Monday, July 26, 2004

Conceding the Moral High Ground

From: New York Times

July 24, 2004
Seeing Double on Ballot: Similar Names Sow Confusion

José E. Serrano encountered a slight impediment on the way to being re-elected to Congress from the Bronx. It was Jose Serrano, an unemployed former loading dockworker with the same name, who had decided that he, too, wanted the Congressional seat.

But anyone trying to pin the unemployed Mr. Serrano down on the issues gets some murky answers. When asked about his platform, he replied: "Platform? Well, I'm not sure what you're talking about." Questioned about how he decided to run, he said a friend - someone he knows only as Jose - one day asked him to. After thinking about it for a moment, he recalled: "I said, why not? I don't have anything else to do."

The candidacy of Mr. Serrano (the unemployed one) is just the latest example of a curious novelty being increasingly seen in New York City politics: two candidates with the same name, running for the same office. Call it coincidence. But some say it's a perfect way to make trouble for a popular candidate by splitting the vote so that a third candidate can benefit.

Just last year, City Councilman John C. Liu, a Queens Democrat, faced a competitor named Jay C. Liu, a businessman who had never run for office before. In 1991, Jose Rivera faced a challenge to his City Council seat from Jose L. Rivera. And Assemblyman Vito Lopez said he was once opposed by a political novice named Victor Lopez. "Even though the first names were different, they were similar enough to confuse the voters," Mr. Lopez said.

As it turned out, Mr. Serrano, 47, aborted his nascent political career this week after being questioned by a reporter in calls to the apartment he shares with relatives on East Tremont Avenue. But nominating papers he filed at the Board of Elections on behalf of his campaign committee show that his petitions included hundreds of signatures, some on behalf of several other figures in Bronx politics that have long been at odds with the local Democratic Party, which supports Mr. Serrano (the congressman).

From: Votelaw

Saturday, 24 July 2004
House ethics committee will consider charges against DeLay further

AP reports: The House ethics committee on Friday declined to dismiss a complaint accusing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of misusing his office to raise money for Republicans and to marshal government resources against Democrats.

The committee said it would extend a preliminary inquiry into the charges made against the Texas Republican lawmaker for up to 45 days. The extension could push a decision on whether the accusations warrant a formal investigation to past Labor Day, when the fall election campaigns are in high gear.

DeLay has denied the allegations and labeled as frivolous the complaint filed last month month by freshman Rep. Chris Bell, D-Texas. The complaint is the first filed against a House leader by a member of Congress since the ethics committee took up a case against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. -- Ethics panel extends review of Delay complaint (AP via Star-Telegram.com)

Saturday, 19 June 2004
Rep Cannon faces charges for asking for illegal donations

As voters gear up for the Utah Republican primary on Tuesday, four-term Rep. Chris Cannon is fighting off charges that he is in violation of campaign finance laws after making an appeal to illegal immigrants for campaign donations.

Cannon, sponsor of the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2003, which gives long-time illegal immigrants employed in the U.S. agriculture industry the chance to qualify for work visas, appeared on Salt Lake City Spanish-language radio station KBJA last month with a part-time congressional aide.

During the 90-minute interview, which was conducted entirely in Spanish, Cannon's aide, Marco Diaz, urged illegal immigrants and those under 18-years-old to send in donations to Cannon's campaign.

"Really, if you are undocumented you must find, we welcome this money, but you have to find someone who is legal in order to donate money," Diaz told listeners, according to a translation of the broadcast.

A bit later in the interview, Cannon, a proficient Spanish speaker, said minor children of citizens can donate, leading Diaz to exclaim: "Very good! I hadn’t thought of that! But if your child is a citizen, you can donate in the name of your child. The only thing that you need is, is to be a citizen. Many of you, perhaps, have children who are citizens." -- Cannon Under Gun For Appeals to Hispanics (FOXNews.com)

Warning: an ad covers the screen for several seconds before the story appears.

From: Pandagon

Render Unto Bush

"The Republican National Committee has asked Bush-backing Roman Catholics to provide copies of their parish directories to help register Catholics to vote in the November election, a use of personal information not necessarily condoned by dioceses around the country."

"In a story posted Thursday on its Web site, the National Catholic Reporter said a GOP official had urged people who attended a Catholic outreach event in January to provide parish directories and membership lists to the political party."

"'Access to these directories is critical as it allows us to identify and contact those Catholics who are likely to be supportive of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda,'' wrote Martin J. Gillespie, director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC. 'Please forward any directories you are able to collect to my attention.''

From: Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

GOP Submits Signatures For Nader

Ralph Nader hopes to get on the Michigan presidential ballot through the state's Reform Party. "But Michigan Republican Party officials handed in 43,000 petition signatures on Thursday -- far more than the 30,000 needed -- to ensure Nader can be on the ballot regardless of whether he gets the Reform Party nomination," the Detroit Free Press reports.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Democratic Party said "it would file federal election complaints against Ralph Nader over what it calls illegal and excessive contributions unless Nader withdraws from the Michigan ballot as an independent candidate."

From: WurfWhile

Corruption That Takes The Vote From DuPage Voters

Coroner Richard Ballinger was given a couple hours to accept $4,000.00 a year in increased retirement in exchange for retiring a month after the upcoming election, so that he could be replaced by a handpicked Robert Schillerstrom appointee. If he did not do this he would have his office/position removed by the County Board, in favor of a medical examiner, which is an appointed position.

[...T]he behind-the-scenes deal-making has sparked a volatile rift among once-united county Republicans at a time when they're still licking their wounds from a devastating fall from power in the 2002 election.

Once a loyal GOP soldier, Ballinger said he isn't playing by the party's rules any longer. When he leaves office, he said, it'll be on his own terms.

"They want to be monarchs," Ballinger said. "They want to be king. They like people who say, 'How high?' when they say to jump.

"Well, I won't."

From: The American Prospect

Retreating from Reform

Innovative, bipartisan immigration bills are languishing in the Senate because Karl Rove needs the nativist vote.

The Dream Act passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last fall, with heavy bipartisan backing and the support of Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch. But like the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act of 2003, or AgJobs, which also looked bound for passage until some recent mind-boggling legislative maneuvers, it has fallen prey to the Bush administration's reluctance to do anything that might rouse the ire of the nativist right.

The demise of AgJobs is particularly instructive; it was the first bill since God knows when that commanded majority support from each party's Senate delegation and from the unlikely duo of agribusiness and the United Farm Workers.

[...] Earlier this month, though, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist refused to let the bill come to a vote -- so adamantly, in fact, that he willingly doomed the business community's top legislative priority, a tort reform bill, to which AgJobs would have been attached as an amendment. Frist has no history of nativist passions; he was simply doing the bidding of the White House.

And the White House, it is clear, has made a strategic calculation. Karl Rove knows perfectly well that the Latino vote is growing and is an increasing factor in such swing states as Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. But he also knows that the president's half-hearted steps toward immigration reform were greeted by a storm of protest from anti-immigrant forces in the very same states, and that Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) actually incurred a primary challenge (which he beat back) because he had co-authored AgJobs in the House.

So once again, George W. Bush has decided that the votes he'll fish for are all on the right. Gone are any illusions that he can do better among Latino voters than he did in 2000.

From:  Purple States

Censorship Runs Rampant

Common Cause has just issued a report examining the improprieties and misconducts surrounding last year's Medicare bill. Much of what's said in the report has already been reported elsewhere: the vote was left open for three hours, instead of the normal 15 minutes, as Republican leaders begged for votes. The most damaging account came from Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI), who said Republican leaders had offered him a bribe on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Smith claims he was offered $100,000-plus in contributions to his son’s campaign, if he were to switch his vote from nay to yea.

But there was one new element that surfaced in this report:

"In an interview on the 25th anniversary of C-SPAN’s television coverage of Congress, the head of C-SPAN, Brian Lamb, noted that the congressional leadership has always controlled the cam-eras in the House and Senate chambers, generally focused on whoever is speaking, but also panning across the chamber to show activity on the floor. Lamb pointed out how the leadership’s control of the cameras can subvert C-SPAN’s studiously nonpartisan, objective coverage of Congress.

"Lamb said:

'"You saw what happened in the middle of the night over the vote on Medicare on the floor of the House of Representatives, when they controlled the cam-eras. And I noticed that the camera wasn’t moving from — it usually moves constantly from side to side. For almost the entire two or three hours that they had it open, the camera was showing the Democratic side. And that’s where people don’t get a fair shot."

"In other words, the Republican leadership of the House intentionally diverted the C-SPAN cameras away from the Republican side of the House floor. Consequently, there is no visual record of who was talking to who that night while votes were sought by the leadership."

Commentary: none needed.

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