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Don’t believe what politicians say; check it out first

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Citizens should challenge the claims politicians use to promote themselves.

For example, my New York state District 29 representative in Congress, the Hon. John R. “Randy” Kuhl (R-Hammondsport), said this in a press release announcing his re-election bid:

Rep. Kuhl stressed his continued commitment and service to the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, and Rochester area. “As of the 1st of May, I have held 290 town hall meetings – one in each of the 145 towns of the district each year — since I was sworn into office last January. As a citizen legislator, I have heard ideas from constituents in these meetings and then turned them into legislation and action in Washington.” [emphasis added]

So he says he’s turned ideas into legislation. Let’s test that claim.

As of July 6, according to the Thomas service at the Library of Congress, Rep. Kuhl has sponsored 18 pieces of legislation. Of these, four are honorifics:

• recognizing the 75th anniversary of the death of aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss.
• commending hospice-care providers for their service.
• renaming a district post office after a young soldier killed in Iraq.
• designating an interstate highway in his district as the “Amo Houghton Bypass” (the former Rep. Houghton was his House predecessor).

Two are “bookkeeping” or “sense of the House” bills or amendments. House leaders often attach these bills or amendments to House partisans who need to show something on their legislative record.

Fourteen, dating back to 2005, were referred to House committees and subcommittees, from which they have yet to emerge. [To see these bills, go to the Thomas service at the Library of Congress and select Rep. Kuhl’s name from “Browse Bills by Sponsor.”

In his first term, as of June 29, Rep. Kuhl has cast 926 votes, according to The Washington Post votes database. He has failed to vote with the GOP majority only 41 times.

As a freshman legislator, one of his votes was to approve Rep. Dennis J. Hastert as Speaker of the House. You remember Rep. Hastert: He took several members of the Republican Party’s “Regents,” some 100 campaign contributors who have given $250,000 apiece to the party since January 1999, on a fishing trip, according to Harper’s magazine.

In the 2004 election cycle, Rep. Kuhl’s first, Rep. Hastert’s leadership PAC, the Keep Our Majority PAC, gave Rep. Kuhl $5,000. In the 2006 cycle, Rep. Hastert’s PAC gave Rep. Kuhl $10,000.

Ditto the House majority leader, Rep. John Boehner. His Freedom Project gave Rep. Kuhl $5,000 in 2004 and $5,000 in 2006.

Ditto the House majority whip, Rep. Roy Blunt. His Rely on Your Beliefs PAC gave Rep. Kuhl $10,000 in 2004 and $9,999 in 2006.

That’s $44,999 from the three top GOP leaders in the House of Representatives in Rep. Kuhl’s first term. Perhaps that explains some of his voting tendencies.

As for his town meetings? I covered town meetings in New England for two decades. His use of the term is a perversion. Town meetings are legislative meetings in which voters openly debate and vote on annual budgets and other matters. People who have attended Rep. Kuhl’s “town meetings” say he only listens and he or his staff takes notes — but he only answers questions with the doublespeak equivalent of “I’ll look into it.”

He calls himself a citizen legislator. I’d argue his record does not support the use of that phrase. After all, he’s a professional politician who has held a state or federal public office since 1980.

Legislators’ words of self-promotion should not be taken at face value. Hold them accountable for what they say and do.

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 15, 2006 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Where the hell did he learn his math? He’s held 290 town meetings, one in each of the 145 towns in the district. If he held one in each of the 145 towns in the district, wouldn’t that equal 145 town meetings instead of 290?

    cwmackowski

    July 16, 2006 at 5:44 am

    • His campaign pledge in the 2004 race was to do meetings in all 145 cities and towns in the district each year. That’s how he ends up with 290. I have to give him his due for this. Getting to all those places ain’t easy.

      Dr. Denny

      July 16, 2006 at 1:57 pm


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