Archive for July, 2010

This Tea Partier opts for Roy Blunt

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

The 2010 midterm election is an opportunity, possibly the last before it is too late to save the nation from financial ruin, to return the control of the U.S. Congress to solid fiscal conservatives. Republicans had control of both houses of Congress after the 1994 elections, but lost control in 2006 because of their reckless spending. Republicans have an excellent shot at retaking Congress this year because Democrats have, in just four years in control, spent more money (that the U.S. doesn’t really have) more recklessly than Republicans did in their 12 years of control. But we only benefit from Republicans gaining control if the people we elect to take the reigns are solid conservatives who won’t repeat the mistakes of 1995-2006. Missouri needs to elect a solid conservative to the U.S. Senate, not merely someone not quite as bad as the likely Democrat nominee, Princess Robin Carnahan.

Unfortunately, the candidate who could have ridden the Tea Party wave of enthusiasm, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, unwisely opted not to run. I would have supported her candidacy from the get-go, and I believe she would have cruised to victory, in both the primary and general elections, if she had run.

However, next week’s Republican Primary nevertheless features two solid conservative candidates for U.S. Senate who also have legitimate resumes of legislative experience: 14-year U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and 14-year state legislator Chuck Purgason. I am more familiar with Blunt, because of his prior 8-year stint as Missouri Secretary of State, but I like both of them. Each of them counts friends of mine as their supporters.

Blunt’s near-unanimous backing by party leaders, his solid lead in what few “scientific” polls that have been taken in the contest, and his success (and Purguson’s lack of success) at fundraising make Blunt the clear front-runner. But that’s not enough. Tea Party inspired grassroots rebellions have toppled similarly situated “favorites” in other state primaries this year, a wave that would have nominated Steelman. Purgason has begun to catch on with many of my Tea Party colleagues over the past month or so. But Blunt also has his own share of Tea Party support, including fundraising help this weekend from Tea Party hero Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), a significant donation from the leadership PAC of Sarah Palin, and Steelman’s own endorsement.

While conservatives must be tolerant of RINOs elected by states or districts where that is as good as we can realistically get (like Scott Brown in Massachusetts and the RIN-ette twins in Maine), we don’t have to settle for that in Missouri. Both Blunt and Purgason are solid, legitimate conservatives. Purgason is a bit more conservative than Blunt, but Blunt is no RINO. Conservative skepticism about Blunt centers on his role, as part of the GOP house leadership in the last four years of GOP control, in the overspending (notably President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” educational boondoggle) that soiled the Republican brand. I share that concern. I was disappointed that Blunt supported the TARP bailout in 2008, but the circumstances leading up to that vote near the end of the Bush-43 presidency make that vote more forgivable than it might seem when viewed with 20/20 hindsight. But since the harsh reality of President Obama’s socialist presidency have become apparent, Blunt’s voting record has been stellar. Sure, he deviated by supporting Cash for Clunkers, but he was there when we needed him to oppose cap and tax, health control, Obama’s pseudo-stimulus plan, the union-exempt DISCLOSE bill and the newest bailouts in the so-called financial reform bill.

U. S. Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Roy Blunt

I have concluded, after much soul searching, that Blunt has learned his lesson, and that having someone who still feels the burn on his singed fingers may be better than someone who says the right things but hasn’t been tested in the Washington environment. Blunt gets it.

I think either Blunt or Purguson would defeat Princess Robin in this election year, but Purgason is a chancier proposition. Conservatives don’t have such a lock on Missouri that they can win without moderate votes, and I fear Purgason could alienate enough moderates to cost us this seat. Remember, Republicans already hold this seat in the person of retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). The loss of any Republican-held seat this year would realistically kill any chances of retaking the senate majority (and with it, the right to chair senate committees). We just can’t take the chance that the princess could beat a weaker candidate. While Blunt is no Jim DeMint, he’s good enough, and good enough to win.

By the way, I dissent from plans of some Tea Partiers to picket Bachmann’s appearance for Blunt this weekend. Any money raised this late is too late to use in the primary against Purgason, so it will go towards the worthy goal of beating Princess Robin in November. If Purgason wins the primary, there are ways to redirect those funds so that his campaign benefits.

State Rep. Allen Icet (R)

Allen Icet

Tea Partiers are also divided in the contest for State Auditor, which also features two candidates whom I could happily support in November. Tom Schweich and Allen Icet both have backgrounds that lend themselves to being a great auditor. Most of the Republican establishment, including people I respect like John Ashcroft, Peter Kinder and Ed Martin, are backing Schweich. But that backing really seems to have been Schweich’s reward for backing off a primary challenge to Blunt that had been encouraged by Schweich’s mentor, moderate former Sen. Jack Danforth (R-MO). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch obliquely referenced this when endorsing Schweich, noting that the liberal paper prefers Schweich’s (i.e., Danforth’s) brand of Republicanism. I’ll take Icet.

While Democrats are trying to divide Republicans by playing up our disagreements, the fact is that we just disagree about who would best represent the party. The Republicans and Tea Partiers who have made a different conclusion don’t hate me for mine, and we’ll happily unite behind the primary victors. This is because our candidate fields are strong, and the viable choices are all good. It’s as though we were choosing between dark and milk chocolate; they’re all chocolate! We take the “long view” that 24th State advocates. And we will enthusiastically vote in November to end the madness that has seized control of our government, regardless of who our combatants turn out to be.

Anti-Prop C mailing violated campaign laws

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

The Missouri Hospital Association spent over a quarter million dollars ($262,580 to be exact) through July 21 on direct mail costs for a flyer trashing Missouri’s Proposition C, the Health Care Freedom Act. The deceptive, hypocritical content of the flyer has already been well documented by Dana Loesch and United for Missouri, so I won’t belabor that point here.

What is new is that these professional hospital lobbyists and their expensive Austin-based communications firm violated Missouri campaign finance laws in the process.

Missouri law (Section 130.031.8 of the state statutes) requires a disclaimer identifying the sponsor of any written material pertaining to any election (specifically including a ballot measure such as Proposition C). The law requires that the disclaimer be made “in a clear and conspicuous manner” in accordance with specific standards. While the flyer used the smallest print anywhere on the flyer to disclose “Paid for by the Missouri Hospital Association”, that’s all the information the disclaimer disclosed. The law specifically and clearly requires that, in addition to the name of the entity, an association such as the MHA must also include in its “paid for by” disclaimer “the name of the principal officer of the entity, by whatever title known, and the mailing address of the entity, or if the entity has no mailing address, the mailing address of the principal officer.” The flyer’s disclaimer failed to disclose those required items. The MHA mailing address appears elsewhere in the flyer (but not where the law required it to be stated), and the flyer failed altogether to identify its principal officer (or his or her title). I’d like to know who that scumbag is, wouldn’t you?

And for a title, how about “criminal?” Purposely violating Missouri campaign laws is a crime, specifically a Class A Misdemeanor.

Update: A new MHA filing discloses an additional $145,742 in spending against Proposition C, bringing the total over $400,000. A second mailing repeated the same distorted substance, but at least got the disclaimer right.

Continuing use of public funds to reward and punish

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

I wrote back in February how the Obama administration and congressional Democrats were designing their new health care system in a partisan manner that rewarded their supporters and ruthlessly punished their political enemies. Over time it is now clear that Obama is using the same political yardstick to dole out other public funds as well, and that the distinctions are not mere happenstance, but by design.

Moe Lane published a piece yesterday in the popular RedState blog about how federal stimulus monies are being doled out. He noted:

But even more dramatic (and tragic) is the administration’s mishandling of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama was not just slow to help, much slower than George W. Bush’s well-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina in much the same area. But in instance after instance, Obama and his administration actively interfered with attempts to remedy. He turned down foreign offers of help from nations experienced in this sort of disaster. His EPA repeatedly delayed or denied altogether the implementation of solutions to prevent alleged environmental damage that even interpretations most favorable to the President conceded would have been less environmental damage than the oil damage that resulted because of the delay or non-implementation of those solutions. He even delayed for an extra day the installation of the cap that now, at least and for now, seems to be working.

Why would he do this to his own country? Because of the way the people in this part of the country voted. In contrast to nearby (and largely unaffected) New Orleans, which voted overwhelmingly for Obama, the Louisiana Gulf Coast being decimated by the oil spill is nearly all in Louisiana’s 3rd congressional district, which voted 61% for John McCain, and where Obama actually ran 4 percentage points behind John Kerry’s lame 2004 effort against President Bush. The BP spill handed Obama an opportunity to put the screws to those people, and he did it enthusiastically!

Obama is taking the “spoils system” to a new low, spoiling his presidency in the process.

Classic Carnahan: More hypocrisy from Prince Russ

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Ed Martin, the leading contender for the Republican nomination to oppose Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3), has come up with a largely unreported gem about Prince Russ.

Carnahan was first elected to Congress in 2004 after a razor-thin win in the Democratic primary over Jeff Smith, a political scientist and future state senator. Smith, now a former senator, is serving time in federal prison for his role in covering up an FEC violation involving his campaign’s improper involvement with a purported independent expenditure on an anti-Carnahan mailer. The investigation that snared Smith was initiated by a complaint filed by the Carnahan campaign.

On the day Smith was sentenced, Carnahan issued a statement about the case, noting, “There is a reason for, uh, proper disclosures and accounting in campaigns…” (Hat tip: Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post Dispatch). But Martin’s campaign web site notes that, at that very moment, Carnahan’s own ownership stake in Castle Ballroom LLC had been omitted from his latest financial disclosures.

Martin notes that in the same 2004 election in which the Smith infractions had occurred, the Carnahan campaign paid $10,400 in rent to Castle, which it turns out was partially owned by Prince Russ and his wife. But the property contained only a derelict building on which no improvements had been made, so there was no office space to rent. Federal election law strictly prohibits the payment of campaign funds for the personal benefit of the candidate. But at the time, the public didn’t know that Castle was a Carnahan-owned property, because Prince Russ’ ownership interest in that company had not been disclosed.

As Prince Russ ironically noted while reveling in the demise of his one-time rival, “There is a reason for, uh, proper disclosures and accounting in campaigns…” “Uh” indeed!