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Archive for June 2006

Dire Straits was wrong: It’s ‘Money for Something’

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In Congressional District 29 in New York state, farmers don’t grow many beets, sugar or otherwise. In the district’s counties — Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Monroe, Schuyler, Steubens and Yates — only 19 farms produced beets on approximately 350 acres, according to the 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture.

Yet my congressman, the Hon. John R. “Randy” Kuhl (R-Hammondsport), has received in the 2006 election cycle $6,500 from PACs associated primarily with Midwest sugar and sugar beet cooperatives, according to FEC filings as of May 29. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 30, 2006 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

To hell with campaign finance reform

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Now that the Supreme Court of the United States says that it’s okay to screw with congressional districts any time the party in power wishes, we might as well throw out any limits on campaign contributions or expenditures as well.

Yep. Incumbents and challengers, raise what you want; spend what you want. But here’s what I want in return: Congress will provide the means necessary for any citizen with a computer to track every goddamned penny campaigning politicians collect and spend. And that goes for their “leadership” PACs and the state and federal party campaign committees. Show us the money.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 29, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Jolie juices Coop’s ratings (surprise! surprise!)

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In case you missed it, here’s the ratings bump for CNN from the Anderson Cooper-Angelina Jolie hype onslaught of last week. From MediaBistro:

Anderson Cooper’s interview with Angelina Jolie was the number one program in the 25-54 demographic Tuesday night.

In the 25-54 demo, Cooper averaged 754,000 at 10pm and 511,000 at 11pm. Among total viewers, Cooper averaged 1,568,000 at 10pm and 1,097,000 at 11pm. His two-hour average was 633,000 demo and 1,333,000 total viewers. (He was up 96% in total viewers and 218% in demo viewers versus his year-to-date average.)

The 10pm hour of Cooper’s two-hour special beat Larry King (253k demo, 973k total), Hannity & Colmes (295k demo, 1528k total), and Greta Van Susteren (284k demo, 1344 total). Bill O’Reilly still beat him among total viewers (with 2,197). Thanks to the interview, CNN beat FNC in primetime in the demo, but FNC was #1 among total viewers…

Now let’s see how he does this week without Jolie.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 26, 2006 at 11:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Check the finances of your representative or senator

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So how much money did your representative or senator in Congress make in service to the Republic (and in other ways) in 2005? Thanks to The Washington Post, you can find out here.

My representative from District 29 in New York, the Hon. John R. “Randy” Kuhl, filed his disclosure form a day late. The deadline’s May 15; the disclosures are released to the public in early June. I wonder if he’ll have to pay the $200 penalty for late filing.

Rep. Kuhl, (R-Hammondsport), reported income of $200,851.50 — his $129,691.14 House salary and his 2005 $71,160.36 pension from the “New York State & Local Employees Retirement System” (sic). He’ll report more House income in 2006; the House gave itself a $3,100 “cost of living adjustment” raise in 2005.

In Cattaraugus County, (the part of District 29 in which I live) the median income for a household was $33,404, and the median income for a family was $39,318, according to the 2000 Census.

Rep. Kuhl has a property in Bath, N.Y. (worth between $100,001 and $250,000; asset values are reported in ranges) from which he reported income of $2,501 to $5,000. He has a condo in Haines City, Fla., worth between $50,001 and $100,000. He reported income of $5,001 to $15,000 from Johnson & Johnson (presumably dividends, but it was not specified as such).

He reported “assets and/or income source” from T. Rowe Price Equity, Fidelity Magellan, Fidelity OTC and Janus Fund. The values for each were reported from $15,001 to $50,000. He reported transactions for each between $15,001 and $50,000.

His disclosure form reports these liabilities:

• Bank of America Visa: credit card revolving account; $10,001-$15,000.
• Bath National Bank: line of credit; $100,001 to $250,000.
• Equitable Life Insurance: policy loans; $15,001 to $50,000
• MBNA America: credit card revolving account; $15,001 to $50,000
• Chase Bank: credit card loan; $15,001 to $50,000.
• Bank One: credit card loan; $15,001 to $50,000

Rep. Kuhl reported no gifts. He reported travel to Israel for a week with a family member paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation.

Rep. Kuhl’s voting record is available here.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 25, 2006 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tom DeLay and his legal fees …

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If you’re worried that poor Tom DeLay, Texas’ favorite indicted former congressman, won’t be able to pay his legal fees, fear not. Says the Political Money Line:

Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust Files Final Report

The legal defense fund of former Rep. Tom DeLay filed their last public report covering financial activity from April 1, 2006 until June 9, 2006, the last day DeLay was in office.

The Tom DeLay Legal Expense Trust reported raising $18,500 in amounts in excess of $250, and spent $43,282 in amounts in excess of $250. Smaller amounts do not have to be reported and no cash-on-hand at the end of the period need be reported.

Senator John Cornyn’s Alamo PAC gave $5,000. The Friends of Dave Weldon gave $2,500. Howard Jones, founder and chairman of IDT Corp. (Houston, TX) gave $5,000. Larry D. Johnson, chairman of Johnson Company (Houston, TX) gave $5,000. Attorney Donald B. Roseman of Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, et al. gave $1,000.

The Trust paid $25,000 to Bracewell & Giuliani (TX) for legal fees. They paid $10,012 to Richardson Consulting for fundraising. They paid $5,978 to Duff, Kitchel & Co (TX) for accounting, and $2,292 to Brent Perry for administrative expenses.

Since its initial filing on 6/28/00 the Trust reported $1,851,177 in receipts from contributions in excess of $250. The Trust has reported spending $2,173,533 in expenses in excess of $250. [emphasis added]

The Legal Expense Trust is separate from the campaign account called the Tom DeLay Congressional Committee, that reported 3/31/06 cash-on-hand of $1,450,959.

Wonder what he’s gonna do with that nearly $1.5 million in his campaign committee, now that he’s (apparently) not going to run for Congress again? And, since the legal trust seems to be running a deficit … hmmm. I can’t believe DeLay would reach into his own pocket to cover his legal fees.

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 24, 2006 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How to buy influence: the ex-Senator version

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John B. Breaux is the former Democratic senator from Louisiana who left that august body in 2005 after not seeking re-election in 2004. But he lingers on. Or, rather, his money and its influence lingers on.

Read on. Dessert’s at the end. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 20, 2006 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A better FOI law ahead for New York state?

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New York’s state Legislature, not necessarily known as a benefactor of John and Jane Q. Public, has done something right for a change. Both chambers have passed a bill that would strengthen the state’s freedom of information law.

If you’re looking for a public document that reveals a no-bid sweetheart contract or an underhanded, devious land deal, the state FOI law — assuming Gov. Pataki signs the bill into law — would penalize government officials who put roadblocks in your path. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

June 20, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized