Sheriff contemplates petition drive to make his office nonpartisan

December 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Sheriff Al Lamberti wants to end the “party” at the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

He’s thinking about making a push to make elections for his office “nonpartisan.”

He says he just wants to take partisan politics out of the sheriff elections. But critics say it’s a move to make it easier for Republicans, like Lamberti, to win more easily in overwhelmingly Democratic Broward.

“There’s nothing political about being sheriff. No matter what you do, it’s not Democrat, it’s not Republican, it’s just being the sheriff,” Lamberti said.

If he proceeds with the idea, he’ll send a big ripple through Broward politics: Democrats fear that the idea ultimately could spread beyond the sheriff to other countywide elected posts – property appraiser and supervisor of elections – that are currently held by Democrats.

Even if he succeeds, a change wouldn’t happen in time for the 2012 election. Unless he switches parties, he’ll be running for re-election as a Republican. In 2008 he received 51 percent of the vote to Democrat Scott Israel’s 49 percent.

Attempting to make elections for sheriff nonpartisan contests is a daunting task. Lamberti and his supporters would have to organize a campaign to collect 72,924 valid signatures from voters to place the question before voters in a referendum. Hitting that number – 7 percent of the 1 million plus registered for this year’s election – would require collecting many more signatures to make sure enough valid names are turned in.

The referendum campaign would face powerful opponents in the Democratic Party, which wouldn’t want to lose any advantage in winning the biggest prize in countywide elections. The Sheriff’s Offices has more than 5,300 employees and an annual budget of $ 686 million. More than $ 142 million of that goes to sought-after contracts for goods and services ranging from squad cars to jail food.

Here’s a video of a segment I taped a week ago with Lamberti for his “All Points Bulletin” program that airs from 2 to 3 p.m. Sundays on WWNN, 1470 AM. At the 10:45 mark we start discussing the question of nonpartisan elections for sheriff.

Broward Politics

Breaking: House Democrats vote to table Obama’s tax cuts bill; Update: Pelosi’s office demands changes

December 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 


Biden told them last night in a meeting that no changes would be made, so they could either take it or leave it. Verdict: Leave it. Defying President Obama, House Democrats voted Thursday not to bring up the tax package that he negotiated with Republicans in its current form. “This message today is very simple: […]

Read this post »

Hot Air » Top Picks

At Least 13 New Republican Members Of Congress Hire Corporate Lobbyists To Manage Their Office

December 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

To many Americans, Washington is fundamentally broken. While corporations enjoy record profits and executives reward themselves with million-dollar bonuses, lobbyists have gamed the system so corporate behemoths like ExxonMobil and GE pay zero corporate income taxes. During the economic crisis, with high unemployment and stagnant wages, middle class Americans seem to be bearing the sacrifices. Riding a wave of this popular discontent, Republicans won a historical congressional election this year by channeling anger against “Beltway insiders” and Washington corruption.

Perhaps to the surprise of many Tea Party populists who helped elect them, the Washington Post reports, “Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides. Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement.” These lobbyists are not public servants. They are experts at carving out special deals and tax giveaways to powerful corporations:

Rep.-elect Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) selected lobbyist Tim Harris as his chief of staff. Harris works as lobbyist for a trade association representing the shareholders of energy companies like American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource, Vectren.

Rep.-elect Mike Pompeo (R-KS) selected Mark Chenowerth as his chief of staff. Chenowerth previously worked as a lawyer on the lobbying team for Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by Charles and David Koch. As ThinkProgress reported early this year, Pompeo was groomed for office by Koch Industries-run front groups, and has served as an executive for Koch Industries oil company subsidiaries.

Rep.-elect Robert Dold (R-IL) selected corporate lobbyist Eric Burgeson as his chief of staff. Burgeson works for the lobbying firm BGR Holdings serving business clients in China, the coal industry, and a nuclear company.

Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack (R-MN) selected corporate lobbyist Rod Grams as his chief of staff. Grams works for a lobbying firm called Hecht, Spencer, and Associates where he represents 3M, Norfolk Southern and the Financial Services Roundtable, the trade association for the country’s largest banks.

Rep.-elect Krisi Noem (R-SD) selected Jordon Stoick as her chief of staff. Stoick is a vice president at the lobbying firm Direct Impact. Direct Impact also specializes in building public support for corporate causes, boasting on its website that it once generated hundreds of letters to the FCC on behalf of the telecom industry.

Rep.-elect Jeff Denham (R-CA) selected corporate lobbyist Jason Larrabee as his chief of staff. Larrabee is the founder of his own lobbying firm.

Sen.-elect Pat Toomey (R-PA) selected former corporate lobbyist Chris Gahan as his chief of staff. Gaham previously worked at the lobbying firm Latham and Watkins.

Rep.-elect Steve Pearce (R-AZ) selected Todd Willens as his chief of staff. Willens is a lobbyist at Vitello Consulting, a firm that represents a number of interests, including a casino.

Sen.-elect Charlie Bass (R-NH) selected lobbyist John Billings as his chief of staff. Billings is a lobbyist for a food marketing and whole sale trade association.

Rep.-elect Chris Gibson (R-NY) selected Steve Stallmer as his chief of staff. Stallmer is a lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors of New York State.

Sen.-elect Ron Johnson (R-WI) selected Don Kent as his chief of staff. Kent is a lobbyist for the firm Navigators Global. Navigators Global represents AT&T, CitiGroup, and other major corporations.

Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) selected lobbyist Spencer Strokes as his chief of staff. Lee is one of the most prominent corporate lobbyists in Utah, representing clients from the private prison industry to the nuclear industry.

Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) selected anti-union lobbyist Douglas Stafford for his chief of staff. Stafford is the vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.

These Republican lawmakers, many of whom cast themselves as insurgents, are linking their professional decisions into the corporate establishment of influence peddling. Congressional chiefs of staff are often in charge of helping members make pivotal decisions, like which positions to take on public debates, how to vote on pieces of legislation, and of course, how to use your votes to raise money for your re-election.

As the Washington Post reported last weekend, freshmen “Tea Party” Republicans have already ingratiated themselves into the cocktail culture of K Street. Dozens of freshmen Republicans have crowded into near-daily fundraisers, parties, and high-priced dinners hosted by corporate lobbyists. Already undercutting a promise to wean themselves off earmark giveaways to corporate interests, the new Republican Chairman of the Appropriations Committee is leaning towards hiring a defense industry lobbyist as the committee chief of staff.


Linda McMahon’s Aide, Jodi Latina, Joins Senate Republicans; Former Channel 8 Reporter In Press Office

December 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

For more than a year, it seemed that everywhere that U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon went, aide Jodi Latina was with her.

Whether it was at the Crocodile Club fundraiser or even Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s testimonial dinner in Cromwell on Tuesday night, Latina was there with McMahon. In a crowd of about 500 people, McMahon and Latina were seated at the table closest to Rell’s at the front of the ballroom.

Now, Latina is joining the state Senate Republicans as a press spokeswoman – the first person hired after seven staffers were recently laid off. The layoffs included two press aides, a researcher, a budget specialist, and three other aides.

Capitol Watch

Pigford Witness Report: Applicant Claimed Discrimination by Nonexistent Chicago USDA Office, Was Paid Anyway

December 7, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

The following is based on an interview with a current US Department of Agriculture employee who has worked for more than 20 years for the USDA:

It’s been ten years and I’ve really dealt with Pigford.  I was a hard time.  Frankly, I don’t like to talk about it anymore.

There was a lot of fraud.  People collected money who had never stepped in the door of a USDA office.  They had to prove they had been discriminated against to get their money so to get around that fact they would say they were never given an application. That’s how they got around the fact that there was no evidence of them having visited the USDA.

The burden of proof in Pigford was basically on us, the USDA, to prove that we didn’t discriminate against someone. How do you prove a negative like that?  It’s really impossible.

I was assigned to Washington for a while to process Pigford claims.  We saw claims come in from affluent areas.  There were claims from Palm Beach and Palm Springs, and they said they were black farmers.  One applicant said they were discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture’s Chicago office.   There is no USDA office in Chicago.  They got paid anyway.

There was a lot of pressure from Washington, D.C. to approve claims they knew were fraudulent or false. All people basically had to do was fill out a form. In Washington, D.C. they didn’t want to to hear about anything other than getting claims processed.  I personally witnessed cases where the person in charge,  [name redacted], a deputy administrator for farm loans, told us to tweak applications to help them get through.   If they were missing information or something, we were supposed to add it to help them be approved.

Some employees at USDA turned to the other side and saw a way to make money.  In Pine Bluff Arkansas there was an employee that would recruit people and help them fill out the paperwork.  Her husband was the head of the black farmers association of Arkansas.  They would take 50% of the Pigford money that someone would collect.

The purpose of Pigford was to garner the vote, to buy black votes. It’s dangerous because we are segmenting society,  pitting blacks, Hispanics and others against each other, we are fragmenting society,  chiseling society.

Big Government

Rell Office Staffer Gets New Job Outside State Payroll

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Adam Jeamel, director of public affairs for Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, will leave Rell’s lame-duck administration this week, Kevin Rennie reports in his Daily Ructions blog.

Says Rennie: ”Jeamel will be joining the Eastern Connecticut Health Network as Director of Public Relations and Public Affairs.  ECHN includes Manchester Memorial Hospital and Rockville Hospital. He’s been working in the governor’s inner suite of offices, so dealing with the trauma and psychiatric facilities at ECHN will provide Jeamel reminders of the screaming and scheming that became the hallmarks of daily life in Rell’s office.”

Read Rennie’s blog item by clicking here.

Capitol Watch

Sheriff’s office never did formally investigate Wheeler’s ties to Rothstein

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

By Brittany Wallman and Jon Burstein
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti has cleared his longtime friend and undersheriff, Col. Tom Wheeler, of any wrongdoing in accepting free private jet trips from Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.

Though the Broward Sheriff’s Office said for the past year that Wheeler was under investigation, Lamberti now says no formal investigation was ever done.

Lamberti said the trips were OK under BSO’s existing policy because “they were not given in return or expectation for something.’’

However, Lamberti said that the policies are inadequate and will be replaced imminently with tougher ones making gift rules more restrictive and clear.

“I feel the past policy didn’t go far enough,’’ Lamberti said. “And in the current climate in Broward County, where citizens are clamoring for ethics reform and for all public officials and public employees to be above reproach, I therefore felt it was necessary to revamp the policy.’’

Broward Politics

Ensign’s office says he’s no longer target of federal investigation

December 1, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comments Off 

Washington (CNN) – Senator John Ensign’s office says he’s been told he’s no longer a target of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he violated the law in an effort to cover up an affair he had with the wife of a former aide.

The two-term Republican admitted in June to an extramarital affair with Cindy Hampton, his onetime campaign treasurer. She is the wife of top aide Doug Hampton.

Ensign and his family were longtime friends with the Hamptons. Doug Hampton has given interviews stating his family has received money and employment offers from Ensign after he and his wife left the Senate staff in April 2008. Ensign admitted his parents gave the Hamptons $ 96,000 but said the money was a gift, not an effort to suppress word of the affair.

In a statement, Ensign’s lawyer, Paul Coggins, said “The Department of Justice has informed us that Senator Ensign is no longer a target of its investigation and that it has no plans to bring any charges against him in this matter. The Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department have reached the right result on the baseless allegations made against him, and we look forward to the Ethics Committee reaching the same conclusion soon.”

The Justice Department had no comment.

Jennifer Cooper, an Ensign spokesperson, said:

“Senator Ensign is certainly pleased that the Department of Justice no longer views him as a target in their investigation, and has long-stated that he acted in accordance with the law. Our office and the Senator have been cooperative with this investigation, and it’s important that the truth in this matter is finally coming to light. It is the Senator’s hope that the Ethics Committee soon follows suit. Senator Ensign looks forward to continuing his hard work on behalf of the people of Nevada.”

A statement from Ensign’s lawyer in July said: “Each gift was limited to $ 12,000.” “The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts.” Under U.S. tax laws, gifts of up to $ 12,000 are tax-exempt.

According to the statement, Ensign’s parents learned of the affair from their son and decided to make the gifts “out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time.”

Before the senator’s admission of an affair, he was considered a rising political star and possible Republican presidential candidate for 2012.

-CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash and Justice Producer Terry Frieden contributed to this report

CNN Political Ticker

Met Office finds “evidence for man-made warming has grown even stronger in the last year.”

November 28, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Ahead of the latest UN talks on climate change in Mexico, the Met Office analyses long- and short-term trends in climate and reveals that the evidence for man-made warming has grown even stronger in the last year….

Dr Matt Palmer, an ocean observations specialist at the Met Office, said: “It is clear from the observational evidence across a wide range of indicators that the world is warming. As well as a clear increase in air temperature observed above both the land and sea, we see observations which are all consistent with increasing greenhouse gases.”

The blockbuster news from the UK’s Met Office is that they’ve reviewed the global temperature data and concluded that the apparent slow down in the rate of global warming (as measured by surface temperatures) may not be real.  It may largely be an artifact of “changes to sea-surface temperature measurement practices” along with “strong warming in the Arctic — where there are fewer observations.”

I’ll do a post on that Monday, but here’s the overview of the full analysis by the Met[eorological] Office (part of the Defence Ministry) of long and short-term climate trends:

There is overwhelming evidence of warming in a wide range of climate indicators, not just surface temperature. The picture for short-term trends is more complicated. Short-term variations are affected by natural variability and other factors as well as long-term warming. In the last 10 years the rate of warming has decreased whilst the rate of loss of sea-ice extent has increased — an apparent contradiction — the Met Office’s latest analysis of the science shows that this is entirely consistent with our understanding of how the climate behaves and with our model projections.

I would note that this Reuters story — “World warmer, short-term trends need study: report” — misses the point the Met Office is making.  The apparent contradiction is not a real one.

In providing the evidence of continued warming and drawing from the work of more than 20 institutions worldwide, the Met Office Hadley Centre compiled results for a range of climate indicators — not just surface temperature. The multiple data sets used for each indicator are from diverse sources such as satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, ocean buoys and field surveys.

Dr Matt Palmer, an ocean observations specialist at the Met Office, said: “It is clear from the observational evidence across a wide range of indicators that the world is warming. As well as a clear increase in air temperature observed above both the land and sea, we see observations which are all consistent with increasing greenhouse gases.”

These changes include:

  • Increases in water temperature at the sea surface down a depth of hundreds of metres.
  • An increase in humidity as a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture.
  • Increases in sea level as warmer waters expand and land-ice melts.
  • Shrinking of Arctic sea-ice, glaciers and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover.

Since the late 1970s the long-term rate of surface warming has been about 0.16 °C per decade. However, over the last decade the rate of warming has decreased.

Natural variability within the climate system could explain all of this recent decrease. Other factors could have contributed.

  • Changes in stratospheric water vapour
  • Solar variability
  • Increased aerosol emissions from Asia

The rate of warming has been underestimated in the last decade because of:

  • changes to sea-surface temperature measurement practices;
  • strong warming in the Arctic — where there are fewer observations.

Dr Vicky Pope said: “Our analysis confirms that the signals of warming are as strong as they ever have been. Improving our understanding of the factors that affect short- and long-term trends is helping us to improve our predictions of the future, helping others to make choices on mitigation and adaptation providing a more resilient future.”

I will do a full post on this new finding Monday.  I’m hoping to get some more info from the lead author of the sea-surface analysis.

For another review of the key climate science findings of the year, see

Climate Progress

Palin On Being Driven Out of Office By Bogus Lawsuits: ‘We Wouldn’t Have Had a Pot to Piss In’

November 25, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Sarah Palin talks about why she was forced to resign as governor on Dennis Miller’s radio show…

(hat tip, Breitbart)

please donate…it helps me write more gooder!


The Office Of The President

November 24, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Conor wants to shrink it:

[W]e need to give our presidents fewer tasks to perform well, rather than asking that they give their attention to everything from childhood obesity to North Korean nukes to stem cell policy to the future of GM to… well, you get the idea.

Bernstein parries:

I think Friedersdorf is mistaken.  Indeed, one can see his mistake in the title of his post: "The Presidency is 'To Big For One Man.'"  Yes, it is too large for one person — which is why, basically from the time of Harry Truman, the presidency has grown to include (depending on how one counts it) hundreds, or even thousands, of people.

It's true that as recently as the 1930s, we elected a president.  Now, we elect an entire presidency. 

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Palin Seeking Iowa Office Space

November 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Aides to Sarah Palin preparing for an Iowa stop on her upcoming book tour, “told locals they were looking into office space and other logistical needs for the coming year,” the Guardian reports.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Hillary Clinton: I’m Not Running For Elected Office Ever Again

November 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Since it’s the November 21st, 2010, the most important question for the Sunday morning news shows was, of course, the 2012 elections.

Over on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Clinton got her turn:

Asked by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace if she’s done pursuing the elected office, Clinton answered, “I am.”

“I am very happy doing what I’m doing, and I am not in any way interested in or pursuing anything in elective office,” she said.

Clinton laughed off the continued speculation that she might throw her hat into the 2012 presidential ring.

“I love what I’m doing. I can’t tell you what it’s like, Chris, to everyday get to represent the United States,” she said. “That’s why I feel so strongly about every issue, from START to Afghanistan.”

Of course, there will be a segment of the populace that won’t believe her, and pundits will continue to speculate about 2016, or even 2012 scenarios. This much seems true, however; Hillary Clinton will not run against Barack Obama in 2012, anyone who believes she will is simply ignoring reality, and she will be 69 years old when Election Day 2016 rolls around. Would she be willing to put all her energy into what is likely to be a wide open race regardless of what happens to Barack Obama in 2012? I tend to believe her when she says she’s done.

Outside the Beltway

What Bush misses about the Oval Office

November 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(CNN) – Former President George W. Bush misses at least one aspect of the White House.

“I don’t miss much about being president… I miss being pampered,” Bush joked at an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Thursday night.

He also addressed his famous genes saying he has “my father’s eyes” and “my mother’s mouth.”

The former president offered the enthusiastic crowd anecdotes from his memoir “Decision Points” that was on sale in the library’s courtyard. The former president said he hopes the volume serves as a starting point in the long-term consideration of his presidency.

He said a full assessment of his two terms in office would happen, but first “The passions of the moment have to pass.”

Most of his remarks centered on the decision to go to war against Al Qaeda and the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Bush appeared with first lady Nancy Reagan to promote his book as part of a lecture series at the library.

“I have zero desire to be in the limelight except to sell the book,” Bush said.

-CNN’s Chuck Conder contributed to this report

CNN Political Ticker

Carl Schmitt, Call Your Office

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Neofascist neocon Michael Goldfarb rarely disappoints:


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