Congressman Donald M. Payne 1934-2012

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HAT TIP: By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, the elder statesman of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, died after a months-long battle with colon cancer today, according to three sources close to the Payne family. The longtime politician was 77.

Payne announced last month he was under treatment for colon cancer but said that he expected to make a full recovery. Last week, though, his health took a turn for the worse.

He was hospitalized at Georgetown University Hospital, but on Friday was flown back to New Jersey on a medical transport. After arriving at Teterboro airport, he was taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Payne, a Democrat who represented New Jersey’s 10th congressional district for 23 years, was placed in hospice care and died early this morning.

The state’s first — and currently its only — black congressman, Payne headed one of Newark’s most powerful political dynasties. His son Donald Payne Jr. is the Newark City Council president, as well as an Essex County Freeholder. His brother and lifelong political partner, William, is a former state assemblyman.

“He’s had a tremendous impact on the state, country and the world,” William Payne said.

Payne was up for re-election this year and facing a primary in June. Despite his condition, he vowed to run again only last month and refused to take a leave of absence.

A former teacher, insurance executive, city councilman, and county freeholder, Payne’s lifelong dream was to become a congressman. In 1988 he finally achieved that goal and was returned to Congress 11 times — by some of the widest margins in New Jersey congressional history.

While in the House of Representatives, Payne was known as a tireless advocate for his constituents, a champion of education and a de facto ambassador to Africa. He helped secure $100 million to help prevent and treat Malaria and HIV/AIDS, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

“New Jersey has lost one of its greatest leaders in the fight for equality and fairness for all Americans, and one of the greatest advocates for families of the Garden State,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, whose 8th district shared parts of Montclair, South Orange and West Orange with Payne.

“Donald Payne was a true trailblazer – a champion for education and civil rights who sought to combat injustice all over the world. I will greatly miss my friend and brother,” Pascrell said in a statement released this morning.

Payne was recognized in Congress for having the most supportive record on issues regarding the Northern Ireland peace process. He helped win passage of a resolution declaring the killing in Darfur genocide and he authored the Sudan Peace Act, facilitating famine relief efforts.

State Sen. Richard Codey called Payne’s legacy a strong one, and one that merits emulation at all levels of government, particularly with regard to oppressed peoples.

“He was bigger than life but never conducted himself that way,” Codey said by phone this morning. “If you were violating somebody’s rights, you better get out of the way.”

Although Payne was well-known for his interest in African affairs, Payne, for instance, also long supported peace initiatives to end sectarian violence in Ireland, Codey said.

“People always associated him with Africa and advocating for Darfur and he did, but color didn’t matter to him, just your civil rights,” he said.

Congressman Chaka Fattah’s son subject of FBI raid

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HAT TIP:  PHILLY.COM

Wed, Feb. 29, 2012, 11:52 AM

By Martha Woodall, Mark Fazlollah, Kristen A. Graham, and Joseph Tanfani

INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Federal authorities are investigating why a company owned by the son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was paid $450,000 by an education firm that has received millions in contracts from the Philadelphia School District, according to sources familiar with the probe.

Agents from the FBI and U.S. Treasury Department served two search warrants early Wednesday for Chaka Fattah Jr.’s records, the first at his apartment at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton.

Shulick

They also seized Fattah’s records and a computer from the Logan Square law office of David T. Shulick. He is president of Delaware Valley High School, a for-profit company that contracts with school districts to educate students with discipline problems.

The younger Fattah, 29, known as “Chip,” is owner of a consulting company called 259 Strategies L.L.C. that works as a subcontractor for Shulick’s companies. Fattah Jr. has working space at the law office.

The $450,000 payment from Shulick’s company is more than 10 percent of the approximately $4 million that Delaware Valley will receive from the School District this year.

Ron Sarachan

“We are cooperating with the investigation,” said attorney Ronald A. Sarachan, who jointly is representing Fattah with Gregory P. Miller. “We’ve been in communication with the government.”

Sarachan said he was “hopeful” that the investigation would be quickly resolved.

Shulick, who was interviewed Wednesday morning by agents at his home, said he was told that neither he nor Delaware Valley were the focus of the investigation.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the school,” Shulick said. “We have nothing to hide, and we let them in and let them search [Fattah Jr.'s] office unfettered.”

In a later e-mailed statement, Shulick said Fattah Jr. “is being victimized merely because his last name is ‘Fattah.’ “

” . . . He is dealing with issues that nobody without the last name ‘Fattah’ would have to deal with,” Shulick wrote.

The FBI has been asking questions about Fattah Jr.’s business operations for at least a year.

In January 2011, agents went to the South Florida home of Mikel Jones, a lawyer and childhood friend of Fattah Sr., as part of an investigation into Jones’ finances.

During a daylong conversation, they also asked Jones why he had paid more than $90,000 to 259 Strategies and to American Royalty, another Fattah Jr. firm that provided luxury services to well-heeled clients, according to an FBI document that summarized the conversation.

It surfaced last year in a federal fraud case against Jones. He was convicted and is appealing.

Jones, who ran a personal injury law firm, told the agents that he hired the younger Fattah to help expand his business – and because Fattah had “access,” the document said.

The FBI said Jones told them Fattah “had some good ideas, but he could not remember any of them offhand.”

“I know what this looks like, but there was no quid pro quo,” Jones told the agents, the document said.

“Did I overpay him? Was it a good investment, strictly speaking? No, but I was desperate and he had access,” Jones said. The nature of that access was not described.

In an interview with The Inquirer last year, Fattah Jr. said his work for Jones had nothing to do with providing access to his father or anyone else.

“I came up with a lot of ideas,” he said. “Mr. Jones was a client of my concierge service, and I also acted as a management consultant in terms of finding new clients for his personal injury firm, period.”

Fattah declined to go into detail on his work for Jones, but said that many of the payments from clients were used to purchase goods or services for them. American Royalty charged membership fees.

“We might get a call at 3 a.m. saying a client needs a jet in the morning,” he said in a 2007 interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal. “We have access to one of the top private jet companies in the country, so we’re able to make that happen.”

In 2007, the Capital Grille restaurant in Philadelphia filed a police report alleging that American Royalty had failed to pay a $15,000 bill. Fattah settled the tab, saying it was run up by a client.

Federal agents arrived about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday outside Fattah’s home, and at Shulick’s office shortly after 10 a.m. They left the law office about 50 minutes later, carrying a Dell desktop computer and boxes of records.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation said that while some agents were serving search warrants and collecting documents at Fattah Jr.’s residence and the law office, other agents were conducting interviews with other people, including Shulick.

Shulick said he believes that the inquiry is focused on the younger Fattah, who has been doing work for Shulick since 2009, according to documents and interviews. Shulick said Fattah Jr. works as “a contracted employee” for the law firm, the school, and his charity, the Judith B. Shulick Memorial Foundation, named for his mother.

Last May, when Shulick threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game, Fattah Jr. posted a video on YouTube.

Earlier this month, Fattah Jr. appeared before the York City school board pitching a $1.5 million contract for Delaware Valley and describing himself as the company’s director of business development, according to a published report.

Rep. Fattah has been a supporter of Shulick’s schools as well.

He sought a $375,000 federal transportation grant to replace the school’s fleet with “green clean fuel burning vehicles,” according to his website. The grant was not approved.

Rep. Fattah, whose district covers parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and has long pushed for education funding.

“I stand by my son,” he said in a statement. “Nothing came of the request for funds, and my son had nothing to do with any request for funds.” He said he would “await the results of the investigation before making further comment.”

His spokesman, Ron Goldwyn, said the investigation does not involve Fattah Sr. or the congressional office.

Richmond set to face Cao for Big Easy Congressional seat

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Hat Tip: New Orleans Times Picayune

State Rep. Cedric Richmond won two of every three votes cast in heavily African-American precincts and nearly half of all votes in heavily white precincts in Saturday’s Democratic primary to advance to the Nov. 2 general election for the 2nd Congressional District, an analysis of ballot results shows.

Cedric Richmond

Richmond, a three-term legislator from eastern New Orleans, will face incumbent Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao, also of New Orleans, and three little-known independent candidates to represent the district that covers most of the city and a swath of Jefferson Parish.

Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to the U.S. House, won the seat with strong Democratic support two years ago when he ousted nine-term incumbent William Jefferson, who campaigned under the specter of a federal corruption probe. After a trial last summer, Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison and remains free on appeal.

Joseph Cao

Richmond got 60 percent of the vote on Saturday, when a dismal 8 percent of the district’s voters turned out, a poor showing that was likely a result of rainy weather and the distraction of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

State Rep. Juan LaFonta came in second, with 21 percent, followed by former Jefferson chief of staff Eugene Green, with 10 percent, and newcomer Gary Johnson, who served a stint last year as research director for the House Rules Committee, with 8 percent.

In a district where six of 10 registrants are African-American, Richmond’s strong showing among black voters — especially in Jefferson Parish — helped secure his victory, according to an analysis by University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak.

I believe that it is a certainty that Cedric Richmond is the next Congressman for New Orleans.  His win will be the sole defeat of a Republican incumbent this cycle.

Kendrick Meek defeats billionaire

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Miami Gardens Congressman Kendrick Meek,43, defeated billionaire Jeff Greene for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate by an impressive 25%.  Meek will face Gov. Charlie Crist running as an Independent and Republican Mark Rubio in the fall.  Leading prognosticators give him little or no chance to win.

With Republicans divided, it should actually be easier for Kendrick to win if he is able to keep Democrats together and focused.  Gov. Crist will be stiff competition to keep White Democrats in the fold but it can be done.  Democrats know where Kendrick stands because of his record.  Until his polls went south, Crist was still a conservative Republican.  Now he is supposed to be “Independent” and sending private signals that he will caucus with Democrats should he be elected.  That is a weakness that can be exploited by Meek and should be.

In the race to Meek in Congress, voters selected State Senator Fredericka Wilson, 68, over a field of  eight other candidates.  Wilson defeated Haitian American Physician Rudy Moise and Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson by a wide margin to become the newest member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Senator Wilson was always the front runner in this race despite being vastly outspent by millionaire Rudy Moise by more than three to one.    Moise dropped a million into this race and came up very short.

Kendrick Meek: Movin On Up

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Whenever I think about writing, for some reason the soundtrack of my mind comes up with something apropos. I heard a familiar sitcom jingle and concluded that Kendrick Meek is synonymous with the iconic TV Negroes we came to know as The Jeffersons.  While Kendrick ain’t looking to snag him a dee-lux apartment in the sky, Carrie Meek’s baby boy has clearly been dreaming of movin’ on up to the Senate for sometime and has positioned himself accordingly.  His personality is best described as more Wheezy than George  because he is both humble and sophisticated.  Possessing a common touch that belies his power and status, Kendrick has always struck me as more of a regular everyman than a silvery tongued pol.   More Forrest Whitaker than Denzel Washington, Meek has a fierce battle to convince a skeptical electorate that he is the right man to represent them in  the patrician Senate.

Until a few months ago,  Meek thought he had a clear field and would coast to the general election facing the winner of a bloody and protracted GOP primary–then everything changed.   Gov. Charlie Crist’s statehouse rival, Marco Rubio, made the Governor’s centrist politics a centerpiece of his strategy to seduce the right-wing and hit paydirt. Mired in second place in the polls, the GOP Governor bolted the party and started wooing Independents and Democrats.  To add insult to injury, Meek picked up a  credit default swap billionaire as a primary challenger, Jeff Greene.  Meek suddenly had to tap his carefully husbanded $4 million dollar bankroll to defend himself against a fusillade of negative ads.

What looked like a competitive  but uphill two-party contest has degenerated into a three-way free for all.  A carefully orchestrated whisper campaign to challenge Kendrick’s electability caused White Democrats to defect en masse to Crist or remain neutral.  Meek is polling a very weak third place and was until recently in second place in the Democratic Primary.   What looked like a handkerchief head move to endorse Hillary and cozy up to the Clintons in 2008 looks shrewd today given the weakness of the current president’s poll numbers and the universal popularity of Bill Clinton.  Slick Willie has been down to the Sunshine state several times to fundraise and politic with his boy Kendrick and will be back again sometime in the future.  I heard tell last week that Obama is fixin’ to go down shortly.  Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s right hand, recently headlined a fundraiser as the Administration looks to be step up it’s efforts to help a brotha out.

Kendrick’s polls improved once he made it clear that his opponent was not a real Democrat and that the source of his money is proof of the adage: behind every great fortune is a great crime.

I am convinced that Kendrick can win this thing if he woo’s back White Democrats and unifies the Democratic Party behind his candidacy. Some folk don’t believe that Kendrick is worth voting for.  For example, the bloggers over at Down With Tyranny have their boxers in a bunch over a few bad votes Kendrick cast over the last eight years.  I acknowledge their legitimate concerns and their distaste with his fundraising from lobbyists–black lobbyists in particular have rallied around him. To borrow a phrase from The Lady Chablis in Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil:  if Clinton and Obama can pull one over on progressives  by openly colluding with the corporate power structure, then Kendrick’s little corporate whoring around in Washington, DC, is not going to mean anything to good Democrats in Florida. Especially not when the alternatives are a wingnut, a soulless opportunist or a damn crook.

House Ethics Committee Outlines Charges against Waters

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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Hat Tip:  JIM ABRAMS Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House ethics committee on Monday announced three counts of alleged ethics violations against California Democrat Maxine Waters, including a charge that she requested federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on its board.

Waters, a 10-term representative from Los Angeles, has denied any wrongdoing and had urged the committee to come forth with details of the charges so that she can defend herself in a trial expected to take place this fall.

That trial would be the second handled by the ethics committee this fall. The report says Waters asked the Treasury Department to meet representatives from the National Bankers Association, a trade group representing minority-owned and women-owned banks. The discussion at that September 2008 meeting centered on OneUnited Bank. OneUnited eventually received $12 million in bailout money.

She petitioned to have the charges dismissed, but the ethics committee rejected that request.

The first count said she violated House rules that members “shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect credibility on the House.”

It said that her husband’s financial interest in OneUnited had declined from $350,000 at the end of June 2008, to about $175,000 in September, and would have been worthless if OneUnited had not received federal funds.

The second violation pertains to the use of improper influence that results in a personal benefit. It cites the failure of Waters to instruct her chief of staff to refrain from assisting OneUnited after she realized she should not be involved in the case.

The third count relates to the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not.

I’m still making up my mind about the seriousness of these charges and will wait for more definitive information. What’s your take?

Writing Again

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I’ve spent the last few months evaluating whether I would continue this blog and if I did what format it would take. I’ve decided to press forward whether there is an audience or not and to write about the Congressional Black Caucus.  At the height of their power, their influence on policy or lack there of is noteworthy.  Of special interest is Maxine Waters, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Terri Sewell, and Hank Johnson.  Stay tuned for more.

“Victory”

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On the cusp of a landmark “victory” on health care reform, President Obama dramatically addressed a boisterous throng of well-wishers convinced that his industry written reforms constituted positive change. The President glowed and fed off the positive energy in the air. He seemed revitalized and renewed as the crowd roared its approval.  The president’s earnest entreaties are beguiling and difficult to resist.  The recession weary public desperately wants to believe that “change we can believe in” is at last on the way. It isn’t.

Many on the left in the progressive blogosphere believe that “change we can believe in” was killed in the crib. The corporate infanticide of change was facilitated by a conspiracy between the Administration and the insurance lobby that gutted the public option, instituted weak cost controls, enforced a mandate to buy private insurance and left the anti-trust exemption, which allows insurance companies to engage in the most egregious price gouging, largely intact.  The reality leaves me drained and dispirited.

The average black person I meet is trapped in a post inaugural cocoon of black pride.  Any constructive criticism of the President provokes a defensive scorn, as if you called their upstanding, god fearing, churchgoing grandmama a trifling whore.  The relationship between the Obamas and the black community is not political but familial. They meet every benchmark of acceptability and are like the new bougie couple that just joined the church that everybody wants to get to know. We see ourselves in them.  Unfortunately, we’ve become so lost in the reflection of ourselves that we failed to notice that the black community is drowning in an ocean of narcissistic b.s. and benign neglect.

The Stockholm syndrome is so profound that if the Congressional Black Caucus had determined to sink Health Care Reform without a public option, blackfolks would have eaten them alive.  Some folk seem to think that God put them here on earth to be Obama’s pep squad.  The President may be black, but he is also a politician like all those that came before him who told us what we wanted to hear and then broke their backs to do the bidding of their corporate paymasters.

The absence of a real urban agenda, what some refer to as a “black agenda,” is a festering wound that will never heal without progressive policy solutions that address the corporate theft of predatory lending, support for mass transit, massive infrastructure improvement,  job training programs, de-escalation of both the prison and military industrial complexes and support for public education.  The president has done some good work on the education piece with a reform of student loans, but much more needs to be done.

Don’t get me wrong, the stimulus was a tremendous help in stabilizing the economy, but we are in such a deep hole that we need much more. Everybody knows that there ain’t no damn jobs out here. State budgets are still tight and teacher layoffs, public school closings, and the loss of thousands of state and local government jobs is still a daily reality. The president damn near had to fight the civil war all over again with some ignorant Republican from Kentucky just to extend unemployment benefits for a short time.

Here in the Carolinas, Republicans  in the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to the eliminate  state support for the entire budget for HIV/AIDS  prevention and assistance. That also includes the AIDS drugs assistance program that provides a lifeline to HIV positive people who cannot afford their anti-retroviral medications.  Republicans are the same people that spread the death panels red herring they claimed was embedded in Obama’s health care reform bill that would “pull the plug on grandma.”

The political calculus implied by this heartless proposal is that the people in the program are not Republicans and that helping them extend the quality and duration of their lives is unnecessary and too expensive.  Given the disproportionate numbers of HIV infections in black South Carolinians (8 times that of Whites), the racial animus behind this move is crystal clear. South Carolina has the eighth highest rate of new  HIV infections in the country and the Republicans in the South Carolina legislature would rather pretend that this isn’t a problem as HIV ravages the black community unchecked.

The Health Care Reform proposal making its way through congress will do nothing to stop state governments from making draconian choices like South Carolina.   I pray it will provide something commensurate in the way of relief for the victims of state sanctioned indifference.  Health Reform still leaves out 24 million people from coverage because health care, despite the histrionics of the socialist obsessed right-wing, is still not a right.

The gluttonous plutocracy that masquerades as American Democracy is alive and well. If we truly want the victory over our corporate overlords, we need to stop putting our trust in personalities and parties and stick with our principles.

Kilpatrick claims she’s not a target of federal investigation

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Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

Hat Tip: Deb Price and paul egan / The Detroit News

Washington — Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, said Thursday she and a top aide are not targets of a grand jury and will “cooperate fully” after receiving subpoenas.

In addition to Kilpatrick, her aide Andrea Bragg received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan. The congresswoman’s son is former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose actions as mayor are being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Kilpatrick said she’ll have no further comment.

Though grand jury matters are secret, legal observers said Thursday it is likely the subpoenas relate to an ongoing federal investigation of the congresswoman’s son, and possibly her ex-husband, business consultant Bernard N. Kilpatrick.

There is no legal privilege that makes communications between a mother and son confidential, and the spousal privilege would only apply up to the time Bernard Kilpatrick and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick were not divorced, said Detroit attorney David Griem, a former federal and state prosecutor.

Griem speculated the subpoenas may be related to recent cash fundraising involving tens of thousands of dollars to cover the former mayor’s restitution payments that Cheeks Kilpatrick was involved in, according to media reports.

“I’m not sure of the propriety of a U.S. congresswoman spearheading such an effort on behalf of a family member, especially when the money is given in cash,” Griem said Thursday.

Most of Kilpatrick’s recent restitution payments from his state obstruction of justice conviction came in the form of money orders, many purchased by family members. Griem said he wouldn’t be surprised if everyone who purchased those money orders was subpoenaed before the grand jury.

Feds subpeona Congresswoman Kilpatrick and congressional aide

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Hat Tip: Deb Price / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and a top aide have been served with grand jury subpoenas requesting testimony in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Detroit, notified House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the subpoena in a letter March 1 but made it public Wednesday.

“After consulting with my attorney, I will make the determinations required” under House rules about how to respond, the congresswoman wrote in the March 1 letter. Members are required to report being subpoenaed, and the House clerk read Cheeks Kilpatrick’s notice as is customary.

The reading did not explain the matter in which she was being subpoenaed.

Cheeks Kilpatrick’s office said they had no comment on the subpoena or its contents.

The congresswoman’s son is former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose actions as mayor are being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Kwame Kilpatrick’s new spokesman, Mike Paul, who is from a New York public relations firm, said this morning that Kwame Kilpatrick has made no comment about his mother being served a grand jury subpoena.

Cheeks Kilpatrick office manager Andrea Bragg disclosed her subpoena to House officials March 1. The notice was published Tuesday in the Congressional Record.

Bragg said she would comply with the subpoena while Cheeks Kilpatrick said she is consulting an attorney on how to respond.

Hansen Clarke to Challenge Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

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Michigan State Senator Hansen Clarke, according to his facebook page, is gathering volunteers and gearing up to challenge Michigan Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of scandal plagued former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. It is my contention that Mrs. Kilpatrick is in serious danger of losing her seat in the August Primary.

Mrs. Kilpatrick’s favorable ratings are in the toilet. According to the last poll taken in August,  her re-elect number is 27%, which is beyond toxic.   The recent headlines surrounding her son’s refusal to pay restitution to the city following the sex-scandal that drove him from office and the imminent joint indictment of her son and ex-husband, cannot possibly have helped matters.

The former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus is facing a formidable challenger.  Clarke, 52, a biracial brotha of East Indian and African American descent, is a gifted, low-key politician with a progressive record of achievement in the Michigan Legislature. Clarke sponsored legislation to impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures that disproportionately plague black and brown communities.  Moreover, he introduced a bill to expand hate crimes laws to protect those targeted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender expression.   Clarke challenged Kwame for Mayor in 2005 and made a brief run for Governor this year before he ended his candidacy.  This is a race he can win.  If he goes forward and files, and has the field all to himself, the odds are heavily in his favor.

I’ll have more to say about this in a later post.

Breaking News: Rangel’s grip on Gavel tenuous

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Congressman Charlie Rangel

Just Hours after the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Artur Davis, called for him to relinquish his gavel as the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Charlie Rangel was reported to have done so after a closed door meeting of the House Leadership.   Andrea Mitchell, Luke Russert, and  Chuck Todd were all tweeting that Charlie Rangel had given up the ghost and his gavel.   The Politico is reporting that he told them he had not and that Speaker Pelosi had no comment after the meeting.   Rangel is currently under investigation for omitting millions of dollars from his taxes and personal financial disclosure statements filed with the House of Representatives.  The committee he chairs ironically has jursidiction over the U.S. tax code.

ADDENDUM:  Rangel gave up his gavel this morning.  He announced at a morning presser that he wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking for a leave of absence, which is shorthand for saying “I was forced to step aside against my will but agreed to give the House Democratic Leadership political cover for the good of the party.”

Senate Leader tells Burris the Clown to step down

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burris-the-clown

Hat Tip: Politico.com

Sen. Dick Durbin urged Sen. Roland Burris on Tuesday to quit his job as the junior senator from Illinois, but the embattled senator has no plans of leaving the Senate.

In a private meeting that lasted nearly an hour, Durbin told Burris that the growing controversy over his appointment would make it difficult for him to continue serving in the Senate. Durbin also expressed disappointment that Burris did not reveal his extensive contacts and his fund raising efforts for the ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed him to the seat on Dec. 30.

“I told him that under the circumstances, I would consider resigning if I were in his shoes,” Durbin said. “He said he would not resign. That is his conclusion. At this point, I suggested to him that he had to do everything in his power to bring all the facts out as completely as possible.”

Durbin warned Burris that he would lose a Democratic primary if he were to run in 2010, but Burris said he has not made a decision on whether to run next fall.

The meeting was a remarkable chapter in the controversy involving Blagojevich, the ousted former governor who was arrested last December for allegedly trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich defied party leaders Dec. 30 by announcing that Burris was his choice to fill Obama’s seat, setting off a battle over whether the Senate should seat Burris. Under enormous pressure, Democratic Senate leaders seated Burris and swore him in on the condition he present valid paperwork and testify truthfully before state legislators in the Blagojevich impeachment case.

Some Senate Democrats are now privately regretting that they relented and seated Burris in the first place.

The most recent controversy started Feb. 14 when news broke that Burris had submitted an affidavit saying he’d spoken with several Blagojevich associates, including the governor’s brother, Rob, about his interest in the seat. That statement appeared to diverge from his Jan. 8 testimony to state legislators where he only discussed one contact with the former governor.

And last week, Burris dropped another bombshell saying he tried to raise money for the then-governor at the time of expressing his interest in the seat.

“The fact that he did not volunteer – volunteer the names like people like Rod Blagojevich’s brother was troubling to me,” Durbin said.

Roland Burris: Rod Blagojevich’s Magic Negro

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gov-soprano

I seriously doubt that the Wayans Brothers or the writers of MAD TV could have written a funnier spoof than yesterday’s orgy of idiocy featuring Rod “Governor Soprano” Blagojevich, Roland Burris and Bobby Rush. To borrow a phrase from the always-quotable Christopher Hitchens, this appointment is a “ludicrous embarrassment.”


The presser was a comedians dream and the clumsy injection of race by Congressman Bobby Rush was sadder than it was despicable. First, seeing how Bobby has physically suffered from throat cancer was heart breaking, but his reasons for supporting Blagojevich in his bulls*it was even more tragic. Poor Bobby is clearly suffering from chemo brain because Blagojevich’s bipolar antics have grown more outrageous with time, and his latest stunt is as disingenuous as it is insane. I’m with Mary Mitchell in believing that Rod Blagojevich dosen’t give rat’s arse about fair representation and he is desperately trying to disprove the allegations of extortion and contract fraud against him. It won’t work. His career is over and nothing he says or does will ever change that.

Unfortunately for Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris is not a Magic Negro capable of absolving his manifold sins although he would like him to be. (One needs to be a palatable, focus grouped, establishment Negro creation of David Axelrod capable of raising $750 million dollars to be a proper receptacle for white liberal fantasies of racial absolution.) Burris is an uninspiring and irascible functionary that has let his ego get the better of him.

Burris has had a damn chip on his shoulder ever since he was defeated for the Democratic Nomination for Governor in 1994, a Republican year in which no Democrat would have prevailed. The people of Illinois don’t owe him a damn thing and yesterday’s cartoonish spectacle was clear proof that he has taken leave of his senses. The Lieutenant Governor, a Burris friend of 36 years, clearly would have considered appointing the 71-year-old lobbyist and former Illinois Attorney General as a caretaker Senator once Blagojevich was inevitably removed from office.

By all accounts, Roland Burris is an honest man and probably won’t ever be charged with any wrongdoing. However, the facts surrounding his lobbying firm’s acquisition of $700,000 in state contracts are worth investigating and probably will be given the Governor’s propensity for awarding state contracts to his politically connected contributors and fundraisers regardless of actual merit.

Burris gets points for running against Rich Daley for Mayor of Chicago, a man I’ve always opposed and regarded as White Chicago’s plantation puppet master, but he won’t ever receive my endorsement for the U.S. Senate. I hope the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, and Senate Democrats stick to their guns and don’t certify this appointment and seat Burris.

I, too, wanted an African American to replace Barack Obama in the Senate given the dearth of Negroes in that body, but it just goes to show that the aphorism “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it,” is a warning black Democrats should have heeded.

Jackson Jr informed on Blagojevich

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sandi

Hat Tip: By Don Babwin, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn’t appoint the congressman’s wife for lottery director because he had refused to make a $25,000 donation to the governor’s campaign, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press.

“That’s why she’s not getting the job,” the person quoted Blagojevich as saying. The person, a Jackson associate who was interviewed Tuesday by the AP, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.

Jackson’s name has played prominently ever since Blagojevich was arrested last week on corruption charges, including allegations that the governor tried to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat for personal gain.

Jackson has been identified as one of the candidates Blagojevich was considering for the seat, and a criminal complaint said his supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for the governor if he picked the congressman.

The complaint quotes Blagojevich as saying on federal wiretaps that an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he made the Jackson appointment happen.

Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds declined to comment on the account of the exchange shortly after Blagojevich’s 2002 election but said the Democratic congressman, the son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, has approached federal investigators to discuss the governor and others for years.

“He has shared information with federal prosecutors about public corruption during the past several years, including information about Blagojevich and others,” Edmonds said.

Jackson has openly sought the Senate position but denies initiating or authorizing anyone to promise anything to Blagojevich on his behalf. The congressman has said federal prosecutors told him he is not a target of their investigation.

The Jackson associate interviewed by the AP did not know whether Jackson’s wife, Sandi had asked for the state lottery job. At the time, Blagojevich was the first incoming Democratic governor after years of Republican rule and had scores of state jobs to fill.

“The governor had kind of penciled Sandi in as lottery director and then asked for contributions from the congressman,” the person said.

Sandi Jackson, who has since been elected to the Chicago City Council, did not return a call to her office seeking comment.

In April, the Chicago Tribune reported that an examination of campaign donations to Blagojevich showed that three in four donors who gave exactly $25,000 received administration favors such as state board appointments or contracts.

It’s also the same amount of money that figured prominently in the testimony of a government witness in the political corruption trial this summer of political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

Rezko, who raised more than $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund, was convicted of shaking down companies seeking state business for campaign contributions.

Barbara Lee assumes leadership of CBC

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Yesterday, in a rare act of mental clarity and ideological congruence with the black community, the Congressional Black Caucus elected progressive champion Barbara Lee, 62, as it’s chairwoman.    She accepted the gavel of leadership from the galactically corrupt, inept and stupifyingly arrogant Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the worst congressional caucus chairman in all of human history.

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the chief enabler and mother of the felonious a**clown Kwame Kilpatrick, the former “Playa Mayor” of Detroit, should’ve resigned from the chairmanship, the caucus, and the race, and been downright embarrassed to be seen in public, but the plucky doyenne of Detroit ain’t got no shame in her game.

The people of Detroit apparently do have a sense of shame and almost sent her tail back home in last August’s Democratic primary.  They sought to punish her for the incredibly tacky, ghetto soap opera of sleeze playing out daily on television and in print. 

It was incredibly demoralizing how the caucus and the House Democratic leadership circled the wagons around a corrupt “public servant” who chose to empower her relations rather than her constituents by finding new and sleezy methods of using nepotism and cronyism to fortify the Kilpatrick Dynasty’s political machine.

Moreover, she led the caucus into betraying the economic interests of the black and brown constituents they’ve been elected to serve by heeding Barack Obama’s call to bailout Wall-Street instead of Mainstreet.

Normally progressive members like Barbara Lee followed her lead, listened to the House Leadership and Barack Obama, and jumped off a cliff into the waiting arms of economic catastrophe.

My prayer is that Barabara listens to the still, small voice of her mentor Shirley Chisholm and tunes out the House Leadership and the president elect on matters of progressive principle.