Archive for busted

First evidence that ALEC effort to rebrand as being legislator-driven is “sham”

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ALEC general

ALEC is a topic I write about often. Allow me to refresh your memory:

ALEC  (American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization of state legislators which favors federalism and conservative public policy solutions. They literally write legislation for Republican Congress members, who then do whatever they can to pass it. The Nation:

Of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding.

Now that you have some background, here is some good reporting by Madison.com that should hopefully inspire you to vote (Koch-owned) Republicans out in November and get others to do the same. It involves Wisconsin Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa who "voted on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills":

At the same meeting, she sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group, according to documents released Thursday following an open records lawsuit that cost state taxpayers $15,000 to settle.

Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, which filed the lawsuit, said the more than 100 pages of documents provide the first evidence that an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is “just a sham.”

“This demonstrates that ALEC is really a lobbyist-driven organization,” Fischer said. “The lobbyists are the ones calling the shots. The legislators are just following along.”

That's what we in the bloggy biz call a big oopsie. And it's about time someone went very public about how legislators are nothing more than puppets with people like the Koch brothers pulling the strings. I mean other than Harry Reid:

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In one email, Christie Herrera, vice president of policy for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank with a registered lobbyist, wrote to Vukmir and three other legislators from other states thanking them for sponsoring a resolution opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and coaching them on what to say.

More details here.

Kochtopus

Speaking of legal issues, here are a couple of good Progressive lawyers, should you ever need one: Barry Scheck and Seth Price. We have a complete list of those we like to occasionally recommend at the bottom of our right sidebar.

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Oops! Constituent to Rep. Paul Ryan: #Obamacare helps. Ryan: "Repeal it" is "urban legend."

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medicare poster paul ryan, eric cantor, boehner

Remember this? Hey America, guess what! Paul Ryan still wants to kill Medicare! Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan defends GOP "Kill Medicare" plan in new ad. Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan heckled at Iowa State Fair about killing Medicare, war on middle class and Poll-itics: Older and attentive Americans do not approve of GOP Kill Medicare Plan and La Cucaracha: Ryan "Kill Medicare" coupon found in newpaper! ...among others.

And, as Think Progress notes, Ryan has also been "one of the primary architects of the GOP’s ongoing crusade to repeal and replace Obamacare. But even his own Republican constituents have a thing or two to say about that:

Transcript courtesy of Think Progress:

MICHAEL MARTINCIC, 64: What Obama did was get this law passed. Whether it’s good, bad, or not, it got passed. It’s actually helping some people grow, helped this other guy [with] medication. The Republicans….By myself…I could actually…get some kind of subsidy, which would help me…

RYAN: With the ACA, one thing I want to say is we didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times. I think that’s sort of like this urban legend that we said, ‘let’s repeal it.’ It’s like we did a repeal vote on the whole law. There are many pieces of this law that we’ve gone after—several of them that were made into law, so please know—I think even Democrats would acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with this law. And so we passed a lot of things changing this law—several of which were made into law—but I really do believe there’s a better way to do it than with this health care law.

My argument is that I think there are better ways at dealing with these extremely important and legitimate problems, like people with preexisting conditions—this is why I’m a big fan of risk pools. We had the [??] system in Wisconsin—it worked well, and then it had the federal government attached to it, so it was even more affordable for people with preexisting conditions. That was one of our proposals. So I do think that there are better ways of fixing this problem—affordable coverage for everybody, including people with preexisting conditions that’s a lot better than [this law]. It’s going to hurt our hospitals, it’s going to hurt Medicare, it’s going to make people buy things they don’t want to buy.

Wait what? "It's going to hurt Medicare"? Seriously, Paul Ryan? That came out of your mouth? You, the king of the Kill Medicare bills?

When ThinkProgress asked him whether he thinks Ryan sees the people like himself, who could benefit from Obamacare, Martincic shook his head. “He misses it.

Ryan's not just missing "it," he's missing a few things, like a few cans from his revered six pack.

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GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers should apologize "for lying in her response to State of the Union"

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Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) gave the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech, and in doing so, she fudged a few facts:

"I got a letter from Bette in Spokane, who hoped the President’s health care law would save her money – but found out instead that her premiums were going up nearly $700 a month. No, we shouldn’t go back to the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s."

There's just one itty bitty problem with that bolded assertion. It's not true. So the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Nancy Pelosi want McMorris Rodgers to apologize.

Fat chance.

The GOP has a nasty habit of either outright lying, lying by omission to promote political narratives, or conveniently sidestepping context when attacking any and all things Obama. Cathy McMorris Rodgers continued the tradition, but like Darrell Issa has so many times, she got publicly busted in the process.

Via The Hill:

Democrats are slamming Republicans for misleading the public with a false anecdote about ObamaCare premiums in a response to the State of the Union address. [...]

Media reports have since revealed that the woman, Bette Grenier, was quoting the most expensive option offered by her insurance company and that she declined cheaper plans on Washington state's ObamaCare exchange.

"Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers owes the nation an apology for lying in her Republican response to the State of the Union this week, and spreading more misinformation to Americans about their health care options,” said DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner in a statement Friday.

"House Republicans are … resorting to embellishing stories and leaving out the facts to mislead Americans about the new affordable, comprehensive coverage available to them.”

More at the link.

By the way, one major insurer is reporting Obamacare that sign-ups were higher than its projections. Cathy McMorris Rodgers neglected to include that fact in her oh-so-heartfelt, genuine, God-drenched rebuttal.

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Reporting about the Koch brothers' money trail matters, despite their threats.

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers

Kudos to Team Maddow for coming up with the Koch brothers graphic above. Sadly, it's all too accurate.

In the following segment of her show, she starts out by referring to this news report that I posted about back in October 2013: CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers:

Anonymous political donors are being fined by my home state of California for their secretive little doings...

Citizens United is still alive and well, unfortunately, and huge amounts of money are still influencing elections, but at least officials here are zeroing in on "dark money" groups like those linked to the Koch brothers.

Please watch the whole video, it's worth it, because Rachel Maddow kicked Koch ass last night:

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Maddow:

The Kochs ... tried to put the Republicans back in control of the Senate. And they failed. They tried to get more Republicans in the House as well, and they failed at that, too...

Change the world. sway elections, but keep your hands clean...

If you are writing checks alongside the Kochs, you get to be part of this Leviathan, far-reaching, well-funded nest of networks and no one ever has to know that about you unless you want them to. The Washington Post called it "a maze of groups that cloaks its donors."

koch brothers money trail WaPo

The Koch brothers say they have nothing to do with drug testing for welfare benefits or with the Florida law. But the group that is promoting that Florida policy around the country is affiliated with the Koch brothers and benefits from being part of their network of conservative political groups. And that matters. And reporting it despite their threats matters...

The Koch brothers are spending and organizing the spending of more money than almost anyone in history to influence American politics. They also fight vociferously to limit real reporting on how much they spend, how they spend it, and what the impact that spending has in our polity. They want to influence American politics. And they are influencing American politics. But they do not want to be known for what it is that they do....

[T]his is also about how American politics works now. And whether it stays in the light, or whether it is allowed to go underground. Because how they are working their side of politics now is millions and millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

Does that intentionally opaque political activity get reported on now, or doesn't it? They have tried to make it as hard as possible for that reporting to get done. I say we do it anyway. It's our country too, even if we don't get invited to your billionaires party in Palm Springs every January. 

koch brothers influence

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VIDEO: Finally! Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell is being probed

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governor ultrasound bob mcdonnell virginiaNote: When I added the above image, I found it ironic that WordPress instructed me to "insert into post."

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Rachel Maddow has covered the Gov. Bob "Ultrasound" McDonnell corruption story since the beginning, and I've reported on her reporting as often as possible here (scroll). The Virginia guv has provided us with reams of snarkitude on Republican hypocrisy and perpetual corruption. This is from an earlier post:

Here's a reminder of what Rachel Maddow said awhile ago: “So it turns out there is a smoking gun in [Va. Gov. 'Ultrasound' McDonnell] case. Want to see it?”  And here's a brief recap of what's been going on, via a previous post, In “ominous sign” for Gov. “Ultrasound” McDonnell, his (former) BFF donor is cooperating with prosecutors:

Gov. Ultrasound has been evasive and dishonest about accepting a lot of fancy schmancy gifts and lots of cash from his supporters… one in particular, Jonnie Williams, chief executive of Star Scientific.

And in return, Gov. Ultrasound does them favors. But now he’s in a whole lot of hot legal water, so he has apologized but claimed that they weren’t all gifts, no, they were loans, no they were gifts and loans, and he’s returning the gifts and the loans, because, damn you caught me red handed even though I didn’t do anything wrong, trust me!

There you go, that should catch you up on the basics.

The video above will catch you up on the latest. Enjoy.

bob mcdonnell and wife indicted

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Koch bros. go-to guy lost groups millions in GOP "dark money"; cowardly wealthy donors scared of unions

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GREENPEACE AIRSHIP OVER KOCH BROTHER MEETING

Recently I posted CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers. Anonymous political donors are being fined by my home state of California, but sadly, Citizens United is still alive and well, and huge amounts of money are still influencing elections. But at least California officials are targeting on "dark money" groups like those linked to the Koch brothers.

It gets pretty convoluted, but the short version is this: A Republican guy gets millions and shuttles it through a Republican non-profit group that sends the millions to another Republican guy who knows yet another Republican guy who sends it to yet another Republican guy (or something) who eventually funnels it to a California anti-union, anti-tax campaign until uh-oh! Someone noticed. Bam! Busted.

So now those Republicans have multimillion-dollar problems.

Politically active nonprofits have way too much influence on our elections, but finally, some of them are being fined, costing the the GOP millions. A drop in the bucket, sure, but it's a start.

The Los Angeles Times takes it from there, starting with what "dark money" is:

They provide donors a way to influence elections by piping major money around the country until it resurfaces — without their fingerprints — in a campaign. [...]

Many donors did not want to "put their name on … this fight because they didn't want to face the retribution of the unions," Miller told state investigators. Deep-pocketed labor groups were planning major campaign efforts in 2012, and some conservatives were wary of crossing them. [...]

[Republican strategist and Koch brothers consultant Sean Noble] wanted the Virginia group, Americans for Job Security, to transfer the millions he had raised with [GOP consultant Jeff Miller, lead fundraiser for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and for Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 2012 presidential campaign] to Noble's center, and he wanted Noble to relay the money to California campaign committees, obscuring the money trail. [...]

A month before the November election, the whole operation came crashing down....  Miller believed Noble hoped to prevent California authorities "from opening up his books," giving them the keys to an entire network of nonprofits that were distributing money around the country.

The money was improperly reported, and when Republican consultant Tony Russo asked Noble to transfer money, Noble balked. "He couldn't spend it in the final two months of the campaign without jeopardizing the anonymity he had promised his rich donors." Russo handed over $25 million, but only about $15 million ended up back in California, and that sparked an investigation. Hence, the fine.

Follow the L.A. Times link for the whole story. It gets complicated. I know I'm confused, but then again, I usually am.

By the way, wealthy GOP donors: If you're not afraid to "redistribute your wealth" in order to get your way, if you're not afraid to bully your way to a win, if you're not afraid to huff and puff and buy election outcomes, then why are you a-skeered of unions who have way less to spend than you do?

chart maddow unions v corps campaign spending smaller

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GOP consultant: Bleak future for CA Republicans, GOP "anathema to younger voters, women, Latinos"

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schadenfreude

I recently posted CA fines secretive donor groups, including one linked to Koch brothers:

California officials are imposing a record $16 million in penalties on secretive political groups that funneled money into initiative campaigns in 2012...

Today I noticed a follow-up article in the Los Angeles Times that reports "a bleak, and now public, assessment for the state [Republican] party." Oh, the schadenfreude. I can barely stand it:

Buried in the avalanche of documents released in the state probe of secretive political groups was a fairly succinct description of the problems facing California Republicans.

It was striking not because of the content made public by the Fair Political Practices Commission -- it mimicked what California Democrats have been saying for years -- but because of the author, Republican consultant and fundraiser Jeff Miller.

Oh come on. How bad can it be?

“Over the last two decades, California’s working class has slowly migrated out of the state and Latino and women voters are completely disenfranchised with the Republican Party. There are only a few pockets of conservative voters left in the state and they are only able to help carry the day for Republicans in ultra-low turnout elections on issues where campaign spending is at parity or to the Republican advantage, and where the Democratic and union grass-roots apparatus is not activated,” Miller’s memo said. “There is no good way to sugarcoat this. ... The Republican label is anathema to younger voters, women and Latinos -- growing voter blocs with real significance to future elections. We are going to be on permanent defense in California for the foreseeable future”

Oh. Wow. Yeah, that's bad.

gop terrible horrible no good very bad year

He went on to say more, including how labor unions have "remained a potent pro-Democratic force." Which, for anyone who still isn't aware, is why the GOP is trying so hard to bust unions into smithereens. They have a ton of corporate donors, we have a few unions:

chart maddow unions v corps campaign spending smaller

Union numbers have been dwindling, thanks to the efforts of people like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and so many more Republican governors and state legislatures, not to mention anti-union U.S. Congress members. Privatization and profit are their goals, not what is good for Americans and democracy.

They have to appeal to a diverse voter population without losing the support of their very white, mostly conservative base. And now they're experiencing a political civil war between the CruzBots and those in the party who still have residual impulses to compromise occasionally.

Good luck with that. And you know what they say: As California goes, so goes the nation.

GodIlovemystate.

More schadenfreude here.

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