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Friday, September 17, 2010

Boucher's On The Defensive

You remember my report from a few months ago about that purchase Congressman Boucher's "campaign" made last year of a brand-new Ford SUV down in Lebanon?  To the tune of $29352.17? Well, challenger Morgan Griffith has now made an issue of it.

And Boucher has responded - to the newspapers - to the charge.

The most feckless and ill-conceived response one could ever imagine:
Boucher uses $29,352 in campaign funds to buy car
By Mason Adams, Roanoke Times

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher spent nearly $30,000 in campaign funds to buy a crossover SUV last fall. Now his opponents in the 9th Congressional District race are trying to get their own mileage out of it.

The expense appeared in a fourth quarter 2009 report Boucher filed with the Federal Election Commission, along with several vehicle-related maintenance costs in the months since then. Boucher said he bought the 2010 Ford Edge in November at Bostic Ford Sales -- a dealership in the 9th District -- with a mix of campaign funds and personal money in such a way that he can use it for official, campaign and limited personal business without spending taxpayer money.

Republican Morgan Griffith, who's running against Boucher, issued a news release Thursday noting the amount of campaign funding spent on the vehicle is just under the $34,506 mean income of district residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

"At a time when people are struggling to pay their bills, no congressman should be purchasing a new car with campaign contributions," Griffith said. "Rick Boucher should be able to purchase a car himself with his $174,000 congressional salary."

Boucher said Thursday evening that the $29,352 listed in the report represented three-quarters of the vehicle's cost, and that he paid the rest with his personal money. He took a similar approach when buying a Jeep Cherokee in 2000, only with the percentages swapped: He paid for three-quarters and used campaign money for the rest.

That arrangement, Boucher said, is an alternative to a common practice in which members of Congress lease a vehicle through the House of Representatives.

Boucher said his method allows him to use his two vehicles for official, campaign and some personal uses without costing taxpayers any money.

He said his personal use of both vehicles is limited: "My life revolves around my job. The vast majority of my travel is for campaign purposes or for official purposes." Boucher and his staffers have put about 150,000 miles on the Jeep and about 20,000 on the Ford, he said.

Jan Baran, head of Wiley Rein LLP, an election law firm in Washington, said the Federal Election Commission "allows candidates to use campaign funds to purchase vehicles and service them to the extent they're used for campaign purposes.

"They can't be used for personal transportation unrelated to the campaign. You can use them for congressional duties as permitted under House rules as well as FEC rules," he said. [link]
First, it's worth noting that Boucher's "campaign" also pays for the upkeep of that Jeep.  Still.

He needs two vehicles for his "official purposes"?

Secondly, to the extent that he needs transportation to and from Washington for those "official purposes," it's worth remembering that the taxpayers of Southwest Virginia pay for his travel and he gets reimbursed.  So why does his campaign need a fleet of vehicles?

Third, and most important, Congressman Rick Boucher has admitted breaking the law.  He acknowledges (above) that he uses these vehicles for "some personal use."  Even if that use is "limited," as he says it is, it is unlawful, according to Jan Baran, who cites FEC regulations (again, see above), for candidates to use campaign funds to purchase and service vehicles for any purpose other than those directly involving his campaignHis personal use (and official use) of the vehicles are, therefore, a violation of the law.

Did he even think this through before he gave that response to the Roanoke Times?

Fourth, Boucher's explanation in detail:

“In 2009, my campaign purchased a Ford vehicle with the necessary space to carry campaign materials. Contrary to a claim by one of the candidates, this Ford is not a luxury vehicle. Lincoln is the luxury brand for this automaker, not Ford. It is the size vehicle needed for the transportation of campaign personnel and materials. This purchase was in every respect necessary for our campaign activities and in accordance with applicable rules for the use of campaign funds.”

Am I the only person who conjures the word WASTE when reading that?  Unless Boucher is in year-round campaign mode, why buy a car for campaign purposes?  Does he park it the other 22 months out of each biennium when he's not campaigning?

Spare me.

Bottom line: Expect a quick reimbursement to his campaign to flow from his bulging pockets in coming days.  This is an issue that Boucher needs to make go away, and fast.

But will it?

- - -

By contrast ...

"[Morgan Griffith] traveled the sprawling district's winding roads last week in an aging Volkswagen Passat, its hubcaps missing and the fiberglass cowling sheared off its right rearview mirror."

And for the sake of transparency - Griffith gets reimbursed by his campaign for gasoline usage to and from his campaign gigs. 

As it ought to be.

Boucher Is Flailing

This is a 9th District issue that I thought would have been out of bounds.  One that I expected neither the Morgan Griffith nor the Rick Boucher campaigns would want to involve themselves in. But I was wrong.  Boucher has decided to step in it, feet first.

I received an embarrassingly crude bi-fold brochure in the mail yesterday from the Democratic Party of Virginia the cover of which I have scanned and am reproducing here:

There are so many problems with this ... thing ... that I'd be ashamed to take ownership of it.  Here are a few, off the top of my head:

1) By looking at the cover, one could easily assume it is an attack on Congressman Rick Boucher for being an outsider.  Which he is.  He hasn't really lived in the 9th District for decades.  Not really.  He is, for all practical purposes, one of them.  Did the designer of this awful creation think about the impact a first impression makes?  He or she should have. (Which is also why I thought both candidates would steer clear.)

2) My second observation is a professional complaint, so if you have no interest in advertising material and its design, go to (3).  Was this done by some grade schooler?   It's on 8½ by 11 paper.  A brochure.  Why?  More importantly, the coloration is drab.  Ugly drab.  And the verbiage on the inside of this waste of trees is redundant and uninspired.  It reads - essentially - Morgan Griffith doesn't live here, Morgan Griffith doesn't live here, Morgan Griffith doesn't live here.  For this precious trees had to die?

Look, I've designed (and approved the designing of) a whole mess of these things over the years for marketing purposes.  If someone brought to me a sorry piece of butt-wipe like this, I'd have tossed them out of my office.  It's amateurish.  And off-target.  And forgettable.  And one fat waste.

Memo to the Boucher campaign: Let's do lunch.  Assuming you dudes survive in November, I can do better than this in my sleep.  You need serious help.

3) As you now know, the hit-piece goes after Morgan Griffith for being an outsider.  But it's provided by the Democratic Party of Virginia.


Last time I looked the DPV isn't in the 9th District either, kemosabe.  It's somewhere over in Richmond last time I checked.  What's this "our home" stuff?

Did the creative genius think this point would go unnoticed?  Perhaps.  And perhaps he or she would be right.  But here's my reckoning: The people who won't notice won't take this mailer seriously either. The landfill is its immediate destination.  And those same disinterested residents of Southwest Virginia who aren't inclined to give this its due won't be inclined to get off their dead asses to vote on November 2 either.  So why go through this exercise?

Why did they bother?

News flash: Morgan Griffith doesn't live in the 9th District.  Well, he lives a heck of a lot closer than his opponent.

'Nuff said.

- - -

Bottom line:

You may recall how Rick Boucher, in campaigns past, called upon his opponents/victims to keep the rhetoric clean and kind.  Don't expect that this time around.  Either in word or deed.  He (and his surrogates) are going to get uglier and uglier as November 2 approaches and his poll numbers continue to slip.

If I Were Boucher, I'd Hide Too

With all the controversy swirling around him these days, this should come as no surprise:
Boucher turns down another debate

Christiansburg - Congressman Rick Boucher is shunning another debate opportunity. Republican Morgan Griffith has agreed to appear at a luncheon sponsored by the Southwest Virginia Realtors Association on October 21 in Abingdon. Boucher has turned the invitation down.

"Again if Rick Boucher is not running from his record," says Griffith, "why won't he appear at this event."

Griffith says the incumbent continues to duck any idea of a debate, forum, or a question and answer session. "What is he scared of? He does not want to answer the questions of those that gave him the opportunity to serve for the past 28 years."
Boucher has agreed to one debate. One. Can't catch it? Tough toenails. He's met his obligation.

He's got important stuff to do up in Washington, you see. There's another Super Bowl coming up and Rick is waiting by the phone for Obama to call and invite him over for beer and pretzels and to watch the game. Again.

You little people back here in Southwest Virginia need to get a life, and get Boucher's priorities straight.  Debates are for chumps.  Sucking suds and rubbing elbows with his best buddy, Barack Obama, is where the action is.

* Received from the Morgan Griffith for Congress campaign.

As For Those Whom Boucher Represents ...

... while he's resigned himself to the fact that the EPA is going to do whatever it wants, the EPA is killing his constituents, one crushing regulation at a time:
Appalachian Coal Miners Say EPA Rules Are Killing Their Jobs
By Judson Berger, Fox News

Since last year, The Environmental Protection Agency has stepped up regulation on mountaintop coal mining across six Appalachian states because the explosives that are used to remove mountain surfaces send debris into rivers and streams, endangering the environment.

But with the stricter rules in place, the industry, which is considered the lifeblood of Appalachian towns, argues it's under attack. Workers and advocacy groups that represent them say the rules unfairly target their region and require mining firms to meet unrealistic standards.

They say the hold-up threatens mining jobs, industry investment and small businesses in the region that rely on the salaries of well-paid miners to keep their economy humming.

"It's causing the elimination of jobs across Appalachia," said Bryan Brown, executive director of the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security, or FACES of Coal. "At a time when the nation's trying to get people back to work, it's threatening to take people's jobs away."

FACES of Coal was joining with other industry groups for the rally outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. Brown said up to 2,000 people were expected to attend, as well as more than a dozen U.S. senators and representatives from the affected states. The bipartisan VIP list includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.; Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Sen. Carte Goodwin, D-W.Va. [link]
Rick Boucher takes a different approach.  He sits at home and hopes that the EPA does as little harm to the 9th Congressional District of Virginia as possible.  If not, well, there's always next year.

- - -

To quote Rick Boucher:

"The debate about whether or not we will have regulation is over."

For him maybe.  But not for all those miners in his district who are losing their jobs because of those crushing regulations.  For them it's only just begun.

Reading Between The Lines

What to make of this?

No, wait! It wasn't their fault! It was mine! It's my fault that ObamaCare is so hated by the American people! It's my fault that unemployment has doubled since we took charge of Washington! It's my fault that we've concentrated on changing the climate and taking the change out of the pockets of America's poor and middle class when we should have been concentrating on changing the way we do business here in the Waste Capital of the Planet! Not theirs!

That's what Democrats really want Barack Obama to say.

Quote of the Day

From Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City):

"One thing polls don't pick up in this race this year is intensity. Our people would swim raging rivers to vote in this race in November."

I'm so intense, I intend to vote at least once.

A Last Gasp From Global Warmists

Or Climate Changists.

Or Man-caused Disasterists.

Or, now, Climate Disruptionists.

Good grief.

This is sad to watch.  They had such a great thing going for a while, but now ...

White House: Global Warming Out, 'Global Climate Disruption' In
Fox News

From the administration that brought you "man-caused disaster" and "overseas
contingency operation," another terminology change is in the pipeline.

The White House wants the public to start using the term "global climate disruption" in place of "global warming" -- fearing the latter term oversimplifies the problem and makes it sound less dangerous than it really is.

White House science adviser John Holdren urged people to start using the phrase during a speech last week in Oslo, echoing a plea he made three years earlier. Holdren said global warming is a "dangerous misnomer" for a problem far more complicated than a rise in temperature. [link]
I gotta tell ya, this is so pathetic, I don't need to heap ridicule on it.  All you need do is read it again.

The record doesn't support the notion that global temperatures are on the rise, as geniuses like this White House guru once claimed, so now they want you to be worried because we have ... weather.

Does this Holdren character get paid for this?

Are we paying for this?

Wisdom For The Ages

Does this come as a shock?

Ya think?

I Could Have Been Had For Half That

Obama spent $2 million of your hard-earned income to create every job "stimulated" in Los Angeles.

The report.

The reaction.

The man who made it possible.

The schmuck who paid for it.

We Agree With Michelle Obama!

She hates being in the White House.

We hate it too, babe.  We hate it too.

Every minute of every day ...