Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable


April 8, 2006

"I call on the Senate minority leader to end his blocking tactics and allow the Senate to do its work and pass a fair, effective immigration reform bill," President Bush said.

"Today is a good day for America. The Senate - in a rare moment of clarity - rejected its amnesty-now, enforcement-later approach to immigration," Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) said.

"Gay and lesbian couples should be able to marry and have access to the same rights, privileges and benefits that straight couples currently enjoy," Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said.

"There were irresponsible and unfounded accusations being made against the administration, suggesting that we had manipulated or misused that intelligence [in order to justify going to war]," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. "Because of the public debate that was going on and some of the wild accusations that were flying around … we felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified, be declassified. And that's exactly what we did."


J U S T   P O L I T I C S


2008 conventions

Republicans have announced that their convention will be Sept. 1-4. Democrats had already set their dates for Aug. 25-28, just after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Republicans invited more than 30 cities to make a bid: Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tampa.

Iowa Democrat scandal

Harkin & Vilsack caught up in web


Sen. Tom Harkin -- who normally shucks and jives the public better than most politicians -- has really put his foot in it this time. Harkin has been connected to a job training pay scandal. Federal officials are investigating the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium for what state auditors allege are excessive salaries paid to top officials. CIETC paid Chief Executive Officer Ramona Cunningham $795,384 over the past 2 1/2 years, making her one of the highest-paid public officials in Iowa.

How Harkin stepped in it is by saying that he was unsure whether the principal in the scandal -- Cunningham -- had met with his staff or with him at his Washington office, or whether he had met her at one of his regular constituent breakfasts. However, the training center is named after Harkin because he sent so much money to CIETC. Also, there was a big picture of Harkin and Cunningham embracing on the training organization’s website.

Harkin normally would have said how he was just working to help bring poor people out of poverty and the goals of the organizations were noble; etc… This time he went for the ," I don’t know these people and got caught."

Look for him to pick up his normal jive about how he is fighting for the little guy. Of course, that winds up being some bureaucrat taking our money.


Speaking of getting caught. While all of this was going on back home, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack was away at the Pennsylvania convention of the AFL-CIO where he opined that President Bush was incompetent and derided Republicans as corrupt. Ironically, during his speech Iowa was learning that Vilsack's administration was trying to cover up the pay scandal at his Workforce Development Center.

Vilsack had appointed his old Democrat buddy Sen. Richard Running to be the head of the agency. Running’s underling Jane Barto tried to call off federal investigators last year as they began an inquiry into excessive salaries at CIETC.

In November of last year, Kelly Taylor, a budget analyst for Iowa Workforce Development, called federal officials about what to do about the excessive salaries. He then talked to his boss James Quinn, then the chief financial officer of Workforce Development, informing him that the CIETC salaries were not reasonable. Quinn then talked to the Department of Labor official in Chicago and was informed that Iowa Workforce Development should file a request for an investigation by the inspector general.

When this was then brought to Barto’s attention, she called the Department of Labor saying that Iowa would handle the investigation. They did not.

The difficulty for Vilsack is that this incident involves the South Side Des Moines Democrats who somehow deliver large quantities of absentee votes for Democrats.

Democrats and non-profits

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-VA) seems to be in trouble with five of his non-profit organizations according to the New York Times. Mollohan earmarked a $103 million to go to one of his non-profits, the Institute for Scientific Research. The Times reports:

The most ambitious effort by the congressman, Alan B. Mollohan, is a glistening glass-and-steel structure with a swimming pool, sauna and spa rising in a former cow pasture in Fairmont, W.Va., thanks to $103 million of taxpayer money he garnered through special spending allocations known as earmarks.

The headquarters building is likely to sit largely empty upon completion this summer, because the Mollohan-created organization that it was built for, the Institute for Scientific Research, is in disarray, its chief executive having resigned under a cloud of criticism over his $500,000 annual compensation, also paid by earmarked federal money.

It is reported that Mollohan earmarked $250 million to some five non-profits that he set up. Several Republican leaders have called for Mollohan's removal from the House ethics committee, where he is the senior Democrat.

21 months to Iowa

Chris Cilliza’s column "The Fix" in the Washington Post is titled "The Friday Line: 21 Months to Iowa..."

The big news is that another Bushie signed on with Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and that person is Mary Matalin.

The odds on "The Fix" seem to have changed for two candidates. One is Governor George Romney (R-MA) who Cilliza believes that his Mormon religious beliefs may not be so big of a handicap. The other was Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) who seems to be developing a personality.

Reform of 527s

Before recessing, the House passed the Reform of 527 Act by a vote of 218 to 209. The Act would regulate soft money into 527 political action organizations. (Iowa Presidential Watch is a regulated 527 uncoordinated PAC) The bill would also strengthen political parties.

Currently, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Campaign Committee are limited from giving more than $79,000 in coordinated funds to House candidates; the limits for the parties' two Senate committees are higher -- ranging from $79,000 to $2 million per candidate.

Because of this, the committees have spent large sums of money on independent expenditures that could not be coordinated with the candidates. With the new law, the committees will be able to coordinate the expenditures with the candidate and their messages.


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