08.31.2010 0

TimesCheck.com: NYT Seeks to Discredit Rep. Boehner’s Business Alliances as White House Gets a Free Pass on Lobbying Ties, Union Support

  • On: 09/13/2010 19:29:04
  • In: Government Transparency
  • TimesCheck.com: NYT Seeks to Discredit Rep. Boehner’s Business Alliances as White House Gets a Free Pass on Lobbying Ties, Union Support

    By Kevin Mooney

    Although the Obama White House is filled to the brim with former lobbyists, Rep. John Boehner’s alliances and connections with pro-business groups are somehow illegitimate and unseemly. With the mid-term elections just a few weeks away, the idea here is to take down and discredit an effective, well-liked minority leader who is well positioned to become the next House Speaker.

    Private strategy sessions organized in concert with free market activists and lobbyists who are united in their opposition to new regulatory schemes are suggestive of undue influence and in direct conflict with the best interests of average Americans, The New York Times strongly implies in a front page Sunday report. The idea here is to discredit and delegitimize Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) just a few weeks before the mid-term elections that could help elect him as the next House Speaker.

    While the report is framed as a straight news story, it is in reality a hit piece meant to coincide with intensified White House criticism of the affable, well-liked leader of the opposition.

    President Obama mentioned Boehner by name eight times in a Cleveland speech last week that focused on economics. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is set to begin airing new ads that criticize Boehner for opposing additional state aid for teachers and Medicare. And, the NYT is doing its part to interlink the Ohio Republican with special interests.

    Reporter Eric Lipton is particularly scandalized by Boehner’s alliances with business leaders who were opposed to the government takeover of the financial sector earlier this year.

    “He [Boehner] maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS,” Lipton writes. “They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.”

    But are Boehner’s lobbying connections somehow out of proportion with what is typical for Washington D.C. and appropriate for an official in his position? As an ardent, consistent supporter of private industry, it is neither surprising nor scandalous to discover that he has attracted support from like-minded outfits such as the Chamber of Commerce.

    Moreover, Boehner has never postured as someone who would shun business interests that share his policy preferences. By contrast, President Obama promised to keep his White House free and unfettered from a concentration of lobbying influences while running for president. This pledge has long since been abandoned.

    Tim Carney, a senior columnist with The Washington Examiner, and a noted author, has compiled a data set that now includes 50 former lobbyists who work in the Obama White House. Where is the NYT report that calls attention to potential influence peddling and corruption from inside the executive branch?

    Here are just a few of the big hits Carney calls attention to in his latest piece.

    “The IRS general counsel is a former lobbyist for the Swiss Bankers Association, Mark Patterson, former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, is chief of staff at Treasury, and he never received a waiver.

    Obama’s top food safety guy (Michael Taylor) is a Monsanto lobbyist, and his top agriculture trade guy (Isi Siddiqui) is an agri-chem lobbyist.

    Joe Biden’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff are both former corporate lobbyists with clients including oil companies and Fannie Mae.”

    Under the — are you kidding me category– the NYT quotes no less of an authority than current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is greatly offended by Boehner’s relationship with key lobbyists.

    “The woman he hopes to replace, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, derided him on Friday as having met `countless times with special-interest lobbyists in an effort to stop tough legislation’ that would regulate corporations and protect consumers,” the Times reports.

    Let’s break this down.

    In just the 2010 election cycle so far, Speaker Pelosi has received about $200,000 from Political Action Committees (PACs) connected with organized labor, according to OpenSecrets.org. This is just a small part of the whole. Going back to the 2008 elections and 2006 elections when she was at the apex of her influence Pelosi received substantial donations from some of the more politically potent unions.

    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) PAC, for instance, contributed $10,000 to Pelosi’s campaign in 2008 and 2006, federal records show. It is also worth noting that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has received over $900,000 from organized labor for her congressional campaigns, including over $30,000 from the SEIU.

    The connection with SEIU is of particular importance because it continues to lead the charge for The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which includes the anti-secret ballot card check provision and binding arbitration. The legislation has stalled on Capitol Hill and remains extremely unpopular with the public, opinion polls show. Even so, union bosses expect payback on the substantial donations they have made to the Democratic Party in the past two election cycles especially. This is where the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) comes into play. Craig Becker, a controversial recess appointee, has strong ties to the SEIU and AFL-CIO. He has argued in the past that the NLRB can take action without congressional approval.

    A careful review of federal records available through OpenSecrets.org shows that Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have both raised well above what Rep. Boehner has in the current election cycle from lobbyists to say nothing of the power and influence of organized labor.

    There’s a nice opening here for a report that calls attention to extra-constitutional activities that do the bidding of powerful union officials at the expense of employers and average Americans looking for work.

    Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau and the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com.

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