Saturday, December 10, 2005

Why are Tauscher AND Pelosi Supporting Steve Filson?

David Sirota wrote a piece on December 7 about Democrats feeding at the corporate trough on K Street.

I have no problem with Democrats doing what they need to do to raise money to fight the good fight against Republicans. Until we get a publicly financed elections system in this country, one party cannot unilaterally disarm from fundraising. But, we all should have a BIG problem with Democrats actually deliberately planting stories in the press about how they are running around Washington, D.C. shaking down corporate lobbyists for cash. To do that, as Democrats are doing, is so incomprehensibly stupid it's hard to even put words together to describe it …

Today's example is in Roll Call [subscription only]. House Democrats, who have attacked the GOP's "culture of corruption," deliberately placed a story in Roll Call headlined "House Democrats Redouble Wooing of K Street." The story was likely placed by the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

A House Democratic project designed to dip into deep K Street wallets entered its second phase of the 2006 cycle Tuesday, as a group of prominent moderate Members enlisted business donors to shell out thousands of dollars to help the party’s top-tier candidates. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), along with Reps. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), John Tanner (Tenn.) and Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), met Tuesday afternoon with roughly 50 business-minded Democratic consultants, lobbyists and corporate officers to get them to commit to writing checks to their most worthy party hopefuls next year.

Hmmm … I wonder just who those “most worthy party hopefuls” might be. You don’t think we know any of them, do you?

But this story makes me wonder about some other things. Whenever I see the names Steny Hoyer and Ellen Tauscher together in a sentence, my mind automatically adds Nancy Pelosi and Richard Pombo to the mix. Let me explain why.

Back in 1964, Phil Burton was elected to Congress as the representative for San Francisco. He quickly gained a national reputation as a powerful and ruthless politician crusading for leftist causes. Burton died in office in 1983, and his wife Sala Burton took his seat, serving until her death in 1987. During their combined 23 years in office, the Burtons joined with Jesse Unruh to build a Democratic political machine that still runs strong in California politics. Phil’s younger brother, John Burton (a milquetoast compared to Phil), occupied a seat in the State Legislature, as did protégés Willie Brown and George Moscone. From 1977 through 1984, Burton installed another of his friends, Nancy Pelosi, as chairman of the California State Democratic Party. When Sala Burton died in 1987, Nancy Pelosi ran for the seat previously held by her mentors.

Now, if you fast forward to 2001, Nancy Pelosi had paid her dues in Congress, building up alliances and stockpiling favors over seven terms. When she decided to run for House Minority Whip, though, there was a lot of fear that Pelosi was “too far left,” and a faction within the House called for the elevation of a “moderate Democrat.” (Sound familiar?) The moderate Democrat who challenged Pelosi for the whip position was Steny Hoyer. One of Hoyer’s strongest supporters was Ellen Tauscher, who, incidentally, was the lone member of the Bay Area Democratic delegation to go against Pelosi. Well, Pelosi prevailed in her quest to become whip. In 2002, when Dick Gephardt left his position as House Minority Leader to run for president, Pelosi ascended to that position. Her replacement as whip was, finally, Steny Hoyer.

But in the meantime, the California legislature, presided over by former State Sen. John Burton, had been busy redrawing legislative districts to comply with the 2000 census data. When the changes to her district were unveiled, the Highway 680/24 corridors had been gutted from Tauscher’s CD-10 and placed in Richard Pombo’s CD-11. Most people familiar with John Burton’s hardball tactics were not in the least surprised that after betraying Pelosi, Tauscher was suddenly being stripped of all of the big money sources in her district. But none of the politicians had factored in the power of the Lamorinda Democratic Club. Democrats along the Highway 24 corridor revolted at the notion of being represented by Richard Pombo and mounted a vigorous campaign to keep their community in CD-10. Ultimately, Burton backed down, drawing the line between CD-10 and CD-11 in Danville. Still, Tauscher lost a large part of her wealthy donor base to Richard Pombo’s neighboring district.

So here’s what I don’t get. I get the part about Tauscher and her long-time pal, Steny Hoyer, supporting Steve Filson and throwing their weight around with K Street lobbyists to drum up financial support for their chosen candidate. Sounds about right. But why on earth, after all that’s happened, is Nancy Pelosi supporting Steve Filson?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Keep your friends close... and your enemies closer.

1:00 AM, December 11, 2005  
Anonymous nicholas said...

but is pelosi supporting filson? i know that filson keeps taughting that filson has recieved money from from her but has he? directly?

(not baiting curious to find out the answer..)

8:36 AM, December 11, 2005  
Blogger VPO said...

If anyone wants to better understand the current state of politics in Washington, and the extensive corruption of Tom DeLay and the K street lobbyists, then you must read "The Hammer". It is breath-taking just how utterly corrupt, and I would add even evil, Tom DeLay is.

Now, it seems the Dems play in the same sandbox, by DeLay's rules. If Filson wants big money for his campaign, then the only place realistically for him to get it is from the lobbyists, which Tauscher has some pull with, apparently.

I don't see McNerney or even Ensign (if she is still running) having this in with K Street. It is the Tauscher/DCCC connection that is/will bring the money to Filson. Then Filson will have to do their bidding, as well as Tauscher's.

Basically this means Filson will be beholden to corporate interests and not the "grassroots". Well, if that is the case, then we are still way better off than with Pombo.

Who knows, maybe we will be "surprised" one day, after Filson is in Congress, and he starts supporting Arctic drilling and tax cuts and wars.

Idealistically, we would want a pro-people progressive. That is what I think we all want to work for. But we may get just someone supporting the corporate/DCCC agenda. Is that worth fighting for? I would still say yes, mostly because Pombo is just so, so bad, probably the worst Congressman out there, both corrupt and an extreme ideologue out to destroy our natural heritage and let the polluters and exploiters run rampant with little to no controls.

No question, Pombo must go. If Filson is the best replacement the Dems can come up with, then, if nothing else, at least he would be better than Pombo. The good news is that it seems the Dems are serious about this race and will put money into it.

Also, in The Hammer book, the point was made that committee chairs are expected to raise lots of money and give it away to other Republicans. If Pombo is forced to spend his money on his race, that will hurt his status in the Party.

But then again, that won't matter, because he will be out of Congress anyway in 2006!

9:11 AM, December 11, 2005  
Anonymous babaloo said...

You're right; Pelosi has not formally endorsed Steve Filson. But her congressional campaign donated $2000 to him on 9/26/05, which, in my neighborhood, is the form of support that really counts.

Sure, but then there's the basis for our entire foreign policy, "My enemy's enemy is therefore my friend."

And VPO,
As usual, you've nailed it. I couldn't agree with you more.

10:24 AM, December 11, 2005  
Anonymous babaloo said...

I also want to point out that on his blog David Sirota posted another entry shortly after the one which I quoted entitled “Hoyer's Campaign to Undermine Dems & Topple Pelosi” where he talks about Steny Hoyer’s agenda to usurp Nancy Pelosi’s position:

"The second ranking Democrat in the U.S. House [Hoyer] is focused like a laser not on winning elections, not on helping his party, but on helping himself by trying to take down the House Minority Leader."

This leads me to wonder, again, why would Pelosi lend ANY kind of support to Steve Filson, when he has so closely aligned himself with Ellen Tauscher and Steny Hoyer? I mean, it seems like a form of political suicide. It still doesn’t make any sense to me.

2:08 PM, December 11, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

babaloo -- read the comments to the most recent post by Matt.

It's not political suicide at all and your incredulity is actually surprising.

By the way, just because Pelosi has given $2K to Filson doesn't mean she won't turn around and give the same to McNerney and the other candidates. Why? Provided she did not formally endorse a candidate, Pelosi would then be able to say that she was supporting all the Dems equally and not lose street cred with more strident progressives.

A good strategy for McNerney supporters would be to apply pressure to Pelosi to donate $2K to McNerney and actually *demonstrate her neutrality* in the race.

Anon #4

12:21 AM, December 12, 2005  
Anonymous babaloo said...

Anon #4,
I hate to say I'm surprised by your surprise...

It seems fairly simple to me. If I thought that a co-worker was actively trying to undermine me so that he could take my job, I would not be lobbying the boss to hire that co-worker's nephew onto my staff. Instead I would be making a case for hiring someone I thought was willing to play on my team. That's all.

2:56 PM, December 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're way overestimating the bad blood between Tauscher and Pelosi. The cynicism on this blog about what goes on in Washington is astounding. It's not all backstabbing, secret machinations and personal vendettas. Pelosi and Tauscher are playing on the same team and they both know it.

4:05 PM, December 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(And, frankly, backing a candidate in CA-11 is incredibly insignificant in the grand scheme of things for either of them)


4:07 PM, December 12, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I think your assessment is remarkably naive. First of all, it is in every democrat's best interests to support a winner. Obviously, Pelosi and Tauscher both believe that Steve Filson is a winner. Are you really suggesting that Pelosi should prefer that Filson lose, just because he knows Ellen Tauscher, too? Second, I guarantee you that Nancy Pelosi is over the Whip vote issue. Pelosi wants to get things done. To do that she needs to have a strong working relationship with the moderate dems, of whom Tauscher is one of the most powerful. Try to see this from a larger perspective. John Burton is a petty bozo. Any chance that guy has to suck up--he'll take it. Nancy Pelosi and Ellen Tauscher--they are power players. Pelosi is no longer the San Francisco liberal lollypop you want her to be. She is now the LEADER of her party in the House of Representatives. Ellen Tauscher is the LEADER of the New Democrats in the House. Both of them have identified Steve Filson as an excellent candidate and they're both going to do everything they can to give him the best chance to win.

Also, take a look at Tauscher's district. Do you think Pelosi would get elected there? No. She wouldn't. Maybe Pelosi is smart enough to know that sometimes a Democratic friend voting against you once is better than a Republican bastard voting against you every day. I'll take Tauscher over Baker any day. And so will Pelosi, with a handshake and a smile.

11:44 AM, January 05, 2006  

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