Did Dems Buy Cap and Trade Votes?

Americans for Tax Reform, a non-partisan group opposed to all tax increases, did a bit of sleuthing through recent Federal Elections Commission (FEC) reports and found one indicating that just days before the 219-212 “cap-and-trade” national energy tax vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, nearly $50,000 in campaign contributions was passed from Democrat leaders to uncommitted Democrats — apparently to solidify support for the bill.

Democrat Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) distribued a total contribution of $28,000 among the following: Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio ($2,000); Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. ($2,000); Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla. ($4,000); Betsy Markey, D-Colo. ($2,000); Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H. ($2,000), Baron Hill, D-Ind. ($2,000); Alan Grayson, D-Fla. ($2,000); Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa ($2,000); Jim Himes, D-Conn. ($2,000);  Mary Jo Kilroy, D-Ohio ($2,000); Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. ($2,000); Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. ($2,000) and Tom Perriello, D-Va. ($2,000).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was found to have given $4,000 to yes-voting Ohio Blue Lapdog Democrat Zack Space.

The ATR sleuthing also found that House Energy & Commerce Henry Waxman gave at least $16,000 to yes-voters on the day before the vote.

“With this Obama-Reid-Pelosi ‘pay-to-play’ style of government, nothing shocks me,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. “My question is if this is the reported money, I wonder what else is going on behind the scenes in these backroom midnight bill writing sessions where there is no transparency.”

Issa to Emanuel:  Back Off

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is the focus of news reports surrounding alleged orchestrating efforts to intimidate members of Congress and governors whose crime against all things Obama is to question the effectiveness of the so-called stimulus plan.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter yesterday to Emanuel, calling a thug a thug.  

“While this type of scare tactic may work In Chicago, it will not work to intimidate me or other Members of the United States Congress,” Issa said in the letter.  “I and others have dared to bring these facts to the attention of President Obama, the Congress and the American people.  You’ve unfortunately reacted by once again resorting to the playbook of the Chicago political machine.”

According to Politico last month, Emanuel “launched a coordinated effort to jam” Sen. Kyl and other Administration critics… “[A]fter seeing Kyl and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA.) again paint the legislation as a failure on Sunday talk shows, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel directed that the letters from the Cabinet secretaries be sent to [Governor] Brewer, according to two administration officials.”

“The fact that the letters were coordinated by you to maximize the level of intimidation is supported by the timing, structure, and content of each letter,” Issa said.  “Not only were the four letters all sent the day following Sen. Kyl’s remarks, but they were also remarkably similar in tone and sentence structure.”

Issa included exerpts from the following letters.

Letter from Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation:

On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently underway. I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know [emphasis added].

Letter from Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior:

Some key Republican leaders in Congress have publicly questioned whether the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is working and suggested cancelling all projects that are not currently in progress. I believe they are wrong. The stimulus funds provided through the Recovery Act are a very effective way to create job opportunities throughout the Country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to Arizona, please let me know [emphasis added].

“At what point do you believe your practice of Chicago-style politics violates a public official’s right to speak out in favor of alternative policies,” Issa said.  “The American people have a right to know what role you played in developing the threatening letters to Governor Brewer and whether you intend to continue to engage in these tactics in the future.”

Before his election to Congress, Issa was a very successful, self-made businessman.  Not exactly the type to be intimidated by thuggery.  Oversight of this administration is a daunting task.

The full letter from Issa is here (pdf).

Hensarling Throws Geithner a Brush-back

In another reported display of thuggish behavior from the administration, serial tax evader and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was reported in the Wall Street Journal as having “…blasted top U.S. financial regulators in an expletive-laced critique last Friday as frustration grows over the Obama Administration’s faltering plan to overhaul U.S. financial regulation…”

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the lone sitting member of Congress on the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) sent a letter yesterday to Geithner asking for information about the reports of more attempted intimidation.

From Hensarling’s letter:

I was alarmed at allegations that surfaced [yesterday] regarding your purported intimidation of federal financial regulators, including Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, who had expressed their concerns about aspects of the President’s regulatory reform proposal.  In addition to Chairman Bernanke, this group of regulators reportedly also included FDIC Chairman Shelia Bair, Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, Office of Thrift Supervision Acting Director John Bowman, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro,  CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler, and Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo. 

As reported in Wall Street Journal [yesterday], and apparently confirmed by several regulators during their testimony before the Senate Banking Committee this morning, last week you summoned these independent regulators to your offices and excoriated them for having voiced their concerns over the Administration’s restructuring plans.  During the meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported that you “blasted” those present in an “expletive-laced critique” featuring the “repeated use of obscenities” and an “aggressive posture” designed to tell those regulators that “enough is enough.”  Such attempted suppression of the judgment of independent regulators has no place in our or any other financial system, and is directly contrary to the Administration’s stated goals of increasing transparency and creating a safer, more stable economy. 

If these allegations are correct, I am gravely concerned that you would attempt to abuse your position to silence the expert opinions of the very public servants who are charged with ensuring the safety and soundness of our financial system.   Federal regulators at the Fed, FDIC, SEC, OCC, CFTC, and OTS are statutorily designated as independent for a specific reason – so that they can provide unbiased assessments to Members of Congress and the public regarding the health of our financial system.  Any attempt to intimidate these officials from speaking their minds or to suppress their concerns on issues affecting their agencies because it does not fit into your Administration’s political agenda would be a significant abrogation of the public’s trust and a substantial deviation from the Administration’s commitment to transparency.  Thus, I request that you provide an explanation of the nature of this meeting, including what if any limits you attempted to place on these officials as well as a written explanation of Treasury’s internal policies and procedures with respect to its interaction with these independent agencies.