

"Georgia voters recognize Senator Chambliss' record in Congress as one that is representative of Georgia values," said David Nammo, Executive Director of FRC Action PAC. "The Senator has consistently been a vocal advocate for families."

"He has worked to defend traditional marriage and religious liberty while protecting our national security. His tireless efforts on behalf of the unborn speak of his respect for all human life. FRC Action PAC is pleased to congratulate Senator Chambliss on his re-election and urge him to continue his fight for families."

To hear FRC Action PAC's ad in support of Senator Chambliss, go to www.frcactionpac.org.

FRC Action PAC is the political action committee connected to FRC Action, a 501(c)(4) membership organization. FRC Action is the legislative advocacy arm of the Family Research Council, a 501(c)(3) organization.

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Republican National Committee: Back for More? Nothing Says Change Like Scandal Prone Washington Insider Bill Richardson Back In The Cabinet

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the Republican National Committee:

Richardson Has Nearly 20 Years Experience As A Washington Insider:

Richardson Was A Congressman In Washington For 14 Years (1983-1997). (Biographical Directory Of The United States Congress Website, congress.gov, Accessed 9/28/02)

Richardson Was Clinton's U.S. Ambassador To The U.N. For Two Years (1997-1998). (Biographical Directory Of The United States Congress Website, congress.gov, Accessed 9/28/02)

Richardson Was Clinton's Energy Secretary For Three Years (1998-2001). (Biographical Directory Of The United States Congress Website, congress.gov, Accessed 9/28/02)

Richardson Has Been Described As A "Washington Insider." (Steve Terrell, "Roundhouse Roundup," The Santa Fe New Mexican, 6/23/05)

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough Called Richardson A "Former Clinton Insider." (MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," 3/22/04)

Richardson In 2001: "You know, I've always been in the Congress, at the UN. I've been Energy Secretary. I've never had, as they say, a real job." (CNN's "Spin Room," 3/8/01)

Click Here To Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSzbh0Y8UOQ


During Richardson's Tenure As Director, Peregrine Systems Engaged In An Accounting Scheme Which Allowed Executives To Take Millions While Investors Were Defrauded:

Richardson Served As A Board Member Of Peregrine Systems From February 2001 To June 2002. "New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson was a member of Peregrine's board of directors from February 2001 until he resigned after winning the Democratic nomination for governor in the June 2002 primary." (Elliot Spagat, "Former Peregrine CFO Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy, Fraud," The Associated Press, 4/13/03)

Peregrine Engaged In Accounting "Scheme To Prematurely Recognize Revenue, An Effort To Boost The Company's Share Price And Mislead Investors." "The former chief financial officer at Peregrine Systems Inc. pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy and securities fraud after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors who are investigating accounting irregularities at the software company. Matthew C. Gless, Peregrine's chief financial officer from November 2000 to May 2002, admitted taking part in a scheme to prematurely recognize revenue, an effort to boost the company's share price and mislead investors." (Elliot Spagat, "Former Peregrine CFO Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy, Fraud," The Associated Press, 4/13/03)

-- Peregrine Executives "Spent Millions Of Dollars On Bonuses And Golf-Club Memberships" As Investors, Including Pension And School Funds "Suffered Losses Totaling Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars." "Public reports filed by Peregrine Systems while Bill Richardson was a director showed the company was headed toward possible failure at a time it spent millions of dollars on bonuses and golf-club memberships for executives. Investors in the San Diego-based software company, including pension and school funds in New Mexico, have suffered losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars and the company has filed for bankruptcy protection." (Thomas J. Cole, "Tenure At Peregrine Haunts Richardson," The Albuquerque Journal, 10/27/02)

Richardson Claimed He Was An "Outside" Director, Had "No Involvement" With The Company's Accounting Behavior, And Attended Just Five Board Meetings. "'Really, I had no involvement because I was what was called an outside director,' Richardson said in an interview Friday. 'I had no stock or made no stock purchases, and I was unaware of some of the accounting disputes.' Richardson said he attended about five meetings of the board of directors during the 16 months he was with Peregrine. He said he learned about the accounting problems and the ensuing SEC investigation from newspaper articles." (Gilbert Gallegos, "SEC Probes Tech Company Once Linked To Richardson," The Albuquerque Tribune, 7/9/02)

-- "But Corporate Governance Experts Say He Should Have Known Better. 'It's The Job Of The Board Of Directors To Know What's Going On,' Said Nell Minow Of The Corporate Executive Board, A Longtime Governance Gadfly. 'When You're A Director, It's No Better To Be A Schnook Than A Crook.'" (Justin Rood and Robert Lewis, "'A Schnook Is No Better Than A Crook,'" ABC News' "The Blotter" Blog, blogs.abcnews.com, 7/9/07)

-- "Records Show That Richardson Attended, In Person Or By Phone, 15 Board Meetings. In Those Meetings, Directors Were Hearing That The Company Might Get Caught Cooking The Books." (Don Bauder, "Feeble Alibis," The San Diego Reader, www.sandiegoreader.com, 3/22/07)

Richardson Was Named As A Defendant In A Class Action Law Suit Filed By Shareholders Against Peregrine. "Some shareholders have joined in class-action lawsuits against Peregrine, and Richardson is a defendant in some of those suits." (Thomas J. Cole, "Tenure At Peregrine Haunts Richardson," The Albuquerque Journal, 10/27/02)

Lawmakers And Media Called For Richardson's Resignation Over Security Breach At Laboratory In Los Alamos, NM:

Richardson's Department Of Energy Showed Extreme Carelessness In Securing Our National Secrets. "The whereabouts of two computer hard drives at the center of a Los Alamos National Laboratory security breach investigation may have been unknown for as long as six months - not the six weeks originally reported ..." ("Timeline On Missing Los Alamos Hard Drives in Question: Their Whereabouts May Have Been Unknown For Months, Not Weeks," CNN.com, 6/20/00)

-- Richardson Faced Scrutiny Because Scientist Was Under Investigation For Three Years And Allowed To Keep Job. "Under Republican attack over security at federal nuclear weapons labs, the Clinton administration fired a Chinese-American computer scientist who has been the subject of a three-year espionage investigation." (H. Josef Hebert, "Chinese-American Scientist Fired At Weapons Lab Amid Spy Probe," The Associated Press, 3/9/99)

In Aftermath, Senate Intel Chairman Called For Richardson's Resignation. "Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., called on Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to step down in light of security lapses at the Los Alamos nuclear labs." ("Senate Leader Calls On Richardson To Step Down," United Press International, 6/18/00)

Even Democrats Were Upset With Richardson Over Handling Of Security Breach. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV): "You have shown an extreme contempt ... of this Congress." (H. Josef Hebert, "Richardson At The Center Of Security, Gas Prices Firestorm," The Associated Press, 6/22/00)

-- Sen. Byrd: "You've had a bright and brilliant career. But you will never again receive the support of the Senate of the United States for any office to which you might be appointed. It's gone. You've squandered your treasure." (H. Josef Hebert, "Richardson At The Center Of Security, Gas Prices Firestorm," The Associated Press, 6/22/00)

-- Click Here To Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpANBymakjM

-- Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) Also Criticized Richardson. Sen. Kerry: "In my judgment the damage to U.S. interests is very real and what has leaked out is a very serious issue." (Andrew Miga, "Kerry Warns Of More Cases Of Alleged Chinese Spying," The Boston Herald, 3/22/99)

As Governor, Richardson Used Tobacco Company's Jet For Five Trips Worth More Than $40,000:

Richardson Took Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars In Free Flights From Largest Smokeless Tobacco Firm. "Gov. Bill Richardson has taken tens of thousands of dollars worth of free corporate jet flights from the world's largest smokeless-tobacco company in his role as head of the Democratic Governors Association." (Jeff Jones, "Smokeless On These Flights," Albuquerque Journal, 5/14/06)

-- "The Company, UST, Is The Parent Corporation Of The Firm That Makes Skoal And Copenhagen, Among Other Brands." ("Tobacco Company Provides Travel To Richardson," The Associated Press, 5/15/06)

-- "The Five Free Flights Provided To Richardson Through The Association, Which He Chairs, In 2005 And Early 2006 Were Worth More Than $40,000 ..." ("Tobacco Company Provides Travel To Richardson," The Associated Press, 5/15/06)

UST Lobbied New Mexico Legislature For Beneficial Legislation. "That company - UST, the parent corporation of the firm that makes Skoal, Copenhagen and other brands - lobbied hard at the New Mexico Legislature earlier this year for a tobacco-tax change that critics said would have exclusively benefited UST." (Jeff Jones, "Smokeless On These Flights," Albuquerque Journal, 5/14/06)

-- The Bill Was Sponsored By Richardson's Chief Ally. "The bill, sponsored by Richardson's chief legislative ally, House Speaker Ben Lujan, passed the House after a state financial impact report to lawmakers was drastically changed using UST's numbers. The measure ran out of steam in the Senate, where it died." (Jeff Jones, "Smokeless On These Flights," Albuquerque Journal, 5/14/06)

Gov. Richardson Invented Portion Of Biography:

Richardson Falsely Claimed To Have Been Drafted By The Kansas City A's. "The Albuquerque Journal reported last month that it had found no record of Richardson being drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in the 1960s as Richardson had claimed in a biography when he ran for Congress in 1982. The governor acknowledged the error." (Barry Massey, "GOP Airs Ad Criticizing Governor As 'King Bill,'" The Associated Press, 12/6/05)

As Governor, Richardson Used State Helicopter To Go Horseback Riding At A Ranch:

"The New Mexican's Mitote Column Of Sept. 21 Reported The Governor Had Taken A State Helicopter To Go Horseback Riding At The Chama Ranch Of Santa Fe Art And Real-Estate Investor Gerald Peters." (Tom Sharpe, "Helicopter Flight Raises Questions," The Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/10/03)

-- Use Of Helicopter Cost Taxpayers $2,500. "According to the report, a high-tech Blackhawk helicopter scheduled for a training trip from Santa Fe to Carlsbad on Sept. 6 [2003] was diverted to Chama at Richardson's request -- a cost to taxpayers of $2,500 -- on a day when a state police helicopter often used by Richardson was grounded for maintenance." (Tom Sharpe, "Helicopter Flight Raises Questions," The Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/10/03)

As Governor, Richardson Used Taxpayer Money For Private Needs:

Richardson Uses Taxpayer Money To Buy Starbucks, Cigars, Newspaper, A Mattress And Meals While Traveling. "Cigars. Starbucks coffee. Copies of The New York Times. A $960 mattress. Meals in Switzerland, Mexico City and Washington and hotel rooms in Phoenix. They are among the items taxpayers have bought for Gov. Bill Richardson or his staff in recent months by virtue of a little-known state fund - an unaudited expense account that the Democratic-controlled Legislature quietly boosted by $60,000 shortly after the governor took office." (Barry Massey, "Richardson Uses State 'Contingency' Fund For Cigars, Starbucks, Overseas Meals," The Associated Press, 10/31/03)

-- Richardson Refused To Say How Expensive Meals Were. "[T]he governor refuses to elaborate on some of the fund's expenditures - including costs of meals and lodging that were charged on state credit cards by state police officers who serve as his security agents." (Barry Massey, "Richardson Uses State 'Contingency' Fund For Cigars, Starbucks, Overseas Meals," The Associated Press, 10/3130/03)

As Governor, Richardson Hired Lavish New Chef On Taxpayer's Dime:

Richardson Hired New Chef On Taxpayer Dollars. "All that wining and dining legislators have been raving about at the governor's mansion comes with a price [of] nearly $60,000 a year for a new chef." (David Miles, "Governor's Entertaining Runs Up Salary Costs," Albuquerque Journal, 4/2/03)

-- Richardson Spent Thousands More On Mansion Personnel Than His Republican Predecessor. "Based on a 40-hour workweek, the salaries of four employees at the mansion will total about $167,100 a year under Richardson, according to state Department of Finance and Administration records obtained by the Journal. The combined salaries of four mansion workers in the [Gov. Gary] Johnson [(R-NM)] era added up to roughly $93,900 as of last July." (David Miles, "Governor's Entertaining Runs Up Salary Costs," Albuquerque Journal, 4/2/03)

As Governor, Richardson's Administration Bought Land From Major Contributor And Then Received Large Donation From Contractor:

"Gov. Bill Richardson's Administration Bought 12 Acres Of Vacant Santa Fe Land From A Major Campaign Contributor And His Family, Paying $3.2 Million More Than The Family Had Paid For The Property 28 Months Before." ("Richardson Donor Sold 12 Acres To Administration," The Associated Press, 6/19/06)

-- "Contractor Sonny Otero Then Made A $50,000 Donation To Richardson's Re-Election Campaign About Two Months After The Sale Was Finalized ..." ("Richardson Donor Sold 12 Acres To Administration," The Associated Press, 6/19/06)

-- "Several Of Richardson's Largest Campaign Donors Have Contracts Or Other Business With His Administration. The Governor Has Said He Makes Decisions Based On What Is Best For The State, Not For His Contributors." ("Richardson Donor Sold 12 Acres To Administration," The Associated Press, 6/19/06)

As Governor, Richardson Created Jobs "Out Of Thin Air" To Please Friends And Relatives In Need Of Work:

Richardson Allegedly Bypassed Paper Trail To Invent Jobs For Supporters. "What do you do when you're the governor and you've already filled the executive branch's 647 exempt positions, but you've still got friends, political supporters and their relatives who need work? According to a report by KRQE Channel 13 investigative reporter Larry Barker, when you're Gov. Bill Richardson, you just create new jobs 'out of thin air.'" (Steve Terrell, "Governor's 'Gifts' Under Scrutiny," The Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/2/06)

-- KRQE [Albuquerque, NM] Channel 13 Investigative Reporter Larry Barker: "The practice is so common that state agencies have coined a name for it ... When the governor sends a new hire down to claim a job that doesn't exist, they call it 'a gift from the North.'" (Steve Terrell, "Governor's 'Gifts' Under Scrutiny," The Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/2/06)

In 2004, Richardson Gave 122 State Jobs To Campaign Contributors And Family Members:

"Gov. Bill Richardson Has Doled Out At Least 122 State Jobs To Campaign Contributors Or Family Members Of Financial Supporters, Many Of Them Getting High-Paying Positions." ("Richardson Gives Jobs To Campaign Donors; Says Workers Are Qualified," The Associated Press, 6/13/04)

-- "Contributors Or Their Family Members Hired By Richardson Gave At Least $245,500 To The Governor's Campaign In 2002. One Appointee Gave More Than $22,000." (Thomas J. Cole, "Governor's Contributors Rake In Jobs," Albuquerque Journal, 6/13/04)

-- "The Top 25 Individual Contributors To Richardson Who Were Appointed To Jobs Earn An Average Of Just Under $76,000 A Year On The State Payroll." (Thomas J. Cole, "Governor's Contributors Rake In Jobs," Albuquerque Journal, 6/13/04)

-- The Median Household Income In New Mexico As Of 2006 Was $40,126. (U.S. Census Bureau Website, www.census.gov, Accessed 12/3/08)

Richardson Almost Doubled The Number Of Positions That Serve At The Pleasure Of The Governor. "Richardson has expanded the number of exempt positions, which stood at 292 within 23 executive agencies as of April 30 ... There were 167 under Johnson [the previous governor]." ("Richardson Gives Jobs To Campaign Donors; Says Workers Are Qualified," The Associated Press, 6/13/04)

As Governor, Richardson Appointed Man Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide To Commission On Higher Education:

"Gov. Bill Richardson Has Appointed [Paul Donisthorpe, Partner Of Spectrum Financial Group, An Albuquerque Investment Banking Firm] ... To The 15-Member Commission On Higher Education." (Olivier Uyttebrouck, "Gov. Names Pick To Head Higher Ed," Albuquerque Journal, 6/10/03)

-- "Paul Donisthorpe Pleaded No Contest And Was Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For The 1990 Alcohol-Related Crash That Killed Albuquerque Sixth-Grade Teacher Jillian A. Howard." ("New Commissioner Once Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide," The Associated Press, 6/14/03)

Richardson Defended The Appointment. "Gov. Bill Richardson defended the appointment, saying Paul Donisthorpe is 'sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant the public trust,' a spokesman said." (Olivier Uyttebrouck, "Convicted Banker Seated On Board," Albuquerque Journal, 6/14/03)

-- Richardson's Spokesman, Gilbert Gallegos: "The governor was aware of Mr. Donisthorpe's history and, while it was troubling, after careful consideration the governor decided he was fit to serve on the Commission on Higher Education." (Olivier Uyttebrouck, "Convicted Banker Seated On Board," Albuquerque Journal, 6/14/03)

Donisthorpe Had Also Contributed Thousands To Richardson's Campaign. "Donisthorpe, a partner in the Albuquerque investment firm Spectrum Financial Group, contributed $7,700 to Richardson's gubernatorial campaign last year, according to campaign contribution reports." ("State Official Once Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide Resigns," The Associated Press, 6/16/03)

Donisthorpe Resigned Less Than A Week After He Was Sworn In. "A member of the state Commission on Higher Education resigned Monday because his vehicular homicide conviction from more than a decade ago was drawing too much negative attention, he said." ("State Official Once Convicted Of Vehicular Homicide Resigns," The Associated Press, 6/16/03)

As Governor, Richardson Hired Motor Vehicle Division Director Who Had Prior Drunk Driving Charge:

Richardson Removed Motor Vehicle Division Director After It Was Released That He Was Arrested For Drunk Driving. "Gov. Bill Richardson ... on Tuesday removed Julian Luna as Motor Vehicle Division director after it was revealed that he was arrested for drunken driving in a state car 10 years ago." ("Richardson Removes New MVD Chief," The Associated Press, 1/29/03)

-- "Luna Was Arrested On A Driving-While-Intoxicated Charge In August 1993 Near Belen After Police Said He Nearly Hit An Ambulance." ("Richardson Removes New MVD Chief," The Associated Press, 1/29/03)

As Governor, Richardson's Choice For Director Of Adult Probation And Parole Division Had A Domestic Abuse Restraining Order Against Him:

"Charles Countee, Richardson's Pick As Director Of The Adult Probation And Parole Division, Who Lost His Job In January After His Domestic Abuse Restraining Order Came To Light." (David Miles, "Gov.'s Hiring Hit, Defended," Albuquerque Journal, 5/25/03)

-- Countee Said He Was Hired But Governor's Aide Said He Was Never Hired. "A juvenile probation officer who is under a domestic abuse restraining order said he was fired after one day as director of the state Adult Probation and Parole Division, but a governor's aide said he was never hired." ("Man Contends He Was Hired, Fired As State Probation Head," The Associated Press, 1/8/03)


A Billboard In Times Square Featured A Picture Of Richardson:

"The 70-Foot-Long Billboard Beams Down From The Northwest Corner Of 48th Street And 7th Avenue, Showing Blue Skies, Snow-Capped Mountains, A Desert Mesa And A Grinning Richardson." ("Richardson Dominates N.M. Big Apple Billboard," The Associated Press, 3/1/03)

-- "The Billboard In Times Square Inviting People To Visit The Land Of Enchantment Will Feature An Image Of The Governor In Western Wear." (Steve Terrell, "Pitchman Or Ambitious Self-Promoter?," Santa Fe New Mexican, 2/22/03)

Richardson Hired More Press Aides To Help With His Image Than Any Other Governor:

"To Trumpet His Accomplishments, Richardson-- Who Long Has Been Tagged As A Publicity Hound-- Has Created A Public-Relations Machine, With More Press Aides That Any Previous Governor." (Thomas J. Cole, "Govzilla 24/7," Albuquerque Journal, 2/11/07)

-- "He Hired More Than Two Dozen Print, TV And Radio Reporters, Many Of Them Filling Newly Created PR Jobs In State Agencies." (Thomas J. Cole, "Govzilla 24/7," Albuquerque Journal, 2/11/07)

Richardson Used "Goodie Bags" At 2004 Democratic National Convention To Promote Himself:

Richardson's Gift To Convention Delegates Had His Picture And Name On It. "Richardson's gift seems to have won out for pure self-promotion. The salsa is manufactured for the Albuquerque restaurant Garduno's, but labeled as if the governor diced the tomatoes himself somewhere in Santa Fe. The jar bears his picture, and its most prominent words are 'Governor Bill Richardson,' appearing atop a pile of chili peppers and other salsa ingredients." (John Dyer, Herb Jackson, and Josh Gohlke, "Lautenberg's View: Kerry Offers Strong Voice For Israel," The [Bergen County, NJ] Record, 7/29/04)

-- The New York Times' Reporters Gave Richardson The "Most Relentless Self-Promotion" Award For The Gift. "Most Relentless Self-Promotion: Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, for bringing bottles of his own brand of salsa into the hall to give to delegates, despite security regulations barring glass containers. He got special Secret Service approval." (Sheryl Gay Stolberg and John Tierney, "The Democrats; The Convention In Boston," The New York Times, 7/30/04)

Richardson Rode On New Mexico's Float In The Tournament Of Roses Parade:

"New Mexico's Float In The Tournament Of Roses Parade Will Feature ... Gov. Bill Richardson." (Deborah Baker, "New Mexico Governor To Be On Rose Parade Float," The Associated Press, 11/11/05)

"With Publicity-Conscious Richardson Considered A Likely Contender For The Democratic Presidential Nomination In 2008, One Critic Expressed Mock Relief At The Float Design Announced This Week." (Deborah Baker, "New Mexico Governor To Be On Rose Parade Float," The Associated Press, 11/11/05)

-- Dan Foley, A Republican Lawmaker From Roswell, New Mexico: "I figured (the float) was going to be a big bobble-head of the governor." (Deborah Baker, "New Mexico Governor To Be On Rose Parade Float," The Associated Press, 11/11/05)

Richardson Spent Time Away From Energy Department To Pursue Vice Presidency In 2000:

"Richardson Has Made No Secret Of His Interest In Becoming Vice President Gore's Running Mate." (Laurence McQuillan, "Political Light Fading For Energy Secretary," USA Today, 6/19/00)

-- He Was Behind Al Gore All The Way. "Few of Mr. Richardson's rivals could have failed to notice him beaming behind Mr. Gore's confetti-caked shoulder last week as the vice president gave his victory speech after sweeping the Super Tuesday primaries." (Philip Shenon, "Public Lives; The Magic Blue Blazer Vs. An Oily Patch Of Bad Luck," The New York Times, 3/13/00)

He Attended Fundraisers For Al Gore. "Gore had been scheduled to appear ... at the Hollywood home of Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth for a cocktail reception fund-raiser and then attend a gala honoring the 25th anniversary of Century Village in Deerfield Beach. Karenna Gore Schiff, the vice president's 26-year-old daughter, and Richardson, who is rumored to be a possible Gore running mate, are now expected in his place." (Steve Friess, "Gore Breaks S. Florida Date To Campaign in N.H., Iowa; His Daughter, Energy Chief To Be Fill-Ins," Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale, FL], 1/13/00)

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