Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Palin for Veep!!! (UPDATED x2)

A great and bold choice on the part of McCain!

This really opens the door for a future woman president... only not the way the Dems envisioned.

You can read all about Palin's bona fides at CNN and FOX. For our purposes, what do y'all think about how Hillary fans are going to take this? I don't know that scads of women would vote for Palin just based on gender, but it's got toadd to the nasty taste in the mouth of many Hillary supporters that Obama passed her over.

Check out the Draft Palin for Veep site I found. Looks like they did it.

UPDATED 11:35 a.m.: The Dems are already freaking out about this. Obama's camp is now complaining about Palin's inexperience and the danger that she would be one heartbeat away from the presidency. Hmm, I believe she at least has two years more executive experience than Obama has, who has never managed anything of note besides his own campaign.

Also, good luck on attack-dog Joe Biden beating up on a lady with 5 kids without looking like a ogre.

I may go home early today!

UPDATED x2 2:30 p.m.: The Tribune Clout Street Blog has the positive reaction from the Illinois GOP. The only bad thing about this is it means that Obama would still be our senator for another few years, and we would not be shipping a bunch of his corrupt statehouse friends out to DC for federal jobs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No Change For Dan Seals: It's The Same Old Message, Now on TV... 'I'm Just Like Barack!!!' (UPDATED- Missing Daughter Found!)

Tenth Congressional District Dem nominee Dan Seals likes to talk about change, but he hasn't changed his message from the primary election cycle, where he did his darndest to tell people he thinks he looks like Barack Obama. Tonight, Dan unveiled his first TV ad of the general election cycle, and guess what... it's basically about Barack! See the video here.

Needless to say, there's nothing new or original here. And, except for basically saying he'd be a "me too" to whatever Obama would tell him to do in Congress (should, horrors, they both be elected), not sure exactly what this was supposed to convey. To be fair, he does say that we can't send the same people back to Washington and not expect nothing to change... of course, that must not include Dem Veep candidate Joe Biden, who's been in the Senate for 36 years. And, why is Dan Seals still broadcasting these "get to know you" videos? For someone who touts how close he came in the 2006 election to beating Mark Kirk, why isn't he secure enough in his name recognition that he can get past the rookie stuff and concentrate on his supposed agenda, rather than waste time and money still trying to make the basic introduction?

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't Dan actually have THREE daughters??? What happened to the little one in the video???

It is that Barack only has TWO daughters, and we can't highlight anything that would make Seals look any different from Barack?

I didn't catch any actual footage of the Seals commercial on TV (I assume it ran more than once, and I just missed it every time), but I did see Mark Kirk's ad on his Apollo Energy program on NBC-5 just after the convention. I noticed that Kirk's ad talks all about what he's accomplished, not about who he supports/looks like/panders to.

UPDATED 08.29.08 9:20 a.m. MISSING DAUGHTER FOUND!!!: Thanks to an alert TA reader (see comments), missing daughter #3 has been sighted--if you look VERY carefully at the video, there appears to be an infant on Mrs. Seals' lap, although the kid appears to be sleeping through the whole thing (no shocker). The baby is pretty much hidden by the campaign logo. Whew! I didn't really have any concerns that Seals might have given the kid up for adoption just to further emulate Barack, but the thought was funny, at least to me. As usual, the Dems will have no sense of humor.

WHO WATCHED THE OBAMA SPEECH? Well, I did, but the only thing that kept me from breaking the TV was the fact that I kept one eye on the liveblog at Now THAT was funny!

I admit to a strong bias, but I really thought the speech was lame. After the initial bounce wears off, will anyone actually remember anything he said? Bring on McCain!!!

Obama Prepares for Greek Coronation While His Campaign Continues to Trample On Free Speech

While Barack Obama is going to be crowned tonight in a mock-up of a Greek temple (no joke, check out Powerline here), here's a glimpse of how an Obama presidency would trample on the rights of people to engage in free political discourse. Stanley Kurtz, the man primarily responsible for pushing the release of the William Ayers files from the University of Illinois, was the subject of an organized campaign by Obama supporters to call in to WGN radio to protest the fact that the station was discussing the subject. Ayers, if you don't know, is a "home-grown" domestic terrorist who regrets that he wasn't able to do more damage before he was stopped, and was instrumental in placing Barack Obama as the chairman of a community group that ended up doling out about $100 million in grant money to like-minded ideological groups for the sake of improving education, with little to show for it. This comes on the heels of a series of counter-ads and a complaint to the Department of Justice regarding an ad run by an independent political group linking Obama to Ayers.

See some more on the Obama-Ayers connection here, including Obama's statement that Ayers is just "some guy" who lives in my neighborhood.

What so scary that people can't even discuss this subject, Mr. Obama? If these accusations are unfounded, why not combat them with the truth, out in the open? If you have no association with him, the truth will out. Won't it?

In that vein, perhaps more important even than the issue of Team Obama's tactics to shield the truth, is the basic issue of Obama's association with Ayers. As the conservative National Review puts it:

Have you ever been a friend or business associate of a terrorist? Not someone who, to your shock and horror, turned out secretly to have bombed government buildings. No, the question is whether you’ve ever befriended an unreconstructed radical whose past was well known to you when you entered his orbit and walked through doors he opened for you. Have you been chummy with an unapologetic terrorist who, years after you’d known and worked closely with him, was still telling the New York Times he regretted only failing to carry out more attacks — and that America still “makes me want to puke”? Barack Obama has.

Read the whole article here. Scary stuff, with a capital "S"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Has the DCCC Walked Away From Dan Seals? (UPDATED AND BUMPED UP)

Has Dan Seals been abandoned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which was supposed to roll in like thunder and level the playing field to make up for Seals' massive shortfall in fundraising (as least compared to incumbent Mark Kirk?) It's a question that ought to be weighing on every Chicago political reporter's mind after the DNC got rolling a few days ago now.

A few months ago, Dan Seals was the flavor of the month for national Democrats. Barack Obama was the nominee and suddenly Mark Kirk looked vulnerable. In February, the chairman of the DCCC, Chris Van Hollen, came in to stump for Dan. TA noted back then that Van Hollen's support seemed tepid at best -- but national Democrats were willing to give Dan a shot.

The Obama-euphoria even led the Cook Political Report to upgrade the IL-10 contest -- and as you can see, Dan was pretty excited.

But something has happened -- it looks like the DCCC is walking away from Dan Seals.

Yesterday, as the Politico reported, Chris Van Hollen welcomed the DCCC's top 50 candidates for change on to the stage with him at the Democratic National Convention. Dan Seals wasn't there and wasn't mentioned (though Debbie Halverson was mentioned and Bill Foster got a shout-out in Van Hollen's speech). In fact, the Daily Herald even reported live from the Illinois delegation breakfast in Denver -- and while the article mentions the Kirk-Seals race, there's no mention of Dan being at the convention and getting any love from the DCCC.

Is it because of Seals' failed gas stunt?

Is it because Roll Call named him carpetbagger of the year?

Is it because Dan took $14,000 from Charlie Rangel?

Did they find out what was in the envelope Dan took from Rostenkowski?

It could be -- but it's probably because Kirk Looks Strong, according to the pundits. With a 21-point lead, an endorsement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the launch of TV ads in August, Seals is looking very weak now. Seals looks so weak, in fact, that the Rothenberg Political Report recently moved the Kirk-Seals race from Toss Up to Leans Republican -- a major backslide for Seals. I don't blame them -- Chris Van Hollen even co-authored legislation with Congressman Kirk as recently as July 1st.

In addition, we know from the blogosphere that Dan or the DCCC recently took their own poll to test the waters -- and since we haven't heard about it in a month, it must've been pretty bad for Dan.

So reporters, if you're going to bed scratching your heads and wondering why Dan Seals isn't getting the love -- well, it's not all that confusing when you put the pieces together.

UPDATED: The Waukegan News-Sun "Newshound" noticed the same lack of Seals-mojo at the DNC that we did and ran this post online this morning. Check it out.

Did Hillary Clinton's Speech Fail to Sell Obama? (UPDATED)

I watched Hillary's Big Speech last night, in which she was supposed to make the sale to all her supporters that were still expressing reservations about Barack Obama. I haven't read the commentary in the press this morning, and I suppose probably at least 75% of the MSM will say she nailed it. But, did she?

The money line in her speech was essentially that if you care about the same things I do, which she listed as things like affordable healthcare, support for veterans, looking out for the working class, etc., etc., you should vote for Barack.

But what does that mean exactly? It essentially means that because Hillary thinks Barack is closer to her in his ideals than John McCain, you should vote for Barack.

But was that what most supporters wanted to hear? Most Hillary supporters already knew that, and they knew that she was going to endorse Barack at the DNC and call for unity. But, prior to the convention, that wasn't enough to send them in droves to Barack's camp, at least not according to the polls.

I guess if all you needed was Hillary's official "permission" last night to vote for Barack Obama, you got it, and Barack should see a huge jump in the polls.

But I'm not so sure. What Hillary really failed to do was explain why she was WRONG all this time, in all the impassioned speeches she gave during the primary, the "3 a.m. phone call," the criticism of Obama's character, ethics, ties to convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko, and all the rest.

Why should we vote for the guy you'd beaten up for months and told us he wasn't ready for the job? That you had real foreign policy experience, and he had a 'speech he gave in 2002.'

That's what Hillary's speech was lacking, and while I think a lot of Hillary supporters truly did just want to get 'permission' from the horse's mouth, a lot more will still have reservations about whether Barack Obama is truly ready to lead this country.

Hillary didn't think he was ready before, and she didn't give anyone any real reason as to why she wasn't wrong back then.

UPDATED: Here's the reaction from Camp McCain, via CNN, which is pretty much in line with my thoughts posted above.

One more thought I didn't get in above--given Hillary's great delivery of her speech, do you think Joe Biden is going to suffer in comparison? For my money, despite all the effort to bring about Dem unity, a lot of Dems have to be asking themselves if the only reason Barack Obama didn't pick Hillary is due to his ego. As many pundits have suggested, in the end, his elitism and attitude may crater for him what should, in many respects, have been a walk-away this fall. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Dead Heat Between Obama - McCain Makes It Easy to Measure Convention Bounce

Everyone anticipates this week's Dem festivities at the official coronation of Barack Obama as the Dem presidential nominee will give the junior senator from Illinois a big bounce, as the masses begin to focus on the upcoming general election. But going in, McCain and Obama are in a dead heat. Why?

Even after the much-anticipated announcement of Obama's Veep pick, and the experience and foreign policy credentials that Senator Joe Biden arguably brings to the ticket, why can't Barack walk away with this? The popular polling indicates the country wants a Democratic president, assumedly to repudiate 8 years of George Bush in some kind of national catharsis. But, they can't seem to decide that they want Barack.

This will be an interesting week to measure the bounce Obama is expected to get, beginning with a speech by his wife, Michelle. Just don't dare to criticize her, or you might get a nasty call from Barack telling you to lay off.

But, with the two candidates in a dead heat, and Barack widely expected to hit his speech out of the park, the bar is set pretty high. Anything less than an 8 or 9 point post-convention jump and a killer speech in Denver is going to be considered a setback for the campaign heading into the next big deal, the announcement of McCain's running mate and the Republican National Convention. It's sure to renew the debate over why Barack just can't seem to seal the deal....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Update: Obama, Kirk, Link, Curran

Lots going on this morning, so we'll get right to it.

Obama-rama: Someone leaked out the choice last night that Obama has chosen long-time senator Joe Biden of Delware as his veep pick. Sorry, Hillary. You never really had a chance, anyway. It'll be interesting to see how the die-hard Hillary supporters take this, especially if McCain picks a woman as his veep candidate. Team McCain wasted no time in putting up an attack ad using Biden's words stating that he didn't think Obama was ready to be president. Biden has the reputation for not mincing words, so this'll be interesting. Get ready for a couple months of Team Obama having to constantly "clarify" or "explain" what Biden really meant when he said "blah blah blah".

Mark Kirk Gives Dan Seals Gas: The Kirk campaign agreed to re-tool an ad that used some footage from a NBC-5 news report on Seals' ill-conceived and executed gas-for-votes stunt. Team Kirk revamped the ad to exclude the news footage after NBC-5 complained. The Seals team is harping on this, thinking it makes Kirk look bad, but maybe they ought to consider that every time they bring it up, they remind folks of what a hair-brained stunt that was... maybe they ought to shut up and hope everyone forgets about it as soon as possible. BTW, wasn't that stunt about the last time Seals was in the news? Wonder what he's been doing the past few months. BONUS: Here's a LTE re Seals' 1970 redux energy policy. Remember the 70s...?

Terry Link is Off to the Convention: While State Senator Terry Link is going off to the Democratic National Convention to bask in the reflected glory of Barack Obama, here at home, he's getting a lot of heat. Several hours of time were spent by various personalities on WKRS this week discussing the Link petition scandal, and a number of LTE's have started appearing criticizing Link on several different issues. See here and here.

Sheriff Mark Curran Still in Jail: Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran continues his investigation of the Lake County Jail from the inside, and the News-Sun has some good coverage. Although the response to Curran's effort (I won't call it a stunt, yet) has been pretty positive, it seems, the article notes that Curran wore jail scrubs outside the jail to go to a few meetings, and claims that prisoners don't wear that stuff outside the jail. Is that going a little far? I suppose if you're going to do something like this, you may as well go all-out, but I'm still reserving judgment on this one.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran 'Divinely Inspired' to Enroll In His Own Jail (UPDATED)

As much as I was initially inclined to dismiss this as a political stunt, especially after hearing that Sheriff Mark Curran told the media that his idea to enter his own jail for a week was 'divinely inspired' (because the idea came to him in church), maybe it's not such a bad idea. Curran's intent is to examine the living conditions in the Lake County jail in central Waukegan to see what the issues are--food, safety, medical care, etc. While actually entering the jail and essentially being treated as an inmate (although he won't have a cellmate) is a little extreme, and seems designed to grab headlines, it unquestionably will draw attention to these issues and allow Curran to collect some data from a first-hand perspective.

This is in stark contrast to, for example, the ill-conceived and executed gas stunt that 10th Congressional candidate Dan Seals pulled a few months ago in Lincolnshire. That didn't do anyone any good, considering it snarled traffic, wasted gas, and simply drew attention to Seals' ineptness as a candidate (we already knew gas prices were high, so drawing attention to that fact was pretty useless).

Whad'ya all think about Sheriff Curran???

UPDATED 8/22/08 7:00 a.m.: The News-Sun has an interesting piece on Mark Curran's first day in jail. Among other interesting factoids, he had to remake his bed three times to meet the expectations of the jail guards, had bologna, bread and cereal for breakfast, and was visited by Congressman Mark Kirk, who gave him a Johnny Cash CD.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Terry Link for (State Senate) President? (UPDATED x2 + 10th District Update)

I have a legal brief due today, so not much time to write, but the big news of the morning (for me anyway) is that several news outlets (see Tribune and Sun-Times), plus Capitol Fax, are reporting that Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, who has been a staunch supporter of unpopular and embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich, is retiring as president of the Illinois Senate. For us, the most interesting part of this is that State Senator Terry Link, who is on Jones' leadership team, is reportedly on the short list to be a possible successor as Senate President.

Probably most people don't realize the significance of the office of Senate President; I sure didn't, until relatively recently when it became clear that Senate President Jones was one of the most powerful people in the state, given his ability to essentially block any piece of legislation by not calling it for a vote in the Senate. Even if the State House passed a bill, and the Governor expressed his support, if Jones didn't call it for a vote, there is no way it could become law, and really no way to force Jones to change his mind.

That's POWER, folks.

So, you can bet there are going to be a boatload of Dems who are going to be knocking each other over to get at that seat. Will Link try to grab it? It certainly seems that he has the ambition for something like this (and it would be a nice capper to his career), as well as the fact he could probably get his beloved Waukegan casino a lot easier if he were Senate President.

On the other hand, he might decide he's better off throwing his support to another contender in exchange for favors later on, since if Link is seriously considering throwing his hat in the ring, he will have to contend with the recent scandal involving his two indicted petition circulators, Jerry D. Knight and Kenneth Davison.

As TA readers know, Davison turned himself in last week and we're dying to see if he cuts a deal with prosecutors to finger Terry Link's right-hand man, Pete Couvall, who actually hired Knight and Davison to pass petitions, which the duo then (allegedly) used the phone book or other methods (old petitions?) to fake the signatures of voters who were living and dead. If that happens, who knows where this could lead. But for now, prosecutors have been falling all over themselves to point out that they feel there is no evidence to tie Link (or Couvall) in to the forgery scheme.

Frankly, I hope Link goes for it. That will invite even more scrutiny into the petition scandal and maybe we'll actually get some movement up the food chain (although it's still very, very early in the investigation, so patience, campers).

Link isn't all that popular, even among members of his own suburban caucus that he's put together (Rich Miller at Cap Fax is reporting this morning that some members of Link's own caucus are expressing reservations already--would that be you, Susan Garrett? Rich also referenced the petition scandal, although he's been doing a good job keeping the lid on it to the extent he can). Check out Capitol Fax Blog later today, I'm sure there will be a ton of speculation on how all this will turn out.

Given that we have been following this story ever since we broke it back last November, I will be watching my Sitemeter with interest over the next few weeks to see if Team America's Blog suddenly becomes a very popular research tool for the Senate Democrats and friends... although, it's not that the other senate Dems would actually have any moral reservations about naming a guy like Link senate president, but the competition will no doubt be ruthless in trying to villify Link and would be happy to raise the petition scandal to do it. And, we'll be happy to oblige.

UPDATED: The Pioneer Press blog is talking about Link and his possible state senate president aspirations, and whether the Dems would want that kind of publicity. Interestingly, Rich Miller of Cap Fax was already there to comment. Miller has covered the Link scandal this week, mostly by excerpting favorable quotes from the MSM stories where Link is proclaiming he's been exonerated, and avoiding linking to Team America, even though we by far have the most detail on the inside story of this scandal. Judge for yourself whether Miller is out doing damage control for Link.

UPDATED x2 8/19/08 6:40 a.m.: Terry Link has stated to several media sources that he is "definitely a candidate" for the retiring Emil Jones, Jr., as State Senate President. Whether Link is 100% serious or is just saying this to be a player holding some cards when the actual decision time comes around, who's to say, except Link? But, this also means that there is no way the petition scandal scrutiny is going to die down anytime soon, not with Mr. Davison in jail, and Mr. Knight on the lam. Link continues to protest that he had nothing to do with the acts of these men, saying "you can't control everyone in the world." But, isn't that what Emil Jones' job is all about, at least as far as Illinois goes? ;-)

FYI, GOP Chairman Dan Venturi will be on WKRS AM 1220 (your best bet is to listen on the Internet) with Libby Collins today talking about the Link petition scandal at about 8:15 a.m., and then Link's GOP challenge Keith Gray will be on Al Salvi's show at around 11:00 talking about his race, and the potential impacts of Link's issues.

10th District Update: New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, a longshot but possible VP pick, was in town yesterday hanging out with 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk. Bloomberg endorsed Kirk in his upcoming congressional race against 9th District resident Dan Seals, and touted with Kirk a bill that would close a loophole that allows gun deals to sell off their existing stock of guns if they lose their gun selling license. "Can you imagine what would happen if we arrested a drug dealer, and before we took him in, we allowed him to sell all his (drugs)?" Bloomberg said. "There would be a riot."

The Daily Herald cited Dan Seals' spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith stating in response to the endorsement that the Seals campaign will 'remind voters that Kirk falls in line with President Bush on numerous issues.' Yawn. Wake me up when this race is over and Seals gets a job in Wisconsin with the other socialists.

Final Thoughts for this morning:
You think Lauren Beth Gash is fuming over Terry Link taking all of the credit for turning Lake County "from bright red to pale blue"? Just askin'.

Hey, when is someone going to ask Susan Garrett, Karen May, Kathy Ryg, Dan Seals and the rest of the suspects to comment on Terry Link's petition scandal, whether they still support him as chairman, and whether they think he'd make a good senate president?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lake County Democrats Claim Shock, Horror, Ignorance at Petition Forgeries... 8 Months After this Was Pointed Out to Them (UPDATED)

A number of Lake County Democrats are finally being hit with the fallout from the tainted petitions containing alleged forgeries of persons both alive and dead. The Daily Herald is reporting today that the two indicted campaign workers for State Senator Terry Link (Jerry D. Knight and Kenneth Davison) also "circulated" petitions for seven other Lake County Democrats, including incumbents like Coronor Dr. Richard Keller and Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer, as well as candidates like Michael D. Jacobs (running for State's Attorney against Mike Waller), Cynthia Pruim Haran (who is running for Circuit Court Clerk against Sally Coffelt), Jim Parks (running against JoAnn Osmond in the 61st legislative district) and Diane Hewitt (running for county board Dist. 2 against Randy Whitmore).

Those Democrats that were contacted by the Daily Herald expressed shock and horror, as if this was the biggest surprise of their lives. Former Vice-chair of the Lake County Dems, "Sneaky" Pete Couvall, who hired Knight and Davison, stated that "The only thing I'm guilty of is being hustled by a couple of con artists." Coroner Richard Keller, whose petitions were circulated as a block with the other Dem county-wide candidates, said he was unaware Knight or Johnson had worked on his petitions. "I found out later that (the paperwork) included those gentlemen and that there were irregularities," Keller said. The Herald reports that Hewitt said she knew Knight gathered signatures for her but was unaware of any irregularities. Parks said he learned Knight and Davison worked on his petition after the fact, and called the irregularities embarrassing.

Oh, how the passage of time (and a few indictments) bring some clarity to the situation.

For those of you new to the scene, this space and the Lake County GOP have been talking about this since last November, when Link's Dem primary opponent Jerry Johnson first identified the signatures of dead people on Link's petitions. Things just snowballed from there, culminating in an investigation by the Lake County State's Attorney and the return of indictments of the two paid petition circulators yesterday.

But, way back in December 2007, Lake County GOP Chairman Dan Venturi pointed out that not only had these two individuals circulated petitions for Link, but also these other candidates. His letter was published in the Lake County News-Sun and you can read it here. But even before Venturi's letter was published, this story was all over the newspapers.

Only now, however, after all of the Dem candidates, including Link, are secure in their positions on the general election ballot in November, are these candidates willing to discuss the tainted petitions and apparently admit they'd been collectively bilked (so they say) by these two devious men. Prior to this, only Link would talk, and his statements amounted to a zillion reasons why this was all nonsense, or perhaps the work of the Republicans.

As we have said many times here, we suspect the reason why Senator Link rebuffed all calls for an investigation of his own into the allegations of forgery was that he was afraid that if he looked too closely, the petitions circulated by Knight and Davison (which amounted to over 75% of Link's total signatures) would have shown to be invalid, and Link would not have had enough legitimate signatures to remain on the ballot. To remind everyone, that would have meant that Link would have had to run as a write-in candidate, either against Jerry Johnson directly as the other Dem primary candidate, or face the possibility of both men running as write-ins. A man with the ego the size of Terry Link's would never have been able to stomach that.

The Lake County Dems as a group should be condemned for their silence and refusal to confront the seriousness of this situation until the Lake County State's Attorney had to indict the Dems' petition circulators, and the press finally started making some phone calls to get these people on the record. This bunch collectively has about enough integrity to fill a thimble.

It may be too late to get them off the ballot, but not too late to reject them at the ballot box in November. Lake County citizens, do you want a crew with ethics like these folks representing you? It will be your choice.

BONUS CONTENT: Read some biting comments from the News-Sun "News Hound" here.

UPDATED 8/16/08: The Daily Herald reports that Kenneth Davison surrendered to authorities last night. Knight is still at large.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lake County Grand Jury Indicts State Senator Terry Link’s Petition Circulators on Multiple Counts of Forgery and Perjury (UPDATED x5)

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s office has confirmed that two of State Senator Terry Link’s paid nomination petition circulators, Jerry D. Knight and Kenneth Davison, were indicted today by a grand jury on multiple counts of forgery and perjury. This is the first set of indictments resulting from a joint investigation by the Lake County States’s Attorney and the Office of the State Appellate Prosecutor concerning allegations of forgeries of the signatures of both living and dead people on Senator Link’s petitions that were needed to place him on the ballot for the 30th Senate District race, where he faces GOP challenger Keith Gray this November.

Knight and Davison were Link’s primary petition circulators, and were responsible for acquiring nearly 2,700 of the 3,378 total signatures on Link’s nomination petitions (1,000 valid signatures were needed to place Link on the ballot). Knight and Davison also acquired signatures for numerous other Democratic candidates, including all Democrats running for county-wide office in Lake (which includes the Dem state’s attorney and circuit court clerk challengers, and the incumbent coroner and recorder of deeds).

Team America has been following this story closely since we broke it in mid-November 2007, but for those of you just catching up, the allegations of petition fraud were first brought to light by Link’s democratic primary challenger, Jerry Johnson, former mayor of North Chicago. Johnson’s campaign discovered that several of the purported “signatures” of supposedly registered voters were those of dead people, including a former North Chicago police chief, a political editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and a member of TA’s former Rotary club. Johnson also noted other suspect names, such as that of Link’s GOP challenger from the last election, Shields Township Supervisor Charles “Chuck” Fitzgerald.

While Johnson filed a challenge to the legitimacy of these and many other signatures appearing on Link’s petitions before the State Board of Elections, Johnson did not initially have sufficient evidence of a ‘pattern of fraud’ to include this claim in time to meet the extremely short objection filing deadline. Thus, the SBE rejected certain individual signatures that were obviously false and invalid, but the board did not consider any ‘pattern of fraud’ allegations that would have thrown out all of the signatures collected by Knight and Davison, and therefore allowed Link to remain on the ballot for the February 2008 primary election.

As noted above, Knight and Davison were responsible for acquiring signatures of around 2700 people, out of around 3400 signatures filed by Link’s campaign. This amounted to over 100 pages (at 25 signatures a page) out of 139 pages of petitions filed, or over 75% of Link’s signatures. Given that Link required 1,000 valid signatures to remain on the ballot, had the broader fraud allegations been made and proven before the SBE, Link would have been removed from the ballot if all pages “circulated” by Knight and Davison had been rejected.

Nevertheless, Johnson and other concerned citizens (including, no surprise, members of the Lake County GOP) continued to review Link’s petitions for irregularities. Johnson’s campaign discovered that not only did the names of dead people appear on the Link petitions, a curious pattern emerged where the names on many of the petition pages were listed in alphabetical or reverse-alphabetical order. In addition, mistakes such as misspelling a voter's signature (hard to misspell one's own name, if the sig is legitimate) and transposing the address of a voter with the one that appeared directly above or below the entry in the Lake County telephone directory led to the conclusion that these signatures were generated by “roundtabling,” an old election trick where petition pages are passed around a table by a group of people to forge names out of the phone directory or old voter lists. The News-Sun decried this revelation and called for Senator Link to investigate the allegations. Senator Link, however, took no action.

The Lake County State’s Attorney began to investigate the allegations as a potential criminal matter in December 2007. At the time, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller said that “In preliminary interviews, every person we talked to said it wasn’t their signature.” (Lake County News-Sun, 12/21/07). Even if we assume that Link had no knowledge of the alleged fraudulent activity, despite calls from the press and concerned citizens to investigate and take action, Senator Link chose to deny culpability and bury his head in the sand. At various times, Link called the accusations of fraud "nonsense," laughed them off and accused someone of "playing games," said "they’re shooting in the dark" or perhaps it was "a bunch of Republican operatives trying to interfere in a Democratic primary." (News-Sun article, 11/17/07). At the height of Link's hubris, he boldly stated that since "I never personally circulated one petition, so there's nothing [the state's attorney] can do to me."

Well, those words may come back to haunt Link.

Now that Knight and Davison have been indicted, Link has some interesting choices to make. Clearly, Link resisted acknowledging the issue and took no action himself that might have resulted in him having to admit that his petitions were irreparably flawed, and have to remove himself from the primary election that was held in February 2008. That would have been the honorable thing to do, and notably, was exactly what candidate James Gumm, the incumbent Milton Township assessor, did when he discovered that political operative Rodney McCulloch paid circulators to circulate petitions, which signatures the circulators then forged.

Even now, if Link tries to distance himself from the illegal acts of his paid petition circulators and tries to belatedly condemn their actions, he is essentially admitting that his candidacy is illegitimate, and he should withdraw from the senate race. Link is likely to again resist such demands, but the public pressure on Link as a result of this scandal may reach unbearable proportions, given Link’s position. Even throwing Knight and Davison completely under the bus at this point may not be enough. And, there's always the chance that Knight and Davison will roll over on Link and his right-hand man, "Sneaky" Pete Couvall, who was the one who actually hired and paid Knight and Davison to "collect" signatures.

This scandal may not stop with Link, either, as not only did other Dems have petitions circulated by Link, the Lake County Dems have stood behind Link, welcoming his assistance and money, and re-electing him Dem County Chairman this past March. Tenth Congressional candidate Dan Seals, for example, prominently touts Link's endorsement of him on Seals' website. Wonder how long it will take for that to get scrubbed, and other Dems to disavow Link? Will Lauren Beth Gash, Susan Garrett and the other Dem "do-gooders" finally seize this opportunity to depose Link from county leadership?

Folks, stay tuned for much, much more on this story in the weeks and months to come.

UPDATED 1:22 p.m.: The Daily Herald already has a web story up. Charles Zaler, an attorney for the state Appellate Prosecutor's Office stated in the article that "There is no evidence that the senator had any knowledge of these actions or condoned them. He has responded fully to our inquires in this matter."

That's nice, but doesn't let Link off the hook for failing to investigate last winter, before he was elected as the Democratic nominee in the primary.

The buck stops with you, Senator.

UPDATED x2 2:40 pm.: GOP challenger Keith Gray sent out this press release in the wake of today's indictments, calling on Senator Link to remove himself from the November ballot.

UPDATED x3 2:42 p.m.: Here's a Tribune web story.

UPDATED x4 4:19 pm.: And the Pioneer Press.

UPDATED x5 4:37 p.m.: And the News-Sun.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

GOP Challenger Dan Sugrue Makes Headline With Fundraising Effort Over Kathy Ryg in 59th Legislative Race (UPDATED W/ OBAMA EARMARKS)

I woke up to get my Daily Herald this morning and was greeted by a nice, above-the fold banner headline proclaiming: "GOP challenger leads cash dash." Nice. It's a pretty good article about the fundraising efforts of political newcomer and Green Oaks attorney Dan Sugrue, who is running against incumbent Dem Kathy Ryg in the 59th legislative district, which is a dagger-shaped district that runs from Waukegan in the north, all the way south through Park City, Green Oaks, Mettawa, Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove and the northern tip of Wheeling, and even captures 3 or so precincts in Lake Forest. It's the western half of the 30th senate district, currently held by incumbent Terry Link. More on him and his nomination petitions later this week, perhaps.

Kathy Ryg is an interesting legislator. She gets high praise in the 59th District for great constituent services, but generally votes in lockstep with the Democratic party down in Springfield. She originally ran against Vernon Hills mayor Roger Byrne, winning by only 107 votes, as I recall. She was then challenged by Riverwoods patent attorney Paul Tully, whom she defeated by a comfortable margin. She was not challenged in 2006. Part of the strategy on the part of the GOP not to run anyone against her was the notion that if she did not have an opponent, she'd stay home and not campaign hard on behalf of her fellow Dems. I guess we should have known better, as not only were "Link/Ryg" signs evident in the district in the last election, she wound up on my doorstep (you can imagine my surprise, given the Mark Kirk bumpersticker prominently dsplayed on the bumper of my car, which was in the driveway at the time). We had a nice chat, though, and I have to say I like Kathy Ryg as a person, and she is darn good at returning phone calls, which not many state reps or senators can say.

But, the question in this race will be whether Ryg can survive being painted with the broad brush of the woefully ineffective Dem party in Springfield, which, if you've bothered to look up from Obama-mania lately, is doing a great job of imploding (even without GOP assistance). The Governor's approval rating is lower than President Bush's. The budget sent to the Governor by the General Assembly was unbalanced and he has slashed programs left and right, including things like community outreach and rehab for drug addicts and even state agencies like the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (so much for Dems being for the environment). School funding reform is being pushed loudly by state senator/Reverend Meeks, who was threatening to send Chicago students to enroll in New Trier to protest the inequities of public school financing based primarily on local property taxes. The Governor has called the GA back to Springfield to deal with the issue, which costs taxpayers money, even though no one really expects anything to get done.

Will Kathy Ryg support proposals like taking most of our property taxes and shipping them to the Chicago Public School System (via a short layover in Springfield), just like she supported the RTA transit tax increase, which gave Lake County back only a percentage of the money added to the county sales tax? Will she continue to march behind State Senator Terry Link as the fallout from his fraudent nomination petitions begins to cripple him in the fall election against GOP challenger Keith Gray?

Look up from the presidential race every once in a while folks, there's a lot going on locally that you don't want to miss...

OBAMA EARMARKS FOR ADLER PLANETARIUM: For a guy campaigning on being an agent of CHANGE, this kind of crap really frosts me. I personally love the Adler Planetarium, but check out this article and tell me the timing of the money secured by Obama for the museum doesn't stink. h/t Illinois Review.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Morning Open Thread - What's On Your Mind in IL-10?

I don't do this too often, but it's looking like a slow start to the week, and many people are off on vacation, so I figured we'd give the floor to TA readers: what's on your mind?

The Russia-Georgia standoff? Hillary's role at the DNC? Veep choices for both candidates? Dan Seals channeling Paris Hilton? School funding reform in Illinois?

Here's your chance to chime in on the issues confronting 10th District politics. Let's see what y'all come up with.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Why Settle For Dan Seals When We Could Have Paris Hilton?

Dan Seals and his apologists continue to claim that where Dan lives doesn't matter, the voters should elect him based on his judgment and his qualifications. Let's assume they're right. If that's the case I'd like to submit another out of district person who is vastly more qualified than Dan Seals:

Paris Hilton

I know what you're thinking: "Sure Dan's an idiot but he's not as bad as that vacuous twit". But look at the video evidence

That's right; Paris Hilton has a more cogent energy plan than the Speaker of the House. Isn't that a sad commentary? And I can hear the screeching of the Dan fans now "So what, Dan Seals isn't Nancy Pelosi!" And they'd be right; unlike Dan, Nancy Pelosi has actually won an election.

When you see Dan speak on energy you would be forgiven for thinking you're listening Pelosi; Dan has copied her talking points exactly. Remember her sad attempt in the video to draw attention away from drilling by saying that we need to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Dan, showing what a good little parrot he is, peddles those same talking points here and here.

By that way, tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would barely make a dent in gas prices. Even if we drained the entire reserve, our emergency supply in case of war or global crisis, we could only supply America's needs for 30 days. And they also don't mention that any oil taken out of the reserves needs to be replaced, and oil trades will take that into account when determining price. It's a stupid idea designed to obfuscate and halt debate. But more on that in a future post.

Dan also toes the Pelosi line when he complains about undrilled leases that oil companies currently hold. Apparently Dan thinks that these evil oil companies, who he claims control our legislative process to keep their tax breaks, are idiots. Oil's trading at $130 a barrel, only a company run by idiots would hold refuse to drill on land that has oil. Or maybe the oil companies aren't idiots. Maybe they know their business better than Dan Seals and Nancy Pelosi and those leases either do not have any oil, or the oil cannot be extracted profitably. No, that can't be it; the greedy profit-obsessed oil companies are leaving money on the table on account of "because". That must be it.

Why is an under-educated socialite more knowledgeable about markets and energy production than a University of Chicago MBA? I don't want to believe that such a fine institution would give a diploma to someone so foolish. As I see it there are two possibilities here. Either Dan Seals is really that ignorant and thinks that borrowing from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and forcing oil companies to drill on lands with no oil will fix our energy problems. Or, Dan is smarter than that and knows the crap he's peddling isn't a solution. But he can't advocate real fixes, like drilling now while working on alternative fuels at the same time. Because if he did then people like Charlie Rangel, Nancy Pelosi and all the other Democratic legislators who are bankrolling his campaign might revoke his allowance.

So which is it? Is Dan clueless or gutless?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Team America Gets Inside Dan Seals' Head: Seals Blows Off Patron Charlie Rangel

Weep for the Pup, my friends. He was all ready to go to the Big Apple and get his allowance from Charlie Rangel. He had his ticket, his bags were packed. But mean, old TA had the temerity to tell people about it, other media picked up the story, and now Dan can't go. I bet he's stomping his feet over in the 9th district right now.

Of course, the untold story (which we will now tell) is that since he can't be seen acquiescing to the demands of decency and good taste, the Seals team had to scramble and put together another event for tonight to give Dan an excuse for why he wasn't going.

1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores sent out invitations last night for an event with the Pup tonight. Talk about short notice. The event is in Chicago; where Dan feels most comfortable. Information about the event is here. Flores, by the way, was one of the twits on the Chicago City Council who voted to enact the foie gras ban that made Chicago the laughing-stock of the world. Such supporters Dan attracts.

The question is, will Dan be refuse the proceeds from Rangel's big bash? Considering his determination to win at whatever the cost and Mark Kirk's utter dominance in fundraising I doubt it. But who knows, maybe the undoubtedly small, bruised, much ignored thing Dan Seals calls a conscience will assert itself and Dan will refuse his mentor's dirty cash. But I'm not holding my breath.

On the other hand, based on some of the comments we've been getting today, it may be that Rangel's people are so mad at Seals for leaving Rangel in the lurch, but still having his hand out, maybe that cash offer will evaporate before the check is ever sent.

Seals sure has class, don't he?

Here's the e-mail I was forwarded this afternoon:

From: Manny Flores [] Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 12:21 PM

Subject: Join me tomorrow to support Dan Seals

Dear Friend, I hope you consider joining Democratic candidate for Congress Dan Seals and me tomorrow for a special event that I am hosting here in Chicago's 1st Ward. Dan is a true blue Democrat and a tremendous candidate and he needs our support. To RSVP, please call (773) 510-0540. Thank you.

Aug 5, 2008

Dear Supporter,

Travel to Arlington Heights, Palatine, Waukegan, Northbrook or any Northern suburb and you'll see there's a crucial battle going on between a truly independent-mined, progressive Democrat and a Bush Republican. That Democrat is Dan Seals. I am proud to say that I endorse his candidacy. Dan is a tireless worker, he'll represent our Democratic values in Congress and he needs our help in his campaign in the 10th U.S. Congressional District against Republican Mark Kirk. On Wednesday, Aug. 6, I'm hosting an event to benefit the Seals campaign. I ask you today to join us in helping my friend Dan Seals.To RSVP, please click here.

If you cannot attend, I hope you choose to make a contribution to the Seals campaign via the ActBlue site that we have set up for this event:

Quite simply, Dan's opponent has been a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration's failed policies and he will never provide the kind of thoughtful leadership that we expect from our legislators.

In contrast, Dan will be a strong progressive member of Congress. He is endorsed by Presidential nominee Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. He fell just a few percentage points short in his 2006 bid against the Republican incumbent and we want to put him over the top on Election Day.

The bottom line is that Dan needs our help and he's counting on good Democrats to deliver for him this summer.I hope you consider joining us on Wednesday, Aug. 6. To RSVP by phone, or for more information, call Trevor Montgomery at (773) 510-0540 or Corey Solow at (847) 945-8900.Sincerely,Manny Flores

When & WhereSuggested Contributions:$125 Individual$500 Sponsor$1000 HostDate: Wednesday, Aug. 6Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.Location: 1330 N. Leavitt, Chicago, IL 60622To RSVP call Trevor Montgomery at (773) 510-0540 or Corey Solow at (847) 945-8900

This email was sent to by
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Email Marketing by Alderman Manuel Flores, 1st Ward 2058 N. Western Ave. Chicago IL 60647

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Final Countdown to Charlie Rangel's Party for Dan Seals

Well, it's the final countdown to Dan Seals' pilgrimage to New York to bend his knee before Congressman Charlie Rangel, profess his fealty to whatever Rangel might demand of him in the future, and come home with a big check (so Seals hopes).

If you're just joining us (or one of the hundreds of new viewers from around the nation who joined our coverage over the last few days, according to my Sitemeter), here's a quick rundown on Charlie "The Boss" Rangel again:

As the New York Times reported, Rangel rented several apartments in Harlem at below-market prices -- even using one for his campaign office -- all in violation of local, state, and federal law. The Times editorial page lambasted Rangel.

As the Washington Post reported, Rangel solicited corporations with business before his congressional committee to pay for a building with his name on it -- a violation of federal law and House ethics rules. The Post said Rangel's actions didn't "pass the smell test."

So why do we care? Because Dan Seals has taken $14,000 from Charlie Rangel -- $7,000 in the 2006 general election ($2,000 from his campaign and $5,000 from his leadership PAC) and $7,000 in the 2008 general election ($2,000 from his campaign and $5,000 from his leadership PAC). Dan Seals is tied as the top recipient of Charlie Rangel contributions in two consecutive general election reporting periods ($7,000 is the maximum for a general election).

The Illinois Republican Party called on Dan to return the money. Dan Seals has not said a word -- and, quite unfortunately, no MSM reporter has found the courage to ask him why.

But it doesn't stop there. As TA readers know -- and as you've figured out by the countdown clock to your right -- we are just hours away from a Charlie Rangel party for Dan Seals. That's right -- King Rangel is throwing Dan Seals a fundraiser to help him get even more dirty money. According to this online contribution site set up for the event, Seals could net at least $10,000 more from Rangel.

So for all you 10th District voters (or 9th District trolls) out there (and for the MSM reporters stopping by), I encourage you to come wish Dan 'bon voyage' before his long, soulless journey to New York City tomorrow. He is scheduled to walk in the Lake Forest Days Parade tomorrow morning at 10am (though according to his Web site, he is meeting up at 9:30 at 181 Laurel in Lake Forest -- and he's slot #85 in the parade).

If you get a chance to talk to him, ask him five simple questions:

1) Do you think Charlie Rangel did anything wrong by renting four apartments in Harlem below market value (and which were intended to be used for low-income renters) and using one as his campaign office?

2) Do you think Charlie Rangel did anything wrong by soliciting donations from corporations with business before his committee to finance a building with his name on it?

3) Do you plan to get on a plane and go to New York City after this parade to take more dirty money from Charlie Rangel?

4) Do you plan on returning the $14,000 you've already received from Charlie Rangel? Or will you wait until Rangel gets indicted?

5) How would you have voted on the Rangel censure resolution considered by Congress last week?

Good luck gumshoes! And remember to report back. In the meantime, TA has been contacted by several people who intend to monitor Seals' movements throughout the day. We may even have some live blogging on the big night. Stay tuned!

My Name is Rangel, Congressman of Congressmen...

My name is Rangel, Congressman of Congressmen:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

(I know the title is a needless display of a classical education, but I'll tie this up below, I promise.)

Most politicians would be satisfied with one scandal per week. But Dan Seal's sugar daddy (there's that phrase again, darnnit) is a special kind of politician. A mere four days after the New York Times bombshell regarding his apartments hit, the Washington Post lined up for their shot at Charlie Rangel. The Post reported that Rangel has been soliciting donations for a school from various corporations and business leaders…on congressional stationery…and most of the people solicited have business before the committee that he chairs. Oh, and the name of the school? The Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service. That's right... he named the school after... himself.

Now, there are several no-nos that Rangel committed here so we'll deal with each one in turn. First there is soliciting donations for a private entity on congressional stationery. That's a violation of House rules. Of course since he's violating the gift ban already this might not bother him.

The second problem here is the people Rangel is soliciting frequently have business before the Ways and Means committee, which Rangel chairs, or work for companies that do. Even if he just asking, there is the appearance of impropriety. As the Dean of George Washington University put it "[Rangel] has crossed the line… Charlie Rangel is a prominent public servant and may deserve a center at City College. . . . But I think one has to be careful about how one raises the money for that. The danger is that it begins to blur the lines between whether a quid pro quo is implied by this or not."

His final offense is not so much an offense against laws or ethics, but an offense against good taste. The man named a school after himself while he was still in office. And he had the gall to request of $2 million in earmarks to fund said school. That sort of monumental hubris, to decide that not only are you worthy of a monument, but that the taxpayers should pay for the privilege of erect it, is not becoming in a public servant. With that kind of attitude he should change his name to Ozymandias Rangel (there's that classical education creeping in... if you slept through the Romantics in English Lit., here's a link to 'splain it to ya.)

Perhaps now we have a clue as to why a Congressman from New York is helping a long shot, out of work wannabe like Dan Seals. Rangel sees a kindred spirit in the Pup. Maybe when he sees how Dan is running for Congress in a district he's never lived in, with virtually no legislative experience to his name, Rangel sees a younger version of himself. It's like he's Rangel's long lost, arrogant, presumptuous son.


Guess I'm not the only one out there who is working up the Rangel-Seals connection. Check out the latest video...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Charlie Rangel: Who Loves Ya, Baby? Dan Seals, Of Course.

As I said in my last post, today we'll be answering the question: just how exceptional is Charlie Rangel's apartment deal? Turns out, it is completely unheard of. As this story unfolds further, it becomes clearer and clearer that Dan Seals of the 9th District, whose hand is out to take whatever cash Charlie can send his way, has chosen a very poor mentor to emulate (but one very much in keeping with Dan's other choices like Bob Creamer, Dan Rostenkowski, and the list goes on).

In the New York Times' original story it mentions that Rangel must have unusual, even exceptional good luck. "State officials and city housing experts said in interviews that while the law does not bar tenants from having more than one rent-stabilized apartment, they knew of no one else with four of them" said the Times. But that's dry stuff. They wait for a couple of days to really sock it to him....

On July 17th the Gray Lady ran this story: Rangel's Neighbors See a Rent Double Standard. You remember Sylvia Olnick from yesterday? She's Rangel's landlord, political donor and has enlisted his help getting permits for new apartment buildings. It turns out that her company, the Olnick Organization, is one of the most aggressive landlords in the city when it comes to evicting rent control tenants and renting their former apartments are the market rates.

Normally this would be bad news for someone in Rangel's position. His yearly income is over the maximum amount to qualify for rent control. He also pays that $2000 in aggregate rent per month, also technically disqualifying him for rent control. It would be a simple matter for his landlord to take away his three extra apartments. But the Olnick organization has yet to move on Charlie. Perhaps they've been too busy with their other tenants…

Tenants like Edward Torrence, a 90 year old man whose failing eyesight kept him from writing his rent check. So he had his daughter write a check out of their joint account. The Olnick Organization initiated eviction procedures against him because his daughter's name was on the check but not on the apartment lease. The only reason the Olnicks didn't kick Mr. Torrence out onto the street was he died before they could.

There's also Carlton Ford. He and his family had lived in Rangel's building for decades. He developed grand mal seizures so severe that he was confined to a nursing home and hospital for 9 months. When he was released his doctors advised him that he could not return to his old apartment. But he wanted his wife to be able to stay. As soon he rented a new apartment for himself the Olnick Organization initiated eviction procedures against his family.

So, this landlord is willing to kick out a blind, 90 year-old man and a family that had lived in their apartment for decades. In both of those cases the people only had one apartment and were definitely not in violation of rent control statutes. The Olnick Organization still tried to throw them out on the street. But Congressman Rangel, who has FOUR rent controlled apartments and is absolutely not entitled to them, is allow to stay. I wonder why that is.

My guess is Rangel and his landlords take their philosophy on this matter from Animal Farm: Some animals are more equal than others. This is the guy Dan Seals is begging for money.

Coming up soon: what's that you say? Another Rangel scandal?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dan Seals and the New York Cash Pipeline from Charlie Rangel

I'm gonna give you some cash!

A few weeks ago TA detailed Dan Seals' ties to ethically challenged (to put it lightly) Congressman Charles Rangel. Since then there have been letters to the editor on the subject and the articles continue to pile up. Yet despite all this, not only did Seals hold onto the $7,000 he had already received from Rangel, he added another $7,000 to that total in his most recent FEC filing.

And Rangel's not finished helping out his protégé, not by a long shot. On August 6th he's hosting a swanky party at the Tavern on the Green in New York. Bill and Hillary Clinton will be there as well as Howard Dean and other assorted Democratic luminaries. Minimum ticket price: $2,500.

The Pup is poised to get 10% of the take from Rangel's little party. So you can all keep track of how long until Dan gives up the last of his already small store of integrity for some cold, hard (dirty) cash I'm introducing the Rangel-Seals cash grab countdown. Check it out on the sidebar to the right.

For now, I'm going to provide a quick background to the first Rangel scandal for those of you who are not familiar.

The New York Times reported on July 11 that Rangel occupies four rent controlled apartments in a luxury Harlem apartment building. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, rent control freezes rents at far below market rates. It was implemented to keep low and middle income people from being priced out of their homes. These days rent controlled apartments are a hot commodity and most people cannot find one.

Rangel managed to find four. Either he's really lucky or someone did him a big favor. Someone like Sylvia Olnick, Rangel's landlord. She is also a donor to Rangel and met with him at least once to secure his help in obtaining permits to construct new apartment buildings.

And how much is Rangel saving with this cozy little arrangement? Somewhat in excess of $30,000 a year. In fact, Congressional ethics experts say Rangel's acceptance of the second, third and fourth rent controlled apartment is probably a violation of the gift ban. The House rules state that a gift is "a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value". I'd say allowing Rangel to rent three extra apartments at significantly below market rates constitutes a favor or discount.

Coming up soon: just how exceptional is Rangel's deal?

TA's NOTE: I originally called this post "Dan Seals' Dirty Sugar Daddy: Charles Rangel." But, the PC policeman in my brain got the better of me, and I did a Google search for the term "Sugar Daddy," just in case anyone out there thought the term meant something that was different from my understanding. For example, this definition states, "A man who spends money for the benefit of a younger person, especially a younger woman." All well and good, as I definitely meant to imply that Rangel is spending money for the benefit of Seals, and that you would expect some kind of quid pro quo will be in order somewhere down the line, although the implication in this context is that it will be a political, not a sexual, payoff. But what really made me decide to change the post title was the fact that Rangel is African American, and Seals is African American, so you know, whenever you use a term that could be considered derogatory (which was intended), the Dems who love to play the race card will scream RACIST at the drop of a hat (and that was certainly NOT intended). Nothing I can see from my research indicates the phrase 'sugar daddy' has any racial connotation. Moreover, clearly, Rangel is an equal-opportunity distributor of dirty money, as you can see by the diversity of the candidates listed as beneficiaries from the invitation above. And, Seals is certainly color-blind when it comes to taking money from felons, indicted or suspected criminals. So, I certainly didn't see anything 'racial' in calling Rangel a 'sugar daddy' as to Seals. But vicious tongues will wag, so it's easier to just edit the title of the post. Now, let's get back to the real issue before we get sidetracked... we'll have more on the Rangel-Seals connection soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Photo Caption Contest: Is Jean-Luc Picard Calling for Dan Seals?

For our semi-regular Friday Photo caption contest, I pulled a picture right off of Dan Seals' campaign website (note to Dan: maybe try to update your newsroom with some stuff more recent than November 2007... of course, hasn't been much positive press for ya lately, has there?).

Maybe it's just me, but the guy in the picture reminds me eerily of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Or, at least, Picard as he was shown in the series finale, "All Good Things...", in which he flips back and forth across three different time periods.

Obviously, this is "old senile Picard" that we have there in the Seals campaign picture (compare with the Star Trek episode photo to the right, or see 'old Picard' in action here).

Clearly, the other, younger, smarter Picards in that episode would have much better things to do than manning the phone bank for Dan Seals.

You guys know what to do. Have at it!