Thursday, April 26, 2007

Miller on the CDP Radar Screen?

I'm pleased at Art Torres' answer to this question.

CMR: What is the 58-County Strategy and how is it going to help us be successful in 2008?

AT: Howard Dean and I worked together on the 50-State Strategy when he was running for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. I was part of an effort to make sure he was elected chair because I felt he would be the most progressive and effective chair, which has proven to be right. It's taken a little time for us here in California to establish a 58-County Strategy, which I announced in December of 2006, and we're going to be more incremental given the resources that we have available. But the most important priority for me is a Jerry McNerney seat, the Charlie Brown seat - which will be his seat once he defeats Doolittle - and Gary Miller in Southern California. We're going to reach out to those communities where we can coordinate with counties with the resources we have available for voter registration and finally to make a mark on those counties that were up to this point considered red, that are now purple or turning blue.

The CDP may put its full force behind an effort to beat Miller?

Hurt me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Doolittle's in Deep Doo-Doo... So When Will Gary's Time Come?

This just in from Roll Call:

The FBI has raided the Northern Virginia home of Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), according to Congressional sources. No details are publicly available yet about the circumstances of the raid, but Doolittle and his wife, Julie, have been under federal investigation for their ties to the scandal surrounding imprisoned former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

So John Doolittle (R-Roseville) might finally be held accountable for all his dirty work...
Now when can we expect the same of Dirty Gary Miller?

Is Gary Miller Failing Us on Iraq?

For quite a while now, the nation has been turning against Bush's failed war in Iraq. Americans have had enough of gruesome, nasty stories like this: (From The Guardian)

At least 160 people have been killed in four major bomb blasts around Baghdad today - the bloodiest violence since a US troop "surge" and crackdown on insurgents began in February.
The deadliest attack happened at the Sadriyah market, in central Baghdad, where at least 118 people died, according to Iraqi police, Reuters said.

Police said a total of 139 people were injured in the blast, which was thought to have been caused by a bomb left on a bus.

Construction workers helping to rebuild the predominantly Shia market area following an attack shortly before the February crackdown, when a suicide truck bomber killed 135 people, were among the victims.

An hour before the market blast, a suicide bomber crashed an explosives-laden car into a checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, Baghdad's biggest Shia area, killing at least 30 people.

And oh yes, I don't think they appreciate this, either: (Also from The Guardian)

Iraqi civilians are experiencing "immense suffering" because of a "disastrous" security situation, deepening poverty and a worsening humanitarian crisis, according to a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The ICRC also sees no sign that the American-led security "surge" in Baghdad is bringing relief to the capital, while hospitals struggle to cope with mass casualties as malnutrition as well as power and water shortages become more frequent across the country.

"The suffering Iraqi men, women and children are enduring today is unbearable and unacceptable," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations for the organisation, said at the group's Geneva headquarters.

The report, Civilians without Protection, provides a grim snapshot of the situation in Iraq but will carry special weight thanks to the ICRC's reputation as the scrupulously neutral "silent service" of international humanitarian work. It maintains a presence in Baghdad despite the bombing of its offices in 2003, and works closely with the Iraqi Red Crescent.

The report says that more than 100,000 families have been forced to leave their homes in the past year because of the shootings, bombings, abductions, murders and military operations.

And yes, I don't think they'd like to see any more of this.

Americans want out of Iraq... So why would Gary Miller say this?

As we cannot – and must not – turn back, we need a fresh approach to move forward. The President, along with his generals on the ground, has proposed a way forward. He has put forth a strategy to suppress the sectarian violence in Iraq to allow democratic reforms to take hold and economic institutions to flourish.

His plan is the only plan that provides for a way forward in Iraq. While the majority party proposes to stand still and do nothing, the President’s plan aims to allow American forces to stand down as the Iraqi people stand up.

For us in Congress, it is not our job to become involved in the tactical decisions that will lead to success in our mission. It is our responsibility to help shape the parameters of our mission and to conduct oversight on our progress in achieving the mission.

Oh yes, it looks like Bush really knows "the way forward in Iraq"...
Well, maybe if we consider a failed state to be "the way forward".

Let's face it: There's nothing left that we can do to save this war. And there's nothing that we can do to "force" Iraq to be a stable, Jeffersonian democratic republic. George Bush and Gary Miller may warn us that Iraq would descend into total chaos if we leave. However, I don't know how much worse it could become since Iraq has already descended into complete chaos. And now, it just seems like the longer we stay there, the worse it gets.

Can we really afford to allow Bush to "stay the course" of showing us "the way forward" into CIVIL WAR? And can we allow members of Congress like Gary Miller to just sit by and continue to allow Bush to waste resources in pursuing the wrong military mission that is just creating a failed state? Can we really afford more of the same failure?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The "Red County" GOP Machine Stands By Its Man

I hope the Dems spend huge sums of money trying to defeat Congressman Miller.

Given the demographics of the district as well as Mr. Miller's ability to self fund any defensive campaign which might be required, I can't think of a better way for them to waste their resources.

So why is "One Who Knows" getting all worked up on GOP insider hangout Red County/OC Blog about a challenge to Dirty Gary Miller in the 42nd Congressional District? Oh, only because the DCCC is actually turning up the heat on Dirty Gary. Oh my, real democracy is such a "waste of resources"... But wait! It gets better!

Here's what OC Blog's sister "Red County" San Bernardino blog has to say about the DCCC online ad:

The YouTube or MySpace quality web ad is noticeable edited and nowhere near the professional standards of any relevant political media consultant or producer. At this point we may be witnessing the cheep work of a DCCC or DNC college intern that barley knows how to use his Apple Final Cut Pro. See the web ad here.

OK, so this "Republican kewl kid" who can't even use Spellcheck is criticizing the DCCC for the quality of the online ad? And again, why all the moaning and groaning over the possibility of a REAL EXERCISE IN DEMOCRACY TO HOLD A VERY CORRUPT CONGRESSMAN ACCOUNTABLE?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Neither Democrats, nor Republicans, nor Independents, appreciate a member of Congress who is being investigated by the FBI for his questionable land deals. Voters do not like someone who misuses his position of power to enrich himself while ignoring the best interest of the people in the district. Simply put, the more the people here find out about Gary Miller and his very dirty ways, the less they can tolerate it.

This is not political harassment. And it's not wasting time. It's democracy. And it's about time that Gary Miller and his pals realize that.

Now when will people remember this? I really don't like repeating myself. ; )

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gary Miller on the Past & Future Gary Miller

"It's beyond my comprehension why he's running again... I've been hoping that Jay would take the moral high ground and move on with his life."

So who said that about Jay Kim, the Republican Congressman who sought reelection in 1998 after being convicted of violating campaign finance law? Oh, only some guy named GARY MILLER who was running against Kim in the Republican primary. Yes, apparently back then Gary Miller was interested in taking "the moral high ground". Back then, Gary Miller wanted to rid the Republicans of a "poster boy" of corruption that Democrats could use against the party.

So why exactly did Jay Kim get into all that trouble? From the CNN archives:

Kim, a three-term California Republican, was sentenced to one year of probation and two months of "home detention" after pleading guilty in August 1997 to 10 misdemeanor counts of accepting about $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions during his first campaign for the House in 1992. [...]

Federal prosecutors had asked the judge to impose a jail sentence, contending that Kim's case "represents the largest amount of criminal campaign violations ever committed by a member of Congress." But Kim, the first Korean-American in Congress, asked for leniency, saying that, "In my enthusiasm of running for Congress, I neglected the very important mechanics of my campaign finances and broke the law."

Kim has refused to resign and remains undeterred in seeking a fourth term. His spokesman said March 10 that the congressman considers the sentence passed by U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Paez to be no bar to his continued service and no hindrance to his re-election campaign.

Now who does this sound like? Why does this nasty situation sound eerily familiar? Come on now, it's not too hard to remember this gem from The San Bernardino Sun:

Of all the company's political connections, its relationship with Miller - who declined to be interviewed for this story - has come under particular scrutiny over the past year.

The relationship dates back more than 30 years, to when Miller was a young developer. In recent years, he and Lewis have connected on a number of business deals:

The company entered into a business partnership with Miller in July 2004, with the congressman investing between $1million and $5million in a Lewis-owned, 70-acre housing and retail development in Diamond Bar that had just been approved by the City Council.

That same year, Lewis officials sold Miller several parcels in Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, allowing him to shield millions in profits from an earlier land sale from potential capital-gains taxes. The company loaned him $7.5million for the sale.

Meanwhile, the company's top executives have donated $22,150 to the congressman's campaigns since 1999. (In that time, Miller has received a total of more than $2.3 million in contributions from individuals and political committees.)

Oh yeah, that's why. Look who's the "poster boy" of Republican corruption now. Look who's lost the "moral high ground" now... Oh wait, did this guy ever have the moral high ground?!

Maybe Gary Miller needs to remember his own advice... And take it! It's beyond all our comprehension why he's running again. And yes, we've all been hoping that Gary would take the moral high ground and move on with his life. And perhaps Gary should talk with dday about some great ideas for Gary to move on with his life. ; )

Monday, April 9, 2007

A Confederate Yankee in CA-42

If you're coming to this site, you probably know about Gary Miller's illustrious acting career, but it wouldn't be a Miller blog without posting the picture from the set of Gods and Generals:

Miller's actually real proud of his appearance as a Confederate officer, he has a whole page of his website devoted to snapshots from the set.

You might remember that other politician who appeared as a rebel officer in that movie. You know, the guy who was unbeatable in his re-election fight last year? On the short list for the GOP Presidential nomination? Born and raised in California?

Does the word "Macaca" ring a bell?

Are We Just Engaging in "Political Harassment"?

Allan Hoffenblum, co-publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, said the early effort from Democrats amounts to little more than "political harassment," considering the electoral makeup of Miller's district.

As an example, Hoffenblum said Republican long-shot Richard Mountjoy beat Sen. Dianne Feinstein by 11 points in the 42nd District. Feinstein, a Democrat, won the statewide vote by 24 points.

"They are wasting their time," Hoffenblum said. "The only way (Democrats are) going to beat Miller is if he has handcuffs behind his back and is being taken to the federal pen, which I don't think is very likely."

So did Hoffenblum tell The San Bernardino Sun the real truth? Is the DCCC just "wasting time"? Is Gary Miller truly unbeatable, even after this?

Miller used IRS Code 1033, which allows individuals to shelter proceeds from a forced sale, to avoid paying millions of dollars in capital-gains tax after he sold the land to the city in 2002.

Federal agents have since obtained the 2000 council video from Monrovia officials as part of their investigation into the congressman's land dealings.

Miller's spokesman, Scott Toussaint, dismissed the ad as a cheap political stunt and said the congressman is unconcerned about the Democrats' early efforts against him.

So I guess it's a "cheap political stunt" to reveal Gary Miller's true record of service to developers (including himself) and disservice to the voters of the 42nd District. Oh, how I want to shed tears of sorrow for poor little Gary (NOT)!

And oh yes, the DCCC is not stupid. And no, I don't think they're really interested in "wasting their time". They only commit resources to races they think are winnable. And obviusly, they're starting to sense that this race is winnable.

DCCC officials said Miller is vulnerable, citing the federal investigation and his vote totals in 2006, when he ran unopposed, as evidence that they can win the heavily Republican district. Miller got about 130,000 votes last November, in a district with about 347,000 registered voters.

"We are actively recruiting to have someone run against Miller" in 2008, said Fernando Cuevas, western regional press secretary for the DCCC, adding that Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, got more than 40 percent of the presidential vote in the district in 2004. He declined to say how much the committee has spent on the ads, which have only run on the Internet.

Cuevas said it was too early to name any potential Democratic candidates in the district, where Republicans make up about 50 percent of registered voters versus the Democrats' 29 percent, according to the California Secretary of State's Web site.

Cuevas said the DCCC is not naive about the numbers but that last year's elections were evidence of a change in the political landscape that can benefit the Democrats.

"The 2006 election showed that Democrats can win Republican districts that are represented by members plagued with ethics problems," he said. "Gary Miller certainly fits that bill - the FBI is investigating him."

Neither Democrats, nor Republicans, nor Independents, appreciate a member of Congress who is being investigated by the FBI for his questionable land deals. Voters do not like someone who misuses his position of power to enrich himself while ignoring the best interest of the people in the district. Simply put, the more the people here find out about Gary Miller and his very dirty ways, the less they can tolerate it.

This is not political harassment. And it's not wasting time. It's democracy. And it's about time that Gary Miller and his pals realize that.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Guess Who's Building Influence With Dirty Gary Miller Now!

What is it about Gary Miller doing all these troublesome land deals? The San Bernardino Sun has now unearthed yet another troublesome deal involving land, money, and sweet favors:

The Lewis Group of Companies has built thousands of homes and dozens of shopping centers, office buildings and industrial parks from the San Gabriel Valley to the High Desert.

But the Upland-based company has helped shape more than the region's physical landscape: It's emerged as both a major philanthropic force and a significant political player as well.

Over the years, Lewis has given millions to charitable causes and - in the past six years alone - nearly $2.3 million to political campaigns.

In recent months, it's the politics that have made headlines, focusing on the company's long and close relationship with Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea, who also represents Diamond Bar, Chino and Chino Hills.

Oh, great! Here we go again! Developers are buying off Gary Miller, so what else is new? Well, get a load of this!

Of all the company's political connections, its relationship with Miller - who declined to be interviewed for this story - has come under particular scrutiny over the past year.

The relationship dates back more than 30 years, to when Miller was a young developer. In recent years, he and Lewis have connected on a number of business deals:

The company entered into a business partnership with Miller in July 2004, with the congressman investing between $1 million and $5 million in a Lewis-owned, 70-acre housing and retail development in Diamond Bar that had just been approved by the City Council.

That same year, Lewis officials sold Miller several parcels in Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga, allowing him to shield millions in profits from an earlier land sale from potential capital-gains taxes. The company loaned him $7.5 million for the sale.

Meanwhile, the company's top executives have donated $22,150 to the congressman's campaigns since 1999. (In that time, Miller has received a total of more than $2.3 million in contributions from individuals and political committees.)

Wow! It looks like Lewis did Gary Miller quite a few huge favors. So why did they do these favors for Miller? Why would Lewis loan Gary Miller money to buy Lewis land, all so that Miller could avoid paying capital-gains taxes?

Oh, wait! I see the reason now. Gary Miller soon returned the favor.

In August 2005, Miller secured $1.2 million in federal funding for improvements to Grand Avenue, a major artery through Diamond Bar that passes in front of the development he co-owned with Lewis. Miller sold his stake in the development in October 2005.

In the same legislation, he secured $6.8 million to help extend Pine Avenue to Highway 71 in Chino. City leaders touted the project as an important transportation link to The Preserve, a major Lewis master-planned community.

Miller also pushed for a provision to close Rialto Municipal Airport, which cleared the way for the Lewis Group to purchase the site. It has plans with a business partner, Hillwood Development Corp., to develop Rialto Renaissance, a planned community of housing, shopping and recreation.

Doesn't this just get sickening? I mean, the more I get to know Miller, the more I see why he's been named as one of the twenty most corrupt members of Congress. He's not in Congress to serve us the voters and us the taxpayers. He's there to engage in a type of legislative racketeering operation, and he's only there to line his own pockets at our expense.

Now yes, a member of Congress is supposed to work to bring home funds for one's own district. Yes, a member of Congress is supposed to fight for the best interest of one's constituents. However, neither of these is what Gary Miller is doing. No, he's only (mis)using his position of power to enrich himself on the taxpayer's dime. He's selling his votes to the highest bidder. And this helps no one in the district save for a certain Gary Miller.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Speeding Our Way to Pork and Slime on the 241

Former Yorba Linda City Councilmember Ken Ryan was very close to developers... Perhaps too close. But why should we matter? Well, guess who one of those developers was? (From OC Weekly)

As a principal for EDAW (Eckbo, Dean, Austin and Williams), Ryan is working on the Carrari Ranch Project in San Bernardino County, on land belonging to G. Miller Development Co., owned by Congressman Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar). Miller is the same congressman whom Congressman Ken Calvert (R-Corona) thanked for his work on the 2006 Transportation Equity Act, which diverts $8 million in federal funds to the 241 project—despite the fact the toll road is supposed to be a private venture. It was classic pork: the act also included $2 million for sound walls in Yorba Linda and Anaheim; Ryan, Miller and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle gathered on Feb. 17, 2004, in an Anaheim mobile-home park to commemorate the occasion.

In a 2002 Riverside Press-Enterprise article, Ryan is listed as a spokesman for Lytle Development. In the 2004 election, Lytle Development was Miller’s top donor.

In 2003, Congressman Miller requested more than $3 million to build a pedestrian bridge over the Imperial Highway in Yorba Linda, where his friend Ryan was known as “Mayor Ryan.” Miller was also one of five signatories to a Feb. 17 letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in support of the 241. The other four? Calvert, Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and John Campbell (R-Irvine). Miller, Calvert and Rohrabacher all list real-estate firms as their top campaign contributors in 2004.

Ryan isn’t shy about his history with Miller. “I’m proud of our relationship,” he told the Weekly. “I’ve been an urban planner for 20 years.”

OK, so he asked Miller for some local pork... That happens to ALL MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. So why should we care? Well, this isn't your typical pork project... This is a COMPLETE CONFLICT OF INTEREST! How is Gary Miller helping the people of the 42nd District by diverting their tax dollars to projects that help HIS DEVELOPMENTS and the interests of HIS DEVELOPER FRIENDS?

And oh yes, why the heck is Gary Miller diverting federal funds to build a toll road that's supposed to be built "without taxpayer money"? Why is he pushing for a toll road that does nothing to ease traffic in South Orange County? Why would Miller agree to waste our tax dollars on a project that is destined to be turned down by state regulatory agencies? Why would Miller support a crazy boondoggle that would destroy our precious natural resources? Just why would Miller slack off on his responsibility to look out for the best interest of his own constituents?

Well, I guess that isn't as important to Gary Miller as his "responsibility" to feed off the public trough for the benefit of himself and his developer friends.

The Story So Far

Some of you may be wondering why a group of progressive bloggers would bother to scrutinize a Republican Congressman in one of the reddest districts in California. The reason, simply, is that Gary Miller has betrayed the trust of his constituents and used his office as a means to personally benefit himself and his business. We feel that no voter should be left behind, and that the people of the 42nd district deserve to have a Representative who has a a greater belief in public service than simply being a cash cow.

So I'm going to reprint, with slight edits, a bunch of stories I've written at my site about Miller since he first caught my attention late last year.

ACT I: The Monrovia Deal

Throughout 2006, the LA Times documented the sordid dealings of Rep. Gary Miller. Miller, a developer, bought property in Monrovia which he claimed the city took from him through eminent domain (which they didn't, he just said that so he could shield the $10 million sale from capital gains taxes), paid himself $25,000 in rent from his campaign funds to run a re-election office on the site, even though he was running unopposed, and tried to appoint a Monrovia city councilman to the National Park Service Advisory Board as a kind of bribe to get the city to buy that property.

This led to yet another member of our distinguished House GOP delegation here in California becoming the subject of an FBI investigation:

Following reports and complaints of fishy land deals, the Feds have been investigating Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), making him the 20th member of the 109th Congress to fall under federal scrutiny.

Miller, a real estate developer by trade, came to the attention of the FBI when a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group complained last summer that the congressman hadn't paid taxes on two land deals he was involved in, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports.

In February 2007 Miller dismissed but did not deny that he was under FBI investigation.

Miller said repeatedly that he has always followed legal and ethical guidelines in his real estate deals. He accused both a partisan media and local Democratic officials of impugning his character without regard to fact.

"My reputation is being destroyed," said Miller, 58. "If there is some benefit to me in being a congressman in any of these transactions, please show it to me."

OK, that would be the fact that you sold 165 acres of property in Monrovia and never paid taxes on it. And apparently, there's video of you asking the Monrovia City Council in 2000 to buy the land, when you claimed that the City Council forced you to sell it. In fact, here it is:

That good enough for ya?

ACT II: More Trouble in Rancho Cucamonga

Well, judging from this story from last Christmas Eve in the LA Times, the Monrovia deal was just a warmup compared to his later ones.

You should really go read it in full to appreciate what kind of a slimeball Rep. Miller is, but I'll summarize the highlights (or lowlights). It's almost comical in terms of its cruelty and greediness.

In addition to the Monrovia property, Miller bought some farmland in the foothills around Rancho Cucamonga. It used to be a place where locals would go to chop down Christmas trees for their families. Miller locked up the gate to the farm, and made plans to turn the whole area into a development of 110 McMansions (all 4,000 to 7,000 square feet), which would entail KNOCKING DOWN AN ENTIRE SECTION OF THE HILLSIDE and building a plateau on which to build. You can't even build that many homes in this area, but Miller is trying to get Rancho Cucamonga's municipal government to change the rules for him. This is wildfire country, and any family who would buy a home in this place would be in an incredible amount of danger.

The plan calls for homes ranging in size from 4,000 to 7,000 square feet and in price from $1.6 million to $4 million. With a change in rules, Miller would be able to increase the number of homes allowed by about two-thirds.

"He's talking about cutting off the top of the hillside, covering up a waterfall and moving 1.7 million cubic yards of dirt," said Sandra Maggard, who has a view of the waterfall from her house. "The rules don't allow it, so he's going to get the city to change the rules. Who can fight someone as big as he is?"

She and other opponents of the project have three main concerns.

First, they argue that altering the hillside to that extent will mar its natural beauty and drive out deer, bighorn sheep and other wildlife. They worry that blocking a waterfall and making other changes to the contours of the land will destabilize the hillside and lead to a mudslide. And they fear that the one access road to the property could become jammed if a mudslide or fire occurred, despite assurances by Miller that the plan would include a second emergency access road.

So he's proposing what amounts to a death trap, and tearing down a local landmark (the tree farm) to do it. Some preservationists are trying to get environmental groups to pool some money together to buy Miller out. But here's the thing; there is suspicion that Miller is proposing the worst possible kind of development ON PURPOSE so he can get just such a payout. And there's precedent from Miller for this kind of maneuver.

Residents who live nearby say that Miller is trying to force the city to buy his land by raising the specter of a development that would make the hillside unsafe and unsightly.

"You don't have to be an environmentalist to be angry about this project," said Frank Schiavone, a freelance grant writer for public lands projects. "He has no intention of building on this land. He's deliberately made this project so distasteful that people are bound to push the city to buy it from him. That's what Monrovia did."

Miller's game plan, Schiavone and other critics said, is similar to one he successfully used four years ago in Monrovia, about 25 miles west on the 210 Freeway, where a plan for hillside development met with fierce local opposition. Ultimately, Monrovia citizens voted to tax themselves to buy the property from Miller and preserve it as open space.

How sick is that? Blackmailing municipalities into buying him out of property by threatening to build eyesores and deathtraps on it? And then, falsely claiming that the property was sold through eminent domain so he can build an enormous tax shelter for his windfall?

But you don't have an appreciation for what a shitbag this guy is until you read about how he acquired this property in Rancho Cucamonga in the first place, preying on a family's grief and outright lying about his intentions:

Miller bought the land from Joe and Charlotte Carrari, siblings who had inherited the land from their parents. The Carraris were asking for $3 million.

The Carraris declined to comment, saying that they had signed a confidentiality agreement with Miller.

Charlotte Carrari's daughter, Maria Fernandez, said that Miller told her mother and uncle that he would build a $1-million bridge spanning a drainage ditch on the property and name it after their brother, Barnard Carrari, who had just died, if they would lower their price by $1 million. Still grieving, Fernandez said, they agreed and sold him the land for about $2 million.

Five months later, Miller reported on his congressional financial disclosure statement that the land was worth at least $5 million.

Miller initially told the Carraris he was only going to make modest adjustments to the land and build about 30 homes, Fernandez said. When the family saw his plans for 110 homes — and no bridge named after Barnard Carrari — they were distraught, she said.

"That farm was a family tradition where people went up there and made a day of it," Fernandez said. "And when he broke his word and didn't do all the things he said he would, it just broke our hearts."

There are MORE disgusting revelations in the story, but really, you should take a look for yourself. This guy is not just an example of the culture of corruption in Washington, he's freakin' Mr. Potter.

ACT III: Miller Fights Back

Miller's lawyers have been busy trying to intimidate local governments:

On Thursday, Miller's attorneys served the city of Monrovia with a letter requesting staff "retract or correct any misstatements made to the media or any governmental agencies" with regard to his 2002 sale of 165 acres of hillside land to the city for nearly $11.8 million.

The letter goes on to say that "if misstatements by the city, its officials or staff members persist, then the consequences could result in damages for which the city could be held acountable."

In other words, "I'm a congressman and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

The Monrovia planning commissioner had this to say.

Glen Owens, a Monrovia planning commissioner, said Tuesday an FBI agent questioned him about the chain of events that led up to Miller's land sale to the city.

Owens served on a advisory committee with Miller in the 1990s that was formed to come up with a plan for hillside development. He said he believes Miller did not intend to build on his property at the time of the sale.

"He soon realized that he could probably make more money by selling the land than by developing it," said Owens.

He added, "Gary just knows how to work the system and he is not afraid to push the envelope and that is what he's done. But I don't think he has broken any laws. He's just used bad judgment."

OK, so it's bad judgment to improperly file a form that saves you from paying taxes on a $10 million sale? No, it's bad judgment to claim that a city government was trying to force you to sell the land when it was in fact the opposite way around.

(Incidentally, Gary Miller was selected by his peers to be the top Republican on the subcommittee tasked with investigating banks. Just thought I'd bring that to your attention.)

And there's even some quid pro quo in this deal:

Miller used the proceeds from the Monrovia sale to buy property in Fontana from Lewis Operating Corp., a development company he had done business with before and that had contributed significantly to Miller's congressional campaigns.

In 2006, Lewis gave $8,500 to Miller, who ran for re-election unopposed. In 2004, the company gave him $10,000, making it the third largest contributor to his campaign.

Here's the unintentional irony award:

Miller said he ran for Congress in 1998 because he did not like "what government did to the private sector," particularly with the way it regulates development. Miller, who previously served in the state Assembly and on the Diamond Bar City Council, is a successful real estate developer and businessman.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Miller is the 12th wealthiest member of the House, with a net worth of between $12 million and $51.7 million.

In mid-February, Miller was part of an unusual session in the Republican caucus, where he had to defend his actions to the entire group. It was more evidence that the GOP considers Gary Miller's situation a real problem:

Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) passionately pleaded his innocence before GOP colleagues at a closed-door conference meeting Tuesday, nearly a week after several media outlets reported that the FBI is looking into his land deals.

Miller told colleagues that the press and Democrats had launched a smear campaign against him, singling out The Hill and the Los Angeles Times as perpetrators, as well as a former Democratic mayor of the Southern California city of Monrovia, Lara Larramendi Blakely, who now works for Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), according to GOP sources.

This is standard Republican scandal deflection, blaming the press and the Democrats for one's own sins. That Miller had to employ this tactic to his fellow colleagues is significant. While they won't say it publicly, clearly the Republican leadership understands that corruption scandals had a major impact on costing them their majority. You're not going to see the leadership line up behind corrupt members.

Meanwhile, Miller was getting only tepid support from Minority Leader John Boehner at this meeting, and with the evidence stacking up against him, he's in danger of graduating to the first step of getting booted out of Congress: losing his committee assignments:

Boehner, however, has not indicated whether he will keep Miller in the top GOP spot on the Finance Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel.

“I really don’t think Boehner was suggesting that the books have been closed on any of the cases members are concerned about,” the source close to Boehner continued. “If anything, he was underscoring the leadership’s commitment to staying on top of these matters.”

That's not exactly a vote of confidence.

But the all-time classic maneuver by Miller was this AP piece, quite possibly the lamest story I've ever read (h/t TPM Muckraker). Start the sappy music... now:

Rep. Gary Miller (news, bio, voting record) grew up poor. Even though he's now worth more than $13 million, he says he's still worried about his family's financial security.

So, while federal authorities investigate some of his real estate transactions, he says he'll keep on making deals.

Thirteen million doesn't go far in this go-go world of ours, you see. I mean, just think, his great-grandchildren might have to GO TO WORK!

There's more, if you can stand it...

Miller, a fifth-term Republican representing conservative inland Southern California, said in an interview that he had put his real estate investment activities on hold upon entering politics, only to find that "I was worth less money every year."

"Some people are arguing I shouldn't have the opportunity to make an investment that every other American citizen has an opportunity to make," he said. "I've got kids, I've got grandkids, and it'd be nice, when I get ready to go, when they're older, if I can help them."

Yes, it'd be nice if they could burn $100 bills to light their cigarettes the way I do. It'd be nice if THEY could have an ice sculpture in the shape of a swan for their 14th birthday. It'd be nice if THEY would need a hand-cart for shopping at Barney's instead of just a small bag. I mean, think of my CHILDREN! They've never known how to not be rich!

Miller makes $165,200 a year sitting in Congress, by the way, so he's not exactly destitute even if he had to sell off his developer business tomorrow. That, and the $13 million in the bank.

Here's one of my other favorite lines from the article, where this guy's defender goes, "Hey, it's not like he broke the law, he just stretched it a bit. Until it broke."

To Miller's defenders, the whole controversy amounts to a bum rap.

"Any good businessman's going to push the envelope from time to time," said Frank Williams, executive officer of the Baldy View Chapter of the Building Industry Association in California. "That's part of dealmaking. It's not illegal."

Shorter Frank Williams: Breaking the law is not illegal.

And then there's the coup de grace:

Miller got into politics, he said, because he wanted to do something about government regulation on businesses...

Yeah, eliminate it.

ACT IV: Miller Becomes a Target

With his formidable resources, clearly Miller is not going to go down without a fight. And it appears that the local GOP will stick with him unless and until he is indicted. But the DCCC, the campaign committee for the House, has Miller on their radar screen:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- looking to cement the Dems' majority in the House -- is eyeing a bunch of GOP-held House districts where the incumbents look ready to retire or run for other offices, today's Roll Call reports. The Dems' expectation is that retirements -- or dissatisfaction with being in the minority -- could cause a wave of GOP defections that will leave behind districts that could then be ripe for a Dem pickup, the paper says.

Among the more than two dozen GOPers Dems are watching:

* Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.), who "reportedly is under FBI investigation, which has Democrats dreaming about his Inland Empire-based 42nd district, even though it gave Bush 62 percent of the vote in 2004."

Howie Klein reports that the D-Trip is not like it was when Rahm Emanuel was running the show:

The DCCC under Van Hollen is already looking much more Democratic and much more aggressive. Where Emanuel used discredited Inside-the-Beltway hack consultants to focus on a tiny number of races-- many of which turned out to be astronomically expensive races that Republicans won-- the new DCCC is casting a broader-- and smarter-- net. According to today's Roll Call Van Hollen is looking closely at over 2 dozen Republican-held seats that might be open seats by November '08-- open either due to retirements or indictments. "Given the GOP’s new minority status in the House, Democratic strategists think some veteran Republicans will head into retirement while some younger Members will opt to run for other offices. Democrats also believe that ethics scrapes could force a handful of GOP incumbents from office." [...]

Today was Brandon Hall's first day at the DCCC as Western Regional Director. This guy is smart and a real fighter. I called to congratulate him and all he wanted to do was talk about taking on Ken Calvert and Jerry Lewis, Dave Dreier, Buck McKeon, John Doolittle, Elton Galleghy and Gary Miller. What a dynamo! If Van Hollen hires a whole staff of people like Brandon Hall the DCCC will wind up as useful and productive as the grassroots has always dreamed it would be!

The D-Trip's top-notch Web production and video team used a Freedom of Information Act to obtain the video Miller begging the Monrovia City Council to buy his property. Here that is again.

I can tell you the good news - there IS a movement afoot to have a challenger in this district, unlike in 2006. Miller is not only being watched by the FBI, but by the progressive community, and he will be hard-pressed to escape either.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Getting to Know Us... And Gary Miller!

So what do you know about Gary Miller? What have you heard about his "ethically questionable land deals"? What have you seen about his shady tax breaks? What have you noticed about his earmarks? What do you think about his ethics? What do we really know about Rep. Gary Miller?

This blog is here to raise questions about Gary Miller, his land deals, his voting record, and just how well (or poorly) he's serving the people of the 42nd District. And of course, this blog is also here to answer any and all of YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS. What exactly is Gary Miller doing (or NOT DOING) for you and for your neighborhood? Go ahead and feel free to tell us about it.

Basically, this blog is for the voters of the 42nd District. This is our chance to examine Gary Miller's real record. This is our chance to hold Gary Miller responsible for his actions. This is our chance to make some change. So where do you want to start? : )

{And thanks to Mike's Daily Lockup for the great photo on top! : ) }