Thursday, May 25, 2006

Online photo gallery and diary of Corker uncovered

The buzz on the street about Corker's online photo gallery and diary:
"Riveting."
"I'm speechless."
"Each photo and diary entry pulls you in deeper."
"I wanted to, but simply couldn't bring myself to look away."

Remember, you saw it first here:
Corker's Online Photo Gallery and Diary

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Former Tennessee GOP Chair Tommy Hopper Linked To Illegal GOP Phone Scam?

Here's a Tennessee political trivia question for you - name the controversial former Tennessee Republican Party executive director who went on to serve as the controversial chair of the Tennessee GOP during the 1992 election cycle.
The answer - Tommy Hopper.
Back in those days political junkies couldn't pick up a newspaper anywhere in the state without being subjected to Hopper's spin to the right and his tough talk on Democrats who dared challenge Republicans at any level.
So you'd think since the Tennessee political media couldn't get enough of Hopper back then, they'd be all over the latest stories circulating in Washington about Hopper - specifically his involvement as co-founder of a company that's been part of an investigation into illegal phone-jamming tactics used against Democrats in New Hampshire during the 2002 elections.
According to reports, it seems Hopper, who currently advises GOP candidates as President of a firm called "Margin Of Victory Partners" based in Jackson, Tennessee, went into business with Haley Barbour, the current Governor of Mississippi, Edward Mathias, the managing director of The Carlyle Group, and other powerful GOP interests, to launch a venture called GOP Marketplace. In 2000 GOP Marketplace rolled out a service called the Republican Teleservice Exchange.
Word is that just last week (May 17th), the former Republican National Committee (RNC) and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) political director James Tobin was sentenced to 10 months in prison, 2 years probation and a $10,000 fine for his role in jamming Democratic Get-Out-The-Vote phone lines on the 2002 Election Day in New Hampshire. It seems that the New Hampshire Republican State Committee hired GOP Marketplace back then to jam the phone lines.
Furthermore, it's been reported that NRSC has to date spent more than $3 million in legal fees to get Tobin off the hook.
Ironically, current NRSC head Ken Mehlman, who came to Tennessee recently to question Democratic candidates' ethics and values, has had little to say about why the NRSC has continued to try to use legal resources to protect Tobin and defend the work of GOP Marketplace, except to say that the decision to spend the $$ on legal fees was made before he took over.
What's not been reported is what fate awaits the others involved in GOP Marketplace; Tommy Hopper in particular. Perhaps the issue will go no further, and those investigating have been satisfied with Tobin's conviction.
Unfortunately, since none of the Tennessee political media I follow has bothered to cover any aspect this unfolding story (correct me if I wrong here friends), junkies like me have been left to forage the web for tidbits of information circulating on this.
I wonder how many GOP candidates currently use or have recently used Hopper's services through GOP Marketplace (if it even exists today?) or Margin Of Victory Partners? If there are any in Tennessee (a scan of current financial disclosures should reveal this), did any work include phone tactics? And if so, what kind of tactics?
Also, I'm curious as to whether any of this will impact Hopper's reported high level national security clearance he obtained back in 2002 for providing pro bono consultation to the U.S. Marshals Service (I honestly couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!!).
I don't know about you, but all this leaves me hungry for more information.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Oh no he didn't!...Corker serves himself up once again as the main course for hungry opposition

Fire up the grill and bring out the BBQ sauce, Bob Corker is once again offering himself up as the main course for this primary season's politician pig roast.
Today I heard Bob Corker's newest radio ad in which his record as Chattanooga Mayor is portrayed as that of a true fiscal conservative, and in which his campaign goes so far as to actually fabricate an issue about congressional pay raises.
Both claims are total bullshit, and it will be interesting to see if any of the political press covering the Senate race will have the huevos to call him on it.
The radio ad (I hear a portion of the text is also running as a TV spot) opens up with news that "the federal debt hit an all-time high this quarter," and that "Congress voted again to raise their pay."
The debt part is right, but Congressional pay raise issue is a straw man issue. Congress has not voted to raise its pay, period. In fact, raises for members of congress are automatic and are linked to whatever the standard cost of living raises are for a certain level of federal employees.
While the debt issue is real, what makes this assertion in a Corker ad laughable is that as Mayor, Corker raised Chattanooga's long term debt ceiling through the roof to record levels. Furthermore,(as I have posted before) Corker has given himself multiple pay raises as Mayor. Talk about calling the kettle black!
The ad goes on to claim that as Mayor, Corker kept campaign promises, controlling government spending and keeping property taxes low.
Again, I call bullshit on the man!
When Corker was Mayor he raised property taxes, while giving himself multiple pay increases, and while holding back on funds for much needed emergency 911 (I also posted on this before).
Pushing the envelope in tight political races is par for the course. But making up issues to run against and lying about your record in office merely makes Corker the preferred dish for his hungry opposition.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Corker's Last Stand? - The Battle Of The Little Big Man

This June marks the 130th anniversary of one of the most stunning defeats for the U.S. Army - the total extermination of Lt. Col. George Armstong Custer's 7th regiment at the Little Big Horn River.
The once invincible, mighty Custer - golden boy warrior of the powerful U.S. Army - was outfoxed and outgunned by an enemy whose strength he greatly underestimated.
Fast forward to 2006 and the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee.
This time the proud boastful warrior on the battlefield is Bob Corker - awash with $$ and backed by a growing number of powerful Washington lobbyists and special interests.
Much attention has been given lately to Corker's mighty warchest, and recently Corker himself even bragged of his "surge" in public opinion polls - testament he claims to his growing popularity among GOP party faithful. Indeed, on the surface it would appear that Corker has become the Little Big Man to be reckoned with.
But behind the headlines and Corker's political posturing lies the prospect of a more tragic ending to Corker's political aspirations.
Consider Corker's poll spin.
This week Corker laid claim that his 19% showing in a recent statewide poll of likely GOP voters marks "a surge" in popularity and demonstrates a strong return on his investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent weeks in statewide TV ads, a flood of direct mail pieces and automated phone calls.
His spin on the 19% is that this # shows he has room to grow in popularity. Room to grow, certainly. But 19% also means he's got lots of ground to cover with less than 7 weeks remaining before the start of early voting for the August primary, and less than 12 weeks before election day.
Corker claims he has time and $$ to close this wide gap in popularity between him and his GOP rivals. Anything is possible. But let's get real - closing that big a gap will only likely occur if his GOP rivals were to stop campaigning altogether and disappear from the political radar screen. That ain't going to happen.
Now consider Corker's $$ spin.
Corker has personally spent a huge amount of time in recent weeks stalking Washington lobbysts and special interest PACs. Last night, according to web postings, Corker even went so far as to attend a fundraiser in DC hosted by a lobbyist with reported ties to organized labor. Why would Corker run the risk of further exposing himself to ridicule, charges of hyprocisy and left-leanings tendancies by his GOP rivals? Maybe it's a sign that his primary warchest is running a bit thin.
You see the warchest Corker touts includes $$ that under federal campaign finance laws can only be spent in the general election, not the primary.
How much primary $$ and how general $$ does his warchest include? I honestly don't know, having not had the time to dig deeper into his financial records. But I do know from years of experience that odds are he will be prohibited by law from spending a sizeable portion of his warchest between now and August 3rd.
All this begs the question - does Corker have what he will need to spend what it will take to close the gap in 7 to 12 weeks?
You can count on his GOP rivals continuing to hold their fire until June when you can expect them to launch a full scale assault on the Little Big Man.
Here's how I see it - if Bob Corker is not ahead in the polls (forget more minor surges) by early June, chances are he may never be. Corker may wake up in early June to find that his arsenal is running low on ammo, his previous shots have missed their mark and he is completely surrounded by the enemy, with no where to go but down for a final count.
I can't predict with certainty that this all will play out as I imagine, but experience has taught me that history does have a strange way of repeating itself.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bill Frist and Anna Nicole Smith

He's at it again. Bill Frist, once the fresh face for change for the GOP, now the poster child for the very Washington he vowed to change.
Word is the NRSC - da vinci code for "mean ass partisan mo-fos" - is set to attack Harold Ford Jr. again for what they label as lavish campaign spending. You know NRSC - the National Republican Senatorial Committee that was retooled by the distinguished senator from Tennessee into an even nastier, more partisan, more beholding to unsavory corporate interests version of its earlier ugly self. The very same NRSC which Frist still directs and influences to attack and engage in races that are of interest to the distinguished senator from Tennessee.
According to recent expenditure reports of THE VOLUNTEER PAC - more da vinci code for "Frist personal slush fund" - Frist should be vewy, vewy careful about attacking anyone for their spending habits.
That's cause according to VOLPAC disclosures the distinguished senator from Tennessee loves to be pampered...and I ain't talking "let's give old Billy a back rub" kind of pampering. We're talking pampering like he's Anna Nicole Smith.
Consider limo rides (we called it cruising back in high school) around D.C. to the tune of $13,692; or consider a $897 dinner at the Cosmos Club in D.C. (sure hope Frist got a doggy bag with that one); or consider $14,579 in hotel overnights at the Four Seasons in Miami, the Regency and Waldorf Astoria in NYC, and the Willard Hotel in D.C.. Ironically, legend has it that the Willard birthed the term lobbyists for the special interest cats who hung out in the hotel lobby to corner and bribe politicians back in the mid 1800s. Guess history has a way of repeating itself.
But to me the most eye-opening expenditures by Frist through VOLPAC are the private jets provided and paid for by pharmaceuticals and oil companies to the tune of $39,723.
You know those drug companies and oil companies who sell us over-priced medicine and gas prices?
Seems to me what we have here is a classic case of I can because I am.
In his view, Frist can take $$$$$$ and be wined and dined by the very corporate interests who are pillaging the pocketbooks of average folk, can move around the country with an entourage and stay in luxury hotels and be flown in private jets, because he is after all the Majority Leader.
Frist may think he's figured out how to game the system to his personal and political advantage, but sooner or later Frist, VOLPAC and the NRSC will all stand in judgment before voters for what they do, how they do what they do, and for what they have come to represent in truth.