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Away From Home

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Blumenthal on Brownback

Max Blumenthal of The Nation has written a very insightful article on everyone's favorite tool Senator, Sam Brownback. Some of the highlights:

On June 6, just two weeks after declaring, "All of the President's nominees--both now and in the future--deserve a fair up or down vote," Kansas Senator Sam Brownback used a parliamentary maneuver to block the nomination of Julie Finley to be US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

. . .

Brownback's [Presidential] ambition is becoming clearer by the day. He has already made trips to the primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. And just as his likely contender for the Republican nomination, Senate majority leader Bill Frist, exploited Terri Schiavo to burnish his "culture of life" credentials with the GOP's religious base, Brownback has used Julie Finley. The difference is that Frist got burned publicly and was widely criticized for his maladroit handling of the Schiavo affair, while Brownback received credit from the religious right for standing up on principle to President Bush, while most of the mainstream media gave him a pass. Having reaped the political benefits of opposing Finley, Brownback quietly lifted his hold on her nomination on June 10.

. . .

"Pat [Robertson] got me elected in 1996," he recently told Newsweek. It is true that Brownback generated unprecedented support from social conservatives in his victory, but something much darker was also at play, a scheme he remains mum about to this day.

In June 1996, during Brownback's run against Frahm, he was visited by Carlos Rodriguez, a consultant to Triad Management Services, a shady, for-profit corporation run by a veteran Republican fundraiser. After the meeting, Rodriguez shot off a memo reading, "This is perhaps one of the most, if not the most important races in the nation in regards to the conservative coalition. As such we must do everything in our power to ensure a Brownback victory in the primary." Triad funneled cash to Brownback's campaign through its scores of clients, including two of Brownback's in-laws. Triad's finance director even accompanied Brownback to Republican headquarters to dial for dollars. Under federal election law, corporations are not allowed to make direct contributions or provide free services (like fundraising help) to politicians. After helping him defeat Frahm, Triad steered $410,000 to a front group, Citizens for the Republic Education Fund, that ran a single attack ad against Docking repeatedly throughout a two-week period, propelling Brownback to victory. Democratic Senate investigators believe this money came almost entirely from the Wichita-based Koch Industries, America's largest privately owned energy company, which had already contributed more than $30,000 to Brownback's campaign.

. . .

In spite of his pious public image, Brownback's spiritual life seems to be defined by his wealth and corporate ties. In 2002 he converted to Catholicism under the guidance of the Rev. John McCloskey, a leader of the secretive right-wing cult Opus Dei. At the time. McCloskey operated out of a K Street office with a mission to spread the Gospel exclusively to the rich and powerful, whom he calls "the righteous remnant." Brownback refuses to discuss his conversion, perhaps because of the controversy McCloskey has generated by, for instance, demanding that Catholics who use birth control leave the Church.

. . .

On June 13 Brownback informed the Topeka Capital-Journal editorial board that he would not seek another term in the Senate but was exploring a run for the presidency instead.

I will bite my tongue -- hard -- and say only this:

Sam Brownback is an embarrassment to Kansans.


  • How much louder could I say "AMEN!" to your last statement!

    By Anonymous dod, at 6/23/2005 09:43:00 PM  

  • Unfortunately, it looks like nothing will stop Brownback vs Frist for the nomination in 2008.

    As Logan so aptly put it:

    No matter who wins, we lose.

    By Blogger Scott, at 6/23/2005 10:04:00 PM  

  • Don't "misunderestimate" Sen. George Allen. He's got some big donors already, including the Coors family.

    By Blogger ChrisHarrop, at 6/24/2005 02:48:00 PM  

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