Tags: Earmarks | King

Obama's Transportation Secretary Is Earmarks King

Sunday, 04 Jan 2009 06:57 PM

By Special from Newsmax' Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama’s Transportation Secretary Is Earmarks King
2. Fundraiser McAuliffe Eyeing Run for Virginia Governor
3. Tehran Claims Iranian Jews Protest Gaza ‘Genocide’
4. Rangel Paid Parking Tickets With Campaign Funds: Report
5. We Heard: Billy Graham, Warren Buffett, Fox Business News

 

1. Obama’s Transportation Secretary Is Earmarks King

Barack Obama said during his campaign that congressional earmarks should be reined in, but his choice for Transportation secretary, retiring Rep. Ray LaHood, is one of the leading purveyors of pork in the House.

In fiscal 2008, the Illinois Republican secured $62.7 million in earmarks for his district, either alone or working with other House members, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

That put him in the top 10 percent of House members when it came to pork barrel outlays, the Wall Street Journal reported in an opinion piece headlined “Obama’s Secretary of Earmarks.”

LaHood, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, makes no bones about his efforts to bring home the bacon to his district, which includes Peoria.

He told the Peoria Journal Star: “The reason I went on the Appropriations Committee, the reason other people go on the Appropriations Committee, is they know that it puts them in a position to know where the money is at, to know the people who are doling the money out and to be in the room when the money is being doled out.”

The Journal observed: “Mr. Obama repeatedly said during the presidential campaign that the earmarking system should be overhauled, yet he’s elevated to his cabinet a Machiavelli of this system.”

LaHood, first elected in 1994, is not on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee now, although he has been in the past. As a member of the Appropriations Committee he did not work on transportation funding.

But with Obama “planning what looks to be one of the largest single increases in federal spending in history,” the Journal reports, “Mr. LaHood may be exactly the man for the moment.”

Editor's Note:



2. Fundraiser McAuliffe Eyeing Run for Virginia Governor

Terry McAuliffe, who has solicited millions in donations for Bill and Hillary Clinton and others, could use his considerable fundraising skills to garner contributions for a political campaign of his own.

The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee filed in November to form a committee to explore a possible run for the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia this year.

Virginia places no limits on how much an individual, corporation or union can donate to a candidate running for state office. Given his extensive contacts, some observers believe McAuliffe could raise $80 million for his campaign — three times what incumbent Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine raised in his 2005 campaign.

Under state law, Kaine is barred from running for re-election in 2009.

McAuliffe raised more than $200 million for Bill Clinton in the 1990s, oversaw $500 million in party fundraising as the DNC chairman, and chaired Hillary’s presidential campaign, which raised around $220 million, according to The Washington Post.

In January 2005, McAuliffe distributed $5 million of DNC funds to Kaine’s gubernatorial campaign.

“I think the sky is the limit in terms of Terry McAuliffe’s fundraising potential in Virginia,” Michael Toner, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told The Post.

“I suspect there will be a lot more interest in Virginia politics in Manhattan and Palm Beach than there usually is.”

McAuliffe said he won’t announce his decision on whether to run until Jan. 7.

Virginia House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds have announced they will seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell is the only announced Republican candidate.

McDonnell’s campaign manager Phil Cox acknowledged that McAuliffe’s fundraising ability could play a big role in the campaign, noting that Barack Obama outspent John McCain by a 2-to-1 margin in Virginia.

“You can’t tell me that didn’t make a difference,” he said. “Money matters in politics.”

Editor's Note:



3. Tehran Claims Iranian Jews Protest Gaza ‘Genocide’

The official Iranian news agency claimed that members of the nation’s small Jewish community staged a protest in Tehran to protest “Israeli war crimes and the slaughter of the innocent people in Gaza Strip.”

The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that the protesters were led by the Jewish representative in Iran’s parliament, Siamak Mara-Sedq.

The agency, an arm of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, also claimed that in a speech to the Iranian parliament on Tuesday, Mara-Sedq “expressed shock” over the “savage acts” perpetrated by the Tel Aviv regime, according to the Jerusalem Post.

He also reportedly said he hoped all “peace-loving nations” would support the “defenseless Palestinian people” and make Israel “stop the genocide in the region by exerting pressure on Tel Aviv.”

About 25,000 Jews live in Iran, and Iranian Jewish leaders are often quoted as having voiced extreme anti-Israeli views, the Post observed.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “Israeli sources familiar with the Iranian Jewish community suspect that the demonstration was organized by the government in Tehran, and does not represent the actual stance of Iranian Jews.”

Also in Iran, a judiciary official said Iran has set up a court to try Israel for its air attacks on Gaza and is ready to try in absentia anyone Tehran says has committed “crimes.”

Editor's Note:



4. Rangel Paid Parking Tickets with Campaign Funds: Report

Rep. Charles Rangel, already embroiled in an ethics committee probe, used campaign funds to pay $1,540 in fines from parking tickets in Washington during the past two years, according to a report on the Congressional Quarterly’s Web site.

The New York Democrat’s campaign committee and his political action committee have made 14 separate payments to the D.C. treasurer for “automobile expenses” since March 2007, and a Rangel spokesman confirmed to CQ that campaign aides believe they were for parking tickets.

Overall, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman has paid $2,035 in parking ticket fines since 2001.

It is not illegal for Rangel to use campaign funds to pay for parking tickets if they were incurred while he was engaged in campaign activities or carrying out his duties as an officeholder.

But it is illegal to use contributions “to fulfill any commitment, obligation or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of federal office,” including a “non-campaign-related automobile expense,” according to federal campaign finance law.

Rangel’s spokesman Emile Milne told the Web site, CQ Politics, that the congressman is in compliance with the law, but could not provide details on each of the tickets.

CQ notes: “Regardless of any potential legal issues, the congressman is paying parking tickets with other people’s money.”

Last year Rangel’s car was towed from the House garage after the New York Post disclosed that he had been storing the undrivable vehicle there for several years, in violation of House rules.

The Post also reported that Rangel was using a Cadillac leased by his taxpayer-funded House office to travel to campaign events in New York — also a violation of House rules.

The Washington Post and The New York Times both called on Rangel to step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the wake of ethics charges that recently came to light.

The Times disclosed that Rangel helped preserve a valuable tax loophole for an oil and gas drilling company while the firm’s chief executive was promising to donate $1 million to the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at City College of New York.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating allegations that Rangel paid below-market rents on four apartments in New York, including one that was used illegally as a campaign office.

It also is alleged that he failed to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes on rental income from a vacation home in the Dominican Republic, and used official letterhead stationery to solicit donations to the public service school.

Editor's Note:



5. We Heard…

THAT after 55 years at a Dallas church, evangelist Billy Graham is changing membership to a church near his retirement home in South Carolina.

Graham’s personal assistant told First Baptist Dallas, which Graham joined in 1953, that the 90-year-old was switching to First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, S.C., the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The pastor of the South Carolina church, the Rev. Don Wilton, has preached for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

THAT Sirius XM satellite radio has dropped the Fox Business News channel from its lineup.

Sirius and XM merged last year and began broadcasting combined lineups in November. A source told the Web site TVNewser that Fox Business News was dropped because of the merger and the lack of channel space.

THAT Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company has the largest cache of cash among the world’s listed companies.

Buffett’s firm can claim $106 billion in net cash, defined as cash and short-term investments or marketable securities minus debt, the Financial Times reports.

Chinese banks hold the next three positions. Bank of China has $101 billion in net cash, ICBC has $89 billion, and China Construction Bank has $82 billion.

Only 29 of the top 100 global companies by market value have net cash, according to the Times.

Berkshire Hathaway’s many holdings include GEICO, Benjamin Moore Paints, Diary Queen, and Fruit of the Loom.

Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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