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post #11 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 08:46 AM
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Just watched this special on FOX, unbelievable what is going on. Neither DEMS or REPUBS are off limits, very unbiased, you try and catch the rerun..........

FOXNews.com - Porked: Earmarks for Profit - Specials
It's Fox. By definition, it is biased.

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post #12 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 08:49 AM
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FOX News Documentary Shows Congressmen Sent Millions in Earmarks to Their Own Families

A number of U.S. congressmen and their families — including former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert — have personally profited from congressional earmarks they slipped into federal legislation, a FOX News documentary reveals.

The documentary, “Porked: Earmarks for Profit,” hosted by Chris Wallace, premieres Sat., May 31, at 8 p.m. EDT on FOX News Channel.

Budget earmarks became a national scandal — and a national joke — after some wasteful schemes made headlines recently: a $223 million “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, a $500,000 teapot museum in North Carolina, a $10 million extension to Coconut Road in Florida.

Many lawmakers earmark taxpayer money for projects supported by contributors to their campaigns.

But the FOX News investigation exposes a far more disturbing practice: federal lawmakers earmarking taxpayer dollars on projects that offer them not just political advantage, but personal financial gain.

The FOX documentary focuses on three current and former congressmen — two Republicans and one Democrat.

The most recognizable name is Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert, who stepped down as Speaker of the House in 2007.

In February 2004, Hastert, with partners and through a trust that did not bear his name, bought up 69 acres of land that adjoined his farm some 60 miles outside Chicago. The price was $340,000. In May 2005, Hastert transferred an additional 69 acres from his farm into the trust.

Two months later, Congress passed a spending bill into which Hastert inserted a $207 million earmark to fund the “Prairie Parkway” which, when completed, would run just a few miles from the 138 acres owned by Hastert’s trust.

After President Bush flew to Hastert’s district in August 2005 to sign the bill, Hastert and his partners flipped the land for what appeared to be a multi-million dollar profit.

Hastert declined repeated interview requests from FOX News, but on Thursday, after FOX began to promote the program, Hastert’s lawyer emailed the documentary unit producer Jason Kopp.

“As you might imagine we are very sensitive to even a suggestion, innuendo, or inference that Speaker Hastert's work on the Prairie Parkway was improper or illegal,” attorney J. Randy Evans wrote.

Click here to see the e-mail from Hastert's attorney.

“The purpose of this communication is to be clear with you that any suggestion, direct or indirect, that there was any connection between Speaker Hastert's longstanding support (which pre-dates his service in Congress) for the Praire Parkway project and his purchase of property adjoining his home (indeed, his residence) would be false and improper.”

Click here to see correspondence between FOX News and Haster's attorney.

“Speaker Hastert has denied that the facts that you have stated are accurate,” Congressman Joe Bonner, R-AL, a member of the House Ethics and Appropriations Committees, tells FOX News’ Greg Jarrett, who did most of the field reporting for the documentary.

But Bonner added that if the allegations are true, what Hastert did was “wrong, and it would be indefensible.”

The FOX News documentary team also investigated the case of Pennsylvania Democratic congressman Paul Kanjorski, who earmarked millions of taxpayer dollars for a company run by his family.

In a startling interview, Joe Yudichak, who ran the non-profit Regional Equipment Center in Kanjorski’s district, says the congressman initially tried to bully him into helping Kanjorski direct the money to Kanjorski’s family members.

In the documentary, Yudichak recounts his conversation with Kanjorski:

“He said, ‘You’re telling me I can’t take care of my family?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m telling you, it’s gonna be done. And it’s gonna be done with you or without you.’ And he said, ‘I'll bury you. I’ll destroy you.’”

Kanjorski later earmarked more than $10 million directly to the company run by his family. The money was supposed to fund the development of new technologies to help turn around desperate coal towns and make them prosperous.

The company, Cornerstone Technologies, went bankrupt.

Harold Shobert, head of Pennsylvania State University’s Energy Institute, and a leading expert on anthracite coal, worked with Cornerstone on one project.

“It was clear that these guys were clueless as to how to do research and development,” Shobert told FOX News. “It was sort of like trying to collaborate with the cast of Looney Tunes.”

Kanjorski and his family declined repeated interview requests by FOX. But on Thursday his office also sent FOX News a statement.

“These six year old allegations have already been dismissed as false. I remain committed to the job of standing up for the middle class people of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am proud of our efforts to bring high-tech, high-wage jobs to the area, as well as our efforts to stand up to those who want to privatize Social Security and those who oppose increasing the minimum wage. The idea that I have done anything in office to benefit myself is ludicrous on its face. My wife Nancy and I have lived in the same modest home for more than 25 years and anyone who visits us knows that we live by the same middle class values that we always have.”

Kanjorski closed by claiming, “This is a political attack by the Republican machine and nothing more.”

Click here to see the e-mail from Kanjorski's office.

Brian Gaffney, executive producer of the FOX News Documentary Unit, dismissed the charge.

“Two of the three congressmen examined in the program are Republicans,” Gaffney said. “Our producers and reporters are top-flight journalists who follow the truth wherever it leads.”

Representative Bonner of the House Ethics and Appropriations Committees declined to talk about Kanjorski’s case.

“If a member of Congress is personally benefiting, or his or her family is personally benefiting, then that may involve the Department of Justice,” Bonner tells Jarrett in the documentary. “In which case I can’t comment on it.”

The third case investigated by FOX involves Congressman Ken Calvert, R-CA, who has earmarked millions in taxpayer dollars to build roads and a transportation hub near commercial real estate properties he personally owns.

Calvert also refused to sit down with FOX News for an interview, although his staffers did call FOX producers, stating that Calvert pushed the earmarks at the request of local government authorities, and that the House Ethics Committee ruled, in effect, that it was ethical for a congressman to earmark money for a project that he’d personally benefit from — so long as others were making money, too.

That is true, but several experts told FOX that the ruling illustrates how problematic the practice is.

The ruling certainly does not sit well with Rep. Ken Flake, an Arizona Republican, one of the most tireless opponents of earmark abuse in Congress.

“I was completely floored when I heard that,” Flake tells Jarrett of the Ethics Committee’s decision. “I hope that nobody takes comfort in that ruling, because I don’t think that the Department of Justice sees it that way.”

GOP leaders, including President Bush, have told FOX News they think earmark abuse was a big reason the Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006.

Earmarks have also become an issue on the presidential campaign.

Arizona senator John McCain has attacked New York senator Hillary Clinton’s proposed $1 million earmark for a museum commemorating the 1969 rock concert at Woodstock.

“My friends, I wasn’t there,” the presumptive GOP nominee said during an October Republican primary debate sponsored by FOX News. “I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time.”

In August of 1969 Senator McCain was being held captive in the notorious Hanoi Hilton, a prisoner of war camp in the North Vietnamese capital.

FOXNews.com - FOX News Documentary Shows Congressmen Sent Millions in Earmarks to Their Own Families - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum
More biased Fox reporting!

B

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and thats what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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post #13 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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OK Bot, I'll bite, why would the biased FOX go after Repubs? Do you believe they have switched sides or could they be double agents?
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post #14 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 01:13 PM
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That Fox report was very good by the way. It echos one by NBC NEWS late last year and one from the NYT earlier this year. We need MORE of this and less FLUFF.

Thing I don't like about the Earmark debate is that it is a very broad brush that tries to cover too much in one simple word. Two Kentucky examples:

First Congressman's earmark brought breast cancer screening equipment to rural hospital and county owned health departments where previously the closest services were 2-5 hours away. [$134,000]

Second Congressman's earmark got a friend's marina's parking lot and boat ramp resurfaced with DHS funds under the guise of needing improved launching of State Trooper Zodiacs at Lake Cumberland. [$1,215,000]

Those two Earmarks both get the same "eliminate them all" consideration when folks discuss the abuse of Earmarks. One is obviously a political favor while the other brings necessary services to underserved rural areas of the country.

In a budget the size of the US's there is just not time to discuss, either in committee or on the floor each and every spending item. The physical amount of time just does not exist. So Earmarks are, by necessity a fact of life. Goodness came in 2007 when names were attached to each earmark so we could finally track who was spending what and hold each Senator or Congressman accountable for their actions. [When Congressman Chandler walks into Joe's on Sunday's I can look at him and say "You spent money on WHAT???". And my voice does boom when I do that.

So the trick is to separate what we consider the "good" earmarks from the "bad" earmarks and change the discussion to address the corruptions associated with the bad earmarks only. There ARE a bunch of Congressmen, both on the left and right who are doing very good work that are judicious in their spending habits. It would be a shame for them [or their constituents] to suffer because of boat ramps and Prairie Parkways.

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post #15 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 01:35 PM
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Not buying it. Your first example (the 'positive' earmark) is a regional, rather than a federal responsibility. Tell me why my tax dollars are funding such a project and how I expect to benefit from same. It is a corrupt system, and eliminating corruption from that system is as likely as eliminating the cancer from Sen Kennedy's brain. If it cannot be done (and it cannot) the system must die.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #16 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 01:53 PM
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Not buying it. Your first example (the 'positive' earmark) is a regional, rather than a federal responsibility. Tell me why my tax dollars are funding such a project and how I expect to benefit from same. It is a corrupt system, and eliminating corruption from that system is as likely as eliminating the cancer from Sen Kennedy's brain. If it cannot be done (and it cannot) the system should die.
The same way my tax dollars continue to fund water projects that keep Phoenix a viable city.

And some of my tax dollars are going to regional programs in Wyoming or Florida or California. I am not sure any of us, except a very few states who can actually generate their own wealth of resources would want to pick up the tab for our own "regional" issues. Phoenix would still be a pile of sand and dust if it were not for Federal dollars. Parts of Kentucky would still be without indoor plumbing or would still be dumping raw sewage into the Cumberland River for Nashville to enjoy. Some states, or regions just don't have the resources to generate their own financial base to fund development or services.

Of course the other answer is, should you be driving cross country and a member of the family get sick on I-64, you would be really happy that those little rural hospitals now have technology to diagnose and treat so folks don't just die on the side of the road. I know I was happy when my mom fell ill on a bus tour back in 1996 and had to be taken to Natchitoches, Louisiana and they had a shiny new MRI imager.

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post #17 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 02:02 PM
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It is a corrupt system... the system must die.
The system isn't corrupt. Some of the participants of the system are corrupt. Two different concepts.

I am really comfortable designing large complex systems that can do a mass of discreet tasks from multiple sources to multiple receivers and frankly I can't see how pushing this from Federal to 50 States would simplify the system, eliminate corruption, save money or lessen the tax burden on anyone.

My "job" mindset sould suggest that I would prefer to build from scratch to build a better mousetrap instead of fixing what exists. It does not.

The best hope is to take this system, keep working it and trimming the waste from it. Increasing the transparency to the point that even the most skilled of the corrupt is unable to function within it.

But you always have to go back to the voters. They put those folks in office. If there is a corrupt Congressman that keeps getting elected, the two choices are to tighten the rules down to where they have to function ethically or to send someone into the district to oppose them.

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post #18 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 02:13 PM
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So the choices are no oversight on a federal level vs. responsible oversight on a state level. What do you think regional government is for? Why do we have alderman, town councilmen, state representatives, mayors, governors, etc.? If federal monies must be used for local projects, then share and share alike, and let regional governments do their jobs and oversee proper distribution and application of said monies. I'm sorry, but you are essentially arguing to enable, even encourage corruption in our federal government, and I know you're not alone. In the end, that is exactly why our government is as corrupt as it is.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #19 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 02:15 PM
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The system isn't corrupt. Some of the participants of the system are corrupt. Two different concepts.

I am really comfortable designing large complex systems that can do a mass of discreet tasks from multiple sources to multiple receivers and frankly I can't see how pushing this from Federal to 50 States would simplify the system, eliminate corruption, save money or lessen the tax burden on anyone.

My "job" mindset sould suggest that I would prefer to build from scratch to build a better mousetrap instead of fixing what exists. It does not.

The best hope is to take this system, keep working it and trimming the waste from it. Increasing the transparency to the point that even the most skilled of the corrupt is unable to function within it.

But you always have to go back to the voters. They put those folks in office. If there is a corrupt Congressman that keeps getting elected, the two choices are to tighten the rules down to where they have to function ethically or to send someone into the district to oppose them.
No/inadequate oversight = corruption. Period. Don't believe me? Consider the first six years of the Bush administration. The earmark system was born of corruption and will continue to wallow in corruption for as long as it continues. It is an integral part of the backbone of the good old boys system on Capital Hill, and desperately needs to get thrown out with the rest of the trash.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #20 of 50 (permalink) Old 06-01-2008, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by GermanStar View Post
Not buying it. Your first example (the 'positive' earmark) is a regional, rather than a federal responsibility. Tell me why my tax dollars are funding such a project and how I expect to benefit from same. It is a corrupt system, and eliminating corruption from that system is as likely as eliminating the cancer from Sen Kennedy's brain. If it cannot be done (and it cannot) the system must die.
There's that libertarian I know . . . it has been so long that we cannot comprehend anything other than the federal government taking care of us (we rhetorically meaning the citizens of this country). Imagine if those dollars didn't go to Washington to be routed back. Then, Ky could buy it's own cancer machine and Phoenix could fix its own water issue.

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