Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Miller Playing the Blame Game

(cross-posted at D-Day)

My friends at the D-Trip passed this along to me:

Congressman Gary Miller (R-CA-42), under scrutiny for a shady land deal and introduction of legislation that benefited campaign supporters and business partners, is now attempting to the blame the cities and counties he represents for his legal and ethical problems.

In a letter sent to newspapers in his district, Gary Miller stated that he was implementing a new office policy: cities and counties seeking federal funding must submit documentation stating that the community would be the sole beneficiary of the project.

This is positively Orwellian. Miller brokers all sorts of side deals with cities and counties in his district which end up personally benefiting him. Then, when he gets caught, he tries to blame the cities and counties which were forced to play ball with him in the first place. Miller forced the city of Monrovia to sell his parcel of land and then claimed eminent domain status to save himself millions in taxes. Changing office policy won't impact that in the least. The cities aren't the problem - Miller is.

More from the Whittier Daily News:

Reacting to what he calls "unfounded allegations in the press that I have used my office to benefit certain individuals or private business," Rep. Gary Miller said Thursday he has adopted a strict new rule for cities or counties who come to him seeking federal aid.

"From this point forward," he wrote in a letter to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, "any city or county submitting an appropriations request to my office will be required to certify in writing that the request is for the benefit of the community and not the specific benefit of any individual, organization or business entity."

In early 2005, the San Dimas Republican recommended adding three provisions to a transportation bill that would have benefited projects proposed by real estate developer Lewis Operating Corp.

In those same months, Miller, who ran for re-election unopposed, took $8,100 in campaign contributions from top executives at Lewis.

How dare these cities and counties force Miller to enrich his friends! I'm sure this new directive will put a stop to that!

This is my favorite part:

"To avoid even the appearance of impropriety," he wrote, "I have added this new certification requirement to the rigorous review process that is already in place in my office.

"If you have any suggestions as to how these certification requirements might be strengthened or improved, I would certainly appreciate your thoughts."

Who wants to send him some ideas?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Again with the “illegal hero” thing

(via Gila Jones. Cross-posted at The Liberal OC.)

In his weekly newsletter, FBI investigation subject and OC Congressman Gary Miller (R-Sleaze) writes,

“Currently, babies born on U.S. soil to illegal aliens automatically become U.S. citizens. Congressman Miller has joined more than 40 of his colleagues in again cosponsoring the Birthright Citizenship Act, which would deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or legal permanent resident aliens. Specifically, this bill requires a child to have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a legal permanent resident alien, or an alien performing active service in our armed forces in order to gain birthright citizenship.”

So once again we have a Republican who doesn’t think we should “reward” illegal entrants with amnesty, but takes the opposite approach for those willing to enlist in the service. Legally, however, only citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) can join our military. To enlist without meeting this criterion requires the commission of a fraud. Is Miller saying fraud should be sanctioned and rewarded?

And if Miller agrees with those who assert illegal immigrants are horrible people who we should harass, shout at, and deport immediately, why does he advocate accepting them in our military and allowing their children citizenship?

There are other problems with Miller’s proposal. It’s likely to cause pregnant women who are illegal immigrants to lie about who their babies’ fathers are, and possibly create a cottage industry of men who will willingly claim fatherhood for a small fee. And what happens to abandoned infants whose parentage is unknown?

Furthermore, Miller’s proposal doesn’t address the issue of refugees and others who are in the U.S. legally but are not permanent residents. There are a large variety of legal immigration statuses, and “permanent resident” is only one.

But most tragically, the “Birthright Citizenship Act” will worsen a problem the UN’s High Commissioner on Human Rights has been working on for decades: Statelessness.

The practice of conferring citizenship on native-born individuals, regardless of their parentage, is not universal. However, many of the countries who don’t follow this practice are those with a generally poor attitude toward civil and human rights. Among these are North Korea, Jordan, China, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Bahrain, Cambodia, Egypt, Serbia, Iran, Armenia, Liberia, Croatia, Syria, South Africa, Vietnam, and Bulgaria.

Who among us wants this country to be associated with the practices of those on the above list?

I guess Gary Miller does.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Doesn't Gary Miller Want to End This War?

How many of you get the "Capitol Connection"? It's Gary Miller's weekly newsletter. You can sign up to have it delivered in your email inbox every Friday at Gary Miller's official Congressional web site.

But anyways, in his latest newsletter Miller tries to explain his latest vote to continue George W. Bush's failed war in Iraq through the summer:

After more than a hundred days of delay, the House on Thursday finally passed a responsible troop funding bill to meet the needs of our men and women in uniform. The measure funds ongoing combat operations in the War on Terror and protects members of our military from harm by providing added funds for body armor and mine resistant vehicles. Congressman Miller was proud to support this bill because, unlike previous legislation, it does not tie the hands of our commanders on the ground or set a date for surrender. Following passage by the Senate, the bill now heads to the President’s desk where it is expected to be signed into law shortly.

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Meet the needs of our men and women in uniform? Added funds for body armor and mine resistant vehicles? Tie the hands of commanders on the ground? Bush didn't provide for ANY of that until the Democrats in Congress offered legislation that fully supported the troops. But of course, Bush could not sign that legislation because that legislation also included provisions that would redeploy our troops out of Bush's failed war in Iraq and refocus our resources on actually combating terrorism.

Bush's stubbornness, which was enabled by members of Congress like Gary Miller who sustained Bush's veto of this important legislation, has resulted in this final legislation. And while it does provide for better equipment for our troops than Bush initially wanted, it still keeps them stuck in the midst of a civil war that our troops shouldn't be involved in. Thanks to Miller and all his colleagues who sustained Bush's veto, more of our brave soldiers will be dying for a failed state that George Bush created.

So why doesn't Gary Miller want to end this war? Why does he want to waste more of our tax dollars on George Bush's misguided attempt to promote "democracy" on the Middle East by gunpoint? Why does he want any more of our brave troops to die for a cause that we can't even determine any more? Why doesn't Gary Miller want to end this war?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Why Care About Corruption?

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

OK, so perhaps people in Southern California are finally starting to notice the immense corruption of members of Congress like Gary Miller, Ken Calvert, and Dana Rohrabacher. However, these everyday citizens and typical voters wonder how all this corruption applies to their typical everyday lives.

Why should they care about whatever Gary Miller did with some Lewis Group company in Upland? Why should they care about some land that Ken Calvert owned near March Air Force Base that just happened to benefit from Ken Calvert's earmarks? Why should they care about Dana Rohrabacher's Hollywood deals? How does any of this matter to people's everyday lives?

When all else fails, voters often choose the party of their choice by default. And though the Republican Party is becoming less attractive nationwide, a good plurality of voters in this area still identify themselves as Republican. They still think the GOP is the party of low taxes and fiscal responsibility. They pretty much set their political compass to autopilot, and they just don't have time to think too much about some silly politics in Washington.

And after all, who has the time to pay attention to these crazy political scandals? Who has time to drop everything in between the PTA meeting and the kids' soccer game, after a hard day of work and before that fancy dinner that's supposed to impress the new client, just to learn more about politics? Why does any of this matter?

That's the challenge here. In order for us to defeat these corrupt Republicans, we have to get our family, friends, and neighbors to realize how all of this corruption is personally affecting them. We have to let them know that all these earmarks that go to these pet projects that just happen to be near their real estate holdings mean money that's NOT being spent on real efforts to relieve traffic, such as improving local freeways and federal aid for commuter rail. We have to let them know that when these members of Congress try to weaken environmental laws, they are just taking away the parks and open space that we all love to hike through, bike through, and camp at, just so that they can make a little more money on their development projects. We have to make that personal connection, and make these folks realize that all that corruption in Washington really is making life more difficult for them at home in Fountain Valley and Mission Viejo and San Clemente.

That's the key here. We have to show to them that all this federal money being spent on these shady earmarks is money that's NOT being spent on the things that we care about. That money should go to our schools. That money should go to our parks. That money should go to our roads. Basically, that money should actually be spent toward helping our communities. These members of Congress should NOT spend that money, OUR MONEY, on projects solely meant to enrich themselves. They're wasting our time, and they're wasting our money. That's why we need to kick them out of Congress!

If we want to defeat Dirty Gary and Crazy Dana and Creepy Ken next year, we need to get these voters in these districts out of their comfort zone of apathy, and force them to see the futility of sending these scumbags back to Congress. We need to get these voters to start caring again. After all, what we don't like about politics will never go away if we never do anything to change it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's Award Season!

So when you rip off city governments and the IRS, threaten to destroy neighborhoods to blackmail them into paying you off, and generally run roughshod over the laws governing fair business practices in this country, what does that get you? An award, of course!

MILLER HONORED: The National Association of Manufacturers has given its Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence to Rep. Gary Miller, R-Brea.

The award, which was presented by a delegation of property managers visiting from Orange County, recognized Miller's efforts to provide tax relief for small businesses, reduce regulatory barriers to community development, and bolster the nation's housing market.

Yes, if there's ANYTHING that's bolstered the nation's housing market, a bubble now bursting at a real estate office near you, it's Republican policies.

Who are the National Association of Manufacturers, by the way? A right-wing lobbying outfit headed by former Michigan Governor John Engler. NAM's executive vice president is a guy named Michael Baroody, who the President wants to make the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That's right - a guy who helps run a lobbying group for manufacturers is going to be put in charge of regulating product safety for manufacturers! That's life in Brownie's America! And then there's this:

Amid growing scrutiny of the government's consumer safety record, lawmakers are focusing their fire on President Bush's nominee to run the Consumer Product Safety Commission: A Washington-based lobbyist for the nation's biggest manufacturers' association, whose members produce many of the items the commission regulates.

That criticism intensified Wednesday with news that Michael Baroody, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, will collect $150,000 in severance pay from the association if he accepts the new government regulatory post.

That is not a bribe and how dare you think so.

So this is the "ethically pure" organization that sees fit to give a corrupt sleazebag like Gary Miller an award. Birds of a feather...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

How to Turn This "Red District" Blue

Why should we be going after Gary Miller? Why should we bother with Dana Rohrabacher? Why should we be investing in building Democratic infrastructure in such "hopelessly red places" like South Orange County? Why should we be growing the progressive grassroots in such "strongly Republican towns" as Yorba Linda and Huntington Beach? Why should we even be talking about organizing in such "red counties" as Orange County?

Perhaps we should be organizing in these "red counties" because they are not actually as "hopelessly Republican" as we think they are. Perhaps we should take a second look at these red areas because they are fast turning purple, and have the potential to turn blue. Perhaps we should look at these areas because their populations are growing as the populations of such "safe blue areas" as San Francisco and Los Angeles are stagnating. Perhaps we should do something in these "red areas" because these regions are the key to keeping California blue.

So what can we do?

How about conversing with voters about environmental protection instead of talking down to them about it? Perhaps instead of simply lecturing voters in these regions on why we must protect our environment, talk with them about how environmental protection enhances our quality of life. Talk about preserving all those lovely ocean views, and about how a balanced climate is ultimately good for business. Believe me, people will listen. Huntington Beach has signed onto the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement. Brea has embraced the principles of "smart growth". And of course, Laguna Beach has always been a leader on environmental preservation. People here do value their quality of life. They appreciate clean beaches, clean water, pretty parks, and plenty of open space... And so do Democrats. We can make a connection here.

How about talking with voters about government's duty to protect the public good, and NOT to meddle in people's private lives? Many so-called "conservatives" in places like Orange County are really libertarian-minded people who just don't want government making decisions regarding their personal lives. Look at all the places in Orange County where Prop 85 lost. Many people here really are pro-choice, and they don't appreciate government involving itself in women's private medical decisions. People here really don't mind the gay and lesbian couples living in the neighborhood. However, they DO MIND government snooping in people's sex lives. People here appreciate safe neighborhoods, but they don't appreciate government searching their homes and businesses without any court warrant. People here want government to focus on such basic matters as keeping the neighborhoods safe, paving the roads, and beautifying the parks. They don't want government to intrude upon private personal matters. People in these "red counties" value freedom and civil liberties, and so do Democrats. We can make a connection here.

How about talking to voters about how tough it is for small businesses to make it these days? There are many small business owners in "red counties" like Orange County, and there are many things on their minds. These folks are concerned about providing health care for their workers, and they are concerned about their own health care. These folks are concerned about big-box stores like Wal-Mart moving into the community, and they don't know if they can compete with these big box stores and all their government subsidies. They are wondering how to stay competitive in such a tough business environment. These small business owners are concerned, and so are Democrats.

So why can't we connect better? Well, we haven't really tried before. Our state and national parties have never really bothered before to take another look at the "red counties", and see the purple inside. All too often, many Democratic leaders would rather just ignore places like Orange County while they continue to chase after a narrower and narrower set of "swing voters" in "swing regions". Well, how about expnading our base for once? How about investing in new areas, like Orange County, the Inland Empire, and San Diego County, where there are new opportunities for Democrats. Times are changing, and so are these communities. Let's start working here, and perhaps we change these corners of the map from red to blue. : )

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Why We Fight

Some people have wondered why we would focus on a Republicrook Congressman in the heart of red California, a district with a +13 PVI (Partisan Voting Index). Let me give you a textbook, big-picture example that shows you how everything is connected in politics, and that progressives can leave no voter behind.

Gary Miller faced no opposition in 2006. Despite that, he managed to rack up some campaign expenditures. Of course, a lot of them were for other campaigns.

Miller's expenditures are listed at OpenSecrets, and you can see that he spent his money enriching the coffers of Republican candidates in close races all over the country. He didn't need the ill-begotten money for himself, so he gave it to his most endangered colleagues. A list:

Anne Northrup $1,000
Barbara Cubin $1,000
Deborah Pryce $1,000
Dave Reichert $1,000
Geoff Davis $1,000
JD Hayworth $1,000
Jim Gerlach $1,000
Keith Butler (MI Senate challenger) $1,000
Joe Knollenberg $2,000
Mary Bono $1,000
Mike Fitzpatrick $1,000
Mike Sodrel $1,000
Rob Simmons $1,000
Thelma Drake $1,000

That's 14 candidates to the tune of $15,000. A lot of those Republicans lost, but the recipient of the biggest expenditure from Miller's campaign was the NRCC, the committee dedicated to re-electing Congressional Republicans, which sent mailers and put up attack ads and made robocalls all over the country. They benefited from $112,000 from one Gary Miller. All of the sleazy developer money he's received over the years helped re-elect some of the worst Congressmen in the country by the skin of their teeth. That's $112,000 we wouldn't be likely to see in the NRCC's coffers if Miller were actually challenged and forced to run a campaign.

Here are some other interesting expenditures:

Signatures (Jack Abramoff's restaurant) $1,550
GMiller Development $43,306
Cathleen Miller $2,632
Gary Miller $5,743

Those last three total over $50,000 in campaign funds. Did they in fact go to Gary Miller and his wife and his business?

Here's the point. There is not an unlimited amount of money for Republican candidates out there. It may seem like it sometimes, but there isn't. When every race is challenged, incumbents can no longer expect their colleagues to shower them with gifts in the form of campaign dollars. That is why you run a 435-district strategy. And that is why you try and get rid of an obviously corrupt Congressman like Gary Miller, no matter what district he's from.

Just When You Thought Gary Miller Couldn't Get Any Dirtier...

(cross-posted from Calitics with author permission)

In 2005, Rep. Gary Miller was the only California Republican on the House panel that shaped the 2005 transportation bill. It would be expected, therefore, that Miller would do everything he could to maximize the amount of money the bill steered to California. But The Hill newspaper is reporting that several of the earmarks he attained benefitted not just his state, but were also quite a boon to his business partner and top campaign donor Lewis Operating Corp.

So how tight are Miller and Lewis Operating exactly? Well, how much time do you have?

The year before the transportation bill passed, Miller borrowed $7.5 million from Lewis Operating to purchase land from it. Lewis Operating Corp. is also one of Miller's top campaign contributors; employees of the company have donated $22,150 to Miller's campaign committee since his election to Congress in 1998.

Miller also has partnered or been involved with a number of real-estate transactions with the company in the past five years, making $1.1 million to $6 million in profits from deals involving Lewis Operating in some part of the transaction, according to the lawmaker's financial disclosure reports.

In addition, you'll recall the infamous 2002 Monrovia deal that has piqued the FBI's interest. Well guess who else was involved.

[Miller] has faced scrutiny for avoiding paying capital gains taxes on the land by telling the IRS that the city had threatened to seize the land through eminent domain, and subsequently reinvesting the profit into land purchased from Lewis Operating.

Now check out the ridiculously long list of ways in which Lewis Operating benefitted from the 2005 transportation bill.

• Miller helped secure several earmarks for the town of Fontana, where he has recently bought land owned by Lewis Operating and sold it to the city's redevelopment agency. Fontana also is home to one of Lewis Operating's largest planned communities, Sierra Lakes, encompassing 700 acres that includes 1,850 homes surrounding an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, a 62-acre shopping center and a 20-acre park.

• Sierra Lakes is just over a mile away from the former Rialto Municipal Airport, which Miller helped close through a provision in the same transportation bill, the first time an airport was closed by an act of Congress. Before the provision closed the airport, the city of Rialto - where the airport is located - already had granted Lewis Operating an exclusive agreement to develop the airport land into Renaissance, a community consisting of 2,500 homes, parks and 80 acres of retail space on the former airport property and adjacent land.

• $6.8 million for Pine Avenue extension from Route 71 to Euclid Ave. in the city of Chino. The extension is less than a mile from the Preserve, a Lewis Operating planned community, and less than two miles from Parkside, another Lewis Operating planned community.

• $1.2 million to establish an Interstate 15 interchange at Nisqualli and Mojave River Crossing in Victorville, Calif. The interchange is about a half a mile from Parkview, a Lewis Operating planned community.

• $400,000 to widen and realign U.S. 395 in the city of Hesperia. Lewis Operating lists The Promontory as one of its planned communities on its website. A city official said the company has not submitted a formal application for the project.

What does Lewis Operating have to say for itself?

In a written statement, Randall Lewis, the executive vice president for Lewis Operating Corp., defended the company's relationship with Miller and other government officials: "For three generations, Lewis Group has been committed to acting according to the highest and strictest ethical standards."

Yeah right. If that were true, you wouldn't be joined at the hip with Dirty Gary, would ya now?

And as for Miller...

A spokesmen for Miller did not return a call seeking comment.

Gee, shocker.

Miller is feeling the heat and this Hill article just further solidifies the momentum developing against him. As Andrew wrote at Trash Dirty Gary, there was a good amount of buzz about this race down in San Diego. As more reports of Milller's corruption are brought to light, the more the DCCC is likely to invest in an emerging people-powered candidate to turn this particular red district of CA blue.

No, gets worse.

I know that doesn't seem possible--I really do. But it is. From The Hill:

Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) helped secure several earmarks in the 2005 transportation bill that would benefit projects of his business partner, Lewis Operating, according to House sources and an analysis of the bill’s earmarks and San Bernardino County, Calif., land records.

In the years leading up to the bill’s passage, Miller’s financial ties to the company, one of the largest privately held real-estate development companies in the country, have grown. The year before the transportation bill passed, Miller borrowed $7.5 million from Lewis Operating to purchase land from it. Lewis Operating Corp. is also one of Miller’s top campaign contributors; employees of the company have donated $22,150 to Miller’s campaign committee since his election to Congress in 1998.

It just gets worse and worse. To make a long story short, Miller specifically earmarked federal money for highway expansion projects in areas of the Inland Empire that, it turns out, will end up serving planned development projects of Lewis Operating--the company in which he reinvested his millions of dollars worth of profit from the land sale in Monrovia which he falsely claimed was due to eminent domain so he could avoid paying capital gains taxes on it.

The corruption in CA-42 knows no limits.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

We Have the Buzz... But Do We Have the Candidate?

There seemed to be plenty of buzz about taking down Dirty Gary Miller at the Democratic Convention in San Diego this past weekend. California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres specifically mentioned Miller and the 42nd as one of the party's targets for 2008. Activists from throughout Southern California seemed energized at the prospect of taking out one of the sleaziest members left in Congress. At this point, even the DCCC is noticing just how vulnerable Gary Miller has made himself. Everything seems to be falling in place for the perfect storm to rock Dirty Gary's world...

Including a strong candidate to take him on next year? Follow me down below for more on what I've been hearing about one good candidate who may be ready to knock the socks off of Dirty Gary...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Remember when Art Pedroza dropped this juicy tidbit in his "Chismes" column in Orange Juice about two weeks ago?

Last but not least, I hear that a very successful aerospace engineer is going to run against corrupt Reep Congressman Gary Miller. Talk about ending on a positive note!

Well, apparently there were sightings of this mysterious candidate at the convention over the weekend. And many folks were excited about possibly finding a good candidate to take on the not-so-good Congressman. Oh yes, people are really starting to take notice of what's happening in the 42nd. And I guess now that this successful aerospace engineer from Orange County might be stepping in to take on Gary Miller, this race might finally be taken seriously.

Let's face it: Dirty Gary doesn't serve us anymore. He's just serving himself at our expense. He's using and abusing his position to enrich himself, and that doesn't help us when we need someone who will work for practical solutions to end this failed war in Iraq, balance the federal budget, fix our traffic woes on our freeways, and protect the open space that makes living in the 42nd so darn enjoyable. We're just thirsting for real change, and perhaps this "mystery candidate" might be the right person to serve us in Congress.

I guess before I jump to conclusions about this "mystery candidate", there are some things that I need to know. Will this person reach out and work with local community activists to fight for what's best for our neighborhoods? Will this person have what it takes to fight back against Dirty Gary and his very loaded campaign war chest? Will this person be able to truly connect with ALL THE VOTERS in the district, from La Habra Heights to Chino Hills to Rancho Santa Margarita? And finally, will this "mystery candidate" truly work for us, and not just a few special interests?

If this "mystery candidate" can answer these questions to our satisfaction, then maybe we should pay more attention to this individual. : )