Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable


March 10, 2006

 "He [President Bush] has no political capital," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. "Slowly but surely it's been unraveling. There's been a direct correlation between the trajectory of his approval numbers and the -- I don't want to call it disloyalty -- the independence on the part of the Republicans in Congress."


J U S T   P O L I T I C S


Paying for access

One of the things contributions to candidates and organizations enables you to have is access to important individuals that can make a difference. The NY Times reports that one Indian tribe was asked to make a $25,000 contribution to Americans for Tax Reform, a group run by Grover G. Norquist. Norquist was a friend and longtime associate of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff has pleaded guilty to several criminal charges involving his lobbying practice and scams against Indian tribes.

The Times writes in its story the following:

The meeting with Mr. Bush took place on May 9, 2001, at a reception organized by Mr. Norquist to marshal support for the president's 2001 tax cuts, which were pending before Congress. About two dozen state legislators attended the session in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds. The meeting was called to thank legislators for support of the tax-cut plan, an issue on which the tribal leader had no direct involvement.

Mr. Norquist attended the meeting, along with Mr. Abramoff and the tribal leader, Raul Garza of the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. It is not clear what role, if any, Mr. Norquist played in getting Chief Garza into the meeting, and there is no suggestion that the White House was aware of the $25,000 payment.

But the transaction adds new details to what is known about how Mr. Abramoff used his links to well-connected conservatives to establish himself among his lobbying clients as having access to the highest levels of power in Washington. Mr. Abramoff has pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and is cooperating with the Justice Department investigation.

The Times story offers questions that have been raised about internal tribal conflicts like the ones involving Abramoff business associates with the Iowa Meskwaki Indian tribes:

Mr. Abramoff might have had reason to want an overhaul of the tribe's leadership. In 2001, Isidro Garza said, the Kickapoos rejected a proposal from Michael Scanlon, Mr. Abramoff's business partner, that the tribe pay $2 million in fees for a lobbying campaign on behalf of the tribe's casino. A lawyer for Raul Garza, Jason Davis of San Antonio, said Chief Garza "got caught in the crossfire of tribal politics" when he was ousted as the tribal leader in 2002, and "the question is whether he also got caught in the crossfire of national politics."

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) sent a letter on behalf of Abramoff’s client during a tribal take over that caused federal judges to shut down the tribes gambling casino. The letter was principally drafted by an Abramoff associate, and Harkin received a $17,000 contribution in close to the time he sent the letter according to the Associated Press. The AP also stated that Harkin was under criminal investigation in the Abramoff scandal.

Kennedy awards

Rep. John P. Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who has denounced the war in Iraq, was named a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award yesterday.

Alberto Mora, a former Navy general counsel who warned Pentagon officials that U.S. policies dealing with terror detainees could invite abuse, also will receive the award from the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library Foundation, the Associated Press reports.

We’re winning

CNS News reports that American forces serving in Iraq are fed-up with news media's negative portrayals:

A group of veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom said Thursday that U.S.-led coalition forces are getting the job done when it comes to defeating insurgents and helping Iraq establish a democratic government -- despite the U.S. news media's negative portrayal of the conflict.

"I am not here to debate the choices that were made, only to tell you that today, the job is getting done" in Iraq, Marine Corporal Richard Gibson said during a news conference hosted by the conservative group America's Majority at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Gibson based his optimistic assessment of the situation in Iraq on several factors, including the strength of coalition forces. "The old Iraqi army was no match for what we, the Marines, had to offer and neither is the insurgency," he said.

Who’s corrupt

A major Democrat had to back track after making false and inappropriate claims on her government website. Here is the CNS News report on Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY):

The report, "America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption," disappeared after Republicans questioned the propriety of using House resources -- including Democrat staffers on the Rules Committee staff -- to prepare a political document that masqueraded as an official report.

Both Slaughter and the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee touted "America for Sale" in fundraising pitches, which is against House ethics rules, the National Republican Campaign Committee said. (House Ethics Rules expressly prohibit using official government resources for campaign or political purposes.)



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