Glass Houses – Update

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Guess I’m not the only one who think Pelosi is being a hypocrite:

House Republicans called Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a hypocrite yesterday for not demanding investigations into new ethics questions that have arisen about the travel of her fellow Democrats.

“She demanded an investigation into [Majority Leader] Tom DeLay, but hasn’t said a word about these Democrats who have done the same thing,” said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican. “If she doesn’t call for investigations into her fellow Democrats, then it’s clear she’s being a hypocrite.”

Republicans are wondering why the California representative won’t ask for investigations into Democratic Reps. Norm Dicks of Washington, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, all of whom face questions about accepting travel paid for by lobbyists.

“As we expressed in earlier letters, Madame Leader, it appears more and more that your repeated calls for an investigation of Mr. DeLay are more driven by politics than by any real concern for the House rules,” Mr. McHenry, with two other Republicans, wrote in a letter to Mrs. Pelosi yesterday.

Despite urging from Republicans, Mrs. Pelosi refused to call for any investigations of her Democratic colleagues.

What is just so interesting about this case is that the same lobbyist who is in the center of the Delay case is the same one these two Democrats were involved with.

Mr. Thompson and Mr. Clyburn got embroiled in the ethics battle when the Associated Press discovered documents showing that their travels in 1997 to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) had been paid for by a lobbyist.

That lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, is under federal investigation and has been at the heart of questions surrounding travel by Mr. DeLay. Despite
evidence showing that Mr. Abramoff paid for travel by Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican said he never knowingly allowed any lobbyist to pay for his trips.

Similarly, Mr. Thompson and Mr. Clyburn filed travel disclosure reports stating that a nonprofit organization paid for their trip and said they had no idea that Mr. Abramoff — or his firm at the time, Preston Gates & Ellis LLP — had footed the bill.

In addition to bills totaling $5,240 for Mr. Thompson’s travel and $4,823 for Mr. Clyburn’s, the lobbyists also paid for the travel of two DeLay aides, according to records obtained by AP. In December 1996, the lobbyists paid $2,132 in travel expenses for DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham and staffer Tony Rudy.

And one of the excuses these Democrats are spouting is that they paid them back:

Gregg Hilton, an official with the nonprofit listed on Mr. Thompson’s and Mr. Clyburn’s travel forms, told AP that the group never reimbursed the lobbyists. Mr. Hilton, who was on the trip, also said the lawmakers were never told that the now-defunct group, the National Security Caucus Foundation, would be footing the bills.

This is gonna bite them in the ass big time. (h/t Captain’s Quarters)

Another sidenote, it appears that Pelosi’s daughter was hired by Rep. John Tierney as his chief of staff. Soon after Pelosi appointed Tierney to the very powerful House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Very interesting.

It was recently reported in a local paper that Rep. Tierney has been appointed to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In his press release, he states:

“I am honored to be appointed by Leader Pelosi to serve on HPSCI, which has principal oversight responsibilities over our intelligence community and confronts the most challenging national security issues currently facing the United States,” said Tierney, who will be the sole New England representative on the Select Committee.

“Congressman Tierney will be a powerful voice for aggressive oversight of all intelligence activities, whether conducted by civilian agencies or the Department of Defense,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “I am proud to name Congressman Tierney to the Intelligence Committee; he will be an outstanding Member.”

The HPSCI is a highly sought after committee assignment. Former Massachusetts Representative Peter Blute stated on his AM 680 Talk Show “Blute and Scotto” last week that he would have loved to serve on this committee.

Members of this committee receive full intelligence clearances. Blute’s co-host, Scott Allen Miller (“Scotto”), pointed out on his blog an interesting side note to this story, thanks to an astute listener of the show. In the Parade Magazine supplement in last week?s Sunday Boston Globe, in the story titled One-on One with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, it was revealed that “[n]ow one of Pelosi’s daughters is chief of staff to Rep. John Tierney (D., Mass)…” The astute reader also points out that Christine Pelosi has a reputation for “romantic liaisons with members of Congress,” particularly, Texas congressman Max Sandlin. (Note: Christine Pelosi has not been linked romanticly with Rep. Tierney, her married boss–at least, not yet.)

As President Bush embarks on his second term, many of his cabinet nominees have been criticized, despite being eminently qualified for the positions (case in point, Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzalez). It has always been the position of the President to nominate only qualified individuals. So is this appointment to the HPSCI a reward for cronyism? Pelosi’s daughter has been Tierney’s Chief of Staff for some time, but I’m sure her association with the relatively unknown Congressman didn’t hurt Tierney’s chances for the appointment. Should not an individual appointed by the House Minority Leader to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence be the most qualified individual to serve, not the one who employs the House Minority Leader’s daughter?

It is also worth noting that Nancy Pelosi is no stranger to this type of cronyism, as she is the daughter of former Baltimore mayor Thomas D’Alexandro Jr. and the sister of former Baltimore mayor Thomas D’Alexandro III. It is doubtful she would be where she is today if not for her family’s political history.

I suppose the first counter-argument to this assertion is that President George W. Bush comes from a long political lineage, and perhaps would not be where he is today had that not been the case. Perhaps, however, there is a distinct difference. President George W. Bush was elected president, not appointed. Had Rep. Tierney been elected by his colleagues in Congress to the committee, there would be no argument–but he wasn’t, he was appointed to this committee position by the mother of his chief-of-staff. There is no doubt in my mind that had a Republican Congressman been appointed to such a committee as the HPSCI by the parent of said congressman’s chief-of-staff, the Democratic propaganda machine would be working overtime and in high dudgeon.