Friday, August 8, 2008

Elected or Designated: Democratic Nominee in Historical Perspective

OPINION: By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - August 8, 2008
Howard Dean and some so called "party leaders" are demanding that Hillary Clinton not have her name entered into nomination. News pundits have referred to the prospect of her being nominated as "unprecedented." Others discuss how having her name in nomination will take the spot light off of Obama.

The voice of 18 million voters seems inconsequential to Howard Dean and those who are threatening Senator Clinton, trying to force her not to allow her voters to be represented democratically at the Democratic National Convention.

A look at historical data shows that the "presumed nominee" does not always win the nomination. In fact, the "underdog" sometimes goes straight to the White House.

Instead of splitting the party, entering her name into nomination and allowing her delegates to represent the preference of 18 million Democratic Voters will unify the party. Unless her name is entered into nomination, a signification number of her 18 million voters will either 1. sit the election out, 2. vote only for down ticket candidates, or 3. vote for a candidate of a different party.

Democratic voters demand that the party treat every candidate fairly. Neither Senator Obama nor Senator Clinton should be marginalized or discriminated against. A fair, legitimate, honest election at the National Democratic Convention is necessary to energize and sustain the party. Howard Dean should step down as chair of the DNC because he just does not understand the importance of upholding the sacred American principal of one person one vote.

Jimmy Carter - 1981 delegates
Ted Kennedy - 1225 delegates
Uncommitted - 122
No way Kennedy could win, but his name was placed in nomination.

John Kerry: 2192.5 Pledged delegates
Howard Dean: 114.5 Pledged delegates
Dean had already dropped out with no chance of winning, but his name was placed in nomination.

Barack Obama: 1766.5 Pledged delegates
Hillary Clinton: 1639.5 Pledged delegates
The contender is being told to shut up for the sake of the party.

In addition, Teddy Kennedy has had his name on that first ballot in 1968 (12 votes), 1972 (12 votes), 1976 (1 vote), 1980 (1150 - he lost some supporters along the way).

Jesse Jackson has had his name on that first ballot twice: 1984 (465 votes), 1988 (1218 votes).

Howard Dean fails to lead. Instead he dictates and manipulates. In addition to threatening viable candidates, he appointed a third of the members of both the Rules and By Laws Committee and the Credentials Committee. Decisions by these committees to strip her of a significant number of her delegates through imposition of penalties for A RULE VIOLATION while similar penalties have not been imposed on other states where there are MANY DOCUMENTED RULES VIOLATIONS created a false perception that Senator Obama is the inevitable Democratic Nominee for president.

These committees have violated the trust of the members of the Democratic Party. Their role is not to DETERMINE who the nominee will be but to insure that there is a fair and honest process which honors the votes of American citizens.

The Chair of the Democratic Party is not elected to be a "king maker." Howard Dean's actions during this election cycle more closely resemble that of Josef Stalin than of an American leader. Chairman Dean should retire. Democrats deserve better. The American people deserve better.

Every candidate deserves to be treated fairly and respectfully.
In order to "unify the party" the nominee must win FAIR AND SQUARE. The manipulations of the Democratic Party to curtain fair electoral processes representing all candidates at the Democratic Party violate the precepts upon which the party was created.

This op-ed was posted on Daily Kos and has attacted a lot of heated comments by Obama supporters. The attitude shown by many on that site is what many Clinton supporters face in the community. There is a lack of understanding of the process and a lack of respect for the process.
If you want to join in on the discussion, register as a user of Daily Kos. Twenty four hours after you register you can comment and post.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Campaign and family business mix draws criticism

Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN — It's been almost a year since the Legislature made it illegal for lawmakers to use political funds to rent property from themselves or their spouses, but some legislators have managed to still keep campaign business in the family.

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, has campaign space in an office building his wife owns, and records show he makes payments to her company for computer usage and paper.

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, meanwhile, has reimbursed from campaign funds nearly $600,000 to two of his companies in recent years. He doesn't pay rent anymore but still advertises the address and a phone number at his Dallas management company, Associa, as his campaign contact information, records indicate.

Neither Shapleigh nor Carona reported a donation of office space on their recent campaign reports.

"If the space has value, which it clearly does, and it's donated to the officeholder or the campaign, it needs to be reported," said Fred Lewis, an Austin-based political activist who favors stricter campaign finance laws. "That's as clear as can be."

Controversy over mixing campaign spending with personal business prompted the Legislature to clamp down on perceived abuses in 2007. Though elected officials were prohibited years ago from using campaign money to buy real estate, many made payments to their spouses for the use of homes and offices. Critics said the loophole allowed politicians to acquire second homes in Austin and benefit from fat campaign accounts.

The Legislature closed the loophole last year and made it illegal for elected officials to rent property from companies they own or control.

Sens. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth and Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, quit paying campaign rent for luxury condos listed in their spouses' names, records show. Both had made more than $150,000 each in rent payments and related expenses to their spouses since 2000, records indicate.
Nelson's husband and Brimer's wife have since sold the condos, located in the tony Westgate building next to the state capitol. Spokesmen for both senators declined to give additional information.

Elsewhere, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, adapted to the new law by moving his campaign office out of his Townview Professional Building. Until early last year, while the new law was still being debated, West had rented space from his own company, Skyview Development Corporation.

As for Shapleigh, the El Paso Democrat said he saw nothing wrong with continuing to make payments to his wife's company for Internet service, computers and paper. Records show he has paid the company, 701 N. St. Vrain Joint Venture, $2,423 for those purposes since the law changed last year.

"I'm over there and I'm responding to something that has to do with Senate activities," Shapleigh said. "I think we've followed the law."

Carona, chairman of the powerful Senate Transportation committee, since 2000 has reimbursed two of his companies $582,000 for various services, including rent and corporate jet travel. Carona no longer charges his campaign for rent. However, the Dallas Republican's political headquarters, as listed on his campaign Website, has the same address and phone number as Associa, his successful Dallas-based property management company.

Neither Carona nor Shapleigh reported the office space as an in-kind, or non-cash, contribution on their campaign reports.

"I don't do campaign work out of my business office," Carona said.

Natalia Ashley, general counsel for the Texas Ethics Commission, said if candidates for elective office, their spouses or their business entities give their campaigns "something of value" — whether it's money or not — the gift must be reported.

It is not uncommon for elected officials to put family members on the campaign payroll.

House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, pays his daughter, Christi, thousands of dollars a month for consulting work, records show. But while the law allows payments to adult offspring and siblings, payments to dependent children and spouses living in the same household are heavily restricted.

Complaints were filed last year against two House members who paid their wives for accounting work. One of them, Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, acknowledged he had erred and has since begun paying the money back — more than $50,000 — out of personal funds.

"I found out it wasn't permissible," Eissler said. "When I found out it wasn't, I stopped."

But Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, continued to make payments in 2007 to his wife's company, Lubbock Bookkeeping Services, after the complaint was filed.
Isett told the Austin American-Statesman in late May he saw nothing wrong with paying her company a total of $39,158 last year.

However, when contacted by The Associated Press last week, Isett's consultant, Todd Smith, said the Lubbock Republican had decided to stop.

"Carl just thought it was better to end the practice altogether so there wouldn't be any questions," Smith said.

Ethics watchdogs say laws prohibiting or restricting the mingling of campaign and family business are in place for a good reason: to ensure that politicians don't divert money they get from donors and special interest groups into their family bank accounts.

"Texas law is designed to prevent campaign contributions from being used to enrich the officeholders or their spouses," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen of Texas. "There are firewalls and clear standards that have been set."

Read more in the Austin American Statesman