Roy Blunt Is Back In The Saddle Again

Roy Blunt, the ultimate Washington insider who was elected overwhelmingly and hypocritically by allegedly insider-hating Missouri Republicans, is now back on the inside.

He will now be the Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, beating out hyper-teapartier Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. While the slot isn’t exactly top billing (it’s #5 in the pecking order), it does show Blunt, who was an early backer of Mitt Romney, is set to throw his weight around should Romney come to sit in the White’s House.

In what can only be considered an understatement, given Roy Blunt’s mucky history with felonious lobbyists and his penchant for marrying and producing them, Politico noted:

K Street certainly has big ties to Blunt, the former House majority whip. Former aides include: Gregg Hartley of Cassidy & Associates; Joe Wall of Goldman Sachs; Sam Geduldig of Clark, Lytle Geduldig & Cranston; Brian Gaston of Glover Park Group; Amos Snead of Story Partners; Jay Perron of IFA; and Samantha Cook of SMC Consulting.

Here is how plugged into the system are Mr. Blunt and his clan:

Either The People Or The Money Rule

“Our system is flawed and has to be fixed. Human beings populate our system. Human beings are weak.”

— Jack Abramoff on CBS’s 60 Minutes

 

If you didn’t watch the first segment on 60 Minutes last night—”Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist’s playbook“—then, as one American to another, I beg you to watch it. It is available online here (transcript here).

And if you did watch it and you’re not pissed off and ready to do something about our corruptive and corrupting political system, then you are, shamefully, jaded beyond redemption or, sadly, uneducable.

It’s that simple, my dear readers. The truth is that for some of our problems, the solutions don’t exist or elude us or are too complicated to explain. This isn’t one of those problems. There is something radically simple we can do about our money-is-boss politics—which is a problem for both political parties—but more on that later.

First, during the 2010 elections I tried to make an issue (here for example) of convicted felon Jack Abramoff’s relationship with my congressman at the time, Roy Blunt, who was running for our state’s open U.S. Senate seat. Blunt was a part of GOP House leadership when Jack Abramoff’s corruption was at its zenith, and his hands weren’t clean.

But Missouri voters—many of whom were allegedly “fed up” with Washington insiders—chose to ignore the facts about the ultimate insider Roy Blunt and his connection to the quite corrupt (self-admittedly so, thanks to his interview on 60 Minutes) Jack Abramoff, and, thus, we call Mr. Blunt “Senator Blunt” today.

On Sunday night, Abramoff said:

I think people are under the impression that the corruption only involves somebody handing over a check and getting a favor. And that’s not the case. The corruption—the bribery, call it, because ultimately that’s what it is—that’s what the whole system is.

Abramoff, who eventually served three and a half years in federal prison, knows what he’s talking about. The 60 Minute segment began with this description:

Jack Abramoff may be the most notorious and crooked lobbyist of our time. He was at the center of a massive scandal of brazen corruption and influence peddling.

As a Republican lobbyist starting in the mid 1990s, he became a master at showering gifts on lawmakers in return for their votes on legislation and tax breaks favorable to his clients. He was so good at it, he took home $20 million a year.

Abramoff’s first words in the segment were these:

I was so far into it that I couldn’t figure out where right and wrong was. I believed that I was among the top moral people in the business. I was totally blinded by what was going on.

While I don’t believe for a second that Abramoff was “blinded by what was going on,” I do believe that the fault for what he was able to do belongs, ultimately, with the American people. 

We tolerate the Jack Abramoffs because of a kind of morbid hopelessness about politics (“they ‘all’ do it and there’s nothing we can do to stop it”) or because most Americans refuse to be bothered with politics until election time rolls around (“Who’s on Monday Night Football tonight?”).  In between those elections is when the dirty work is done by people like Jack Abramoff and the politicians he courts.

Leslie Stahl, the reporter for the segment, introduced the stunning notion of the cost of “buying a congressman” this way:

STAHL: Jack Abramoff was a whiz at influencing legislation and one way he did that was to get his clients, like some Indian tribes, to make substantial campaign contributions to select members of Congress.

ABRAMOFF:  As I look back it was effective. It certainly helped the people I was trying to help, both the clients and the Republicans at that time.

STAHL: But even that, you’re now saying, was corrupt?

ABRAMOFF: Yes.

STAHL: Can you quantify how much it costs to corrupt a congressman?

ABRAMOFF: I was actually thinking of writing a book — “The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a Congressman”— as a way to put this all down. First, I think most congressmen don’t feel they’re being bought. Most congressmen, I think, can in their own mind justify the system.

STAHL: Rationalize.

ABRAMOFF: –rationalize it and, by the way, we wanted as lobbyists for them to feel that way.

Abramoff said “most congressman don’t feel they’re being bought” and “in their own mind justify the system.”  I have no doubt that is true, which makes the system so insidious and so damaging to the country. (And, by the way, as former six-term Republican congressman Bob Ney, who pleaded guilty to bribery as part of the Abramoff scandal, made clear in the 60 Minutes piece, Bush administration staffers were also part of Abramoff’s web of influence.)

You see, there are no Jack Abramoffs operating on behalf of those who need Congress the most, who need Congress to act on behalf of the unemployed—jobs bill after jobs bill is killed by Republicans in the Senate—or on behalf of a struggling middle class—whose wages and benefits decline while the top income earners enjoy unfettered prosperity—or on behalf of the infirmed and elderly—whose “entitlements” are under siege by would-be budget-cutters who refuse to raise even slightly the taxes on America’s wealthy elite.

Follow this exchange:

ABRAMOFF: At the end of the day most of the people that I encountered who worked on Capitol Hill wanted to come work on K Street, wanted to be lobbyists.

STAHL: You’re telling me this, the genius of figuring out you could own the office by offering a job to the chief of staff, say. I’m having two reactions. One is brilliant. And the other is I’m sick to my stomach.

ABRAMOFF: Right. Evil. Yeah. Terrible.

STAHL: ‘Cause it’s hurting our country.

ABRAMOFF: Shameful. Absolutely. It’s the worst thing that could happen. All parts of the system.

STAHL: I’m mad at you.

ABRAMOFF: I was mad at me–

STAHL: I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding.

ABRAMOFF: Look I did things and I was involved in the system I should not have been in. I’m ashamed of the fact I was there, the very reason why now I’m speaking about it. And now I’m trying to do something, in recompense, is the fact that I thought it was– it was wrong of me to do it.

We must face the fact that there is no Jack Abramoff ready to spend “over a million dollars a year on tickets to sporting events and concerts” so that a particular congressman will vote on the infrastructure-jobs bill.

There is no Jack Abramoff ready to triple the salary of a congressional staffer who will help convince his boss that he or she should not vote to balance the budget solely on the backs of working Americans.

No. The Jack Abramoffs in our system exist only to make the rich even more rich. And as long as the American people—most of whom are not among the rich—tolerate this system, then it will continue and there will be more Jack Abramoffs in our future.

But we can do something about it. Jack Abramoff himself suggested that members of Congress should be prohibited from ever—ever—becoming lobbyists:

ABRAMOFF: If you make the choice to serve the public, public service, then serve the public, not yourself. When you’re done, go home. Washington’s a dangerous place. Don’t hang around.

That would be an important start—but who expects members of this corrupt system to vote away the benefits of corruption?

For us average folks out in the hinterlands, there is no reason to sit on the sidelines any longer. There is a movement afoot to amend our Constitution to stop the whoring, stop the sleaze, stop the fraud. I wrote about it over a month ago and it is called Get Money Out. At the time I wrote, I think the petition had about 80,000 signatures. Today there are almost 240,000.

There are now two draft amendments proposed. The latest one is one I can enthusiastically support:

“No non-citizen shall contribute money, directly or indirectly, to any candidate for Federal office. United States citizens shall be free to contribute no more than the equivalent of $100 to any federal candidate during any election cycle. Notwithstanding the limits construed to be part of the First Amendment, Congress shall have the power to limit, but not ban, independent political expenditures, so long as such limits are content and viewpoint neutral. Congress shall set forth a federal holiday for the purposes of voting for candidates for Federal office.”

Jack Abramoff’s corruption represents just the tip of a very large iceberg. He got caught—thanks to the Washington Post—but there is no guarantee that cash-strapped, reporter-cutting news organizations can ferret out all the bad guys for eventual prosecution.

We must do something ourselves if we want to keep our democracy—Greek: demos = “common people” and kratos = “rule“—alive.  If the common people truly rule, then they should rule the big money out of our political system.

Divided Loyalties

Ninety-seven percent of House Republicans and all but seven Republicans in the Senate have essentially taken two oaths, which I present below in both chronological order of execution and in order of primacy:

1.  To support and defend Grover Norquist in his effort to reduce government sufficiently so that he can “drown it in the bathtub.”

2.  To “support and defend the Constitution,” which includes the pledge to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office” on which they enter.

It is increasingly clear that Republicans, at least in the House, are not willing to discharge the duties of their office, faithfully or otherwise, but are willing to flush the country down the toilet in a spasm of misplaced loyalty to a life-long, wealthy right-wing activist, who stupidly said in 2009:

When I became 21, I decided that nobody learned anything about politics after the age of 21.

That’s the mental state of a man who is the most powerful Republican in the country.

Norquist’s ongoing claim to fame is his Americans for Tax Reform, which self-claims that it “was founded in 1985…at the request of President Reagan,” and which is responsible for the worst American domestic mischief of the past 30 years, outside of the 9/11 attacks.*

Here is the mission statement of this quasi-religious group:

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle.

We believe in a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today.  The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax.  We believe that power should be minimized.

Now the sentiments expressed in that mission statement are supposedly the same sentiments that voters held as they swept into power the Norquistas in the Tea Party movement who now control the Republican Party.

Or are they the same sentiments?

Nate Silver, now with The New York Times, analyzed just-released Gallup poll data and came up with the following, in terms of people’s preferences for the proper mix of taxes and budget cuts as part of the deal to reduce the deficit: 

Silver also noted, incredibly, that “there is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican voters than there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.”  He illustrated that ideological gap this way:

As you can see, House Republicans, with their anti-tax oath, have positioned themselves on the extreme, right where Grover Norquist, himself an extremist, wants them.

Unfortunately for Democrats, as Silver points out,

the mix of spending cuts and tax increases that Mr. Obama is offering is quite close to, or perhaps even a little to the right of, what the average Republican voter wants, let alone the average American.

And still that’s not good enough.

Mr. Obama has reportedly offered, under one ($2 trillion) scenario, a mix of 83% spending cuts to 17% tax increases.  The other scenario ($4 trillion)involves somewhere between 75 and 80% spending cuts.

Hopefully, this exceedingly generous and base-vexing offer is far as Obama will go.  But it appears fairly obvious that unless he is prepared to meet Republicans on the extreme, nothing he offers will cause House Republicans to get up off their collective knees, bent in loyalty to an anti-government fanatic, and fulfil their oath to do the right thing for their country.

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* Interestingly, Norquist, who is married to a Muslim, has been viciously attacked by conservatives like Frank Gaffney and Pamela Geller and David Horowitz for his supposed connection to unseemly Muslim leaders, possibly including the Muslim Brotherhood. Don’t you just love these crazy folks?  Never mind that Norquist was in fact associated with a true criminal, former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff, something that doesn’t seem to bother right-wingers.

Jo Ann Emerson Asks For Forgiveness?

In the run-up to the 2010 elections, many Missouri bloggers tried to remind folks about Roy Blunt’s connection to Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, both convicted felons, as well as Blunt’s other rather extensive ties to lobbyists. 

He trounced Robin Carnahan by a 54-41 margin.

Many also tried to point out his crucial role in the last-minute passing of the Medicare Part D entitlement—unfunded—which he acted out by helping the House Republican leadership cajole and caress as many reluctant Republicans as they could in order to get their votes, sometimes getting them to switch their votes. (FiredUp!Missouri has a nice summary of the sordid tale here.)

After all, as The Washington Post put it, the House leadership made sure their members knew the prescription drug benefit issue was important “to the party and the president.”

Yeah.  And to the drug companies.

The pharmaceutical industry benefits from the legislation because most of the cost is picked up by taxpayers and the Medicare program is not allowed to negotiate prices with the drug companies. Not allowed by law.  By a law that was pushed by Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt and enacted in 2003 by a majority of Republicans, including by Representative Jo Ann Emerson, a legislative neighbor of Blunt’s here in Missouri at the time.

As former Reagan domestic policy adviser and Bush I treasury official Bruce Bartlett said, “the Medicare drug benefit was a pure giveaway,” and it, “had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit.”  He added:

…anyone who voted for the drug benefit, especially someone who switched his vote to make its enactment possible, has zero credibility. People like Franks ought to have the decency to keep their mouths shut forever when it comes to blaming anyone else for increasing the national debt.

He finished with this:

It astonishes me that a party enacting anything like the drug benefit would have the chutzpah to view itself as fiscally responsible in any sense of the term. As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt.

Well, Jo Ann Emerson, who represents the south central and southeast part of our state, was one of those Republicans who voted for the prescription drug bill to keep it alive in the House.  And she was one of those who changed her vote, at the behest of Roy Blunt.  And then she voted against it on final passage.

Go figure.

In any case, I’m not at this time going to knock Emerson for that vote-and-switch. That’s not the point I want to make.

I want to offer her some praise.

Perhaps out of some kind of legislative penance, she is trying to make amends.  According to Vermont Public Radio Emerson is co-sponsoring a bill with Vermont Democrat Peter Welch that would,

allow the federal government to negotiate prices for prescription drugs that are bought under the Medicare Part D program.

Congressman Welch has essentially called Medicare Part D a “corrupt bargain,” and claims that his and Emerson’s bill would save taxpayers $156 billion over the next ten years by giving the government the power to negotiate a bulk discount for drugs.

The idea has failed before but Welch is optimistic about the bill’s chances this time:

I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at passing it this year because there is such a focus on the budget. The total focus on the new Republican majority is on cutting spending. This is tailor-made to help them achieve that goal. It’s $160 billion in savings. I think it’s a very compelling argument and it will allow those who claim they want to taxpayer money a chance to do so.

I’m not exactly sure how proud Rep. Emerson is of her co-sponsorship of this bill, since I could find nothing about it on her website, but here’s hoping she will enthusiastically work out her penance for her past legislative sins, at least one of them at the urging of Roy Blunt.

And perhaps this proposal will serve as a test for those Republicans in Congress who talk big about the debt and deficit but often shrink in the presence of traditional Republican constituents like the drug companies.

Happy Thanksgiving Tom DeLay And Roy Blunt!

I wonder what Roy Blunt is thinking today.

Tom DeLay, who was once on top of the political world, is now a convicted felon.  Along with Jack Abramoff and others convicted of wrongdoing during the heady days of the GOP congressional majority, which was not that long ago, DeLay can now take his rightful place in the lineup of Republican rogues, who thought they were untouchable, in terms of political reality (which hit DeLay in 2005) and in terms of the law (which hit him today).

From the AP:

Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge, although prosecutors haven’t yet recommended a sentence…

Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose tough tactics earned him the nickname “the Hammer,” used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.

Speaking of the Hammer, it was in 2003 that DeLay christened Roy Blunt—by literally passing to him what turned out to be a tainted hammer—as the Republican Whip, after DeLay became the Majority Leader.  That year, 2003, was an eventful year for Blunt.  From Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—which rated Blunt as one of “the 13 most corrupt members of Congress“:

In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating – and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed his new role as Majority Whip – he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors. Rep. Blunt’s provision would have made it harder to sell tobacco products over the Internet, and would have cracked down on the sale of contraband cigarettes. 

In addition, Rep. Blunt’s son Andrew lobbies on behalf of Philip Morris, a major client he picked up only four years out of law school.  Notably, Altria is Rep. Blunt’s largest campaign contributor, having donated more than $270,000 to political committees tied to him. 

In 2003, Rep. Blunt also helped his lobbyist son Andrew by inserting a provision into the $79 billion emergency appropriation for the war in Iraq to benefit U.S. shippers like United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp… Andrew Blunt lobbies on behalf of UPS in Missouri, (in addition to Philip Morris)11 and UPS and FedEx have contributed at least $67,500 to Rep. Blunt since 2001…

Rep. Blunt has ties to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of criminal and congressional probes. In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded Majority Leader Tom DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by Speaker Hastert, Whip Roy Blunt, and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, that endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Abramoff has donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs. 

Roy Blunt, who worked closely with his “friend” and now convicted felon Tom DeLay, was sent to the United States Senate with the blessing of Missouri’s tea partiers, who supposedly were “fed up” with Washington insider politics and deal-making.  Uh-huh.  Representative-elect Billy Long, the feddest of the fed-up crowd, even donated money to Blunt. Stay tuned for more hypocrisy, as Long’s legislative career begins.

Here are three videos featuring Roy Blunt and Tom DeLay. The first is Blunt assuming the job as Whip in 2003.  The second is of Blunt defending the Hammer, after DeLay was forced to resign his leadership post in the wake of the charges brought against him in Texas in 2005, which resulted in his conviction today (Blunt is at 2:15).  The third is a tribute to DeLay by Blunt, in which he praises his “friend.” 

Enjoy watching your new Senator! 

Thanks to Sean at FiredUpMissouri for lifting these from C-SPAN and posting them on YouTube.

A Steaming Blunt Refuses To Answer A Simple Question: Did He Know Her Or Not?

Although I don’t recall seeing anything about this story in the Joplin Globe or on our local “news” stations, some of you may know about the accusations—raised by the Democratic Party—that Roy Blunt employed a Nicaraguan woman by the name of Dora Narvaez, who, shall we say, wouldn’t survive the Arizona Test in terms of proving her U.S. citizenship.

The woman told the Kansas City Star that she worked for Blunt in 1990 for a period of six months, around the time she was seeking political asylum in the United States.  Blunt, who at the time was Missouri Secretary of State, had written a letter on her behalf to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, saying that,

Dora Narvaez has done some work for Roseann.

Roseann, of course, was Blunt’s first family-values wife.  But apparently when Blunt used the word “worked,” he didn’t mean it in the conventional sense.  When the story first came out, the Blunt campaign said that,

…the woman merely helped at some church events, and was never employed by the Blunts.

Last week, Blunt told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he does not recall the woman at all:

Speaking to the Post-Dispatch editorial board today, Blunt said his family never had a “housekeeper,” though they did occasionally have someone, Blunt said, clean their home.

But Blunt said neither he, Roseann or their three children remember Narvaez filling that role.

“We often had somebody who would come in maybe twice a month,” Blunt said. “None of us remember her ever doing that.”

Blunt added: “I don’t know if I ever met the woman.”

So, yesterday KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney ask Blunt a simple question:

Did you know her or not?

An easy question, right?  “Did you know her or not?”

All Blunt had to do was say “yes” or “no” or “I don’t remember because I’ve remarried since then and I’ve made it a point to forget everything about my former family-values life.”

But here is how Blunt, who is steaming around the state on a last-minute tour, reacted:

Obviously, Mahoney hit a sore spot with his question.  And I suspect Blunt, like most Republican candidates these days, will be off-limits to reporters between now and next Tuesday.

And I also suspect that it won’t matter at all to most local voters (I predict: 65%+), who have consistently supported him through his family-values failures and his affection for lobbyists in general (like Big Tobacco) and in particular (like his second wife and other members of his family).  And, no, I’m not even going to bring up Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

Here is a video from the Missouri Democratic Party about the issue:.

 

What The Globe Failed To Tell Its Readers

I’m not sure how you can write three paragraphs summarizing—touting, really—7th District congressman Roy Blunt’s national prominence and leave out Blunt’s connection to convicted felon and Republican lowlife, Jack Abramoff, or leave out any reference to Blunt’s soiled reputation as a lobbyist-friendly legislator. 

But Sunday’s article on the front page of the Joplin Globe did just that:

Blunt, who was first elected to Congress in 1996, quickly rose to become a political player at a national level, helped by being a master fundraiser while at the same time having to spend little in the district to get re-elected. In just his second term, Blunt was named chief deputy whip, which is the highest appointed position in the House Republican caucus.

Blunt later made a bid to be elected majority leader, which would have put him on a path to become a possible speaker of the House. He was unsuccessful, but for part of the decade he was one of the leaders for the Republican Party, even appearing on Sunday morning talk shows — sometimes as a guest, sometimes as a topic.

Blunt is now running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kit Bond.

How about at least a mention, while blowing about Blunt’s national bona fides, that he was so important he was entitled to receive free meals at Jack Abramoff’s upscale D.C. restaurant*, before Abramoff becameinmate number 27593-112.”  

Now, the Globe might be forgiven for its omissions, if Blunt were simply retiring from politics, never to take the stage again.  But he’s not.  He wants to be a U.S. Senator, so the omissions are a little strange, though fairly typical of local coverage of Blunt.

To make up for the missing references to what the Washington Post called Blunt’s “extensive ties” to the “K Street lobbying world,” I will repost part of a piece I offered way back in January of this year, titled Roy Blunt + Jack Abramoff = 17,900:

I don’t know what this means, but if you Google Roy Blunt and Jack Abramoff you get 17,900 results.  Here are three paragraphs from one such result, courtesy of USA Today in 2005:

Rep. Roy Blunt and the man he wants to succeed as House majority leader, Tom DeLay, shared similar connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to corporate lobbyists.

Blunt, R-Mo., wrote at least three letters helpful to Abramoff clients while collecting money from them. He swapped donations between his and DeLay’s political groups, ultimately enriching the Missouri political campaign of his son Matt.

And Blunt’s wife and another son, Andrew, lobby for many of the same companies that donate to the lawmaker’s political efforts.

The same story continues:

Blunt and DeLay and their aides frequently met with Abramoff’s lobbying team and even jointly signed a letter supportive of an Indian tribe client at the heart of the Abramoff criminal investigation, according to records published by The Associated Press over the past year.

More:

DeLay raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 Republican National Convention and sent some of the excess to Blunt through a series of donations that benefited the causes of both men.

After transfers between political organizations, some of the money went to the campaign of Blunt’s son, Matt, in his successful 2000 campaign for secretary of state. Now the Republican governor of Missouri, Matt Blunt eventually received more than $160,000 in 2000.

Not finished yet:

In his ties to Abramoff, Blunt was among nearly three dozen members of Congress, including leaders from both parties, who pressed the government to block a Louisiana Indian tribe from opening a casino. The lawmakers received donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist, Abramoff, around the same time.

So, there is some material from only one of the 17,900 results you get when you associate Roy Blunt with Jack Abramoff on Google.

[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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*Blunt’s spokeswoman has lately claimed that, Roy Blunt never met with Jack Abramoff.” But that is a different assertion from one she made in 2006, when she claimed that Blunt never had an official meeting with Abramoff.”  For a nice summary of the latest claim, see FiredUp!Missouri here.

Blunt Chickens Out On His Own Debate Proposal

Our own Joplin Globe made the Huffington Post today, in a story about the debating cowardice of Roy Blunt.

The story by Amanda Terkel began:

The debate over debating is heating up in Missouri’s Senate race, with Democrat Robin Carnahan accusing her opponent, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) of backing out on a package of debates that he originally proposed.

It seems that the once-courageous Blunt had written a letter to Carnahan inviting her to join him in six debates, including two on national television (Fox News Sunday and Meet The Press).  Carnahan says she accepted the invitations.

Now, however, Blunt has backed out of all but two of the debates, one in Kansas City on public television and one in Lake Ozark that will not be televised.  The Blunt logic in this strategy is obvious, no?

As Globe readers know, our paper was attempting to put together a debate between Blunt and Carnahan here in Joplin.  Terkel mentions the effort in her article:

On Sunday, the Joplin Globe in Missouri expressed disappointment and confusion with the Blunt campaign over its refusal to accept its invitation for a debate. “[Carnahan campaign spokesman Tony] Wyche, after we assured him of television coverage out of Joplin and Springfield, said that Carnahan would accept,” read the editorial. “Rich Chrismer, with Blunt’s campaign, did not decline our invitation. In fact he told me that Blunt had not declined any of the invitations. But, I didn’t get the yes I needed to move forward.”

In other words, Globe editor Carol Stark, who was trying to organize the debate, had to stop her efforts because Roy Blunt would not commit to doing it.  Damn.  When you’re afraid to debate in Republican-happy Joplin, you are really afraid.  It appears obvious, though, that the problematic part of Stark’s pitch was, “we assured him of television coverage.” Whoops.

So, not only won’t there be a debate in Joplin or Springfield, but  the largest television market in the state—St. Louis—is also off-limits for a Blunt debate appearance. 

Obviously, the more debates, particularly televised ones, the more Robin Carnahan can expose Blunt’s long record as a Republican, including his paling around with felons and other unsavory characters, and make him answer for it.

And just like the actions of Republican 7th District congressional candidate and debate-frightened Billy Long, Roy Blunt’s hide-in-the-weeds strategy should send a signal to attentive voters. 

Young Guns Invite Billy Long To The Fight

Billy Long obviously has a lot of affection for the so-called “Young Guns” of the Republican Party, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Roy Blunt’s former chief deputy), the GOP’s House budget guru Paul Ryan, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Long  recently tweeted about their appearance on Sean Hannity’s show, as the conservative gunslingers were promoting their new book, “Young Guns: The Next Generation of American Leaders.”

Now Long has made some news of his own.

Last night at a sparse gathering of Young Republicans at Missouri State University, Long said this:

Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy have formed what they call the Young Guns and they talked to me about being part of the Young Guns and I’m 55 years old and I’m like if you want to call me young on anything that’d be great.  

Ironically, the Young Guns’ book reportedly is critical of past GOP leadership, which would include our own Roy Blunt, whom Billy Long enthusiastically—and financially—supports.  Here’s a sample from the book via the Washington Post:

“Under Republican leadership in the early 2000’s, spending and government got out of control,” McCarthy writes. “As government grew, there were scandals and political corruption. The focus became getting reelected rather than solving problems and addressing pressing issues.”

The “scandals” and “political corruption” referenced by the Young Guns would, of course, include the Jack Abramoff scandal, with whom Roy Blunt had, shall we say, a “relationship.”  Here is the opening of a 2006 story from USAToday:

Rep. Roy Blunt and the man he wants to succeed as House majority leader, Tom DeLay, shared similar connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and to corporate lobbyists.

Blunt, R-Mo., wrote at least three letters helpful to Abramoff clients while collecting money from them. He swapped donations between his and DeLay’s political groups, ultimately enriching the Missouri political campaign of his son Matt.

And Blunt’s wife and another son, Andrew, lobby for many of the same companies that donate to the lawmaker’s political efforts.

Hmmm. Billy Long says on his website, “We can’t expect to change Washington DC unless we are willing to change the type of people that we send to Washington.”

Okay. But in November of last year, Long forked over $1000 to Roy Blunt—before Blunt won his primary race—and Blunt recently said of Long, “He will be a great Congressman.”  At last night’s Young Republican gathering, Long encouraged the youngsters to get involved in the action:

We really, really need to turn out the vote, particularly in my race and Roy Blunt’s race.

I can understand why the potential new Young Gun would want folks to come out and support his chance to share the national stage with hot young stars in the Republican Party, but I’m at a loss to understand why a self-described fed-up citizen-legislator would want folks to come out and support a multi-term, scandal-tainted Congressman who wants to take his tired political act all the way to the U.S. Senate.

Unless the self-described fed-up citizen-legislator is hiding something under his hat.

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Here is a video of last night’s speech in Springfield, which also shows Long refusing to acknowledge a questioner in the audience.  The comment about the Young Guns is at 3:26:

The Last Word (Maybe) On Roy Blunt And The Joplin Airport

 

At the groundbreaking for the new $15 million Joplin airport terminal in 2006—90% of the funding supplied by federal deficit spending—Roy Blunt said, as reported by the Joplin Business Journal,

This is an investment in Joplin and surrounding communities towards economic development and job growth.

Unfortunately, these days Blunt no longer believes in such “investments,”  having called the Recovery Act an “absolute outrage” and said,

When you create a public sector job, its only going to be there as long as taxpayers are willing to fund it.

Well, since the Joplin Airport’s ability to contribute to our area’s “economic development and job growth” requires an annual subsidy of almost $3 million from the federal government, let’s hope the taxpayers are willing to fund it until the development and growth happens.

Funny thing, when Obama and the Democrats spend federal money to promote “economic development and job growth,” Blunt calls such spending an “absolute outrage,” but when Blunt had a major and essential hand in securing federal dollars for the same thing here locally, he called it an “investment.”

Well, given the state of our economy, and the need for more such investment, it’s really not so funny is it?

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