Archive for the ‘Harry Reid’ Category

Harry Reid Accidentally Votes Against His Health Care Bill

December 24, 2009

This was a pretty funny moment from early this morning. I figured I’d share it with you all as a little Christmas present from me.  The following video is a clip from the Senate’s Roll Call vote on the health care bill (H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). I wasn’t able to set the start time for the clip, so skip ahead to 25:30 (and if that’s not working, the video is also here: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/290899-1).

Apparently Mr. Reid was running on not quite enough sleep there.

The vote ended up being 60-39 (with all Democrats voting AYE, all of the Republicans voting NO, and Jim Bunning (R-KY) not voting).

While I personally would’ve voted against the bill, I don’t think this bill was all that bad considering other possibilities the Senate was looking at, but I really don’t feel like getting into the politics of the bill on Christmas Eve (I’ll save that for when the House and Senate come together to iron out a bill that both chambers agree on).

I just wanted to give everybody a little laugh, and wish everybody a very merry and safe Christmas!

God bless all of you and your families!  If you celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas!  If you don’t, Happy Holidays!

I wish everybody a safe weekend.

Done Gift-Giving,

Ranting Republican

Happy 200th Birthday to Abraham Lincoln

February 12, 2009

Well, as most of you know, today is Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.  The government has been celebrating this all day, and I’ve been watching the Bicentenial Celebration that the Congress has been holding in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda since I got back from class.

So far, I’ve seen the U.S. Army Chorus sing “The Battle Hymn of  the Republic” (one of my FAVORITE songs).  After that, I listened to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speak.  Each of them shared stories of President Lincoln as well as some quotes from one of our greatest Presidents.  Those speeches should be available on C-SPAN’s website sometime later: http://www.c-span.org/series/lincoln-200-years.aspx.  Also, there is the website www.lincolnbicentennial.gov, but I’ve been unable to get on there yet today due to high traffic.

And I just wanted to take the time out to honor President Lincoln.  While I certainly don’t agree with everything that  he did, I do think that he was a great President.  He got us through one of the toughest times in the history of this country.  He reunited the country after the Civil War.  He was monumental in ending slavery.  He was the kind of person who never gave up, and this was seen in how he continued his political career after suffering defeats.

He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed, even when that made him unpopular with some, and that is what made Lincoln a truly great President.  You knew where he stood.  And he stood strong.

President Lincoln, thank you, for what you did for this country.  You truly were a great man.

Done Remembering,

Ranting Republican
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Senate Passes $838 Economic Stimulus Bill: 61-37

February 10, 2009

Just moments ago, the Senate passed the economic stimulus bill, 61-37.  Here’s how the votes fell:

Akaka (D-HI) – Aye
Alexander (R-TN) – Nay
Barrasso (R-WY) – Nay
Baucus (D-MT) – Aye
Bayh (D-IN) – Aye
Begich (D-AK) – Aye
Bennet (D-CO) – Aye
Bennett (R-UT) – Nay
Bingaman (D-NM) – Aye
Bond (R-MO) – Nay
Boxer (D-CA) – Aye
Brown (D-OH) – Aye
Brownback (R-KS) – Nay
Bunning (R-KY) – Nay
Burr (R-NC) – Nay
Burris (D-IL) – Aye
Byrd (D-WV) – Aye
Cantwell (D-WA) – Aye
Cardin (D-MD) – Aye
Carper (D-DE) – Aye
Casey (D-PA) – Aye
Chambliss (R-GA) – Nay
Coburn (R-OK) – Nay
Cochran (R-MS) – Nay
Collins (R-ME) – Aye
Conrad (D-ND) – Aye
Corker (R-TN) – Nay
Cornyn (R-TX) – Nay
Crapo (R-ID) – Nay
DeMint (R-SC) – Nay
Dodd (D-CT) – Aye
Dorgan (D-ND) – Aye
Durbin (D-IL) – Aye
Ensign (R-NV) – Nay
Enzi (R-WY) – Nay
Feingold (D-WI) – Aye
Feinstein (D-CA) – Aye
Gillibrand (D-NY) – Aye
Graham (R-SC) – Nay
Grassley (R-IA) – Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Not Voting
Hagan (D-NC) – Aye
Harkin (D-IA) – Aye
Hatch (R-UT) – Nay
Hutchison (R-TX) – Nay
Inhofe (R-OK) – Nay
Inouye (D-HI) – Aye
Isakson (R-GA) – Nay
Johanns (R-NE) – Nay
Johnson (D-SD) – Aye
Kaufman (D-DE) – Aye
Kennedy (D-MA) – Aye
Kerry (D-MA) – Aye
Klobuchar (D-MN) – Aye
Kohl (D-WI) – Aye
Kyl (R-AZ) – Nay
Landrieu (D-LA) – Aye
Lautenberg (D-NJ) – Aye
Leahy (D-VT) – Aye
Levin (D-MI) – Aye
Lieberman (ID-CT) – Aye
Lincoln (D-AR) – Aye
Lugar (R-IN) – Nay
Martinez (R-FL) – Nay
McCain (R-AZ) – Nay
McCaskill (D-MO) – Aye
McConnell (R-KY) – Nay
Menendez (D-NJ) – Aye
Merkley (D-OR) – Aye
Mikulski (D-MD) – Aye
Murkowski (R-AK) – Nay
Murray (D-WA) – Aye
Nelson (D-NE) – Aye
Nelson (D-FL) – Aye
Pryor (D-AR) – Aye
Reed (D-RI) – Aye
Reid (D-NV) – Aye
Risch (R-ID) – Nay
Roberts (R-KS) – Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV) – Aye
Sanders (I-VT) – Aye
Schumer (D-NY) – Aye
Sessions (R-AL) – Nay
Shaheen (D-NH) – Aye
Shelby (R-AL) – Nay
Snowe (R-ME) – Aye
Specter (R-PA) – Aye
Stabenow (D-MI) – Aye
Tester (D-MT) – Aye
Thune (R-SD) – Nay
Udall (D-CO) – Aye
Udall (D-NM) – Aye
Vitter (R-LA) – Nay
Voinovich (R-OH) – Nay
Warner (D-VA) – Aye
Webb (D-VA) – Aye
Whitehouse (D-RI) – Aye
Wicker (R-MS) – Nay
Wyden (D-OR) – Aye

“Ayes are 61.  Nays are 37.”  There will now be a joint committee with the House to hammer out the differences.  On that committee will be 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans: Inouye (D-HI), Baucus (D-MT), Reid (D-NV), Cochran (R-MS), and Grassley (R-IA).  The House and Senate will now have to hammer out those differences.  The House’s bill was $819 billion.

This is an absolutely terrible day for America.  This bill (which is actually an amended version from the original – it’s the Collins/Nelson substitution amendment) won’t stimulate our economy, it’s just going to drive us into some huge debt.  This bill was nothing more than PORK PORK PORK!

When we’re in an even worse position 6 months down the road, I hope Congress will have the common sense to not pass ANOTHER stimulus bill.  Sadly, I see us right back in this spot in another 6 months or so.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live: Senate Voting on $838 Billion Economic Stimulus Bill

February 10, 2009

The Senate is now voting on the $838 billion economic stimulus bill.  This vote will be  on the Collins/Nelson (Susan Collins [D-ME] / Ben Nelson [D-NE]) substitution amendment (basically an amendment that made a bunch of changes instead of the old bill being amended 1 by 1).  It’s still a terrible bill.

The cloture vote passed yesterday 61-36, with 3 Republicans crossing over, and I’m guessing that’s how the vote will fall today.

Here’s how the votes are going (based on the votes yesterday, with votes that I’m sure [as in heard the Senator say their vote / heard the name read off] of bolded):

Akaka (D-HI) – Aye
Alexander (R-TN) – Nay
Barrasso (R-WY) – Nay
Baucus (D-MT) – Aye
Bayh (D-IN) – Aye
Begich (D-AK) – Aye
Bennet (D-CO) – Aye
Bennett (R-UT) – Nay
Bingaman (D-NM) – Aye
Bond (R-MO) – Nay
Boxer (D-CA) – Aye
Brown (D-OH) – Aye
Brownback (R-KS) – Nay
Bunning (R-KY) – Nay
Burr (R-NC) – Nay
Burris (D-IL) – Aye
Byrd (D-WV) – Aye
Cantwell (D-WA) – Aye
Cardin (D-MD) – Aye
Carper (D-DE) – Aye
Casey (D-PA) – Aye
Chambliss (R-GA) – Nay
Coburn (R-OK) – Nay
Cochran (R-MS) – Nay
Collins (R-ME) – Aye
Conrad (D-ND) – Aye
Corker (R-TN) – Nay
Cornyn (R-TX) – Nay
Crapo (R-ID) – Nay
DeMint (R-SC) – Nay
Dodd (D-CT) – Aye
Dorgan (D-ND) – Aye
Durbin (D-IL) – Aye
Ensign (R-NV) – Nay
Enzi (R-WY) – Nay
Feingold (D-WI) – Aye
Feinstein (D-CA) – Aye
Gillibrand (D-NY) – Aye
Graham (R-SC) – Nay
Grassley (R-IA) – Nay
Gregg (R-NH), Not Voting

Hagan (D-NC) – Aye
Harkin (D-IA) – Aye
Hatch (R-UT) – Nay
Hutchison (R-TX) – Nay
Inhofe (R-OK) – Nay
Inouye (D-HI) – Aye
Isakson (R-GA) – Nay
Johanns (R-NE) – Nay
Johnson (D-SD) – Aye
Kaufman (D-DE) – Aye
Kennedy (D-MA) – Aye
Kerry (D-MA) – Aye
Klobuchar (D-MN) – Aye
Kohl (D-WI) – Aye
Kyl (R-AZ) – Nay
Landrieu (D-LA) – Aye
Lautenberg (D-NJ) – Aye
Leahy (D-VT) – Aye
Levin (D-MI) – Aye
Lieberman (ID-CT) – Aye
Lincoln (D-AR) – Aye
Lugar (R-IN) – Nay
Martinez (R-FL) – Nay
McCain (R-AZ) – Nay
McCaskill (D-MO) – Aye
McConnell (R-KY) – Nay
Menendez (D-NJ) – Aye
Merkley (D-OR) – Aye
Mikulski (D-MD) – Aye
Murkowski (R-AK) – Nay
Murray (D-WA) – Aye
Nelson (D-NE) – Aye
Nelson (D-FL) – Aye
Pryor (D-AR) – Aye
Reed (D-RI) – Aye
Reid (D-NV) – Aye
Risch (R-ID) – Nay
Roberts (R-KS) – Nay
Rockefeller (D-WV) – Aye
Sanders (I-VT) – Aye
Schumer (D-NY) – Aye
Sessions (R-AL) – Nay
Shaheen (D-NH) – Aye
Shelby (R-AL) – Nay
Snowe (R-ME) – Aye
Specter (R-PA) – Aye
Stabenow (D-MI) – Aye
Tester (D-MT) – Aye
Thune (R-SD) – Nay
Udall (D-CO) – Aye
Udall (D-NM) – Aye
Vitter (R-LA) – Nay
Voinovich (R-OH) – Nay
Warner (D-VA) – Aye
Webb (D-VA) – Aye
Whitehouse (D-RI) – Aye
Wicker (R-MS) – Nay
Wyden (D-OR) – Aye

Ayes are 61.  Nays are 37.  There will now be a joing committee with the House to hammer out the differences Inouye, Baucus, Reid, Cochran, and Grassley.  The Senate is now in party caucus meetings, and will reconvene later.

Such a shame.  This bill is not going to stimulate our economy – it’s only going to put us into debt.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Harry Reid and Dick Durbin Hold Press Conference to Discuss Roland Burris’s Future in the Senate

January 7, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) showed, again, that they were legal cowards again today.  Take a look at the following press conference held by the 2 Senators and I’ll discuss what they said below:

Now, why did I call them cowards?  Because they are ignoring what they must know to be right.  I explained yesterdaythat this case is similar to the Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court case.

Instead of waiting for the Illinois Supreme Court to rule on whether or not the Secretary of State must co-sign the certificate (which, if they rule in favor of the SoS, they just significantly reduced the power of the Governor to an insanely low level), the Senate should take the precedent of Marbury v. Madison.  They should understand that the co-signing by the Secretary of State is a ministerial duty required by law, not a fundamental part of the nomination process, and they should allow Roland Burris to fill the vacancy created by President-Elect Barack Obama.  End of story.  Instead, they’re going about this in some asinine politically correct way because the Democrats in the Senate are too scared to ever stand up for something.

After all the talk Democrats said about, “We should’ve stood up to Bush about the War in Iraq instead of just signing on with it,” I’d think that the Democrats would have the decency to uphold a precedent set down by the United States Supreme Court over 200 years ago!  The fact that they fail to see (or at least admit) that Roland Burris must be provided with a remedy to his rights being violated shows that the current state of this Senate and the American process as a whole is a very sad state.

I disagree with Roland Burris’s politics, but his right has been violated here, and “the laws of his country afford him a remedy.”  If the Majority Leader of the United States Senate fails to see that, then Harry Reid is NOT fit to remain Majority Leader!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Senate Vote on the New Bailout Bill: Bill Passes

October 1, 2008

Alright, so I’ve been watching C-SPAN throughout the day as much as I could, and saw everything from the US-India nuclear agreement and the Amtrak bill to the discussion on the Financial Industry Bailout bill.  They’ll be voting on that next, and I’ll be live blogging as they vote, whether it looks like it’ll pass or fail.  The rumor is that it’s expected to pass the 60-vote threshold, since they added some tax cut packages; however, these packages were rejected earlier in the week by the house, so it may clear the Senate, but fail the House by more than H.R. 3997 did.

This is now discussion on H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone (former Senator from MN) Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007:

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), speaking for an amendment on the bailout bill, although he’s stated that he is against the bailout bill overall.

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), now speaking that the current bill is a good bill, and it’s “necessary that we pass it now.”  He is saying that Senator Sanders amendment would be bad for taxpayers.

Vote on the Amendment:

The Noes have it.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), now speaking.  Saying that it’s the waning hours of the Senate, and that the Senators depend on their staff a lot, talking about them working unbelievable hours: “they make this place operate.”  Talking about the Legislative Clerk, David Tinsley.  Thanking him for his service.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY), now wishing Tinsley well in his retirement.

McConnell now speaking again, there’s 2 minutes to each side.  Talking about the bipartisan work in coming together to build a bill to resolve this financial crisis.  Saying that Senators Gregg and Dodd (who were appointed as designees for delegating time for discussion, etc) did a good job on the bill.  Saying that this will help resolve the “problems facing mainstream Americans.”  Saying that “we came together” in the middle of an election year.  He’s congratulating Senators for coming together and urges the passage of the bill.

Senator Reid: Is now reading letters from people who have written in to him, regarding the financial bill.  Saying that this bill isn’t for Wall Street, but for families across America.  Well, Mr. Reid, it may not be for them, but it’s going to benefit them for a time, and ultimately hurt American families.  Talking about keeping taxpayers first.  But this isn’t going to keep taxpayers safe.  He’s saying it’s an investment, but this will only set precedent for further government losses.  He’s talking about giving help to people who will have their homes foreclosed on, but it’s their fault they bought houses the couldn’t afford.  We have to draw the line, and helping people avoid foreclosure will only set precedent and make the situation worse.  Talking about getting alternative energy (BUT HE DIDN’T MENTION NUCLEAR!).  Talking about how much land in Nevada is owned by the government – 87% of the land is owned by the federal government, and 40% is no-flyover – I never realized it’s so much!  Some Senator’s cell phone went off.  Now talking about “each Senator … facing a critical test of leadership” tonight.  “Help is on the way.”

They’re voting now on an amendment to H.R. 1424 (a mental health bill which also had a tax break section added into it, as I said above), which will add the Emergency Economic Stabalization section to the bill – I thought McConnell had leader time to speak still???

Calling the roll:

Akaka: Aye

Alexander: Aye

Barasso: Aye

Baucus: Aye

Bayh: Aye

Bennett: Aye

Bingamen: Aye

Boxer: Aye

Brown: Aye

Brownback: No

Burr: Aye

Cantwell: No

Cardin: Aye

Casey: Aye

Clinton: Aye

Cockren: No

Coleman: Aye

Collins: Aye

Conrad: Aye

Corker: Aye

Cornyn: Aye

Craig: Aye

Crapo: No

Dodd: Aye

Dole: No

Domenici: Aye

Dorgan: No

Durbin: Aye

Ensign: Aye

Enzi: No

Feingold: No – WHAT!

Feinstein: Aye

Grassley: Aye

Gregg: Aye

Hagel: Aye – DANG IT!

Harkin: Aye

Hatch: Aye

Hutchison: Aye

Inhofe: No

Inouy: Aye

Isakson: Aye

Kerry: Aye

Flobecarh: Aye

Cole: Aye

Kyle: Aye

Landreau: No

Lautenberg: Aye

Levin: Aye

Lieberman: Aye

Lincoln: Aye

Luger: Aye

Martinez: Aye

McCain: Aye

McCaskill: Aye

McConnell: Aye

Menendez: Aye

McCulski: Aye

Murkowski: Aye

Murray: Aye

Nelson (FL): No

Obama: Aye

Pryor: Aye

Reed: Aye

Reid: Aye

Roberts: No

Salazar: Aye

Sanders: No

Schumer: Aye

Sessions: No

Shelby: No

Smith: Aye

Snowe: Aye

Specter: Aye

Stabenow: No

Stevens: Aye

Sununu: Aye

Tester: No

Thune: Aye

Vitter: No

Voinovich: Aye

Warner: Aye

Webb: Aye

Whitehouse: Aye

Wicker: No

Widen: No

Biden: Aye

Bunning: No

Borasso: No

Byrd: Aye

Coburn: Aye

Demint: No

Johnson: No

Allard: No

Chambliss: Aye

Lahey: Aye

Graham: Aye

Bond: Aye

Nelseon (NE): Aye

Carper: Aye

The vote passes 74-25.  The Amendment having 60 votes, the amendment is agreed to.  (I later found out that Senator Ted Kennedy was not present tonight, as he is having medical difficulties.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the Senator).

Reid is now speaking, saying he’s happy with tonight’s vote.  “When we work together, we can accomplish good things. … Thank you” to everyone.

Now the vote on HR 1424, a Mental Health Bill which now includes the above amendment.  This bill is expeced to pass.

Akaka: Aye

Alexander: Aye

Allard: Aye

Barasso: No

Bayh

And I’ve lost sound on C-SPAN??  It’s too hard to keep up with her on this one – I’ll summarize it once they’re done voting.

And we’ve now lost all sound from C-SPAN, so I’m clueless as to what’s going on.  The vote tally listed on the screen is for the amendment to the bill, so I’m not sure if the bill is passing as of now or not, but as I said above, this bill is expected to pass.  It’s funny, the media is now reporting that the Senate passed the bailout bill, although all they actually did was add it on to another bill, which they’re just voting on now.

Lieberman: Aye

It passed 74-25.  The bill, as amended, has passed, having obtained 60 votes.

I’m guessing that the votes were the same as on the amendment.

And they’re moving on to other business.  I’m done!

I really don’t think this bill should’ve passed.  Obviously I think it’s better than the first bill, but I’m still not happy with it.  We’ll see what happen in the House later this week.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Indicted; Department of Justice Makes a Statement

July 31, 2008

So, on Tuesday night, news broke that Ted Stevens (or “Uncle Ted” as he’s sometimes referred to in Alaska) (R-AK), who I love for his firey personality, but strong disagree with on many issues (pork barrel spending, his stances on abortion, to name a couple), was indicted for seven felony counts of making false statements on Senate financial disclosure reports between 1999 and 2006.  He is accused of concealing over $250,000 worth of house renovations and gifts from VECO Corp.  A copy of the indictment can be found here.

If convicted Stevens could face up to 5 years in prison for each count, but I doubt that a man of his importance would actually get that sentence (even his age could play a factor).

Representative Don Young (R-AK), is also taking some heat for fundraising involving VECO.

The founder and former CEO of VECO, Bill Allen, took a plea deal on his charges of bribing state lawmakers, and has cooperated with the FBI, which prompted the Stevens investigation.

Here are some quotes:

  • Stevens is “one of the most effective and honest legislators I have ever worked with.  He has worked diligently to serve Alaska and has fought to make life better for people in every region of our state.  I hope people will not rush to judgment and will let the judicial process work.  The process is based on being innocent until proven guilty.”  Representative Don Young (R-AK)
  • “It’s a sad day for him, us, but you know I believe in the American system of justice, and he’s presumed innocent.”  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • “The president has been working with Senator Stevens for many years, and he appreciates his strong leadership on key issues.  This is a legal matter that the Department of Justice is handling, and so we will not comment further on it.”  Dana Perino, White House press secretary
  • “All of us have times that we have to deal with that are tough.  I wish him the best.”  Senator John Warner (R-VA)
  • “I’ve known Ted Stevens for 28 years, and have always known him to be impeccably honest.”  Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)

And here we have some longer statements.  First is the statement from Senator Ted Stevens:

Statement from Alaska Senator Ted Stevens
 

I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator.
 
In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges.
 
The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly.
 
I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.

And here is the statement from Department of Justice, given by Matt Friedrich, acting attorney general of the Criminal Division:

Good afternoon. My name is Matt Friedrich, and I am the acting assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division. With me here today is Steve Tidwell, who is an executive assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigations [sic]. Also with me is Victor Song, who is the deputy chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Earlier today, a federal grand jury here in the District of Columbia returned an indictment charging United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska with seven felony counts of making false statements.

The charges relate to false statements that Senator Stevens is alleged to have made on his mandatory financial disclosure forms filed for calendar years 1999 through 2006.

According to the indictment, as a member of the United States Senate, Senator Stevens was required to file financial disclosure forms with the secretary of the Senate. A primary purpose of such forms is to disclose, monitor and deter conflicts of interest and maintain public confidence in the United States Senate and its membership.

These forms, which are publicly available, require the person filing them to disclose, among other things, whether or not the filer had received any gifts, or had any liabilities or debts.

As to gifts, the filer was required to disclose gifts from any single source over a particular threshold amount that varied year by year. For example, between 2003 and 2006, that threshold amount was $305, such that anything over that amount was required to be disclosed.

As to liabilities, the filer was to — was required to disclose any liability or debt owed by the filer or his spouse or dependent children in an amount greater than $10,000, as well as the identity of the individual or entity to whom each debt was owed.

The indictment charges that while he was sitting as a United States senator between 1999 and 2006, Senator Stevens accepted gifts from a privately held company, known as VECO, its chief executive officer and others.

VECO was a [sic] oil field services company and operated on an international basis. VECO was one of the largest private employers in the state of Alaska.

The gifts Senator Stevens is alleged to have received include substantial amounts of material and labor, used in the renovation of a private residence which Senator Stevens and his wife own, located in the town of Girdwood, Alaska.

These renovations are alleged to include the addition of a new first floor with multiple bedrooms and a bathroom, as well as a finished full basement.

VECO contractors and employees performed a significant portion of these renovations. For example, VECO and its employees and contractors are alleged to have provided architectural designs for the renovation; assisted in lifting up the residence and installing a new first floor; installed electrical, plumbing, framing, heating and flooring materials; installed a first-floor wrap-around deck; installed a plastic roof between the first and second floor decks; installed a heat-tape system on the roof; and performed gutter repair and electrical work.

The indictment also alleges that Senator Stevens received other gifts from VECO and its CEO, including household goods, furniture, a new Viking gas range, a tool storage cabinet and an automobile exchange, in which Senator Stevens received a new vehicle worth far more than what he provided in exchange.

According to the indictment, the total amount of gifts that Senator Stevens is alleged to have received over the duration of the offense is greater than $250,000. Also according to the indictment, these items were not disclosed on Senator Stevens’ financial disclosure forms, which he filed under penalties of perjury, either as gifts or as liabilities, and further, that Senator Stevens did not reimburse or repay VECO or its chief executive officer for these items.

I would ask you to keep in mind a few final points before I close. First, let me remind you again that what I have described today are allegations which have been made in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury.

In terms of where we are now, procedurally, in this case, we are at the very beginning of the criminal process because an indictment has just been returned.

Like any other criminal defendant, Senator Stevens is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty in a court of law.

Second, in terms of answering any questions that you may have about the indictment, I’m going to need to stick to the four corners of the indictment, and I will not be able to go beyond what the indictment alleges, in answering questions that you may have about the specifics of the charges announced today.

As you may know, in about 2004, federal law enforcement agencies began an investigation into public corruption in the state of Alaska.

The fact of this investigation became publicly known with the execution of search warrants at VECO and other locations in Alaska, in August of 2006.

To date, that investigation has resulted in seven convictions. Among those who have been convicted are Pete Kott, the former speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives; Bill Allen, the former CEO of VECO; and Richard Smith, a former vice president at VECO; William Babrick (ph), a former lobbyist in Anchorage; and Thomas Anderson, a former lobbyist — excuse me — and Thomas Anderson, a former Alaska state representative.

That investigation is continuing.

Finally, I would like to thank the team assigned to this investigation, which includes prosecutors from the public integrity section of the criminal division, as well as AUSAs, assistant United States attorneys from the Alaska U.S. attorney’s office.

It also includes from the FBI agents from the Anchorage field office and from IRS CID agents from their Seattle field office.

With that, I’m happy to take some questions.

QUESTION: Matt, if Senator Stevens is convicted, what’s the maximum penalty that he would face?

FRIEDRICH: You know, I know a lot of times when a department issues releases, they will issue a statutory maximum, which is taken by the statutory max per count and multiplying it by the number of counts. That is usually something grossly in excess of whatever any sentences that ultimately comes down. So I don’t — you can look that up, I don’t want to start trumpeting what the statutory max — max would be.  [It's 5 years per count.  7 x 5 would be 35 years.]

QUESTION: Why did the Justice Department go after disclosures as opposed to other statutes — the tax statute or gift ban statute? Why did you all go after disclosures?

FRIEDRICH: You know, in terms — I guess the best way to answer that, in terms of woulda, shoulda, coulda on other charges, again, as I alluded to, I really need to stick to what’s charged here in terms of the indictment.

The indictment is pretty detailed. I think if you take a look at it, it lays out pretty clearly what our basis is for what we brought.

QUESTION: A follow on that: Is there any kind of statute of limitation issue that dealt with what statutes you all went after in charging?

FRIEDRICH: We always need to pay attention to statute of limitations. Beyond that I’m not going to count it.

QUESTION: To put it another way, you could charge false statements. But in your press release, you alleged that he used his position on behalf of VECO, suggesting a quid pro quo. Can you help us square that?

FRIEDRICH: Let me refer you to paragraph 17 of the indictment, which alleges that at the same time that Senator Stevens was receiving these things of value — over that same time — he was also being solicited by VECO to do certain things, which he on occasion — which he or his staff on occasion did.

FRIEDRICH: The indictment does not allege a quid pro quo.

In the back. I’m sorry. In the red.

QUESTION: This is a sitting senator, and obviously it’s unprecedented to have a raid on his home. How far up the chain did you have in terms of the politics of indicting someone of this stature?

FRIEDRICH: I guess what I would say is, we followed the course that we follow internally in terms of getting indictments approved. Beyond that — beyond that, I’m not going to comment.

In the back. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Can I ask a question, follow up (inaudible)? I know you have an IRS guy here. Why didn’t (ph) Stevens report these gifts as income. Since he wasn’t disclosing them on his financial disclosure form, why wouldn’t that be a tax violation if he didn’t do that?

FRIEDRICH: Let me answer that question this way. Without reference to this case, my understanding, as a general matter, gifts are not reportable — are not required to be reported as income on tax forms. Income and other things are, but not gifts.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) as gifts, he wasn’t disclosing these.

(CROSSTALK)

FRIEDRICH: On his ethics — on his — according to the indictment, on his ethics forms, yes.

QUESTION: Did he report these on his tax returns? Like improvements to a house would be income, wouldn’t it?

FRIEDRICH: I’m not going to comment on the senator’s tax returns.

Yes?

QUESTION: Can you explain the difference between a quid pro quo and what’s alleged in the indictment?

FRIEDRICH: This indictment charges violations of the false statement statute, which 18 USC 1001. The bribery statute is found at 18 USC 201. And without, you know — again, bribery is not charged in this case, as I mentioned earlier. Bribery requires proof of a specific agreement of a quid pro quo of this for that. This indictment does not allege such an agreement.

QUESTION: Were there any discussions with Stevens or his lawyers about a possible plea deal?

FRIEDRICH: I’m not going to discuss — as a matter of policy, we wouldn’t discuss any such potential discussions. I wouldn’t read into that whether they have occurred or not. I simply can’t comment — can’t comment on it.

QUESTION: Matt, following that…

FRIEDRICH: Yes?

QUESTION: … has he made arrangements to turn himself in? What’s next?

FRIEDRICH: My understanding is he will be allowed to turn himself in. He will not be arrested.

QUESTION: Have arrangements been made for a court appearance at this point, do you know?

FRIEDRICH: That’ll be coming shortly.

QUESTION: Is he turning himself in, in D.C. or in Alaska?

FRIEDRICH: I’ll defer to the bureau on that.

TIDWELL: A summons will be issued, and it’ll be worked out, what is most convenient for everyone regarding that and regarding the initial court appearance.

QUESTION: Is he in D.C. now?

TIDWELL: I do not know if he is in D.C. now.

QUESTION: Do you know when and how he was informed by the government of the grand jury indictment?

TIDWELL: Yes. His attorney received a call earlier today. And I’ll leave it at that.

Any other questions? Yes?

QUESTION: Just, with the guidelines and the sentencing structure with someone of the senator’s age, if you could talk about how that works, if someone becomes, you know, too old to have to serve that kind of time, if he’s looking at five years under false statements?

TIDWELL: Ultimately, we are — you know, again, we are at the very beginning phase of the process to talk about sentencing. It isn’t something I really am really comfortable with.

I will say, generically, you know, ultimately that’s something that would be up to a sentencing court.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about whether the senator cooperated at all with this investigation?

TIDWELL: Again, I have no comment on that, one way or another. I would urge you not to read anything into that, one way or another. I simply can’t confirm or deny that either way.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate on what sort of cooperation of Bill Allen provided?

TIDWELL: Bill Allen — Bill Allen entered into a plea agreement. That plea agreement is publicly available to you. It’s a public record in Alaska. You can go and look at it and see for yourself what the terms of that plea agreement are. He is cooperating with the United States.

QUESTION: How long is the investigation going on?

TIDWELL: Is that — speaking of the global investigation, the federal agencies have been conducting in Alaska since about 2004, roughly.

QUESTION: Can I ask just one thing? In an election year, I wonder if you might address, just generally, whether or not the department takes special care or follows other particular procedures, in order to influence (ph) the outcome of an election, you know, given the public corruption (inaudible) in a presidential election year, just speaking generally?

TIDWELL: Let me say a few things in response to that.

One, when we bring cases as prosecutors, we bring cases based upon our evaluation of the facts and the law. And we bring cases when they are ready to be charged, and that’s what has happened here.

I would refer you, as a general matter, if you recall, Judge Mukasey issued guidance to federal prosecutors earlier this year in the form of a memo dealing with election year sensitivities.

And while I’m paraphrasing what the memo says, the gist of it is that politics should play no part — partisan politics should play no part either in what charges we bring or in things like, you know, the timing of an indictment or that type of thing.

That policy has been followed to the letter, in this case.

I really don’t have much to say at this point.  I think anybody who has this much pork barrel spending and this many pet projects on their record is asking for legal trouble.  When you try to give money to your district and companies in your district, bad things happen – intentionally or unintentionally.  Innocent until proven guilty, but the voters may not be saying this in the primary.  For now, I’ll hold off on commenting on the primary until some more details come out.

I hope the allegations are false (I never like seeing people commit crimes), but if they’re true, he has to be punished.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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The Democrats Don’t Want Lieberman Anymore?

July 18, 2008

There is now a rumor going around that Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT-McCain) will be kicked out of the Democratic Caucus and lose his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.  He was given that position after he agreed to caucus with the Democrats in 2006, when they needed him to give them the lead.

Now, a website, LiebermanMustGo.com, is asking people to sign a petition for Lieberman to lose his chairmanship and be kicked out of the caucus after the November elections, when the Democrats are expected to pick up more seats, so they won’t need him anymore.  The petition has now gathered over 48,000 signatures.  Robert Greenwald, who helped design the site, said, “Given that Lieberman is actively and aggressively attacking the candidate for presidency of his party, it seems pretty clear he should not be given any of the perks that come with being a member of the Democratic Party.”

The whole thing started when Lieberman agreed to address the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Lieberman told reporters that he left the weekly lunch of the Senate Democrats on Tuesday when criticisms of McCain’s energy policies came up, saying, “I just didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to be there.”  Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) said that a Senator came up to him to complain about Lieberman.  Durbin told reporters, “It was the right thing to do.  This is a delicate situation.”  Sorry, Mr. Durbin, but that’s not being a very good party whip right there.  Good for Lieberman, bad for you and the party.

Asked about crossing a point of no return, Lieberman told reporters, “I don’t have any line that I have in my mind.  If it happened, I’d know it when I saw it.”  He, however, said that he doesn’t expect to leave the Democratic caucus any time soon: “Senator Reid has been easy to work with.  I have a lot of good friends in the caucus, and I don’t have any intention of doing that before the end of this session of Congress.”

And Lieberman isn’t worried about getting kicked out of his position, saying, “That decision is up to my colleagues in the Democratic caucus next year.  I’m going to do what I think is right now and not worry about what the political consequences may be for me.  I strongly support John McCain.  I believe in him, his strength, his principle, his effectiveness, so if he thought that I could help him by speaking at the Republican convention, I would do that.  And I would do it really not to go and attack anybody but to explain why I as a Democrat have crossed party lines to support John McCain and why I hope a lot of other Democrats and independents will do the same.”

Lately, Lieberman has been critical of Barack Obama; on a CNN interview he called him “naïve” on Iran, and said, The fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question, ‘Why?’”

He criticized Obama’s lack of a consistent stance on issues during a FOX interview, saying, “Senator Obama has really moved.  Since he clinched the nomination a month ago, he has altered and nuanced more big positions more quickly than I can remember any other presidential nominee.”

Here are some reactions from Senators:

  • Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “I very much regret what he’s doing, candidly, but there isn’t anything I can do about it, and that’s really all I want to say.”
  • Chris Dodd (D-CT): “I think they’re heading in the wrong direction.  And I see Joe as an ally on most matters and a person who’s been supportive of Democrats here on most issues.”
  • Susan Collins (R-ME) (Lieberman has donated to her campaign): “My hope is that he will not be punished for doing what he thinks is right.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): “Anytime we have a problem here, with the exception of Iraq, Joe Lieberman’s with us.  So I wish people would leave him alone.  We’ll get to next year when we get there.”

I say he should just stand up one day, give ‘em the finger and move to the other side of the aisle.  That’s some C-SPAN daytime drama for ya!

If I were him, I would not let them use me, just to kick me to the side of the road when they don’t want me anymore.  Show them that they can’t just use you and then dump you.

Now, I say all of this, but I should note that I disagree with Lieberman on most issues.  If McCain were to pick him as his VP (which Lieberman said he does not want, nor expect), it’d be stupid of McCain.  You don’t pick a VP because you agree with them on one main issue.

I like Lieberman, but he’s a liberal – but the Democrats would be stupid to do this to him.  It could come to haunt them.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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