Friday, August 29, 2008

Carney's 2-to-1 lead

Chris Carney put out a press release yesterday trumpeting the results of a recent Momentum Analysis poll.

The Momentum Analysis poll showed Carney with a dominant 2-to-1 lead over Hackett (54% to 27%)

Said campaign manger Vince Rongione, "These polls confirm what we already know. Congressman Carney has very strong support across party lines and across the district. We will continue to fight for every vote and focus on the issues that really matter, but it is very encouraging to see that our positive message is connecting with voters in every corner of Northeast and Central Pennsylvania."

The Momentum Analysis poll, however, stands in stark contrast with the Survey USA Poll that announced a statistical dead heat between the Carney and Hackett.

Several things to note about this Momentum Analysis poll:
  1. The polling data that Chris Carney is using to demonstrate his 2-to-1 lead over Chris Hackett comes from Momentum Analysis which is a self-identified liberal-leaning
    organization. According to its own mission statement, Momentum Analysis helps "forward Democratic and progressive causes."
  2. Margie Omero, who serves at the President of Momentum, worked for Chris Carney in 2006 campaign to unseat Don Sherwood.
  3. The Momentum Analysis survey is less statistically sound than the Survey USA poll. The sample size in the Momentum Analysis poll is only two-thirds of what the Survey USA poll was and a much larger margin of error.
  4. While this poll may not be credible on its own, the latest poll from Momentum Analysis could serve as a comparison to a poll they took of the district in January. These two snapshots demonstrate that Carney's disapproval rating has increased, his approval rating has decreased, and the race has tightened.
    • In January, Carney had a 58% approval rating (12% disapproval rating) with a 55% to 21% lead over Chris Hackett.
    • Now in August, Carney received a 53% approval rating (18% disapproval rating) with a 54% to 27% lead over Chris Hackett.
On the whole, it's very difficult to compare these two polls. Obviously, reasons #1, #2, and #3 above tend to render the Momentum Analysis less accurate. As Hackett campaign manger Mark Harris stated, "Carney can make up any numbers he wants. The independent polling is far more credible."

In addition, Survey USA has a strong reputation for it's accuracy:
"SurveyUSA, which pioneered these polls, has an impressive record for accuracy. The company ranks second among more than 30 pollsters rated by Mr. Silver. Its own report card shows it ranking at or near the top in predictive power for recent national election cycles."
If I were a betting man, I would wager the situation in the 10th District currently looks more like the Survey USA poll (Carney 49%- Hackett 45% ) than the Momentum Analysis poll posits.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hackett's Day

Yesterday, Chris Hackett received some statistical support and some closure from his rough primary fight with Dan Meuser.

The first poll out of the 10th District shows a statistical dead heat between Chris Carney and Hackett.

The poll from Survey USA conducted for Roll Call magazine sampled 623 likely voters and found that Carney (49%) lead Hackett (45%) by only 4%--within the margin of error (4%).

Breaking down the results further:

Favorable -- 40%
Unfavorable -- 23%
Neutral --30%
No Opinion -- 7%

Favorable -- 36%
Unfavorable -- 23%
Neutral -- 31%
No Opinion -- 10%

Also from the survey, the most important issue to voters in the district was the economy (40%) with gasoline coming in a distant second (14%).

The survey did analyze the gasoline issue further. Most believe the oil companies are to blame (40%) followed by Congress (13%) and foreign governments (11%). Furthermore, the sampled voters stated alternative sources of energy (54%) provide the best answer to solve the problem with offshore drilling receiving 36% .

Obviously, this is a big liability for Chris Hackett. Carney has been trying very hard to tie Hackett to the big oil companies. Either through Hackett's personal investments in the sector or his energy policies which are perceived to benefit the bottom line of oil companies, the Carney camp has been pushing the issue into the laps of voters.

On the other hand, the fact that voters blame Congress more than the President could be a sign that voters are impressionable to the idea that some blame can be laid at the feet of Carney.

Overall, the Hackett camp interpreted the poll to mean that they were neutralizing Carney's incumbency advantage and closing in.

Said campaign manger Mark Harris, "We’re very pleased. After more than a month of TV ads trying to promote his paper-thin record in Congress, Chris Carney is still being rejected by voters. We fully expect Carney and his liberal Washington allies to ramp up their negative message now."

One other noticeable problem for Hackett is the fact that he only received a 52% favorable rating from Republicans in the district. Most of this, I would hypothesize, still stems from the Meuser-Hackett primary feud.

However, Dan Meuser did voice his support for Hackett yesterday by offering a formal endorsement. Meuser said, "I will always support good Republicans for office. In a choice between Chris Carney and a conservative Republican, I will always choose the conservative Republican."

It will be interesting to see whether Meuser actively campaigns for Hackett in the coming months. Encouraging his supporters to get involved for Hackett would be a good first step in demonstrating the unity between the two and driving up Hackett's favorability among Republicans.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tour De 10th District

You have to hand it to Chris Hackett for being creative with his new campaign tour of the 10th District. Either that or the cost of gasoline is beginning to affect the Hackett campaign's bottom line.

Apparently, Hackett is an avid cyclist and decided to work it into his quest for Congress. He and his wife Ramah--at points on separate bikes and at others on a tandem Trek bike--will be looking to speak with voters in all thirteen counties.

Hackett is planning to hit 20 stops on the tour and kicked it off yesterday by visiting Tick Tocks in Honesdale where he had lunch with local officials.

It seems point along the journey are evening sparking further discussion in the debate between he and Chris Carney. From the Times Leader:
Riding west on Route 6 between Honesdale and Carbondale, Hackett passes within a mile of the Waymart Wind Farm, a rare symbol of agreement between the GOP challenger and his Democrat opponent.
Be sure to catch Chris Hackett's Cervelo tour when it comes to an area near you:
  • Today: Forest City, Montrose and Tunkhannock
  • Wednesday: Wyalusing, Towanda and Sayre
  • Thursday: Dushore, Forksville, Kreamer, Selinsgrove and Williamsport
  • Friday: Danville, Shamokin and Sunbury

Friday, August 22, 2008

Debate Analysis

This whole blowup between the Hackett and Carney camps over the debate schedule is relatively fascinating.

It seemed pretty obvious from the beginning that Carney wasn't into debating Hackett. Even early last month after Hackett proposed his format for eight debates, the October 30th debate was already scheduled and the Carney campaign seemed lukewarm at best towards the notion of entertaining more debates. Carney spokeswoman Rebbecca Gale even addressed Hackett like a little child saying, "If he’d behave himself, perhaps we’d discuss more debates."

Then, the Hackett campaign essentially tried to smoke Carney out from hiding. They seemed to believe calling him a liberal debate dodger enough times would force Carney above ground. While that did keep the debate issue simmering, I'm sure at the end of the day there wasn't enough of an incentive for Carney to accommodate the added political risk.

There should be more debates between these two candidates, but I think at the end of the day the reason we are not seeing more between the two candidates is because the debate schedule became a campaign issue rather than a scheduling formality.

After the initial challenge to eight debates, Hackett began beating this issue like a drum (see here, here, and here). It seemed to be one area where the Hackett campaign thought they got some traction. There was even a big campaign point made about Carney possibly agreeing to a second debate and a sense of vindication emerged which drove the issue further into political territory.

It could be a matter of micro-analyzing the situation, but allowing Hackett to have more debates could have been viewed in the Carney camp as handing him an early political victory (not to mention the needed publicity it could have given Hackett).
Yesterday's reaction by Mark Harris essentially proved how important the issue was to the campaign.

One thing that is for certain, we haven't heard the last from the Hackett campaign regarding Chris Carney's failure to defend his record in public debates.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Debate

It looks like the debate schedule for the 10th District has finally been ironed out with an unfortunate outcome for the Chris Hackett campaign.

You'll remember that Hackett challenged Chris Carney to eight debates, but the Times Leader announced this afternoon that Carney and Hackett will face off in only one debate.

The one-hour debate will occur one week before the general election and be simulcast on WVIA-TV and Pennsylvania Cable News Network.

Hackett campaign manger Mark Harris responded by saying, "Chris Carney obviously thinks he’s a Washington big shot now. First he abandoned his promise to represent Pennsylvania values by voting with Nancy Pelosi and the liberals 90 percent of the time. Now he refuses to even show enough respect for voters to defend his record in open and honest debates. Carney is a sorry excuse for a congressman, trying to win an election behind negative attacks instead of debates."

Chris Hackett might spend more time speaking at the Republican National Convention than he will in his debate with Chris Carney.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Video Overload

Chris Carney will be receiving some TV competition as Chris Hackett introduced his first two ads of the general election cycle. Both Carney and Hackett unveiled two new spots which will be up and running soon.

While Carney has an $880,000 cash advantage, the NRCC helped Hackett purchase time for the spot which marked their first congressional ad involvement in Pennsylvania.

All the ads essentially cover the same territory: oil prices, energy solutions, ending corporate handouts, etc. Hackett's "Plan" ad is slightly different and seeks to emphasize his Declaration of Principles that he published earlier in the year.

For your viewing pleasure (in alphabetical order):

Chris Carney -- "Made In America"

Chris Carney -- "Oil Shock"

Chris Hackett -- "New Direction"

Chris Hackett -- "Plan"

In addition to Hackett's ads, the campaign also put out a press release calling into question the accuracy of Carney's ads by claiming two Carneys exist: a "Campaign Carney" and a "Washington Carney".

The Carney campaign tried to throw the hypocrite label at Hackett as campaign spokesman Vince Rongione said, "Our opponent always says one thing and does another. Displaying an almost pathological inability to tell the truth. He runs against Washington insiders and then has them fund his TV advertising."

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Master Triangulator

The Wall Street Journal had an article in today's paper discussing the abandonment Chris Carney is experiencing from his own party as the liberal Democrats seek to turn their back on him.

As the piece points out, liberal Democrats were able to stomach Carney in 2006 for a couple reasons. First, the most important priority for the Democrats was regaining the majority in Congress. Therefore, the liberals saw Carney as an advancement towards that end. Second, several argue that Carney disguised his commitment to progressive ideas when he ran for office. In order to win the election, Carney would appear as a moderate in order to provide an acceptable alternative to Sherwood. However, after getting into Congress, Carney has moved away from those liberal groups whose support he relied upon in 2006.

2008 is a much different year for Democrats because they are likely to increase their majority which enables them to eliminate--or at least threaten to eliminate--some of those moderate Democrats now viewed as turncoats.

While not endorsing Hackett, Glenn Greenwald told the WSJ, "Our goal is to attach a real price to the type of things Chris Carney is doing. If that means he ends up losing, then so be it. I would rather see a smaller majority but fewer Blue Dogs than a big majority with the Blue Dogs in charge."

These liberal groups have been voicing their disdain for Carney over the past year and have targeted him with TV and print ads. However, it is likely they will intensify this campaign.
Blue America alone is expected to spend $100,000 on Carney during the months in September and October. In addition, a recent "Moneybomb" aimed at Carney from the Accountability Now PAC was able to raise $150,000 in 24-hours. Not necessarily the $1 million the group had in mind, but still admirable given the scope of the target.

Ironically, Carney has not had the fortune of being too conservative for the likes of his opponent, Chris Hackett. Hackett has continually invoked the word liberal when referring to Carney and grouped him in with the Pelosi Democrats. The last three press releases alone from the Hackett camp have included the word "Liberal" and "Carney" in the release's title. This has obviously been a significant part of the Hackett campaign's message.

Two completely different strategies for attacking Carney.

Eroding Base

Good article from the Associated Press this morning regarding the Republicans and their fight to hold rural voters in November.

It seems rather obvious to many observers that Republicans will carry these voters in the upcoming election, but tough economic times over the last four years combined with a declining standard of living in some of these rural parts have caused pundits to question how strong that support will be this election season.

The article makes note of the fact that Bush won 60% of rural voters in the last election cycle. While early polling this election still highlights a McCain lead in rural voters, the margin has tightened. Obviously in such a close election, Republicans can't bleed votes in this bedrock category.

Certainly, the economy will be a powerful issue this fall, but it won't exist in a vacuum for most voters. Other social issues could help to stabilize this demographic. Yet, even if Obama is able to make inroads with this group (as he's already started a "Barns for Obama" campaign in Ohio), it may not necessarily motivate people to vote for him. Rather, it could just cause rural voters to stay home which would equally erode McCain's projected base.

Nationally, the importance of connecting with rural voters is significant because in battleground states across the country they represent anywhere from 10% to 20% of the electorate. Reaching out to these voters needs to become an important component of McCain's strategy if he's going to have success.

That's a point Terry Madonna also concedes: "McCain will have problems getting a high turnout among those voters unless he finds some way to identify with them, some way to make them think that, A, he’s not connected to Bush, and B, his economic plan is superior to Obama’s."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Obama Uses Carney Tactic

Barack Obama took a page out of Chris Carney's political play book by announcing his own "Republicans for Obama."

The group emerged yesterday and sought to emphasize Obama's "bipartisan appeal." Most of these supporters have already endorsed Obama publicly, but by rounding up all the Obamaicans into one group with some marketable apparel, the campaign hopes to attract disenchanted Republicans.

Former Congressman Jim Leach and former Senator Lincoln Chaffee along with a former GOP fundraiser who endorsed John Kerry in '04, Rita Hauser, led the way on the announcement of the new group.

The biggest news concerning the group was that Chuck Hagel has not joined the group and was not part of the opening ceremony. There is no word yet on who Hagel plans to endorse let alone whether he plans to join the Republicans for Obama.

The move by Obama seeks to neutralize McCain's campaign for the center and recent ad which sought to contrast the previous words of praise from Democratic bigwigs (Kerry, Biden, Obama) with their current reversals.

Barletta's First Television Ad

Lou Barletta paid for his first television time of the campaign season and will begin airing his new campaign ad today.

The ad is essentially the same piece that was put out in his first internet ad almost two months ago. However, the TV version is chopped down to 30 seconds with the tag line "I'm Lou Barletta and I approved this message" added to the end.

Barletta spent close to $50,000 to have the commercial aired 174 times on the four local networks: WNEP, WYOU, WBRE, & WOLF. Rep. Paul Kanjorski has already been up on television with a variety of spots.

Also up on Barletta's YouTube site was another just released Internet ad in which Barletta responds to Kanjorski's negative attacks and repeats his call for a change of leadership.

The brand-new Pindell Report from called the race a "Toss-Up" and ranked it at the seventh most competitive race in the country. Ed Mitchell from the Kanjorski camp denied the report was of an significance and claimed, "We’ve got Barletta on the run and that will be more evident in the next few days."

Other well regarded Pennsylvania pundits like Terry Madonna have resisted the urge to call the Barletta-Kanjorski campaign a "Toss-Up" due to Kanjorski's long record in the district.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Slow Start

While scanning through some of the media this morning, I noticed an editorial in yesterday's Daily Item regarding the slow start to the congressional race in the 10th District.

They argue that the 10th District race has yet to "heat up" largely due to Chris Hackett's low profile:
Carney's Republican challenger, Chris Hackett, has kept a low profile since upsetting Dan Meuser to win the GOP nomination. Hackett may be working behind the scenes to mend fences with party leaders who had worked against him in the primary, but his public appearances have been few and far between. Hackett campaigned aggressively to win the party nomination, and he may feel that a prolonged stretch of campaigning is unneeded in the Republican-majority 10th District.
I'm not so sure they hit the nail on the head with this assessment. First and foremost, it is hard to argue that the race has not--in real terms--heated up. Certainly, it has not reached its pinnacle, but by any measure, the race between Carney and Hackett has intensified since the primary. Any time an incumbent is forced to air ads before Labor Day, it is clear that campaign season has started early.

Regarding Hackett's "low profile," I would venture to theorize that it's not only Chris Hackett's lack of public appearances that is painting the perception of a low-profile, but also his campaign's inability to drive media coverage of his campaign's message.

Chris Hackett has been relatively visible since the primary trying to jump start his candidacy. The problem seems to be that a majority of his campaign's coverage has existed in the blogs. Few in the media have gravitated to his camp for substance, and his campaign has been forced to react to stories rather than create and drive the news. For instance, every week, the Hackett campaign produces a handful of press releases citing Carney's failures as a Congressman. However, no one in the media appears to be sinking into these issues. Certainly, there has been some success with this, but I'm sure not as much as his campaign would like. It is almost as if the Hackett campaign is throwing paint at the wall and hoping something will stick--not only to Carney, but resonate with the media at large. For better or worse, one of Hackett's most effective talking points has been to debate Carney on the fall debate schedule. I don't know if this is an issue voters will take with them into the ballot box.

All of this effectively means that Hackett has not been able to push the ball into Carney's court. The election this fall with likely be a referendum on Carney. The less leverage Hackett is able to generate in the media, the more likely it is that Carney will have success. It could still be true that Hackett is mending fences in private after the split between he and Meuser. Publicly however, campaign manager Mark Harris has argued that everything is fine and it will be a non-issue this fall.

Of course, all of this could simply be because the election has not intensified to full tilt and the campaign is waiting to hit its stride.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Carney Spends Time With The Clingers

Chris Carney was able to get some good media attention out of his recent campaign stop at the Factoryville Sportsmen's Club. Carney swung by the club for three rounds of skeet on his way to a speech celebrating Chris Mathewson.

The Times Leader and Daily Review both managed to make news out of the stop. [Defer to the TL article for a description of skeet, birds, and a nice, uplifting from Republican supporter Tom O'Neil regarding Chris Hackett--“I would just like to have a ceremony where he’s crucified"]

Of course, as the Daily Review points out, it's unlikely that gun control will be a major issue for either campaign this fall. Both Carney and Hackett have relatively similar positions on the issue which will likely render it a moot political point.

However, that won't prevent Carney from including some of his freshly snapped "Sportsman for Carney" photos on campaign mailers this fall.

Unfortunately for the sportsmen on hand, John Kerry was not in attendance.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Carney Targeted By Strange Bed Fellows

Has hell frozen over? Well, likely not, but it sure seemed that way when a group of libertarians converged with liberal bloggers for a new ad campaign.

"Strangebedfellows" is the appropriately named group that united in order to publicize perceived civil liberty threats --mainly those posed by increased government surveillance powers.

The group has organized the Accountability Now PAC which seeks to become a permanent fixture in the Washington political landscape.

The PAC is hoping to achieve a successful "money bomb" tomorrow. You may ask why August 8th? Well the group has a fitting answer for that as well. From their website:

"That is the day in 1974 when Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office for his lawbreaking and surveillance abuses. That day illustrates how far we have fallen in this country in less than 35 years, as we now not only permit rampant presidential lawbreaking and a limitless surveillance state, but have a bipartisan political class that endorses it and even retroactively protects the lawbreakers."
"Money bombs" was the term that Ron Paul brought to fame when supporters would seek to raise vast sums of money during a single, targeted day. Trevor Lyman, who organized the effort for Paul, is using his firm--Basic Media--for tomorrow's effort as well. Although several smaller ventures have failed for candidates down ticket from Paul, the new group is hoping that the anger on the left is fresh for the picking.

With the projected $1 million fundraising effort, the group seeks to to target three Democrats: Chris Carney, John Barrow, and Steny Hoyer. The group is hoping to raise enough money to mount a full fledged campaign against the three candidates consisting of newspaper ads, robocalls and other organized efforts.

One of the group's organizer's is Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald has been very outspoken on Chris Carney's perceived betrayal on FISA (see here and here).

Weighing In

From an interview with Bob Asher in The Bulletin regarding whether the Republicans in 2008 will perform better than 2006
"No. In 2006, we became fat, dumb and happy. We became arrogant and overconfident - and had no message. The Republican congress didn't act like a conservative congress when we were in charge. We were spending money like Democrats, and our base didn't appreciate that. So we have to win them back - with the right message and with good candidates. But also, there's no question that the war at that time was unpopular. I think President Bush is a wonderful human being but not a great communicator. I don't think he got the message out there the way it had to be done. But he's been proven right - the surge in Iraq is working.

Why don't I think it will be as bad this year? First, we'll maintain the state senate, maybe even pick up a seat. Second, I think the Republicans have an excellent chance of winning the state house back. I think we have a real good shot at picking up (freshman Democratic Congressman Chris) Carney's seat, with (challenger Chris) Hackett winning that one. And we're going to carry the state for John McCain."
Surprised to see no expectation of picking up the 11th District.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Change Agent?

A real agent of "change" would simply work with the aliens, not question their political party affiliation.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Carney, Kanjo Co-Sponsor DC Gun Legislation

Washington, D.C.'s reaction to the Supreme Court's decision in Heller has caused some lawmakers to ponder if the city really understood the Court's opinion.

The District of Columbia responded to Court with new regulations that were--for all intensive purposes--just as restrictive as the previous laws. For instance, the city required all guns be registered with the police department, most magazine-fed guns were not permitted, and firearms were to be unloaded or protected with a trigger lock unless a "reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm" exists in the home. This is in addition to the fact that as a D.C. resident, it is effectively impossible to purchase a firearm because there are no federally licensed dealers.

D.C.'s response to the Supreme Court has been so bad that House Democrats are now looking to implement less rigid legislation and override the city. Democrats put together a bill to repeal most of the restrictions listed above and the House leadership has even agreed to have a vote on the bill sometime next month.

The Second Amendment Enforcement Act (H.R. 6691) already has almost sixty co-sponsors. Included among those are several Pennsylvania Democrats including: Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Jason Altmire, Tim Holden, Patrick Murphy, and John Murtha.

The legislative maneuvering for this bill has some pretty obvious political undertones for Democrats. Primarily, this bill could be a way for Democrats to avoid the stereotyping [i.e. Americans are "bitter" so they "cling" to their guns] that Barack Obama has used. The measure could still likely get stalled and killed in the Senate before it's all said and done, but in the meantime, the legislation allows Democrats to bat around a political volleyball. Gun rights promise to be a big issue in the fall especially with the $40 million campaign the NRA is planning to pursue. Therefore, this legislation establishes some tangible "proof" that Congressional Democrats are not the gun grabbing elitists that the up-ballot candidate [Obama] suggested they were.

Funny Polling

Lou Barletta is alleging that there is some funny phone "polling" going around his district that is too conveniently biased against him.

The calls, which Barletta explicitly referred to as "push polls," are designed to shape public opinion by disseminating negative information regarding one candidate while at the same time seeking to clarify or mask potential negatives about the opposing candidate.

These particular push polls sought to promulgate negative information by specifically discussing
Barletta selling his business to a "convicted drug felon" and cutting back the police force while "blood rolled down the gutters of Hazleton."

Kanjorski campaign spokesman Ed Mitchell denied any involvement in the push polls and criticized the Barletta campaign for making an issue out of it. Mitchell even went further stating, "But Lou Barletta could at least act like a man and stop crying, whining and complaining every time someone calls him on his record."

It seems that the DCCC could likely be behind the polls. The polls originated out of Miami, Florida with a company called Sun Survey. The DCCC declined to say whether they were conducting their own survey survey. DCCC spokeswoman Carrie James said, "We’re not running a push poll. … It’s not ours … I don’t know anything about a cameraman." However, it could be as simple as the DCCC not viewing what they are doing as push polling and refusing to acknowledge it as such.

Barletta also got some more negative press thrown his way in a New York Times story today. The story cites an authority who regards Barletta's "inflammatory" anti-immigration rhetoric as a possible factor in the death of a illegal Mexican immigrant. Barletta responded in the story by saying: "It’s a tragedy what happened to that man. But I don’t believe our ordinance had anything to do with it. Every person is responsible for their own actions."

Monday, August 4, 2008

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Always making the citizens of Northeastern Pennsylvania look classy, Paul Kanjorski's segment on CBS Evening News.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


The Carney camp took advantage of Exxon's recent record setting quarterly earnings to bring to light Chris Hackett's personal holdings in oil companies and campaign receipts from various oil companies' political action committees.

It appears that the Carney campaign is looking for this to be a
reoccurring campaign issue.

Each time an energy development comes to print, Carney seeks to publicize Hackett's connections to big oil--either through his personal investments or campaign workings. The Carney campaign is using every opportunity it can to paint Hackett as a lackey of "Big Oil."

This time around, the campaign highlighted a $5,000 PAC donation in May from Exxon Mobil as well as other personal donations from oil executives. This all is supposed to make Hackett less credible on the energy issue.

Carney hasn't offered many energy solutions. He enjoys going after the oil companies and using the "Use It or Lose It" slogan as a major component of his campaign's platform. For those unfamiliar, the "Use It or Lose It" argument suggests that oil companies have existing onshore leases and opportunities to drill for oil, but have failed to do so because by not drilling, they are able to drive up the price which in turn allows their bottom lines to increase. It all feeds into the oil company conspiracy theory that liberals love, but unfortunately, it is--at the very least--an overly exaggerated claim.

Said campaign manager Vincent Rongione, “Clearly, Chris Hackett is deep in the pocket of Big Oil. Whose side is Hackett on? … Chris Hackett doesn’t understand the toll record high gas prices are taking on middle class families — once again, he says one thing and does another. He should let us know, whose side is he on?”

However, if Carney is accusing Hackett of being bought and sold on energy, one needs to look no further than FISA to see a synonymous situation with Carney. Many organizations accused Carney of surrendering to retroactive immunity for telecom companies because of their big contributions to his reelection campaign. In fact, one of the top contributors to Carney is Comcast with roughly $21,000 in donations. Comcast even refused to air Blue America's ad against Carney unless it was censored, and that's just one of the major telecom companies which has donated to Carney.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kanjo's CBS Story

Below is a transcript from this evening's CBS Evening News Special on Paul Kanjorski.

The Parking Garage To Nowhere?
Congressman Rakes In Millions In Earmarks To Build Vacant Offices - And Parking For Them

(CBS) Congress started a five-week vacation Friday. But before leaving, the House passed a bill that contains more than 500 earmarks. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has been investigating these expensive pet projects that lawyers slip into spending bills. And now, she's followed the money to a deserted office complex.

This tale begins in the small town of Nanticoke, Penn., population 9,500, where hometown Rep. Paul Kanjorski got more than $3 million federal tax dollars to build the "Kanjorski Center," an office building to attract business and help the local economy.

"I'm used to getting a great deal of money for my district," Kanjorski said.

But things haven't quite gone according to plan. The Kanjorski Center's main tenant moved out in 2005, and the building's been empty ever since.

"How much is the city paying for the building while it's empty?" Attkisson asked Pennsylvania state Rep. John Yudichak.

"The city's been paying about $15,000 a month while the building has been empty," he said.

Yudichak says the Kanjorski Center was ill-thought-out, and has become an albatross.

Now Kanjorski has a new plan. It involves millions more tax dollars to build a parking garage for the Kanjorski Center, in hopes of convincing a local community college to move in.

It'll cost taxpayers $5.6 million - money Kanjorski earmarked for the parking garage project. An earmark is a grant of money without the normal public review.

But there's one big problem: federal aid can only be used for parking garages that serve mass transit ... it's not intended for office parking in a congressman's hometown. When Kanjorski was notififed his project is contrary to federal rules, he said it didn't matter.

"I don't think the rule should be there," Kanjorski said. "I don't think the rule should have any attention paid to it. Becaus in Congress we have our own rules."

It turns out local officials like Yudihak also object to Congressman Kanjorski's parking garage.

"We saw it as a huge liability," Yudihak said.

Congressman Kanjorski calls that sour grapes from a political rival, a fellow Democrat, and says local residents should be happy to get the grants of money he brings home.

"You call these federal and state grants 'free money.' The quote is, 'I don't know anyone who would turn down a free building. It would be funded with, quote, free money,'" Attkisson said. "'From federal and state grants.'"

"For the community, it is free money," Kanjorski said.

"But it's not really free. Taxpayers are paying for it," Attkisson pointed out.

"It is the taxpayers of the United States' money," Kanjorski said. "But it doesn't cause any difficulty to the community to take the money."

"It is not free money!" Yudichak said. "It's taxpayers' money. In my view, the congressman looks at federal earmarks, the $5.6 million, as play money."

Regardless of whether the town wants to play, Kanjorski now says he'll do whatever it takes to build his parking garage with some of that "free money," better known outside of Washington as your tax dollars.