Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dave Reichert's lobbyist money

-- by Dave

Darcy Burner's opponent, Dave Reichert, likes to pose as a moderate, "independent" kind of Republican, even though he largely votes the GOP party line like a good footsoldier. And he's rewarded for that loyalty not just with visits from Preznit Bush and John McCain, but also with fund-raisers from the usual K Street lobbyists.

The problem with that, as Politico recently reported, is that those lobbyists represent business interests who work directly against the interests of Reichert's constituents -- particularly the Boeing employees who are in line to build the Pentagon's new tanker plane:

In Washington state, where Boeing would build the tanker if it finally got the contract, Rep. Dave Reichert, the Republican incumbent in the 8th Congressional District, has so far raised less money than his Democratic challenger, Darcy Burner. She has $1.48 million in the bank; he $928,000.

Just before the August recess, a group of well-connected young Republicans calling themselves Club 218 attempted to make up the difference, arranging a fundraiser for Reichert, according to news reports.

The problem?

Roll Call recently listed some of Club 218’s members, including Mike Chappell, a lobbyist for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. at Fierce, Isakowitz and Blalock; and Christopher Cox, a D.C. Navigators’ lobbyist for Alabama Aircraft Industries, which is fighting Boeing on a tanker maintenance contract.

EADS is teamed with Northrop Grumman in the tanker competition, to assemble the tanker in Mobile, Ala.

... “The fact that Congressman Reichert is benefitting from fundraisers organized by lobbyists for corporate interests trying to strip thousands of jobs from our district is the height of hypocrisy,” said Burner’s spokesman, Sandeep Kaushik. “It raises questions about his commitment to the district.”

Reichert's campaign denies that there's anything wrong with taking money from Club 218, and claims it hasn't taken any money from the EADS lobbyist (while saying nothing about Cox). But that's an evasion of what this story is about.

The K Street Republicans are savvy enough to keep an Airbus lobbyist off Reichert's FEC filings; the story is that this group of anti-Boeing/pro-Alabama lobbyists quietly organized a Capitol Club fund-raiser for Reichert.

This funder was a joint event with Darren White of New Mexico; one would assume that White was the object of any EADS lobbyists' largesse. But the event itself was reflective of how deeply, incestuously enmeshed the Republican House members have become with K Street lobbyists, and Reichert is as deeply entwined as any of them.

Which is why he'll go on TV and denounce the original decision not to award the tanker to Boeing (as he does in the video above) and then privately gather funds with help from anti-Boeing lobbyists. It's called talking out both sides of your mouth, and Reichert is a master.

It's also comforting to note that Reichert is being driven to increasing desperation by Burner's fund-raising prowess. All you Blue America donors, and those who pitched in when her house burned down -- take a bow.

Of course, it isn't just Reichert; it extends throughout the Republican brand, all the way up to John McCain, who faces a similar problem in Ohio. Now wonder the Republican Convention is looking like a funeral proceeding.

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