Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Heller and The Leadership PACs

Cross posted at Desert Beacon
Representative Dean Heller (R-NV2) appears in the process of transforming himself into yet another PAC-man in the U.S. House of Representatives. About 38% of the funds he has raised during the 2008 campaign season thus far comes from political action committee contributions. [OS] Leadership PAC funds constituted $113,000 of those PAC contributions. [OS]

To whom is Congressman Heller beholden? Or, at least 38% beholden…

The Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism has donated $15,000 to Heller’s coffers. [OS] The CPC’s list of donors reads like a K-Street directory: The Duberstein Group; Ernst & Young; Strategic Health Solutions; Capitol Tax Partners; Securities Industry Association; Aetna Inc.; The Alpine Group; Akin Gump; Capitol Hill Consulting; Arent Fox; and the Business Roundtable among others. [CM] Akin Gump is most often associated with former RNC official Kenneth Mehlman, and the company has represented the “U.S. Embassy of the Government of Colombia” contacting congressional and executive branch officials to discuss U.S. policy – we might assume that would include trade agreements. [SW]

Every Republican Is Crucial donated $10,000. [OS] The questionable nature of this committee has been raised here in previous posts. Again, this is a PAC operated by the Cantor Joint Fundraising Committee, as in Eric Cantor (R-VA). Few members of Congress who were so closely tied to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff still managed to retain their seats in 2006.

The Freedom Project (John Boeher R-OH) donated $10,000. [OS] Once more the “K-Street” connections emerge from their donor list. Among the top 100 donations to the organization are checks from: The Dutko Group; Boich Companies; The Duberstein Group; Ernst & Young; Cassidy & Associates; Hecht Spencer & Associates; Podesta Mattoon; Navigators (Christopher Cox); The Hobbs Group; The Baptista Group; Holt Strategies; The Washington Group; News Corporation; the Securities Industry Association; Akin Gump; the Miller Brewing Company and, the Federal Strategies Group. [CM] Those unfamiliar with the Boich Companies should know that Boich = Coal. The Baptista Group works on behalf of Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, and the Optimal Group. [The Hill]

Rely On Your Beliefs donated $10,000. [OS] This PAC is operated by Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Altria). The donor list for this Heller funding source may raise at least one eyebrow – it includes the Ogilvy Group’s Wayne Berman, co-finance chair of the McCain campaign. [CM] John Green is the co-founder and managing director of Ogilvy Government Relations (formerly called the Federalist Group), and between 2005 and 2006 Green and his firm were paid $640,000 by Ameriquest “the nation’s largest subprime lender.” In 2006, as Green lobbied for the company, Ameriquest settled a 49 state investigation in a $325 million agreement “that ranked as the second largest predatory lending settlement in history.” [MS]

Battle Born PAC, run by Senator John Ensign (R-NV), gave Heller contributions totaling $10,000. [OS] Among the top contributors to this fund were Mehlman Vogel Castagenetti, Kimbell & Assoc; Cassidy & Assoc; and Barbour Griffith & Rogers. [CM] Barbour Griffith & Rogers has a contract to represent Serbia, billing $60,000 per month through January 2009 to handle its public relations in Washington. The Serbian government has recently been criticized for its “half-hearted cooperation with investigations into war crimes committee during the 1990s.” [SW] As recently as April 2008, the Hague Tribunal was urging Serbia “to locate war crime fugitives, grant access to state archives, and to introduce a witness protection program.” [BI]

Midnight Sun PAC gave Heller $6,000. [OS] Randy DeLay, Houston, TX is one of the top contributors to beleaguered Alaskan Representative Don “Coconut RoadYoung. KTUU television added to Rep. Young’s woes this year weighing in with its report “Something Fishy in Seward.” The recipients list for the 2008 cycle is short by Washington standards, but both Dean Heller and Jon Porter are included. [CM] Young’s short list probably has something to do with the fact that he can’t seem to round up donors for his legal defense fund much less concentrate on filling campaign coffers. [The Hill]

The 21st Century PAC under the direction of Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) kicked in $6,000 for Heller’s 2008 run. [OS] Donations from the Apollo Group figure prominently in supporting McKeon this season. [OS] While the “Apollo Group” name may not be a household term, one of its enterprises certainly is – the University of Phoenix, the private for-profit educational institution.

Congressman Heller has received contributions of $5,000 each from other leadership PACs including: the Congressional Majority Committee PAC; People for Enterprise Trade Economic Growth (Peter Sessions, R-TX); New PAC (David Nunes, R-CA); and, RED PAC (Adam Putnam, R-FL)

A complete listing of congressional leadership PACs is provided by CREW. A list of contributions to Congressman Heller from leadership PACs is available from Open Secrets.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Foster! Cazayoux! Childers! Derby?

Why did the Jill Derby campaign and countless other Democratic congressional campaigns across the United States likely look to Mississippi last night?

Because of this man:

Travis Childers

Travis Childers yesterday won a race that he never was supposed to win. He beat a Republican in a district that voted for President Bush with 62%, that his predecessor (who was appointed to Trent Lott's Senate seat) last won with 71% in 2006.

Yet, Childers not only beat his Republican opponent, he beat him by a significant margin: 54% to 46%. This after the Republicans tried to attack Childers by associating him with Barack Obama and Reverend Wright and the bad, bad liberals. The almost bankrupt NRCC spent more than a million dollars here and Nevada's own Sheldon Adelson's dollars didn't help the Republicans either. Neither did Dick Cheney's last minute appearance.

Why is this so important? Because it is the third special election in a heavily Republican district in a row that the Republicans lost. The first was fmr. Speaker Hastert's seat in Illinois, won by Democrat Bill Foster. The second was just a week ago in Louisiana (the only state John Ensign seriously thinks he can beat a Democratic incumbent Senator), where Don Cazayoux won. House Republicans are in pure panic mode now. From The Hill:

The sky is falling on House Republicans and there is no sign of it letting up.

The GOP loss in Mississippi’s special election Tuesday is the strongest sign yet that the Republican Party is in shambles. And while some Republicans see a light at the end of the tunnel, that light more likely represents the Democratic train that is primed to mow down more Republicans in November.

The third straight House special election loss in three conservative districts this year is a clear indication that the GOP brand is turning off voters and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is in disarray.

All this is good news for Jill Derby of course. Like Foster, Cazayoux and Childers she faces the challenge of winning in a Republican district. She narrowly lost against Dean Heller in 2006. So, what is different this time around? Due to the caucus voter registration is up. In the primary, Barack Obama faired much better in this CD than Hillary Clinton, especially amongst independents. This could mean that Obama's likely to have coattails in November. Dean Heller now has a record that he has to defend. And Republicans are even more unpopular than two years ago.

You can of course help Jill Derby get elected by contributing through the My Silver State ActBlue page.

Jill Derby for Congress website

Cross posted from My Silver State.