Before moving on from that matter, I thought it would be a good time to include a little more information on the connection between Joe Knollenberg, Mark Valente -- the lobbyist for whom he did the favor, and various other scandal ridden Congressmen.
In the earlier post, we provided information that Mark Vallente, a lobbyist, had worked with Joe Knollenberg and Randy Cunningham to get a cap removed on legal fee reimbursement's made by the DC School Board. Although numerous Republicans and even the White House opposed lifting the cap, Joe Knollenberg, the chair of the committee overturned the cap.
In another interesting exchange of favors in 2001, Joe Knollenberg and Randy Cunningham worked together to overturn a cap on lawyer fees in D.C. Apparently Congress had previously imposed a cap on the DC School Board for their reimbursement of legal fees. Lobbyists for several lawyers worked to get the cap lifted. It was an uphill challenge since the Republican's who were the majority in the House always tend to vote against laws that reimburse lawyers because they think such laws encourage lawsuits. The White House had come out against removing the cap.
But, 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, andRep. 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 new chairman [Joe Knollenberg
Joe Knollenberg, Mark Vallente, John Shimkus, Mark Foley, and Tom Delay
It is always nice to know that some people are just generous to a fault. Looking at the FEC data, it seems that Mark Vallente is one of those people. Mark Vallente and his wife have given tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to Republican Candidates and PACs.
Few people may recognize the name "Mark Vallente", but anyone who has followed politics in the last few years certainly know the names of Mark Foley and Tom Delay. Many people in Southeast Michigan may recognize the name of Joe Knollenberg, and a few would probably say that the name John Shimkus seemed familiar.
Well, John Shimkus was in charge of Congress's Page Board. He was responsible for the pages. In the Fall of 2005, he was told about Mark Foley being too "friendly" with a page. Shimkus went with Jeff Trahndel to meet with Foley. Shimkus never brought the issue up to the "Page Board" which consists of other members of Congress. Instead Shimkus reportedly told Foley to stop it.
The Washington Post reported
GOP leaders have said they referred the matter promptly to Rep. John M. Shimkus (R-Ill.), who heads a three-lawmaker panel that oversees the House page program."So, Shimkus was one of the Republicans who knew about Foley, but didn't stop him from his activities. It seems that protecting their majority in Congress was more important to them than protecting young boys and girls. Shimkus knew of Foley's activities for nearly a year before it became public.
Shimkus questioned Foley, but at that time, he had seen only suspiciously friendly e-mails, not the explicit instant messages revealed recently. In one e-mail to the former page, for example, Foley asked for a picture of him. The boy reportedly told an associate that he considered the request to be "sick," but Foley convinced Shimkus that the exchanges were innocent, Shimkus and Republican leaders said.
Republicans appeared to have kept the matter under wraps. Rep. Dale E. Kildee (Mich.), the only Democrat on the House Page Board, said yesterday: "I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley's inappropriate communications with a House page, and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter."
In the run-up to the elections last fall, many people were calling for Hastert, Reynolds, and Shimkus to resign alongside Foley since they were the ones who "covered-up" Foley's actions.
Needless to say, other than Foley, none of them voluntarily resigned. Apparently the Republican Party didn't pressure them to resign.
So if you have heard of Shimkus, that could why his name was familiar. Or it could be from the news reports that noted that his campaign treasurer was also a powerful lobbyist in Washington DC's Republican circles. That lobbyist was Mark Valente.
A lobbyist running a campaign? Now that's cozy.
So we know that Shimkus and Valente were close. We also know that Shimkus was "close" to Foley. We also know that Knollenberg has done at least one favor for Valente.
That started me thinking about the possibilities if this Tainted Troop may have some other connections as well. Of course if you want to get to the root of things, follow the money.
Oh, and Valente was actually the treasurer of 9 other Republican leadership PACs.
Mark Valente is a Very Generous Donor to Republican Campaigns
Now, there is nothing wrong with being generous in giving to political campaigns. It would be wrong however if there were some quid pro quo, i.e., that a lobbyist gave or raised money for a candidate in order to get a favor from the candidate. (Particularly when some "favors" are worth millions of dollars.) Looking at the money trail is interesting.
The data I looked at was from the FEC website. According to that data, and I haven't checked their math yet, it seems that Mr. Valente has given $ 59595 to Republican candidates and PACs while his wife Claudia has given $57,470 since 1996. That is a lot of money. And there may be even more. I've noticed some discrepancies in the FEC data which I'm deciphering now. Plus, those amounts don't count whatever they may have raised for candidates by hosting fundraisers.
What is really interesting is that there every single GOP Member in Michigan's Congressional Delegation has gotten significant donations from Mr. Valente -- including Joe Knollenberg. (I'll post a table summarizing these donations shortly.)
Oh, and Mr. Shimkus -- the friend of Foley -- was also the recipient of some very generous donations by Mr. Valente.
Even more interesting is the tie between Mr. Shimkus' PAC fund (separate from his individual campaign committee) was also a recipient of money from Mr. Valente. And also from Tom Delay.
Then there is that little matter of Shimkus' PAC giving donations to Republican Congressman Roskam -- in excess of federal campaign laws! The FEC lists the "Committees who Gave to This Candidate" and for Roskam, the page lists a donation from the John S. PAC of $3000.00 on 2/22/06 and $5000.00 on 3/27/06. The limit is $5000.00.
Roskam, by the way, used to work as an aide to Tom Delay. As with Duke Cunningham, Delay resigned from Congress in shame too. He has been fighting charges that he laundered campaign money through the RNC.
So, while treasurer of Shimkus' PAC, that PAC made contributions -- to a candidate who is a good friend of Tom Delay -- in excess of FEC limits on contributions.
And then of course there is all the money that Delay gave to his loyal band of Republicans. Much of which was run through Delay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC (also known as ARMPAC).
Oh. Here is where the fun really starts. Who gave what to whom? Who accepted what from whom? Was there quid pro quo? Stay tuned. That will be in the next episode. Oh what a tangled web...