Earmarks are a Microcosm of how Government Works 7

Corporations have bought off our government.  Below is a list of some of the earmarks for 2010 that went to campaign donors.  You have to see a list like this to see the gravity of the situation, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I cannot show you every single earmark that went to campaign donors.  I would to make a point, but it is simply too much raw data.  I know no one will read this line item by line item, but the extent will grab attention.  This is just to illustrate how bad it really is.  Also, I understand that earmarks are just a small percentage of the National Budget, but you have to remember they are a microcosm of how government works.  Tax loopholes, subsidies, tariffs, anti-competition laws, etc. etc. are all written in this same manner.  They just aren’t as clearly stated that they were written for Company X that might have donated to Congressman Y’s campaign via straight donation or Super PAC.  Enjoy:

Tim Bishop Rep. (D-NY) got $13.5k in donations from STIDD Systems and gave them a $3.6mil earmark.

David Dreier (R) Rep of Cal. received donations from Chang Ind. and rewarded them w/ a $3.2mil earmark.

  • Aerovironment Inc: Donation to Dreier equals $1mil earmark.

Rich Shelby (R) Senator of Alabama gave 23 earmarks for $90mil to campaign donors or companies that lobbied him.

Sam Johnson (R) of Texas: L-3 Comm. donated to his campaign, and he gave them a $3.04mil earmark.

  • SVTronics Inc also has a cozy relationship w/ Johnson that took the next step to a $2.72mil earmark (3rd base)
  • Rockwell Collins Inc, gets a $2.4mil earmark for their efforts in lobbying and donating to his campaign.
  • Raytheon Co. donated heavily to his camp and was rewarded w/ $1.6mil earmark.
  • Mustang Tech., Sam Johnson campaign donor, got a $800k earmark.

Tim Murphy (R) of PA received campaign $ from Curtiss-Wright Corp via PAC’s and rewarded them w/ $2.88mil in earmarks.

  • Converteam Inc., a campaign donor of Murphy’s, also got an earmark.  This one only $1.6mil.
  • PPG Ind. donated directly, through PAC, and lobbied him to get their earmark of $1.6mil.
  • Eaton Corp., another Murphy donor, got a $600k earmark sponsored by Murphy.
  • National Center for Defense Mfg & Machinery donated to his campaign and was rewarded w/ a $1.6mil earmark.

One of Ed Pastor’s, (D) of AZ, biggest campaign donors is Honeywell Int.  He sponsored 2 earmarks of $4mil and $3.2mil.

  • United tech. lobbied/donated to campaign and got a $4mil earmark courtesy of Mr. Pastor.
  • Robertson Aviation dropped 100k on lobbying, much of which on Mr. Pastor.  They got a $2.4mil earmark via Pastor.
  • BAE systems, a Pastor donor, also got a $2.4mil earmark.
  • Goodrich Corp.  donated through PAC’s and received a $2mil earmark.

(R) Robert Aderholt AL congressman gave a $6mil earmark to Victory Solutions.  You guessed it, they’re donors to his camp.

  • QinetiQ North America spent a ton of $ lobbying Aderholt and was rewarded w/ a $3.2mil earmark.
  • Miltec Corp supported his campaign, and he supported their bottom line w/ a $3.2mil earmark.
  • Peopletec Inc.  Same deal.  Donated/lobbied and got an 3.2mil earmark.  Goes around comes around, I guess.
  • J2 Technologies donated to his campaign and got a mere $3mil in earmarks.  Wonder were their .2mil went.
  • SUMMA Technology spent 30k on lobbying Mr. Aderholt, and was the recipient of a $2.4mil earmark.
  • Intergraph Corp. donated to his campaign and magically got a $2.32mil earmark.
  • Raytheon Co: 1 of Edward J Markey’s (D. Representative of MA) 10 biggest donors got a $4mil earmark.
  • Foster-Miller spent 32k lobbying Markey and got a $3.2mil earmark.

Cerus Corp. dropped over 160k lobbying Edward J. Markey D. of Mass. and was rewarded w/ 2 seperate earmarks of $2.4mil.

  • ‎123 Systems: Edward Markey of MA, a $2mil earmark. Oh, ya they donated to his campaign too.
  • QD Vision lobbys Edward Markey for a Nanocrystal Source Display: They get an earmark.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D) of Conn. biggest campaign contributor was General Dynamics… Yes they got a $4.8Mil earmark from him.

  • Honeywell was a big contributor & Lobbied him, they got a $4mil earmark sponsored by Courtney.
  • United Tech., his 4th largest donor, got a $4mil earmark that he sponsored.
  • Alion Science & Tech., donated and lobbied Courtney,  weird how they got a $3.6mil earmark via Courtney.

IN (R)Dick Lugar got camp. $ from Altair,Flagship Ent, AmeriQual, and Allison Trans. Each got their own earmarks of $3mil or more

Steve Buyer (R) of IN received donations from Society of Indep Gas Marketers, BP, Bridgestone, Marathon Oil, and XCel Energy Pac.  No wonder  he twice co-sponsored: Disapproving a rule submitted by the EPA relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Mark Souder (R) of IN sponsored $3.6mil in earmarks for Raytheon Co.  and yes they were one of his biggest donors.

Andre Carson (D) of IN sponsored $9.8mil in earmarks.  1/2 of that money went to campaign donors or peeps that lobbied him.

David Loebsack (D) of IA earmarked $9.6mil for Rockwell Collins Inc. after they donated to his campaign.  $9.6mil.

R of Kan Representative Todd Tiahrt’s biggest campaign donor was Boeing.  He got a $6mil dollar earmark just for them.

  • Hawker Beechcraft, a Tiahrt donor/lobbyer got a $7mil earmark courtesy of Mr. Tiahrt’s sponsorship.
  • Kaman Corp. Lobbys him and donates to his campaign to get a modest $3mil earmark.
  • Curtis-Wright Corp is a big donor and receives a measley $1.6mil earmark.

Steven Rothman D of NJ set aside $5.6mil in earmarks for Stevens Inst. of Tech. You guessed it, they were campaign donors.

  • Dynamic Animation Systems: Yup donated to his campaign and hired lobbyists to get in Rothman’s ears and they get a $3.5mil earmark.
  • Covanta is yet another down the line where they donate and get an earmark.  This time, $2.5mil.
  • Absecon Mills donor gets $2mil in earmarks
  • Phacil Inc lobby’d Mr. Rothman and gave to his campaign, they were rewarded w/ a $2mil earmark.
  • General Dynamics too donates to his campaign and lobbys his office and is rewarded yet another $1.68mil earmark.

Bill Young earmarked $4mil for Alliant Techsystems after they contributed to his campaign and hired lobbyists to pull his ear.

  • Alakai Consulting and Engineering donated to Billy and only got $1.6mil in earmarks.
  • Contributor Honeywell got $1.6.
  • SAIC donated to the campaign and got 2.4mil in earmarks from him.
  • Bill Young R of FL co-sponsored 64 earmarks totalling $128million.
  • Raytheon Co. a $4mil benificiary contributed to his campaign.

John B. Larson D. of CT received $87k in contributions from United Tech. and rewarded them w/ $4mil in earmarks.

  • Honeywell contributed to his campaign and got another $5.6mil in earmarks.

Jim Moran has been a naughty boy.  If you look at ITT Corp, one of his donors, he granted them a $1.6mil earmark for their support.

  • Argon ST got 2.4 million and donated to his campaign.
  • Dynamis Inc. same story.  Donated to campaign; got $2mil in earmark money.
  • ObjectVideo Inc. same story: Donated and got $2mil in earmark money.
  • Innovative Defense Tech. Same-Same.. Donated to get $2.0mil in earmark money.
  • Dynamic Animation Systems then next in a long line of earmarks for this guy.  Donated and got a $2mil earmark in return.
  • Progeny Systems donated to him and only got $1.6mil in earmark money.
  • ITT Corp. got 1.6mil for their campaign contributions.
  • EM Solutions, another $1.6 million dollars in earmarks.
  • DDL OMNI Engineering.  $1.6 million and a donor.
  • MobilVox Inc. 1.6mil
  • SyTech Corp got $1.6 mil for radio inter-operability system from earmark money after donating to his campaign.
  • SAIC Inc dontated and got 1.6mill too.
  • Curtiss-Wright Corp secured 1.6 mil in earmarks through their contributions to Jim Moran.
  • Jim Moran (D) of VA also gave ManTech Int. a $2mil earmark; they too a big donor to his campaign.
  • BriarTek Inc. was Jim Moran (D) of VA 5th biggest financial campaign supporter and was rewarded w/ a $2.4mil earmark.
  • IR-Vascular Facial Fingerprinting is what they are getting the earmark for.  via the defense spending.

(R) Doc Hastings sponsored two seperate earmarks of $2.4mil that went to Honneywell and Infinia, both were top donors to his campaign…

(D) Adam Smith co-sponsored $3.5m in earmarks for Lockheed Martin.  Lockheed is one of his top five campaign contributors…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to restore our Republic Reply

I understand the concept of limited government, and in many cases agree.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Since, Citizens United (PAC) v. FEC in ’10 allowing Corp.’s the same rights as individuals in donating, election spending is up 460%.  This was considered a “win” for freedom of Speech and limited government conservative republicans.  Unfortunately, there are unintended consequences for this freedom.  We can now voice our free speech by spending unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the government officials of our liking.  Great thing huh?  Constitutionalists feel that this is adhering closely to our forefathers intentions, but this is absolutely not the case.

Our forefathers saw this coming and tried to write into the constitution checks and balances to combat this.  In early United States history they saw it could be a problem for foreign ambassadors accepting gifts from foreign countries:  “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”  Bottom line, they were worried that these men would become corrupted.  They couldn’t foresee the possibility of Super PAC’s being established, or that contributions from campaign donors would someday purchase legislation.  I guarantee that they would never consider money as free speech.

8 of 10 congressman & senators have given earmarks directly to campaign donors.  That’s just earmarks.  Think of all the legislation that is put into law that is tailored specifically for a donor, or the tax loopholes that are insisted upon on behalf of a campaign donor.  Lobbyists are not allowed to take congressmen to dinner, unless they bring donor checks and call it a campaign fundraising.  Why would we make it law that they cannot take them out to dinner if we didn’t realize there is a corrupting influence there.  Because money is involved, we allow them to get around the rule.  Thinking rationally, it become obvious who makes the laws.  It is almost as if they are stating, “you can’t take me to dinner… unless you bring me a whole bunch of money.  Otherwise it would be unethical.”

Proposal to fix the before mentioned problems:

  1. Limit campaign contributions to $250 annually.
  2. Eliminate all middle man donations.  (A lobbyist can’t show up w/ a stack of donor checks)
  3. Eliminate SuperPAC’s as they are already borderline illegal.
  4. Cap fundraising to 500k per election.  (this can be tailored to the office)
  5. Government match all donations up to the previously mentioned cap.

These five things would eliminate Quid Pro Quo because no person in their right mind is going to write legislation for a $250 donation.  It would cut down on the time lawmakers spend fundraising.  Currently they spend 30-60% of their time just fundraising.  The elimination of bundled donations would ensure that lobbyists don’t have undue leverage on their lawmaker.  It would really limit them to educators on issues which is all they should be.  There is a term that Buddy Roemer uses: Free to Lead.  If no one entity had donated to a congressman/senator more than $250 they would be “Free” to govern with their voters in mind instead of the Corporation that put the most into their campaign.

 

When it’s Presidential to Apologize. 5

It is rare that politics includes an apology.  President Obama apologized for troops burning the Koran this week.  It was an unintentional slight where they were disposing of many things in a clean-up effort.  I won’t go into the mission, but it is important to note that they were not trying to disrespect any culture or religion.  Afghan and Muslims are protesting and rioting in response.  This uprising has left several dead.

The President made the correct move.  I applaud his efforts to convey our unintentional slight.  I would take it a step further and actually go to Afghanistan to apologize publicly.  Why?  Because we disrespected an entire religion and culture.  There is nothing that can be done but to apologize.  Just because it was unintentional does not mean that it is ok.  Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have publicly criticized Obama for apologizing.  You know what that tells me?  They are not presidential.  People that follow me know that I am very supportive of Governor Buddy Roemer for his stance on getting the money out of D.C., but had he come out and criticized Obama for this I would no longer support him!

A perfect analogy is if my kids accidentally knock over a stack of boxes in a store.  I help clean it up and apologize to the person in the store that helps me.  There is no excuse for Santorum and Gingrich’s comments.  They are playing to the far right who are racist!  There are millions of Muslims that are NOT radical, and they DESERVE an apology.  I am disgusted that this is an issue and embarrassed so many people in America wish he hadn’t apologized.  Shame on them.  No I am not Muslim, and it shouldn’t matter.

Aderholt and earmarks Reply

It was announced that Republican Congressman Robert Aderholt is endorsing Rick Santorum today.  Great for Santorum, I guess.  Aderholt has been pretty popular among his constituents in Alabama.  The irony is that he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near Santorum in his voting record of small government.  If earmarks are any kind of sign, Aderholt has no problem spending money.  In one year he sponsored well over $80 million dollars.  Much of this money went directly to campaign donors.  Following is a list of some of the donors that got their very own earmarks:

  1. $6mil earmark to Victory Solutions.
  2. QinetiQ North America rewarded w/ a $3.2mil earmark.
  3. Miltec Corp a $3.2mil earmark.
  4. Peopletec Inc.  3.2mil earmark.
  5. J2 Technologies $3mil in earmarks.
  6. SUMMA Technology  was the recipient of a $2.4mil earmark.
  7. Intergraph Corp. got a $2.32mil earmark.
  8. Advanced Optical Systems: $1.2million earmark.
  9. ATK Missions Systems: $7.8 million earmark via their parent company Honeywell International
  10. Haxcel Corp.: $3.2 million earmark

**Please note that some these donated through lobbyists and PAC’s.

Where do we draw the line?  How do we justify rewarding campaign donors w/ earmarks, legislation, or tax subsidies?  If it isn’t Quid Pro Quo then it shouldn’t look like it.  Do NOT accept money from someone you think deserves an earmark.  It’s as simple as that.  Then we, Joe Public, aren’t left wondering.

 

Buck McKeon, an example of what is wrong w/ D.C. 1

Howard P. (Buck) Mckeon, Republican Congressman of California, is a prime example of we hate about politics.  If you follow me, you know that Quid Pro Quo is illegal.  In this case it would mean that if a company gave him donations expecting they would get something in return, and he then gave them something because of the donations.  This would be highly unethical, not to mention illegal.

Northrop Grumman was Buck’s 2nd largest campaign contributor in 2008.  Individuals from Northrop donated well over $40k to his campaign and an additional $10k through PAC’s.  Northrop hired lobbyists to gain favor with him and many others in congress.  These are murky waters here because Buck sponsored an earmark of $9.6million dollars for Northrop’s  B-2 Advanced Tactical Data Link research and design.  Now, I’m sure that this is an essential defense development and that it was superior to Rockwell Collins’ Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) link.  I’m sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Lockheed Martin was his biggest campaign contributor and they would be supplying all related hardware and software required for this project upgrade.  If I say that they only donated to his campaign to get this earmark, I could be liable for slander.  But, I can say that it doesn’t pass the smell test.

General Atomics: Same thing: Donated to his campaign and gets a $1.2mil earmark.  Aerojet Corp receives 5.52mil in defense earmarks.  Weird how their parent company, GenCorp Inc., was one of Buck’s largest campaign contributors.  We are not saying that Buck is corrupt! (Please don’t sue us.)  He is just playing the game like every other Rep./Senator out there.  Heck, only 30+% of his earmarks even went to his campaign donors.  There are members with a much higher percentage.

I will simply pose this question to readers:  Do YOU think Nortrop Grumman would have gotten a $9.2 million earmark had they and Lockheed Martin NOT donated to his campaign?

The Lobbyist Effect on D.C. Reply

I was bantering back and forth with a lobbyist the other day.  He was frustrated with the fact that the term “lobbyist” is now on the same level as used-car salesman.  Jokingly, I mentioned that “used-car salesman” aren’t that bad.  Lobbyists of every level are just doing their job.  They are just playing the cards they are dealt, and there are hundreds off different types of lobbyists all thrown into the same hypothetical basket.  In every profession you have the bad eggs, being a lobbyist is no different.  So, I want to make it very clear that we don’t want to end the profession…. We just want to limit them to a strictly educational role.

Where lobbying has gone wrong, or should I say the system, is that they are allowed to campaign and fundraise for elected officials.  This creates an immediate conflict of interest.  If a judge is not allowed to make a ruling on a case where he knows the defendant/plaintiff, why then, would we allow the “law-makers” the chance to define laws that affect people who are donating to their elections?  If you think company X’s donation to Congressman Y’s campaign or SuperPac will go unnoticed when he is deciding whether or not to tax them, you’re not being honest with yourself.  It is, by definition, a conflict of interest.

Let’s take this a step further: Lobbyist Bob who used to be a Republican Senator for Alabama spent hours sitting next to Senator Dan back in the day.  They golf regularly and know each others’ families.  Bob has mentioned regularly that when Dan is done with Public Service, he should come work with him at the firm.  In addition, Lobbyist Bob is always coming to Dan’s fundraisers with a bundle of checks from contributors.  Bob has no reservations about lobbying on behalf of his clients’ needs to Dan.  Corporation X is getting killed by a certain tax code and has to layoff 2500 workers if they cannot get that written out of legislation.  Dan looks into it and finds that he has the power to “fix” that part of a certain tax code, and does.  Three weeks later, he hits Bob up for a donation to his campaign.  Bob, his wife, and several others in his office donate the max contribution to his campaign.  In addition, Corporation X drops $250k into his SuperPAC.

A lobbyist will talk you in circles justifying this exact scenario.  The solution?  Eliminate SuperPACs, all middleman donations, and end the revolving door between K street and Capitol Hill.  Then, we as citizens, would know that Dan was just acting out of good conscience and educating himself on the facts.  Otherwise we are left to think that there is a Quid Pro Quo situation even if you can’t draw the lines directly.

Do we need campaign finance reform? Reply

Today’s government has become incredibly dependent upon money.  It is as simple as that.  Forget, for a moment, the idea of corruption, and move onto the fact that politicians didn’t become politicians to raise money.  Despite this fact, members of the House and Senate spend between 30-70% of their time fund-raising.  This is not an exaggeration.  There is constant pressure to raise money.  If not for their own election, they are expected to do so on behalf of their respective party.  It is outrageous the time spent, and the money they are continually asked to conjure up.

Now, knowing that politicians are constantly raising money, we have to wonder what effect this has on their work.  Corporations and Lobbyists are always looking for an in.  What do I mean by this?  They are looking to survive financially, and who could blame them.  If a House Representative is looking for campaign money and they call you, you have to answer.  You WILL find the money they are asking and you WILL show up to the fundraiser they ask you to attend.  It is in your best interests to do so.  That Representative will eventually vote on something that you want their ear on.  You might even have an earmark in mind, you will need them to sponsor.  It is not Quid Pro Quo, necessarily, but you have to remain in good graces in order to get your idea looked at.  If you have developed that relationship and always backed them financially, you have a much better chance of them working in your favor.

What is wrong with this?  Quite simply, you get a system where a Representative or Senator is working for lobbyists and Corporate dollars instead of the voters that put them in office.  Who is going to get their Senator on the phone first: a lobbyist that has continually been at fundraisers with a bundle of checks from donors, or a voter in their district with a question about campaign finance reform.  The answer is obvious, but not acceptable.  This is not the system intended by our forefathers.