Monday, February 4, 2008

Lie Down with Dogs, and You'll Get Cooties

On the City Council agenda Tuesday night is Mayor Coody’s request for a Resolution approving a consulting contract for $84,000 plus expenses with Van Scoyoc Associates, a bigtime Washington lobbyist group. Coody has said we wouldn’t receive any earmarked federal funds without the work of this bunch. He wants them to get $9 million for the Chamber’s top priority of road improvements out by the mall, $3.6 million for improvements at the corporate jetport at Drake Field, and others that are do overs or not yet figured out that total $23.1 million. This is very unrealistic, considering the firm delivered zero in FY 2007 and less than $2 million this year, for which Congressman Boozman also claimed credit.

Who are these Beltway Bandits we're getting ready to bless with our tax dollars and push their fees above $400,000? They are a huge firm with over 90 staff members and 300 clients, including Anheuser-Busch, Alcoa, Bechtel, General Motors, Peoplesoft, NASDAQ, DuPont, Duke Energy, FedEx, Union Pacific, Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, Lockheed Martin, and the US Chamber of Commerce. You know that our $84,000 will command top priority when their lobbying income was $11.95 million last year. Joe Martyak, vice president of communications for Van Scoyoc Associates, previously told a Northwest Arkansas Times reporter that he had no knowledge of the firm’s relationship with Fayetteville, but said the firm can provide a wide variety of services to a municipality. That's reassuring.

According to an investigative report from the Center for Responsive Politics, our costs are the same as they charge Baltimore but twice what they charge Seattle for lobbying. Still, that's cheaper than the $600,000 plus a year that the U.S. Justice Department's report on Foreign Agents revealed they were paid for their services by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Stu Van Scoyoc
, Chief Executive Officer, has BS degree
in chemical engineering, but he has never worked on Capitol Hill or in the executive branch. He makes up for it by hiring experienced insiders who know how to play the game, like Vice President Jennifer Kate LaTourette nee Laptook, 36, who used to be chief of staff to Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, 53, member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, before she went through the Revolving Door to big bucks. Much like our own Tim Hutchinson, Congressman LaTourette had an 84% favorable rating from the Christian Coalition and he voted to impeach President Clinton; he then divorced his wife to marry his staffer Laptook, but at least Randi didn't lobby Tim's committees for money. Of course, there is no rule or federal law against lobbying by spouses, but Jennifer and her step-daughter both got exposed by the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Jennifer LaTourette knows how to get things done by developing relationships with influential members of Congress. Attending their wedding was disgraced Republican Congressman Bob Ney, now serving 30 months in federal prison for
actions taken on behalf of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's clients in exchange for bribes. She also gave a large campaign contribution to Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis, called by Rolling Stone the "King of Payoffs." Former Chairman and now Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Lewis has a 93% rating by the Chamber of Commerce but Zero ratings from the National Education Association and the League of Conservation Voters. He also has mounting legal bills from a continuing federal investigation of his relationship with lobbyists and award of federal grants.

Jennifer LaTourette will not return phone calls to people who want to know more about her special talents, and her husband recently complained to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and got a liberal blogger fired from their staff. Nice folks that we are counting on to lead our nation and lobby for deficit building pork projects in our nation's capitol. That's the price of pleasing the Cowbirds and the Corporate Jet Set.

Anyway, that's the high powered Washington lobbyist firm that Mayor Coody wants to hire with our tax dollars to play the game of getting pork in bloated budget bills. He said last year that a Resolution passed by a unanimous vote of the City Council wasn't worth the paper it was written on. That's about what I think of the ethical value of the Resolution that Coody is pushing to grease the sweaty palms of Van Scoyoc Associates with $84,000 of our local sales tax dollars.

No comments:

Post a Comment