Scandals are breaking out everyday.
Monday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a new draft Report and hundreds of documents detailing the extensive contacts and close working relationship between Jack Abramoff, his Team and the Bush White House.
It is rich in scandal details and I could write 20 Diaries about it if I had the time.
This was on the heels of the latest guilty plea in the Abramoff scandal that I wrote about the other day.
I find myself spending time talking to researchers, reporters and sources from Alaska to Florida (and many States in between) and helping them connect the dots.
Time is running short and I need some help.
I need a Research Posse:
To the Jump...
The corruption of the Bush Administration is breathtaking. And they are only the latest chapter in a 40-year war waged by the Conservative movement to destroy the Government of the United States. This is incompetence by design. It is the Shock Doctrine.
(Those who want to know what we are up against may want to pre-order the new book by Thomas Frank (the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas and a progressive voice on the WSJ opinion page). It is called "The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule" and it will be out in August.)
There is a reason why there is so much Republican Corruption—it is part of their plan.
Jack Abramoff is a key player in this story. For 25 years he was a bag-man for the hard right-wing of the Republican Party. This week’s Report from Waxman’s Committee underscores Jack’s deep ties to the modern Republican Party.
Perhaps Jack said it best when he told Vanity Fair:
"Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn’t know me is almost certainly lying," he says. Such lies are not just, well, lies, but dumb to boot, he adds, for, as his own humiliations suggest, old e-mails never die; they just sit on hard drives, waiting to be subpoenaed and then to be leaked to the press. "This is not an age when you can run away from facts," he declares. "I had to deal with my records, and others will have to deal with theirs."
Since 1999 I had been researching the Republican Culture of Corruption. My entry point was the system of forced sweatshops, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering and other abuses flourishing on the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). I could not understand how the US Congress was protecting this perversity of the human spirit and American values. Then I found Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich and the gang. The more I dug the more connections I found. Then I began to share my research. Soon, I saw my work being used in books and news reports. When the Abramoff scandal broke in February 2004, my research became used in more outlets. By the 2006 mid-term elections I worked to identify and defeat the Abramoff 65 a group of Republican Candidates tied to Jack Abramoff and the Culture of Corruption. We won 20 of those seats. We could have won more.
This year is far more intense than the 2006 cycle. Back then, a lot of my effort went into my Dairies about Abramoff that I posted here on Daily Kos. As the 2006 went on, I began to share my research with netroots researches and bloggers as well as campaigns and reporters. In May and June of 2006 I was photocopying thousands of pages of documents and shipping them off (time consuming and expensive).
These days, I have converted tens of thousands of pages of documents to searchable PDFs. I’m adding more pages all the time. I can upload these pages to an online storage site and easily share them as needed.
These documents are in need of deeper level of examination. They are loaded with names, relationships and actions—as well as patterns of behavior—that really should be fed into a database for analysis.
They call out for a Research Posse to help connect the corruption dots to specific Elected Officials, lobbyists and members of the Bush Administration.
I have found that these are scandals hiding in plain sight, but that they take work to expose. These documents are often maps, rosetta stones and clues to scandal that become apparent when compared to other data points in the public record.
Some scandal details add to the reasons that folks like Doolittle, Young and DeLay are in trouble.
And some times digging through these documents and their relationship to the public record leads you to uncover evidence making a fresh scandal link between a Member of Congress and the Culture of Corruption. A fresh link that is news. For example, in July of 2006, I made such a link to John Sweeney and the story broke in his local papers in October. Sweeney is not in Congress anymore. With your help we can repeat that success in this cycle.
Between the Republicans running for Congress and the Senate this cycle, there are quite a few connected to the Abramoff Scandal. I could easily put together an Abramoff 50 for 2008 and there is a definite Dirty Dozen that can and should be defeated. I’ve been trying the find the time to put this list together for weeks, months really, but I find that I am pulled away to help this or that active and emerging story. I consider that progress. It means that reporters, researchers and campaigns are more interested into digging into the Culture of Corruption in 2008 than they were in 2006. This is a good thing, even if it means I have less time to post Diaries at DKos.
In 2006, the Republicans invested a lot of time trying to convince everybody that Corruption would not matter (they are at it again this year). In 2006, they were aided by the special election to fill Duke Cunningham’s seat. Francine Busby ran an awful campaign. Among other failings, her people would not hit Bilbray on his ethical lapses and his long-standing ties to Jack Abramoff and corruption. I know this for a fact as I spent much of my time two years ago trying to get somebody, anybody on her campaign to pay attention to my research and Bilbray’s deep, deep ties to Jack and the abuse on the Mariana Islands.
When Bilbray won, the Republican spin was that corruption was a "dead" issue. Perhaps it was years of Pavlovian training that GOP spin must always be accepted or maybe it was something else, but regardless of the cause, many DC Consultants and Democratic Campaigns moved away from using corruption as an issue. Worse, fighting Democrats who were attacking hard on the corruption issue, like Charlie Brown in the CA-04, could not get resources or support from the DNC and DCCC for many, many critical months. With just a little timely support he would have won.
By the fall of 2006, everybody realized that corruption was indeed playing with voters. In election after election it was suddenly the tipping point. My phone was ringing off the hook and my inbox was full with Campaigns looking for last minute ways to tie their Republican opponent to Abramoff and the Culture of Corruption. For many campaigns it was too late. It was an opportunity lost.
We can not repeat that mistake in 2008.
Now is the time to research the corrupt so they can be exposed before November.
To help expose the wrongdoing of Republican candidates for the Senate, House, Governors and Statehouse, I need a Research Posse.
Join me if you want to do more than complain. Join me if you want to channel your energy into action.
It is way pass time to take this Country back.
This time out, there is also a Presidential election in the mix and John McCain has some explaining to do.
I have written about John McCain’s
investigation cover-up of the Abramoff Scandal and I need a Research Posse to expose lying weasel.
For example, I have also written about the 750,000 pages of documents that he gathered in that effort. Far less than 7,000 pages of those documents were ever released. For a while I thought and said that these documents were still in the control of the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee.
They are not.
I have been looking into the status of these documents and if they will ever be available for review. The news is not good.
McCain released his Report in June of 2006. By August the Committee closed their investigation and transferred the documents to the National Archives. As best I can tell at this moment, the status of the documents is "confidential". That means they will sit sealed in the Archives for 50 years. Then they will be released. There may be some circumstances where some or all of the documents could be released earlier, but it is a long shot.
McCain has covered his tracks.
A fifty year stay in a warehouse is the arrangement that McCain made for these 750,000 pages of documents.
It is an action that is part of his cover-up.
By the time the Democrats took control of the Senate in January 2007, the documents were already gone.
So, what can we do?
A few actions come to mind. The first is not to give up.
All the documents gathered by McCain can still re-acquired through a subpoena. Any current Senate and House Committees could launch a new investigations into the Abramoff scandal and go after them. A real ethics investigation into the complicity of Members of the House, the Senate and their staff would also be good. Over the last four years massive evidence of corruption has been uncovered. It is clear that Members of Congress and the Senate were breaking the law. And yet, the Ethics Committees of both bodies sit on the sidelines. We should be outraged.
A civil lawsuit by parties with standing could also get some documents released.
And then there is John McCain’s
investigation cover-up of the Abramoff Scandal. It is time to push for a fresh examination about what he did and did not do.
We could beg a media outlet to conduct the review. Or we could do it and force them to cover it.
While we do not have the 750,000 pages of documents, there are thousands of documents that are now in the public record.
Some were released by the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee.
Before they went to cold storage at the National Archives, SIAC shared their documents with the Senate’s Finance Committee which released another Report and more documents.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee relied on fresh subpoenas to gather the research for the Reports and documents they released.
Then there are the CNMI Billing Records released by the CNMI’s Office of Public Auditor.
Then there are many other documents and details that have been released as part of civil and criminal court proceedings.
Finally, there is the public record of news stories and public source documents.
Together, these documents contain the details that prove John McCain’s investigation of Abramoff was a cover-up.
On November 17, 2004 John McCain made a promise to Native American Tribal Leaders:
I pledge, as a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, that we will not stop until the complete truth is told.
McCain is using his record on the Abramoff Scandal as proof of his Maverickiness.
It is his "strength" and we can turn it into a weakness just by telling the truth.
There are many documents to go through and details to expose. An open source research effort is needed. Together we can push out details that will force McCain to answer questions about the choices he made when the Abramoff scandal confronted him with clear evidence of corruption. The trail led to his colleagues. The trail led to his President and his Party. John McCain had a choice and the choice he made was to cover it up.
We do not need the 742,000 pages of documents in the National Archives to prove that McCain chose protection of his Party over Justice. The proof is in the record we already have, the details wait for exposure and the dots wait to be connected. You can help. The fact that McCain rushed the documents to the National Archives back in August 2006 is just another cover-up dot to connect.
I have quite a few documents and files. I know others have some that I do not have. We can gather them in one place and start an open source research project. I am certain that there is somebody reading this who knows how an open source research project can be organized—somebody with skills I do not have.
These documents can be compared and connected to details in the public record and there are plenty of great research sources for public information, for example:
The Sunlight Foundation has some great resources listed on their page, Insanely Useful Web Sites. This is a great place for discovering many useful research web sites (follow the link to learn more about: Congresspedia, Contractor Misconduct, DOJ TrainingDB, Earmark Watch, FedSpending, Follow the Money, Govtrack, Government Documents, Legistorm, LOUIS, MapLight, Metavid, OpenCongress, OpenCRS, Open Hearings, Open Secrets, OS: Lobbyists, OS: Revolving Door, OS: Personal Financial Disclosure, OS: Travel, Project Vote Smart, Taxpayers for Common Sense, TRAC, and WashingtonWatch).
FedSpending, a project of OMB Watch is on the list and this database is very useful for tracking where the money goes.
Open Secrets is another of the sites they list. This is a very rich site with deep details on how gives, who gets, lobbyists, the revolving door, Leadership PACs and much more. It is rich with information.
Capital Eye, their online Newsletter did a great research piece on Abramoff last cycle. It is worth a look, I still use it when I’m researching Congresscritters.
Tax Payers for Common Sense is a great site for researching Earmarks, pork and the wasteful spending of our tax dollars:
Congresspedia is one of the many projects of Source Watch. This is a must visit research site for me (and one day when I have some time, I should add my files and research to the site—perhaps somebody would like to help me do that).
Thomas.gov is the Library of Congress site for information about Congress from Legislation to the Congressional Record. I go here often.
The Government Printing Office has many other links to Hearings, Legislation, the Congressional Record and other documents like the Federal Registry. Here is the link to the GPO Congressional search page.
The Department of Justice maintains a database of everybody who had to register as a "foreign agent" under the terms of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Many documents cited in a search of the FARA filings can be viewed and downloaded as PDFs. You can search the FARA filings here.
There are many more as well, like Google, Lexis and your local library. Feel free to share your tips and ideas in the comments.
In the years that I have been posting at Daily Kos I have made some great connections and friendships with other citizen researchers/reporters who have followed their own pathways into examining a core sample of the glacier of Republican corruption.
We have an informal network of sharing details. It is time to widen the circle.
When the document dumps came out about the Attorney Scandal there was an effort to connect the dots. It was widespread across the netroots. We need a similar effort to expose McCain’s Abramoff cover-up and expose the Republicans he was protecting.
If you have ideas on next steps or you want to help, let me know. This effort needs a project manager. Perhaps that is you.
I will do what I can to help, but my talents and resources are limited. Together we can do this.
Now is the time.
Stories that are not researched and processed by the end of August will have a hard time impacting this cycle. I wrote about John Sweeney and Jack Abramoff in July 2006 and it took months to get it picked up in a daily newspaper. If I had written that story on Daily Kos in September of October it would not have had time to filter up and impact the race.
Now is the time to dig.
And now is the time for me to sign off and answer an email about yet another Republican weasel.