Via Big Government.
Put this in the “If a Republican had done this….” file.
A couple weeks ago, House Member Eleanor Holmes Norton made a fundraising call to a lobbyist. The lobbyist wasn’t available, so Holmes Norton left a voicemail.
We have been given a copy of that message. (The audio and transcrpit of the call is at the link)
By way of background, with their prospects for November quickly deteriorating, Congressional Democrats are scrambling to assemble the financial resources they hope can stave off their electoral armageddon. Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team are putting a lot of pressure on Democrat members to pony up campaign contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
……In the following voicemail recording, Holmes Norton seeks a campaign contribution from the lobbyist and even mentions that she hadn’t previously asked for a donation. Such is the pressure Speaker Pelosi has placed on the members. But, it is the content of Holmes Norton’s message that is interesting. (Note: the first few seconds of the recording, where the name of the lobbyist is said by Holmes Norton, have been redacted by the source.)
Her message raises many concerns.
1. At the very beginning of the message, Holmes Norton notes that the lobbyist: “ha[s] given to other colleagues of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee”. Beyond being a bit heavy-handed, where did she get this information? Such donations are listed in FEC reports, but it is a violation to use that information to solicit campaign donations.
2. More serious, however, is her frequent mention of her seniority and her Chairmanship of a subcommittee. She is attempting to solicit funds based on her past actions taken in her official capacity in Congress. She is implying to the lobbyist that, should he decline to donate, he will be turning down a senior member of Congress who Chairs a subcommittee highly relevant to his “sector”.
3. Worse than that, she details her role overseeing a large economic development project in the District, funded by “stimulus” funds. It would appear that either the lobbyist has an interest in this project, or the Congresswoman thinks he does, as she states she is “frankly surprised” the lobbyist hasn’t given to her. Especially, she notes, because of her “long and deep work …in fact it has been by major work on the committee and subcommittee it’s been essentially in your sector”. “In your sector.” This raises additional concerns, and we note potentially relevant laws here:
“She who promises, directly or indirectly, any government contract or other government benefit (provided for or made possible by any Act of Congress) as a reward for a political contribution shall be guilty of a misdemeanor (18 U.S.C. § 600).”
“She who attempts to cause anyone to make a political contribution by denying or threatening to deny any government payment or other government benefit (provided for or made possible, in whole or in part, by any Act of Congress) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor (18 U.S.C. § 601).”
Then there are the House Ethics rules, according to House Ethics Manual (2008 Edition):
p. 147: “[N]o solicitation of a campaign or political contribution may be linked to an action taken or to be taken by a Member … in his or her official capacity. … The Standards Committee has long advised Members … that they should always exercise caution to avoid even the appearance that solicitations of campaign contributions are connected in any way with an action taken or to be taken in their official capacity. … [A] Member should not sponsor or participate in any solicitation that offers donors any special access to the Member in the Member’s official capacity.”
p. 150: “[A] Member may not accept any contribution that is linked with an action that the Member has taken or is being asked to take. A corollary of these rules is that Members … are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals …. Members … are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations.”
4. We don’t know from where she made this call, but it is a relevant inquiry. It is, after all, illegal to solicit campaign funds on federal property.
In mafia circles, this is called a shakedown. Where’s the DOJ? Oh that’s right, it’s too busy harrassing Arizona over its enforcement of immigration laws. Politicians like Holmes Norton are vermin.
It’s time to drain the swamp.