Not quite a clean slate

[by David S. Bernstein]

The GOP has really learned its lesson, huh?

Let's see how many ways new RNC chairman, Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, is connected to the scandals, embarassments, and unpopular policies that helped lead to the party's recent defeat. Let me know if I'm missing anything!

--The convicted influence-peddler Congressman Bob Ney has confessed to taking a bribe from convicted influence-buying lobbyist Jack Abramoff, in exchange for helping obtain awards for his Native American clients from then-HUD Secretary Mel Martinez in 2003. When Martinez left HUD to run for US Senate in early 2004, one of his first major fundraisers was thrown by Abramoff. After the scandals broke, Martinez returned $2500 Ney had contributed to his campaign, but declined to return the $250,000 Abramoff raised for him.

--Three executives of Florida's BPS&J Corp. pled guilty this fall to embezzlement and other crimes, including illegal funnelling of contributions to Martinez's 2004 Senate campaign.

--In November 2005, Martinez admitted to "flawed" finance reporting related to his 2004 Senate campaign, after the FEC had sent 15 letters demanding explanations and records.

--Martinez's finance director for that "flawed" Senate campaign was Kirk Fordham, who left his job with Congressman Mark Foley to work for Martinez, and then went on to become chief of staff for Congressman Thomas Reynolds, until being forced to resign for his role in covering up the Mark Foley page scandal.

--In 2005, Martinez's general counsel, Brian Darling, wrote the notorious memo arguing that Terri Schiavo's vegetative body offered Republicans a wonderful political opportunity. Darling was forced to resign, but not before Martinez co-sponsored the law federalizing Schiavo's case.

--That same Brian Darling, BTW, came to Martinez by way of Alexander Strategy Group, the lobbying firm founded by the chief of staff of another ethics-challenged Republican, Tom DeLay.

--In his 2004 primary campaign, Martinez labelled his Republican opponent "anti-family" for supporting stem-cell research. (He also accused that opponent of catering to the "radical homosexual lobby" for supporting a bipartisan hate-crimes bill.)

--In 2000, while co-chair of Bush's Florida election team, Martinez was also chairman of the Orange County commission, and thus its election supervisor; the Miami Herald reported that the county could only produce 639 of the 966 ballots that supposedly had recorded no Presidential vote. Later at HUD, Martinez hired a top GOP Florida-recount lawyer as his chief-of-staff.

--Martinez has voted the GOP position 94% of the time, including votes for the (pro-torture) Military Commissions Act of 2006; against the use of stem cells derived from embryos that would otherwise be destroyed; for a constitutional amendment against flag-burning; against creation of a commission on Katrina response; for extending the Bush tax cuts; and against increasing the minimum wage.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Talking Politics Archives