Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Better Democrats, Please

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu picks up some unwanted scrutiny:


8 Jan 2008 Washington, D.C. – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today sent a complaint to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District for Louisiana and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, asking for an investigation into whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) violated federal bribery law by including a $2 million earmark for Voyager Expanded Learning in a bill a mere four days after receiving $30,000 in campaign contributions from company executives and their relatives. CREW also asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the matter.

Randy Best, a top Republican donor and Bush pioneer, founded Voyager, an educational products company and rather than selling the company’s reading program to school districts, hired lobbyists to obtain earmarks for it. Although the House had appropriated $1 million for his program for the D.C. public schools, Best still needed a Senate sponsor. A lobbyist arranged a meeting with Sen. Landrieu, the chair of the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the District of Columbia, to press for an earmark. Shortly after Sen. Landrieu met with Best, a member of Sen. Landrieu’s staff asked him to hold a fundraiser for her and he agreed. After the fundraiser, she received $30,000 in campaign contributions from individuals associated with the company -- donors who had never before contributed to her. Four days after she received the money, she inserted an earmark into a D.C. appropriations bill, giving D.C. schools $2 million to buy Best’s reading program, which was unproven and had not been requested by the school system.


Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said today, “Senator Landrieu appears to have traded a $2 million earmark for $30,000 in campaign contributions. It was a win-win situation for Best and Senator Landrieu, but a lose-lose for the taxpayers and D.C. school children.” Sloan continued, “the Department of Justice and the Senate Ethics Committee should look into this matter immediately. Members of Congress need to understand that trading earmarks for campaign funds is illegal -- no exceptions.”


Here in the DC area, lives amidst flourishing hanging gardens festooned with colorful screaming animals of all shapes and sizes and works in a thriving bottle washing factory, it is well known that the District of Columbia school system is rife with corruption, paralyzed by poor management, and reeling from incompetence. Do they really need a Senator from Louisiana to step in and try to help them? How about some "earmarks" for the people affected by Katrina, Senator? How about some help with those formaldehyde laced trailers, perhaps? Better yet--how about acting like a Democrat once in a while?

How about Better Democrats, please? And a strong primary challenger for Landrieu would be nice. She tends to vote with the Republicans a little too often, for my taste. Especially when it comes to torture.

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