John Kline (R-MN-02) would never let a good fundraising opportunity go to waste … so with the Second District being considered as “”A Race To Watch”, on May 17, Mr. Kline sent out a fundraising challenge :
As we prepare for our toughest race in recent memory, I need your help to raise $20,000 in the next 10 days for yard signs, targeted letters, radio spots and TV ads. Do me the honor of supporting my campaign with your “Kline for Congress” contribution for $30, $40 or $60.
Mike Obermueller, the DFL endorsed candidate responded to the Pioneer Press :
“From our perspective, the letter indicates that there is something Kline and I can agree on: This is going to be a tough race,” Obermueller said. “We’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
Jessica Fleming, the Pioneer Press reporter, wrote that :
Kline’s campaign said it wouldn’t comment specifically on the letter.
“Rather than engage in partisan politics, Congressman Kline is focusing his efforts on ensuring the president swiftly signs into law Kline’s bipartisan legislation that was championed in the Senate by Sen. Klobuchar ensuring the National Guard receives … benefits they were promised,” said Kline’s communication director, Troy Young.
Kline, running for his sixth term, already has more than $1 million in his campaign coffers.
Yeah, well, to be exact, as of March 31, 2012, Mr. Kline’s campaign had zero debt and $1,060,175 cash on hand. Mr. Kline also has $106,130 cash on hand (with zero debts) in his Freedom and Security PAC. Last cycle, Mr. Kline was able to send $347,600 to National Republican Congressional Committee and $62,060 to the Minnesota Republican Party … plus pay for all his yard signs and literature drops … in fact, he already has enough money on-hand to repeat that but if you can get more, why not ask … after all, some people may even working two jobs just to help out.
OK, fundraising isn’t exactly newsworthy … but what is interesting is who the spokesman was … Troy Young.
Sorta makes you wonder, was Mr. Young speaking as a Congressional Staffer (a Federal employee) or as a campaign advocate ? Employees doing “double-duty” has been noticed before … for example, Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN-06) Chief of Staff Julie Quist temporarily left her Congressional assignment to work on the 2008 Bachmann campaign … only to return after the election … and to get a nice bump in pay.
(Note : Mrs. Quist is now working to elect her husband, Allen Quist, to represent the First District in next year’s Congress.)
Yeah, no Member of Congress would ever want to, as Mr. Young said, “engage in partisan politics”.
Well, how about “ethical politics” … there should not even be a question.
Using congressional staff members on official time to help campaign violates ethics rules.
Staff members may use free time to help out with their bosses’ political campaigns, volunteering at night or on weekends. However, if a legislative aide is going to do extensive political work during a session, congressional rules require the aide to take a leave of absence from the legislative office.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) has expressed concerns about this practice in the past and stated “American taxpayers have a right to assume that their money is being spent on the people’s business and not on campaign activities or personal matters.”
A couple of other interesting tidbits :
– while Mr. Kline was signing his “Send Money” letters, the House was debating legislation respecting women … although Mr. Kline kept his thoughts to himself on the legislation and just silently voted with the Republican majority, Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) spoke to the Chamber :
Ms. McCOLLUM. Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak in opposition to this bill. The Violence Against Women Act has never been a divisive piece of legislation until this Tea Party Majority came into power. Instead of bringing the bipartisan bill already passed by the Senate to this floor for a vote, House Republicans are attempting to pass a partisan and discriminatory bill that eliminates protections for violent crime victims.
The Republican bill on the floor this week eliminates long-standing critical protections for immigrant women who are the victims of crime and abuse. This bill rejects the new protections adopted by the Senate for gay and transgender individuals. The LGBT community experiences domestic violence at roughly the same rates as other populations, but these survivors often face discrimination when seeking the services they need to escape abuse. The bipartisan Senate bill included provisions to ensure LGBT victims can find refuge and access needed services.
This bill also eliminates the new provisions for Native American victims. One in three native women is raped in her lifetime, three in five suffer domestic assault, and a majority of the perpetrators are non-Indian. Considering these horrific statistics, I am dismayed that the bill the Republican majority brought before us today does not include adequate protections for Native women. The provision included at the last minute–section 1006–actually takes a step backward by placing the burden on the woman seeking protection, who would have to travel to a federal court and hire legal counsel. It forces tribal women to rely on federal law enforcement, who already decline to prosecute more than half of the violent crimes in Indian Country, and an even higher percentage of sexual assault cases.
According to the National Congress of American Indians, in one alarming case, a woman was assaulted by her non-Native boyfriend and had her nose broken. When she filed a police report, she heard that the injury was just broken cartilage, and that the case would not be prosecuted because U.S. attorneys will not take a domestic violence case unless the disfigurement is permanent. This is the status quo that the bill before us will maintain. It is unacceptable, especially with a better bipartisan alternative available.
The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill passed by the Senate, S. 1925, had provisions that provided for tribes to prosecute a non-Indian for domestic violence in a constitutional manner. Defendants would still have access to free counsel, to due process, and to a jury of their peers including non-Indians. These common-sense provisions were developed during years of consultation with tribes and were recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice after studying the crisis. Tribal communities need this authority at the local level to protect their mothers, sisters and daughters from abuse.
If the House passed the bipartisan Senate bill, it would send a clear message that this country does not tolerate violence against women, regardless of their ethnicity or sexual orientation. Moreover, it would show Congress’ commitment to reducing domestic violence, protecting women from sexual assault and securing justice for victims.
Over a decade ago, VAWA passed the House and Senate by votes of 371 1 and 95 0, respectively, and then this overwhelming support was repeated in 2005. Yet here we are today, with my colleagues across the aisle turning this into a divisive and partisan issue.
It is wrong, it is unfair to victims of domestic violence, and it is the latest example of this Tea Party Republican Majority’s failure to find common ground even on issues that have been historically non-controversial. We must do better for all women who experience violence, which is why I urge my colleagues to vote against this bill. I remain hopeful that the House will have the opportunity to consider the Senate-passed bipartisan language instead.
The purpose of VAWA has always been to ensure that all victims of violence are protected and that their basic human rights are upheld, no matter one’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, or legal status in this country, and this bill shirks that responsibility.
— Speaking of Betty McCollum and John Kline, it is noteworthy how each ranked in the Minnesota delegation for spending via their Congressional Office :
The actual dollars spent for last year were :
First – $1,319,468.42 – John Kline (R-MN-02) spending 91.6% of his budget
Last – $1,198.273.03 – Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) spending 84.0% of her budget
Yes, when you get all those Franked Mailings featuring John Kline complaining about Washington’s wasteful spending, you, the taxpayer, are paying the bill.
— And it pays to be a Member of Chairman Kline’s Education and Workforce Committee … thus far, Mr. Kline’s Security and Freedom PAC has donated to committee members :
Lou Barletta (R-PA) $5,000
Judy Biggert (R-IL) $4,000
Larry Bucshon (R-IN) $5,000
Scott Desjarlais (R-TN) $5,000
Trey Gowdy (R-SC) $5,000
Michael Grimm (R-NY) $5,000
Joe Heck, (R-NV) $5,000
Duncan Hunter, Jr. (R-CA) $2,500
Mike Kelly (R-PA) $5,000
Kristi Noem (R-SD) $5,000
Martha Roby (R-AL) $5,000
Todd Rokita (R-IN) $5,000
Dennis Ross (R-FL) $5,000
Tim Walberg (R-MI) $5,000
No wonder so many of the Committee votes indicate a united Republican viewpoint … you get what you pay for.
Gosh, apparently the description “powerful Chairman” applies to Chairman Kline … ample funds to distribute to his lesser Members and using his Congressional office to the maximum.
Taxpayers should have a lot of tough questions this time for John Kline … the Corporate-welfare-loving faux-fiscal hawk … yes, this could be Mr. Kline’s “toughest race” … to learn about Mike Obermueller, check out his issues page.