Monthly Archives: December 2010

Rehberg’s GOP Colleagues Decry Wasteful Congressional Mail

A little while back, we discussed Dennis Rehberg wasting taxpayer money by abusing his franking privileges. This week Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn released his “Wastebook 2010,” which reveals what he deems to be wasteful government programs.   Rehberg should take a look at item number 83 on page 53 in which Senator Coburn writes:

Postcards from members of Congress may not be so fun – especially if you are the one paying for it.

Indeed.  Coburn continues:

This is certainly not a priority in a time of budget shortfalls.

Rehberg tries to position himself as a champion for eliminating waste in government. But here he is protecting his precious campaign war chest by having taxpayers fund his early campaign lit. Besides, if Rehberg were such a champion for eliminating waste in government, what about the billions we’ve been wasting in Iraq?   There’s where the real spending is going.

Congressman Rehberg can’t be working very hard at fighting government waste, as he claims, when he is contributing to it so mightily by funding his campaign for higher ambitions like U.S. Senate or Governor with taxpayer dollars. He should come clean today, give us a clear accounting of what these mailings really cost us and repay the amount to the U.S. Treasury.

A Montana Talk Radio Fact Check

For the past few weeks, rightwing radio talk show host Aaron Flint has been trying to harpoon the Food Safety Modernization Act. Not sure what his problem with safe food might be. This is the bill that sailed through the Senate Sunday with unanimous support.  I guess Mr. Flint is against it because it includes a very good amendment in it by Senator Jon Tester, and it’s hard for a rightwinger to give credit where credit is due.

Tester’s amendment exempts family produce farms and food producers from what would be very expensive new federal regulations that are needed for the big food factories and huge growing operations that ship thousands of bags of lettuce to half the states in the union in a matter of hours… the companies responsible for our nation’s food-borne illness problems.

Under Mr. Flint’s rationale, since the exemption doesn’t apply to Tester’s own farm, then “there’s a chance  your farm doesn’t qualify either.”  Aaron Flint sounds like he’s against the Tester Amendment because “the typical family farm in Montana would not be exempt from the new regulations.“

Now I’m no farmer, but even I know that “typical family farm” in Montana probably wouldn’t even be subject to the new Food Safety Act regulations in the first place.   It makes me wonder if the talking heads over at Northern News Network even read the bill.

The Food Safety Act applies to those who grow produce or make processed food.  The majority of Montana farmers grow grain (like Tester) and sugar beets.  The last time I checked, grain and sugar beets weren’t the cause of America’s food safety problems, rather things like tomatoes, bagged lettuces and whatnot.  Ranchers won’t be impacted either because this bill doesn’t even deal with meat.

But, if you grow produce or process food in Montana, then chances are you make less than $500,000 per year in sales and you sell directly to the marketplace.  If Aaron Flint had actually read the bill, he’d see that’s exactly who the Tester exempts.

“Establishment” GOP vs.TEA Party Legislators: Fight Set for January 3rd Starts Early

Roger Koopman Speaks at a Ron Paul RallyThe session hasn’t even started and tensions that have been bubbling behind closed doors are flaring up publicly now between ultra-far-right wingers, on one side, and your run-of-the-mill conservative Republicans on the other.

In a press release entitled “Is the conservative mandate derailed before leaving the station?” former GOP legislator Roger Koopman, of Bozeman, fired the first public attack on the “Republican Establishment” over the lack of leadership bones thrown to the GOP’s hard-right ideologues given the fact that the TEA Party delivered the GOP a “a powerful conservative mandate” in the November elections.

Judging by who received plum leadership positions, Koopman is part right and part wrong.  Wing nut appointees include Krayton Kearns (House Ag), Ted Washburn (House FWP) and David Howard (House HHS).  Those guys are RWNJs all the way.  So the question is, is Koopman trying just to get attention for himself, or does he honestly believe that these yahoos are somehow not conservative enough?  Koopman ends the rant by calling for a separate TEA Party caucus of truly “principled” conservatives:

If there is any hope for conservative Montanans in the coming legislature, it will come from a highly organized, principled group of Republican legislators who will simply not allow the conservative mandate of November 2 to be stolen from them.

The best part, you might recall, is that Koopman was caught sucking off the government tit a while back, and basically got cited by the state for using public resources to line his own pockets.

The Rehberg Puzzle

Denny Rehberg’s vote against the tax cut package could be explained by his expected bid for higher office, either Governor or Senator–he’s keeping his options open.  As The Hill reports,

A slew of House Republicans thought to be contenders for higher office in 2012 voted against the tax package on Thursday.

Rehberg was one of them, and Rehberg’s vote against the recent spending package can be explained by these ambitions, because votes against the spending measure will likely be a positive with Tea Party activists and could help in a GOP primary against Daines or Hill.

But the question isn’t which office he’ll run for, what’s really puzzling is why some far-left liberals would rather fight the friends who disappoint them on occasion than focus on the enemies who want to destroy them. The right doesn’t do this.  They just want to win.  If actions are any indicator, some liberals just want to whine.

T.E.A. Party’s Number One Earmarker Campaigns Against Earmarks on Taxpayer’s Dime

Here we see what looks like a pretty typical piece of sleazy campaign literature: An oversized, glossy, mailer touting the evils of earmarks.  But the first problem is that it is from Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg, Citizens Against Government Waste’s Number One Porking Earmarker in Congress.

Now take a closer look.   It’s not a piece of campaign literature, it’s a piece of congressional franking–paid for with our taxpayer dollars.   Not only is it a clear violation of the spirit of the franking rules, if not the law itself, but it is the embodiment of wasteful government spending to campaign against wasteful spending on the taxpayers’ dime.

Indeed, Rehberg’s ethical indiscretions have been raising eyebrows and filling mailboxes for years. There’s a pretty blurry line between what is or is not a legitimate use of franking privilege, but just the message alone here makes this one cross it by a mile.

Rehberg Abuses Franking Privilege1Rehberg Abuses Franking Privilege2

View both sides of FrankingPrivilege here.