Alma Adams: Newest Member of the Congressional Black Caucus

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Rep-Alma-Adams1-350x235

 

Tuesday saw the election of NC State Representative Alma Adams (D-Guilford), as the next congresswoman from North Carolina’s 12th congressional district.

182 of 182 precincts – 100 percent

x-Alma Adams 14,927 – 44 percent

Malcolm Graham 7,482 – 22 percent

George Battle 4,426 – 13 percent

Marcus Brandon 2,974 – 9 percent

James Mitchell 2,032 – 6 percent

Curtis Osborne 1,934 – 6 percent

 

Adams, 67, a veteran member of the North Carolina General Assembly, succeeds Mel Watt, who resigned after being appointed by President Obama as the head of the federal Housing Finance Authority.

Adams, a retired college professor, is known for her colorful personality, forceful manner, and her distinctive hats. A former chairman of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, I predict that she’ll make a mark quickly and will chair the Congressional Black Caucus within 4 years.  In succeeding Watt, she presents a sharp contrast. Watt is known for his unassuming manner and for surprising constituents and others by personally answering the phones in his congressional office.  Adams, on the other hand, is rather imperious and known in Raleigh as someone difficult to work for.

This race should have ended differently. Given the footprint that Charlotte has in the 12th Congressional District, this race was State Senator Malcolm Graham’s to lose and he lost it. He never consolidated his base and Greensboro State Representative Marcus Brandon was never a threat to Alma’s despite his strong fundraising. His humiliating 9% showing was the shock of the evening.

 

 

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?