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Thursday, October 06, 2005

MO-07: Roy Blunt Exposed as Central Figure in GOP Culture of Corruption

Posted by Bob Brigham

In 1998, the Democrat challenging Republican Congressman Roy Blunt in Missouri's 7th District didn't raise or spend a dime. In 2000 and 2002, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn't even field a candidate against Blunt, allowing Blunt to focus on his "Battleground 2002" project which moved $5.6 million to Republican House candidates. In 2004, Democrats at least bothered to field a candidate, but Blunt had a 15:1 cash advantage and wasn't pinned down, allowing him to raise money for other Republicans to the point where he is now Republican Leader in Congress.

But, the rising profile for Congressman Blunt is a double-edged sword, because he just got busted by the AP for his role in laundering money with Tom DeLay (who is currently facing life in prison for illegally laundering money):

Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to longtime ally Roy Blunt through a series of donations that benefited both men's causes.

When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay's private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist recently charged in an ongoing federal corruption and fraud investigation, and Jim Ellis, the DeLay fundraiser indicted with his boss last week in Texas, also came into the picture.

The complicated transactions are drawing scrutiny in legal and political circles after a grand jury indicted DeLay on charges of violating Texas law with a scheme to launder illegal corporate donations to state candidates.

Congressman Roy Blunt needs a strong Democratic challenger willing to expose Blunt's "Culture of Corruption" and pin him down in Missouri so he isn't raising money for candidates in targetted races.

Blunt's crooked transactions with DeLay deserve an investigation:

The government's former chief election enforcement lawyer said the Blunt and DeLay transactions are similar to the Texas case and raise questions that should be investigated regarding whether donors were deceived or the true destination of their money was concealed.

"These people clearly like using middlemen for their transactions," said Lawrence Noble. "It seems to be a pattern with DeLay funneling money to different groups, at least to obscure, if not cover, the original source," said Noble, who was the
Federal Election Commission's chief lawyer for 13 years, including in 2000 when the transactions occurred.

None of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations DeLay collected for the 2000 convention were ever disclosed to federal regulators because the type of group DeLay used wasn't governed by federal law at the time.

Check out Blunt's spin and tell me he isn't vulnerable.

Blunt and DeLay planned all along to raise more money than was needed for the convention parties and then route some of that to other causes, such as supporting state candidates, said longtime Blunt aide Gregg Hartley.

"We put together a budget for what we thought we would raise and spend on the convention and whatever was left over we were going to use to support candidates," said Hartley, Blunt's former chief of staff who answered AP's questions on behalf of Blunt.

Hartley said he saw no similarity to the Texas case. The fact that DeLay's charity, Christine DeLay's consulting firm and Blunt's son were beneficiaries was a coincidence, Hartley said.

Whoops, the fact that money ended up going to Blunt and DeLay family members was an accident...

Much of the money — including one donation to Blunt from an Abramoff client accused of running a "sweatshop" garment factory in the Northern Mariana Islands — changed hands in the spring of 2000, a period of keen interest to federal prosecutors.

During that same time, Abramoff arranged for DeLay to use a concert skybox for donors and to take a golfing trip to Scotland and England that was partly underwritten by some of the lobbyist's clients. Prosecutors are investigating whether the source of some of the money was disguised, and whether some of DeLay's expenses were originally put on the lobbyist's credit card in violation of House rules.

Both DeLay and Blunt and their aides also met with Abramoff's lobbying team several times in 2000 and 2001 on the Marianas issues, according to law firm billing records obtained by AP under an open records request. DeLay was instrumental in blocking legislation opposed by some of Abramoff's clients.

Noble said investigators should examine whether the pattern of disguising the original source of money might have been an effort to hide the leaders' simultaneous financial and legislative dealings with Abramoff and his clients.

"You see Abramoff involved and see the meetings that were held and one gets the sense Abramoff is helping this along in order to get access and push his clients' interest," he said. "And at the same time, you see Delay and Blunt trying to hide the root of their funding.

Blunt is just as crooked as DeLay:

Blunt and DeLay have long been political allies. The 2000 transactions occurred as
President Bush was marching toward his first election to the White House, DeLay was positioning himself to be House majority leader and Blunt was lining up to succeed DeLay as majority whip, the third-ranking position in the House.

The entities Blunt and DeLay formed allowed them to collect donations of any size and any U.S. source with little chance of federal scrutiny.

DeLay's convention fundraising arm, part of his Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC), collected large corporate donations to help wine and dine Republican VIPs during the presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia in late summer 2000. DeLay's group has declined to identify any of the donors.

Blunt's group, a nonfederal wing of his Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, eventually registered its activities in Missouri but paid a $3,000 fine for improperly concealing its fundraising in 1999 and spring 2000, according to Missouri Ethics Commission records.

Blunt claims he had no clue he was crooked:

Hartley said Blunt was unaware that Mrs. DeLay worked at the firm when he made the payments, and that she had nothing to do with Blunt's group. [...]

Hartley said Blunt always liked to help the state party and the fact that his son got party help after his donation was a coincidence. "They are unrelated activities," he said.

When Congressman Roy Blunt runs for re-election, he needs to be met with a full court press. The voters deserve a choice.

Posted at 12:29 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Activism, Culture of Corruption, Missouri, Republicans, Scandals | Technorati

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I'm very surprised that the DCCC has not fielded a candidate yet. It would definately be a big failure if Blunt is allowed to ride scott-free and is not challenged by a Democrat. At least, tying him with Delay and the political corruption would hurt the GOP in Missouri, and with a national message on anti-corruption, this would resonate very well with voters everywhere.

Can anyone reading this from Missouri recommend some candidates?

Posted by: purpleday [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 6, 2005 03:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The smartest money Democrats could spend this electoral cycle is funding a credible candidate against Roy Blunt. Roy is the "head of the snake" in terms of Republican politics in Missouri, with a significant nation impact as well. Moreover, he has never been more vulnerable: leaving his wife for the tobacco lobbyist--the same lobbyist for which he attempted a sly give away of taxpayer goodies; blatant money laundering to both Delay and his son; an unpopular Gubnatorial son and the fact that he can't run away from Delay without getting pinched. Now is the time!

There is one candidate out there who can knock him off--former Speaker of the Missouri House Jim Kreider. Kreider makes Republicans in Springfield shake--He held a seat in the legislature for 10 years in a district which consistently performed in the 70's for national Republicans. He was the first Democrat to be elected in fast growing Christian County since 1904 and in 1992 when first elected defeated a 28 year veteran labelled "the undefeatable foe."

Despite losing a bid for the Missouri Senate in a hotly contested race in 2002 that was the focus of national attention, Kreider remains very popular among Democrats and Republicans alike for his no-nonsense, straight talking approach to politics. Like Hackett, Kreider tells it like it is. He is rabidly anti-government when it comes to the private lives of American citizens and fiscally conservative, which translates into fitting the district very well.

His personal story is also quite impressive. Kreider, a farmer and now head of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association, has run the family farm since the age of 15 when his Dad was killed. He helped raise his siblings and put himself through college working odd and end jobs as well as farming. After winning the 1992 election, most political observers wrote him off as a fluke, only to be surprised when he survived a full blown Republican attack. Kreider then surprised pundits again when he ran for Speaker Pro Tem as a 3rd termer, announcing only 48 hours before his successful election. The next term he became the Speaker of the Missouri House--the first non-attorney in several decades with the support of all the relevant Democratic constituencies.

In other words, Jim Kreider is a winner and while I could not say whether he could be convinced to take on this mission, he is the right man for the job. If Democrats would fund his candidacy it would be the best downpayment for the 2008 elections both in Missouri and Nationally.

You can rest assurred that Kreider would take the fight straight to Blunt without mincing words and he would certainly highlight Blunt's underhanded money laundering before 2008.


Posted by: Democrates [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2005 04:16 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sounds like the right candidate at the right time. Why don't you see if you can drop an e-mail to Rahm Emanuel and see if it does any good.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2005 04:52 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Public Service Announcement / Press Release
Contact: Steven Reed, 417-866-4453

The first planning meeting for the Draft Kreider Organization will be on November 5, 2005 from 10:00am until noon. It will be the pre-anniversary of the 2006 election. The meeting is being scheduled one year ahead of the 2006 Congressional Elections, (i.e. the organization is building a district wide campaign and is already up and running with over three hundred Team Captains). The location will be at The Library Center at 4653 South Campbell Avenue in Springfield, Missouri 65810.

Additional meetings will be held in all 10 counties of the 7th Congressional District of southwest Missouri in November. For additional information please call 417-866-4453 or see www.draftkreideruscongress.org.

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Posted by: draftkreider [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 19, 2005 11:53 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment