Archives for September 2005
If you like beer, and you like Ron Sims, Oct. 4th will be your opportunity to get your fill of both, as the King County Executive joins us at our regular Tuesday night gathering of the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally, 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.
So mark your calendars now, and come join us for a few good beers and a lot of great conversation.
I stopped by KOMO 4 for a brief interview this morning, and should be on during the 5:30 news segment. You know… just repeating my false and defamatory statements.
That’s me! At least, as described by Danny Westneat in his column today in the Seattle Times: “This story starts at the rear.” Danny writes about my “power-of-the-Internet moment”, in which “the horse’s ass guy could influence national politics” by breaking the story former FEMA director Mike Brown blames for his downfall (as well as incalculable suffering in the Gulf.)
Yes… I’m “an aggressively liberal, smart, foul-mouthed irritant”… but what I’m not, is a liar. And that’s essentially what Brown’s attorney Andy Lester called me in a guest column on Accuracy in Media (AIM), echoing his client’s congressional testimony that I made false and defamatory statements.
I suppose both Brown and Lester thought they were being clever — in a lawyerly sort of way — by dismissively referencing my irreverently named blog and simply saying the story was false, without further explanation. In fact, the heart of the story the MSM picked up from my original post on HorsesAss.org (and in my diary on Daily Kos), is undisputed… that Brown’s emergency management experience prior to joining FEMA consisted almost entirely of a decade serving as the Commissioner of Judges and Stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association.
I further alleged that Brown resigned from the IAHA under pressure, in the face of mounting litigation and financial disarray, an assertion that was not only corroborated by contemporaneous accounts in horse breeding trade journals and newsletters, but which has been repeatedly substantiated through investigations and interviews conducted by the MSM, most recently in a very thorough background piece in the Arizona Republic:
Brown’s actions led to a flurry of lawsuits, a five-year suspension from the group for Boggs and Brown’s resignation in 2000 from the Colorado-based association.
In a four-year span, Brown, a lawyer, amassed association legal fees exceeding $1.5 million and initiated a controversial legal defense fund for himself, which ultimately led to his resignation. The 45,000-member horse group, now called the Arabian Horse Association, was involved in at least seven lawsuits during Brown’s tenure.
But of course, the circumstances surrounding Brown’s resignation from the IAHA are immaterial to the fact that his was a patronage appointment that put an unqualified crony in charge of coordinating the federal government’s disaster relief operations… and with disastrous results. Mike Brown simply was not qualified to run FEMA — an opinion not simply drawn from his razor thin resume or his incompetent job performance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but from his stunningly inept effort to shift the blame during his congressional testimony.
Brown claimed that it was “ironic” that the story started with a blog named “HorsesAss.org”, and it certainly was. For who’d have thought that the “horse’s ass guy” would have more credibility than the director of a top federal agency?
[Cross-posted to Daily Kos]
Hey… it looks like I’m not the only guy who’s wondering where Dino Rossi is on I-912… the Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly is asking the tough questions too:
Republican governor-in-waiting Dino Rossi says he has no position on Initiative 912, the gas tax rollback. He’s doing a duck dive. The state Republican Party backs I-912. But 27 GOP legislators voted for the transportation package — and business groups are mobilizing to defeat the initiative.
What Rossi promised last year, however, was “leadership” and that he was a guy who would make “tough decisions” needed to move the state.
On I-912, then, Rossi should answer the question with which the father of modern conservatism, Sen. Barry Goldwater, closed hundreds of his columns: “How do you stand, sir?”
No position? Come on… how could Rossi possibly have no position on the most controversial issue on the November ballot? This is exactly the type of tough decision a governor has to make… and exactly the type of tough decision Gov. Gregoire did make in supporting a gas tax hike she knew would be unpopular, in order to pay for desperately needed transportation safety improvements.
We know where Gregoire stands. We know where all 147 members of the state Legislature stand. So come on Dino… show some of that “leadership” you promised, and publicly answer the question: “Where’s Rossi?”
Well, whaddaya know? It turns out WA state’s very own Republican congressional delegation is deep in the pocket of indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to the tune of $30,930:
Rep. Dave Reichert: $20,000
Rep. Doc Hastings: $5,930
Rep. Cathy McMorris: $5,000
What did all this ARMPAC money buy? Well, earlier this year, all three voted to weaken House Ethics Rules in an effort to protect DeLay, and combined, have voted with their disgraced leader 96 percent of the time. And oh yeah… when faced with allegations of wrongdoing by his political patron, Hastings, the hapless chair of the toothless House Ethics Committee has done what he does best… absolutely nothing.
So what say, folk… how about returning your ill gotten gains?
Well, at least one Republican congressman cares about the appearance of impropriety:
Rep. Jeb Bradley, R-N.H., says he will return $15,000 in campaign funds from former House majority leader Tom DeLay’s political action committee… Bradley said that though the political action committee that gave him money is not under investigation he is returning it to remove any question about the nature of the contribution.
Hmm. I wonder if Reichert, Hastings or McMorris will step forward and join Rep. Bradley in doing the right thing?
The League of Conservation Voters has renewed its demand that members of Congress return tainted campaign funds to recently indicted, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, until legal issues regarding his campaign finance schemes are resolved.
The LCV has also reissued a report, “Tom’s Tainted Team“, that exposes the ten as financially beholden to DeLay and the powerful special interests that back him. For example, each of the ten have voted for a provision in the House energy bill that would protect makers of the fuel additive MTBE, even though they each represent districts with drinking water contaminated by the dangerous chemical, and where lawsuits are pending against MTBE polluters. All ten also voted for a change to House Ethics Rules intended to protect DeLay from further investigations.
“While this latest ethical cloud hangs over Congressman Tom DeLay, the decent thing for these members to do would be to return the money they took from him until this issue is resolved,” said LCV President Deb Callahan. “If they cannot be shamed into that, perhaps they could put the money in a trust and donate the interest to hurricane relief until Rep. DeLay’s case has worked its way through the courts.”
The 10 Members of “Tom’s Tainted Team” and their campaign contributions from Rep. DeLay are as follows:
Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) – $30,000
Rep. Chris Chocola (R-IN) – $40,000
Rep. Phil Gingrey (GA-11) – $25,000
Rep. Katherine Harris (FL-13) – $20,000
Rep. Mark Kennedy (MN-06) – $29,500
Rep. Rick Renzi (AZ-1) – $30,000
Rep. Mike Rogers (AL-3) – $30,000
Rep. Pete Sessions (TX-32) – $26,644
Rep. Clay Shaw (Fl-22) – $30,020
Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-1) – $46,959
“It’s worse enough that these members are siding with MTBE and big oil polluters over their constituents, but the fact that they continue to support one of the most ethically challenged members of Congress in history and take his ‘tainted’ money is unconscionable,” said Ms. Callahan.
There is a tendency with stories like DeLay’s indictment to focus on inside politics, but the scandal is not merely about how he illegally skirted campaign finance laws to help elect Republicans, it is also about how these politicians exercised the power of their offices in return. It is not enough to hold DeLay responsible for his actions, we most also hold responsible all those who benefited from his illegal activities.
Seattle’s tax revenues are coming in higher than projected, and City Council candidate Dwight Pelz has a good suggestion for what to do with some of the extra money.
City Council candidate Dwight Pelz said Wednesday that Seattle should put up to $10 million of the city’s $55 million in extra tax revenue into public schools.
This week Mayor Greg Nickels proposed a $760 million general fund budget, up from $717 million a year ago. Nickels proposed that some of the extra money from strong tax revenue go toward street resurfacing, more sidewalks, police and firefighters.
Roads, police and firefighters are good… but so are schools, and man could they use the money. This sounds like a pretty reasonable proposal to me.
Yesterday, former FEMA direct Michael Brown accused HA of publishing false and defamatory statements about his resume. Yeah… whatever. But the observant folk over at Capitol Buzz point out that if anybody should be accused of making false statements about Brownie’s resume, it is Brownie himself:
At this point everyone knows that Mike Brown’s resume was exaggerated. But what many people don’t know is that Brown signed an affidavit attesting to his resume’s accuracy when he was first nominated to be the head of FEMA. With his appearance before Congress today, Brown contradicted that affidavit and could now face criminal charges.
Earlier today, Brown said under OATH: “I started out as an intern in the planning office. I then became the assistant to the city manager, where I was liaison to the Emergency Services Division, the police and fire departments. I ended up drafting the emergency operations plan. I ended up putting together with a committee the emergency operations center. I worked closely with the emergency, fire and police departments.”
But on the resume he submitted to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in 2002 when he was up for confirmation, it says the following: “1975-78, Assistant City Manager, Police, Fire & Emergency Services, Edmond, Oklahoma.”
And of course, those weren’t the only false statements Brownie made under oath before congressional committees. Think Progress puts the lie to Brownie’s testimony that Louisiana Gov. Blanco’s Aug. 27th request for a federal emergency declaration excluded Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquerines parishes. But…
In fact, Blanco requested the President to declare a disaster in ” all the southeastern parishes ,” which includes Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines . See the request for yourself HERE.
Kind of funny when a blog named “HorsesAss.org” has more credibility than I high level federal appointee, huh? Um… actually… it’s kind of sad.
A week has passed since last Tuesday’s primary election, and still no scandalous mishaps in King County Elections to report.
“Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the huge effort they’ve taken to make things better,” said Sheryl Moss, a member of the Citizens Election Oversight Committee who observed the primary as a representative of the Secretary of State’s Office. “Only time will tell if they’ve gone far enough.”
Michael Sheridan, the state Republican Party designate on the committee, also said the primary looked good from what he saw — although he reserved final judgment until all the votes are counted and the numbers reconciled.
“It seemed like the knowledge base was a lot deeper than it had been,” Sheridan said. “The system seemed to be well thought out.”
David Irons could hardly contain his disappointment…
County Councilman David Irons of Sammamish, said he hopes the conduct of the primary is “stellar.”
Yeah… sure you do, Dave.
But the primary attracted only a third as many voters in King County as the 2004 general election, Irons pointed out.
“I don’t think this is necessarily a good test,” Irons said. “I’ll keep my powder dry.”
How about a countywide recount in the Sheriffs’ race? Is that a good enough test, Dave?
Hmm. If I were Irons, I wouldn’t worry so much about my powder… I’d be worried about keeping my pants dry after I get my ass whooped in the general election.
CNN is reporting that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has been indicted by a Texas grand jury on one count of criminal conspiracy.
From the AP:
A Texas grand jury today charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.
DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay’s national political committee.
The indictment against the second-ranking, and most assertive Republican leader came on the final day of the grand jury’s term. It followed earlier indictments of a state political action committee founded by DeLay and three of his political associates.
The Austin American-Statesman gives some great background on the case, in a story published before the indictment, but I think Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo best sums up what this means for the Republicans:
So let’s see.
House Majority Leader Indicted for Criminal Conspiracy.
Senate Majority Leader the target of an increasingly serious probe of potential insider trading.
Rumors of October Rove indictment in the Plame case.
Is this a problem yet?
I was out most of the day, and only just had a chance to view the clip (courtesy of Think Progress) of former FEMA director Michael Brown, giving my blog a free plug before a congressional subcommittee. Oh my. I had thought he was just blaming me for his downfall… I hadn’t realized he was actually blaming me for FEMA’s ineffectual response.
Here’s the full transcipt, again, courtesy of Think Progress:
While FEMA was trying to respond to probably the largest natural disaster in the history of this country, a catastrophic disaster that the president has described covering an area the size of Great Britain — I have heard 90,000 square miles — unless you have been there and seen it, you don’t realize exactly how bad and how big it was — but in the middle of trying to respond to that, FEMA’s press office became bombarded with requests to respond immediately to false statements about my resume and my background.
Ironically, it started with an organization called horsesass.org, that on some blog published a false, and, frankly, in my opinion, defamatory statement that the media just continued to repeat over and over. Next, one national magazine not only defamed me, but my alma mater, the Oklahoma City University School of Law, in one sentence alone leveling six false charges.
But I guess it’s the media’s job. But I don’t like it. I think it’s false. It came at the wrong time. And I think it led potentially to me being pulled out of Louisiana because it made me somewhat ineffective.
So… um… it’s all my fault? What a prick.
Once again, I stand by the reporting in my original post, and I decry Brown’s defamatory statement that I made a defamatory statement.
Darcy Burner is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Dave Reichert in WA’s 8th Congressional District, and while you may not yet know her name, a recent poll shows that she can win:
In the 8th, 69% of likely voters said that they disapproved of the current Republican-controlled Congress.
64% disapproved of the Bush administration. And only 34% would vote to re-elect Reichert. (To give you a sense: a normal number for a first-term incumbent would be in the low fifties.)
Furthermore, while likely voters in the 8th would choose Reichert over a generic Democratic candidate 45% to 21%, when presented with just a little information about me, they choose me at 41% to Reichert’s 31%.
Read (and recommend) Darcy’s diary on Daily Kos for more information.
I logged on this morning to find a huge spike in traffic, and apparently the thanks goes to former
International Arabian Horse Association Commissioner of Judges and Stewards FEMA director Mike Brown. He’s currently giving live testimony before a congressional committee (synopsis: “It’s not my fault”), and I’m told he actually gave HorsesAss.org credit for breaking the story about his inadequate resume.
Thanks for the on-air plug, Mike!
I suppose he thought that the domain name would discredit the information, but the facts are basically as I originally presented them: his immediate job experience prior to joining FEMA was a decade of regulating horse show judges for the IAHA, and subsequent investigation by both me and the MSM makes it pretty damn clear that he did indeed resign under pressure.
Further investigation by the MSM also revealed that his already thin resume was intentionally padded, and that he was just as unqualified to serve as FEMA’s general counsel (his first job at the agency) as he was to serve as its director. The guy simply was not qualified for the job.
That said, listening to Brown’s testimony, I think he’s saying something very important… something that speaks to the broader ideology of the Bush administration. He’s not just blaming the state and local authorities for the chaos in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina… he keeps repeating that various rescue and relief operations are not and should not be the responsibility of the federal government.
In response, I would just like to point out that the whole purpose of having a Federal Emergency Management Agency is to deal with regional events that are so catastrophic that state and local agencies are unable to respond. If we can’t expect that from our federal government, I wonder what purpose the Union serves?
[Cross-posted to Daily Kos]
Think Progress has the transcript of Brown’s kind words:
Ironically, it started with an organization called horsesass.org, that on some blog published a false, and, frankly, in my opinion, defamatory statement that the media just continued to repeat over and over.
What a putz.
Have they no shame? Uh… apparently not:
At a meeting with staff of the special House committee looking into Katrina preparations today, the disgraced and displaced former FEMA director said he had rejoined the agency as a consultant to “provide a review” of how the agency functioned before, during, and after the storm. This according to two congressional sources.
A congressional aide told NBC News nobody’s sure