Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Friday, May 06, 2005

Oh and BESIDES the election rigging...

Live link in above headliner.

So sorry -- it's the media's fault

With the most recent version of Travelgate speeding through Congress faster than the Concorde, Central Florida's own Tom Feeney is at least taking the time to apologize for his role in the brewing scandal.

No, not to the voters who elected him, silly. To the real victims in all this: the lobbyists.

Feeney's chief of staff recently penned an apology to North Carolina's Rotterman and Associates, a consulting and lobbying firm that Feeney's office once listed as having paid for one of his many free trips. (Feeney now says that the influential consultants didn't pay for his trip to West Palm Beach. An influential conservative group did.)

In the letter to Karen Rotterman, Chief of Staff Jason Roe wrote: "I cannot tell you how sorry I am that you were mentioned in the story. As you know, the current environment in Washington is such that reporters are in such a frenzy to write anything about Members' of Congress travel that anything not done absolutely correctly seems newsworthy to them."

The things that Feeney didn't do absolutely correctly were:

Take a $5,600 trip to Scotland, which included golfing at the Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews that Feeney has said was paid for by another lobbyist, which would violate ethics rules.

Mistakenly report that lobbyists (the Rottermans) paid for another trip, which would have been another violation.

Still, Roe believes this is all much ado about nothing. "All this is, is media hysteria," he said. "The media think people care about this. They don't."

The hysteria involves more than just Feeney. In fact, the biggest headline-grabber is House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has been the subject of so many accusations of impropriety that his Republican peers talked about changing rules to allow him to stay in his leadership role -- even if he's indicted.

Roe worked on DeLay's last campaign, too.

DeLay, Feeney and now others -- including some Democrats -- were revealed to have taken free trips, the likes of which most Americans could never afford. Two of DeLay's -- to London and South Korea -- cost more than $25,000 each. (A $4,000 tab for food in London helped drive up the cost.)

But all that highfalutin travel is allowed -- as long as members of Congress don't let lobbyists foot the bills or fib about who paid for them. That's where the distinguished ladies and gentlemen have had some problems. Feeney has said his flubs were the results of clerical errors or deceptive lobbyists, stressing that he tried to fix things as soon as he learned of them.

And again, Republicans certainly aren't the only ones flying high on special-interest dollars. As you may remember, three months ago, Taking Names first highlighted the biggest local fan of free travel to be Democrat Corrine Brown, who had taken 19 trips worth more than $54,000 in recent years.

The reason Brown isn't getting hammered now is that -- so far, anyway -- she appears to have been a little more forthright and/or accurate about which special interests were treating her to trips designed to influence her votes.

All this said, Feeney's bad press hasn't kept his fans away. Just this week, popular Republican Sen. John McCain jetted into town and helped Feeney raise about $100,000 in campaign money.

"If traveling kept away star power," Roe said, "McCain wouldn't be able to do a fund-raiser for about 434 other members of Congress either."

Still, the public scrutiny likely will continue. And to add insult to Feeney's terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad week, Feeney got bumped off a show on Fox News last weekend for another media hot topic: the runaway bride.

Sounds like somebody needs a vacation.

--For the ELECTION RIGGING story, Please see www.bradblog.com --


Post a Comment

<< Home

free hit counter