Blagojevich Previously Tapped Obama Nominee As Special Investigator

More Ammo on Holder

One would think that President-elect Obama’s nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, would be politically disqualified to be the nation’s chief law enforcement agent, considering his abysmal views on the constitutional right to bear arms and his unrepentant support for the seizing of 6-year-old Elian Gonzales without an independent court’s authorization.

It now appears that Holder has ties to disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that he was reluctant to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to the Chicago SunTimes, “Blagojevich and Holder appeared together at a March 24, 2004, news conference to announce Holder’s role as "special investigator to the Illinois Gaming Board" — a post that was to pay Holder and his Washington, D.C. law firm up to $300,000.” In responding to Senate Judiciary Committee’s questions, Holder omitted the fact that he was Blagojevich’s pick to investigate a long-dormant casino license and never mentioned the press conference.

One would think that Holder would remember speaking at a widely covered press conference with the nation’s most controversial governor. Blagojevich reached out to Holder to be a special investigator, and a close pal, Christopher Kelly, a business partner of Tony Rezko, to be involved in negotiations. Both Kelly and Rezko are involved in criminal cases separate from the controversial casino dispute.

Although Holder’s holding is scheduled for Jan. 15, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told reporters that "it seems to me not realistic or fair to begin hearings before Jan. 26.” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) adds: “It’s [a hearing], not a coronation.” Conservatives want to see tough questioning on Holder’s motivations to work with Blagojevich, not to mention his views on the Constitution.

Do Conservatives Have a Loophole for Detroit Bailout?

Conservatives won a victory for the taxpayers by defeating the $15 billion auto bailout. Now the Bush Administration is trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by funding the bailout from the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

If President Bush embarks down that foolish path, his administration will use the remaining monies left in the first half of the bailout program. But there is one saving grace for conservatives. Any subsequent bailout would trigger a congressional procedure empowering one member of the House or Senate to force votes on a joint resolution of disapproval for any subsequent bailouts. Once President Bush or President Obama notifies Congress that the Secretary of the Treasury has a plan to spend a portion of the last $350 billion in bailout money — the fun begins.

The TARP requires the president to submit “written certification that the Secretary needs to exercise the authority” to spend any portion of the remaining $350 billion. Once Congress receives that notice, they have “15 calendar days” to “enact into law a joint resolution disapproving the plan” or the Paulson and his team of check-writing bureaucrats can have unrestricted access to the remaining funds.

Here is how it would work. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) has a congressional resolution of disapproval ready for the House floor. Within three days of Paulson submitting a plan, Foxx could force Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “notify the Members of the House that, pursuant to this section, the House shall convene not later than the second calendar day after receipt of such report.” The Committees of jurisdiction have five days to consider the resolution; the House must vote on it by the sixth day after the report is submitted. What would most likely happen is that Pelosi would call Congress back into session for a vote to stop the bailout.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has a resolution ready to go in the Senate and likely would introduce his resolution the same day as Rep. Foxx. In the Senate, debate on the joint resolution of disapproval is limited to 10 hours of debate, and any other motions to take the Senate off the resolution are out of order. A majority vote, assuming a quorum is present, will pass the resolution.

The president could veto it, which would require another vote by Congress. Of course, Bush can sit on the bill for 10 days, exercise a pocket veto of the resolution and let the statutory timeframe wind down. (The legislation is silent on whether Paulson can spend those funds while the disapproval resolution is debated and in veto limbo.)

With widespread dissatisfaction over Paulson’s handling of the TARP money, his request to access the bailout money will certainly be met with bipartisan opposition.

But a disapproval resolution carries some danger as well as benefits. Many members who support the auto bailout and individual mortgage bailouts are threatening to push disapproval unless more money is directed toward their pet projects.