Congressional ethics investigations of Rangel & Waters

U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was recently spotlighted by a Congressional ethics panel.  A plea bargain has apparently mollified the committee.

Now there are murmurings that U.S. Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA) may be the next one spotlighted by a Congressional ethics panel.

Some media pundits have surmised that these news headlines may be damaging the Democrat brand at an inopportune time–as midterm elections loom ahead.

My take on it?  It’s not going to hurt Rangel and Waters in their own districts, unlike former Democrat U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana who was replaced by Republican Joseph Cao.  The Democrat brand is being hurt by their domestic policy agenda.  The alleged unethical actions of one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or so members of their caucus, at the end of the day, has little to do with how the Democrat brand is perceived in the current political and economic environment.  The public is clearly distracted by unemployment, home foreclosures, and other perils that hit closer to home.  Few are paying attention to ethics investigations at this point (unless the tycoons of Wall Street, the Fed, and former and current officials of the U.S. Department of Treasury were being investigated–then we’d be all ears because of our collective outrage against the bailouts).

If a Congressional Democrat had to pick a time to be spotlighted by the ethics panel, this is a good time to do it.  The public distraction is only one factor in the equation.  The other important factor is that it seems likely that the Democrats won’t maintain their House majority, anyway.  If you were in their shoes, would you want an ethics panel chaired by fellow Democrats now?  Or Republicans after they take office in January?  If you wanted to strike a deal, settle a case by plea bargain, would you rather cut the deal with Democrats chairing the panel or Republicans?  If you were disciplined as a result of ethics hearings, would you rather have the penalties meted out by Democrats or Republicans?

As a Republican observer, I think it’s a win-win for Democrats who step forward for scrutiny now rather than later.  If you believe you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got to think the panel will be more fair to you now rather than later.  If you have done something wrong, it’s not likely to be remembered, not likely to cost much political clout, and not likely to be heavily penalized in the event of a sour outcome to the hearings.

If a targeted Democrat were to try to dodge an inquiry now, but couldn’t prevent it from resurfacing later,  even if the Republicans chairing the panel were quite fair in applying the rules, at the very least there will be acrimony.  Partisan rancor would be the source of that acrimony.  The Democrats would circle their wagons and lodge complaints of Republican witch-hunting.  By that time, though, the public might not be so distracted.  They might pay attention, and, despite the charges of witch-hunting, the public might not let the matter go by the wayside until all the dirty laundry has been aired before an ethics panel.  If, after that airing, the ethics probe was justified because of findings of wrongdoing, then it wouldn’t have turned out to be a witch-hunt after all, and the Democrat caucus that circled their wagons around you would be tarnished with the perception that they’d attempted a cover-up.  What would happen to the Democrat brand then, when the party is already down and needs to pick itself back up?  How sure are you that the hearings chaired by the other party will be fair?  How sure are you that a deal can be cut to settle the case?  How sure are you that the penalties won’t be harsh?  If you stayed in office this time around, will the public catch up to you the next time, as happened in Rep. Jefferson’s case?  If so, would the caucus shrink further, by your absence from it, rather than rebound during the next election cycle?  If  the panel exonerated you, and it did appear that the Republicans engaged in a witch-hunt, is that going to repair the public trust in Congress that is now in tatters (recent polls: Congressional approval rating of 11%) because of the public perception of hyperpartisanship and political posturing?  It’s a lose-lose.

If you are a Congressional Democrat with a target on your back, and an ethics probe lies in your future, then your next press conference referencing a potential probe should be “Bring it on!”  Then, under your breath, so no one else hears, whisper to investigators, “And hurry up about it!”

Press release: Ohio House Dems duplicating bills

Editor’s note:  Afraid to acknowledge good ideas put forward by Ohio House Republicans, Ohio House Democrats not only take no action on Republican-sponsored bills, but, months down the road, VOILA! those same good ideas are unveiled in Democrat-sponsored bills.  This inane posturing by the Dems just to take credit for legislation popular with the public isn’t an inconsequential game.  As state reps Maag and Boose point out, the delays between introduction of a Republican-sponsored bill and the introduction of the Democrats’ duplicate legislation inconvenience the public, especially when, in the case of relief from state-imposed fees, the inconvenient delay amounts to $$.  State Rep. Terry Boose represents the 58th Ohio House district, covering the eastern third of Seneca County, all of Huron County, and many of the rural areas in Lorain County in the southern half and along the western county boundary.  State Rep. Ron Maag represents the 35th Ohio House district, which includes much of eastern and southern Warren County along with a suburban sliver of the northeast corner of  Hamilton County.  This press release was issued on 7/30/2010.

Dems Bequeath Ohio with Duplicative Legislation

Majority Attempts to Conceal Mistakes

 COLUMBUS –The Ohio House of Representatives has received several pieces of legislation from the majority caucus that are strikingly similar to other bills introduced earlier this General Assembly from the other side of the aisle. 

 Earlier this week, House Bill 562 was introduced that would eliminate the $20 late fee endorsed and signed into law by House Democrats and Governor Strickland with the passage of the biennial budget. State Representative Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) and 15 of her Democratic colleagues cosponsored this measure that reverses a measure they previously endorsed by supporting House Bill 2.  However, State Reps. Ron Maag (R-Lebanon) and Terry Boose (R- Norwalk), introduced House Bill 428 in January 2010, nearly seven months earlier and encouraged all members of the Ohio House of Representatives to join them on this necessary repeal.

 “Every dime, every dollar counts in today’s economy. I am elated to see that my colleagues have introduced this legislation and look forward to swift action,” said Rep. Terry Boose. “Nonetheless, the majority Democratic Caucus cannot play both sides of the field. While Ohioans are suffering and partisan politics have been placed aside in the struggling business owners’ mind, the majority party does one thing, and then attempts to cover their malicious, expensive intent with political gimmicks.”

 The combined list of cosponsors to eliminate the late fee represents more than enough support to repeal it.  Earlier this year the Daily Record reported that more than $16 million has been collected from 818,429 individuals. However, the burden of duplicative legislation has been forced on the hard-working families of Ohio more than once.

 State Rep. Ron Maag questioned the duration of time that had elapsed, asking, “Why won’t the Speaker call us into session and pass legislation today?  Why did the House Democrats wait nearly eight months to do this? I look forward to swift attention being paid to this necessary repeal, just like the swift action with House Bill 473.”

 Rep. Maag introduced House Bill 132, legislation to address “sexting,” in April 2009. More than a year later, House Bill 473, a legislative measure to prohibit sexting, was introduced in March 2010 and the House voted on the bill two short months later.

Press release: HB 561 to make Ohio’s capital projects more transparent

Editor’s note:  State Rep. Ross McGregor, who introduced HB 561, represents the 72nd Ohio House district, a rectangular-shaped district consisting of the southwest corner of Clark County, with Springfield at the eastern end of the district and some of Dayton’s suburbs and exurbs at the western end of the district.

Capital projects have their own fund separate from the general fund.  In my opinion, the capital fund isn’t subjected to the same scrutiny that the general fund is, and is therefore more likely to be used for political purposes.  HB 561 addresses that.  You’ve heard of Congressional pork at the federal level.  If you want to sniff out pork at the state level in Ohio, you might want to peek into the capital fund. You might as well peek into the funds supported by voter-approved bond issues, too.

As for transparency, I wouldn’t mind if  the Ohio Lottery Commission ledger were more transparent.  I have a hunch that state bonds and the lottery might serve political patronage purposes.  Just my opinion.

McGregor: Cut Wasteful Spending, Keep Ohioans Informed

State Representative Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) today introduced House Bill 561,  legislation to require the Office of Budget and Management to maintain a database showing capital project appropriations and re-appropriations, to make the database available online and to submit a biennial report to the General Assembly.

“This legislation will reduce unnecessary spending and increase our government’s accountability to the public,” said Rep. McGregor. “Ohio is in the midst of the 15th straight month of double-digit unemployment; we cannot afford to needlessly spend taxpayer dollars.”

Rep. McGregor drafted the legislation after a project budgeted more than five years ago in his district sought re-appropriation. When enacted, the proposed legislation would allow the public and the legislature to better monitor projects that have been appropriated state funds. With a biennial report, legislators will be equipped with information to choose whether or not to continue funding a specific project.

Guest blog from Rep. Boose: Ohio Military Family Month

Editor’s note: State Rep. Terry Boose, (R-Norwalk) represents the 58th Ohio House district, comprised of the mostly rural south and west swaths of Lorain County, all of Huron County, and the eastern third of Seneca County. This editorial was released to media outlets on 7/28/2010.

OHIO MILITARY FAMILY MONTH

There are only a handful of days throughout the year that we honor the sacrifices of our servicemen and women, with barely any time devoted to their families. As these brave heroes give their lives to maintain our freedom, we should take more time to also honor the commitment that their families make back home. Ohio has the sixth largest veteran population in the entire nation, and for this reason, the legislature designated August as Ohio Military Family Month to thank the husbands, wives and children in our state with family members who are serving overseas.

Ohio Military Family Month calls us to not only remember the sacrifices members of our Armed Forces make, but to also remember the sacrifices their families make as well. When our servicemen and women are sent overseas to protect our liberties, their spouses, parents, children, and close friends back home must navigate their daily lives without the ones they love most. Imagine the extra burdens on these families and their constant worry for the safety of their loved ones.

This upcoming August, take time to remember the sacrifices of our Armed Forces and their families. Consider reaching out to neighbors who have a family member serving overseas. This is a struggle we are all in together; we cannot forget our bond as a community.

While Ohio Military Family Month is one way to honor these noble sacrifices, Ohio and our nation still need a way to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Many of my colleagues and I support the adoption of the Honor and Remember Flag to pay homage to men and women who have lost their lives in service of the U.S. The Honor and Remember Flag honors fallen troops from every war and ensures that they will not be forgotten.

We are fortunate to live in a country that values freedom, democracy and human rights. Our future depends on those willing to risk everything to protect our country and the families that support them. I hope you will keep our service members and their families in your hearts this August and take time to honor them throughout the year. Every day, members of our military persevere against immeasurable odds; we should not delegate a mere few days a year to think of them.

Guest blog: Terry Boose differs from Governor on what will help Ohio agriculture

Editor’s Note:  State Rep. Terry Boose represents Ohio’s 58th house district, comprising the eastern third of Seneca County, all of Huron County, and western and southern portions of Lorain County.  This editorial was released to media outlets on 7/23/2010.

Strickland’s Agricultural “Deal” Detrimental to the Industry

Here in Ohio, farming represents a vital component of our economy and ensures the livelihood of a number of Ohioans. Agriculture ranks as Ohio’s largest industry, which is an indicator of its importance to the well-being of our communities as well as to Ohio’s economic success.

Lately, I have been hearing a lot of negative feedback from constituents about the “deal” Governor Ted Strickland has brokered between agriculture leaders and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Farmers in the 58th Ohio House District seem especially concerned with this troubling development. I am devoted to looking out for the best interests of my constituency, and Governor Strickland’s deal simply doesn’t reflect this objective.

This “deal” that the governor was instrumental in organizing was struck between the HSUS and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation on June 30th. It halted Ohioans for Humane Farms from submitting signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State, collected to put an HSUS-backed animal care initiative on the fall ballot. Strickland painted this agreement between Jack Fisher, CEO of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and Wayne Pacelle, CEO of HSUS, as a welcome compromise that reflects the best interests of both parties. In actuality, this deal negatively impacts farmers by placing on them a host of constraining regulations.

Ohio’s farmers and the agriculture industry as a whole did not need to enter into negotiations or make any of the compromises contained within this debilitating agreement. The Ohio Secretary of State’s office has noted that it was unlikely that the Ohioans for Humane Farms would have amassed the requisite 402,275 signatures to get their animal care initiative on the November ballot. Therefore, it was unnecessary for Ohio’s farmers to give in to any demands that would impede the success of their industry. It worries me that Governor Strickland would broker a deal that will have such a negative impact on our communities and economy.

I am listening to the feedback from the farmers in the 58th Ohio House District and will continue to address the concerns of my constituency. Many of the items that were negotiated in Governor Strickland’s “deal” have to be enacted with legislation for them to take effect. As your state representative, I will not support anything that is not also backed by the farmers of our community. My concerns lie with the well-being of Ohioans, and I will work to ensure that their livelihoods are not compromised by the governor’s ill-advised agreement.

Press release: Peter J. Corrigan gaining ground in competitive race for Ohio’s 10th Congressional district

Editor’s note:  This press release was issued on 7/23/2010 by the Cuyahoga County Republican Party.  In even-numbered years, all 435 seats in U.S. House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress, are up for election.  The general election this year will be held on November 2nd.  Those who are elected will take office in January 2011.  Ohio’s 10th Congressional district, wholly contained within Cuyahoga County, stretches along the lakefront from the west side of Cleveland over to Bay Village and extends inland as far south as Olmsted Falls and Parma.

10th Congressional Candidate Peter Corrigan Proves Tough Test For Kucinich

Seven-term incumbent Congressman Dennis Kucinich faces the toughest challenge of his Congressional career in 2010 against Peter Corrigan. Corrigan, the Republican candidate for Ohio’s 10th Congressional District has been on the move and experts in Ohio and the national stage have begun to take notice. A conservative Republican, Corrigan is running against ultra-liberal Dennis Kucinich in a seat that was previously thought of as “un-poachable” by mainstream political pundits. However the Weekly Standard recently published an article suggesting that if Dennis Kucinich can be defeated, Corrigan is the candidate to do it. To review the article please click on the following link http://weeklystandard.com/blogs/can-dennis-kucinich-be-defeated

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has officially announced Peter Corrigan as an ‘On the Radar’ candidate, an important first step in its Young Guns program. Founded in the 2007-2008 election cycle by Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Young Guns program is a member-driven organization dedicated to electing open-seat and challenger candidates nationwide.

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions stated “Peter is an accomplished, independent leader who will fight to create jobs and rein in government spending. I am confident that we will be successful in our efforts to win this seat and add it to the Republican column in November.”

Recent polling by Scott Brown’s pollster, Neil Newhouse at Public Opinion Strategies, shows that Kucinich has lost a portion of his base support after abandoning his stated positions on key issues such as healthcare and the budget crisis by caving to political pressure from the Obama Administration. Voters in the District are evenly split (47%-47%) on whether Kucinich should be re-elected; very weak numbers for a 14-year incumbent Congressman, but not surprising given his – and the Democratic Congressional leaders’ – plummeting approval ratings.

Kucinich currently has twice the money on hand as Corrigan for this campaign; a gap Corrigan intends to eliminate and surpass in the next 30 days. For more information, to volunteer or make a donation please visit the Peter Corrigan for Congress Campaign website at www.corriganforcongress.com or call the campaign office directly at 216-579-9487.

Corrigan comes from a long line of public servants to Ohio and enters the 10th Congressional District race this fall with his family’s legacy in mind. The grandson of a Chief of the Cleveland Fire Department, the nephew of a Cleveland city councilman and of a judge on the Ohio Court of Appeals, as well as the son of a well renowned Cleveland physician, Corrigan knows Ohio’s 10th Congressional District well and plans on representing it accurately and passionately. He was a high school Honors student, as well as a lettered Track and Field star who later attended Wake Forest University. After earning his Bachelors in Physics, Corrigan attended Case Western Reserve University to receive his Masters and afterwards, Harvard Business School. After many years of working as a tradesman, physicist, and business leader, Corrigan currently works as the Chief Operating Officer of Prestolite Electric in Cleveland where he resides with his wife and three children.  For more information, please visit Peter’s site www.corriganforcongress.com

Press release from Ohio House Republicans: Straight Talk Drives Discussion on Jobs Creation Package

ohiohousereps

Editor’s note:  The Republican Caucus of the Ohio House of Representatives issued this press release on 7/23/2010.  Standing in the center of the photograph above is Brynn Allio, director of government relations at the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE).  Flanking Mr. Allio on the left side of the photo are Rep. Todd Snitchler of the 50th Ohio House district and Rep. Nan Baker of the 16th Ohio House district.  Next to Mr. Allio on the right side of the photo are Rep. Ron Amstutz of the 3rd Ohio House district, and Rep. William Batchelder of the 69th Ohio House district.  Rep. Batchelder also serves as the Minority Leader in the Ohio House.

ECONOMIC STRAIGHT TALK DRIVES DISCUSSION JOBS CREATION PACKAGE

Lawmakers: It’s All About Jobs!

WESTLAKE, OH- A crowded room conversed for more than two hours yesterday on how lawmakers and members of the business community need to proceed, with the “Future of Ohio” jobs package, legislation aimed to get Ohioans back to work.

 “The state loses $1,422 for each Ohioan who loses their job, plus the increased cost in social services needed to assist an unemployed Ohioan. It is vital that we focus on job retention and growth while fostering our small business community,” said Rep. Nan Baker (R-Westlake), who championed this legislative effort. “The recession’s toll on Ohio demands a swift answer from policy makers, and I firmly believe that this package is a necessary step to make Ohio a more business-friendly state.  As I continue to say, ‘It’s all about jobs!’

 This 10-bill package of legislation consists of a broad span of initiatives that will create jobs, retain college graduates and foster economic growth. The tax reforms contained within the package will make Ohio a more financially attractive place for its workforce and the businesses that employ them. Ohio lost 200,000 jobs in 2009 alone due to the exodus of businesses to other states.

 “Ohio’s economic climate is not appealing to businesses across the country looking to expand or relocate to our state,” said House Republican Leader William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “For more than 18 months, Ohio has reported substantially higher unemployment numbers than the nation as a whole. We cannot hope to remedy this situation without concrete efforts to create a positive business perception.”

Currently, Forbes Magazine ranks Ohio 47th in the nation for prospective job creation, income growth, venture capital investments and business openings.

 “A healthy economy means increased job opportunity and business growth,” said Rep. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). “By attracting out-of-state companies to move and expand here, we are ensuring a more prosperous Ohio for generations to come.”

 The jobs package includes tax incentives, increases in flexibility in business options, and efforts to provide relevant information to companies. With this legislation, House Republicans have made a concerted effort to improve the business climate.

 “The goal of this legislation is to formulate both short and long-term solutions to economic problems specific to Ohio,” said Rep. Todd Snitchler (R-Uniontown).   “Without a thorough examination of how we (the state of Ohio) do business soon, the Buckeye state will continue to suffer.” 

When enacted, these legislative measures will address the departure of businesses, work to retain our college graduates, make the state more conducive to small businesses, and encourage businesses to expand their payroll. As the presentation came to an end, the representatives expressed their continued hope that the “Future of Ohio” jobs package will gain bipartisan support in the immediate future.