Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What Do Joe Knollenberg & Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Have in Common?

What Do Joe Knollenberg & Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Have in Common?

They are are both champions at earmarking.

Earmarking is when a member of Congress sneaks a little line item into a bill -- usually appropriation bills -- and Knollenberg is a member of the Appropriations Committee -- specifying taxpayer dollars to be directed to some pet project.

These are not small items either. Knollenberg has been bragging on his website for weeks now about the "earmarks" he has slid into appropriation bills -- and they total over $60 million for Knollenberg alone. And those are only the earmarks he wants to make public!!!

He has inserted dozens, maybe even hundreds of earmarks into appropriations bills. Some of them may even be valuable uses of tax dollars.

But they are not all so good or altruistic.

In fact, Knollenberg chaired the committee that came up with the record breaking, pork filled Transportation Bill that topped $286 billion and included the Ted Stevens infamous "Bridge to Nowhere".

And Knollenberg has refused to respond to requests to release a list of his earmarks. [CNN did a survey recently and Knollenberg wouldn't even answer them.

Knollenberg Slides In an $8 Million Earmark For His Largest Campaign Contributor

Knollenberg inserted an $8 million earmark into an appropriations bill that would have gone into the pocket of one of his largest campaign donor's company.

Specifically, Knollenberg had inserted language requiring Amtrak buy $8 million in refrigerated railcars from Tony Soave's company. Soave is one of Knollenberg's biggest campaign donors.

Knollenberg & "The Cunningham Effect"
In a previous post, we reported on how Joe Knollenberg and Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a former Congressman now serving prison time for accepting bribes, worked together to do a favor for Washington D.C. lobbyist Mark Valente.

Although they had to work against their own party and their own President (Bush), with Joe Knollenberg and Randy Cunningham on the committee, the lobbyists prevailed.

According to a December 6, 2001, article in the Washington Post, it was Joe Knollenberg, the new chairman of the committee who bowed to the lobbyists and granted their wishes.

The story of how the lawyers' advocates succeeded illustrates anew the influence wielded by individual members of Congress -- and unelected players -- who take a personal interest in District legislation.

In this case, key roles were played by lobbyist Mark Valente III, who enjoys close ties to House GOP leaders, and Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.), the new chairman of the House panel that oversees the District budget.

Valente was lobbying on behalf of the Alexandria law firm of Dalton, Dalton & Houston, which often represents parents seeking special education services for their children. Knollenberg has long been sympathetic on the issue of lifting the cap -- his top aide has an autistic son and won a large judgment against a suburban Detroit school district after a debilitating legal fight.

The real kicker in the Washington Post story is the part where Joe Knollenberg is praised by Randy Cunningham as being the one responsible for basically giving the lobbyists what they wanted!

"The new chairman [Joe Knollenberg] made the difference," said Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), who fought the change and who is the longest-serving member of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District.

Yes. That is the same Duke Cunningham that is serving prison time now for accepting millions of dollars in bribes from defense contractors.

In fact, an article in the National Journal coined the phrase "The Cunningham Effect" and that article specifically references Knollenberg's $8 million earmark to one his largest campaign contributors. (Note that Soave is still one of Knollenberg's biggest contributors -- in fact, he is the 9th biggest donor -- behind companies like GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, etc.)

Conservatives Are Fed Up With Republican's Who Are Not Fiscally Responsible

Some of the harshest critics of earmarking comes from the classic conservatives in the Republican Party. They are fed up with pork barrel spending. A quick perusal of the traditional Conservative journals shows that even they consider Knollenberg's spending habits to be outrageous. [Taxpayers For Common Sense, Robert Novak, etc.]

We Cannot Afford 2 More Years of Joe Knollenberg.

No comments: