Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Letter to Editor: Pete Sessions short-changes voters

From Dallas Morning News comes this letter to the editor in response to Pete Sessions' plan for Kay Bailey Hutchison to hold onto her seat in the Senate while running for Governor: Sessions short-changing voters
First, politicians must take a chance and relinquish their current seats while having a viable and attractive platform to run for an higher office. While running for a new office and holding a current office, they are short-changing the electorate that voted for them.

Second, Pete Sessions fears the loss of a Senate seat due to a special election should Kay Bailey Hutchison vacate her Senate seat. Again we see partisan politics trump statesmanship and the will of the electorate.

He works for us -- not the other way around.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pete Sessions advises Kay Bailey Hutchison to stay in Senate

According to Gromer Jeffers of Dallas Morning News, Pete Sessions is advising Kay Bailey Hutchison to keep her Senate seat while running for Governor.

His thinking is that if she beats Perry and becomes Governor, she could appoint her own replacement in the Senate. But if she resigns to run, we'd have a special election where a Democrat might have a chance at the seat.

"The people of Texas don't need that kind of fight," Mr. Sessions said of a special election.
In my opinion, it might be seen as a bit underhanded if Kay Bailey Hutchison did such a thing; she has a strong "likeability" thing going for her, and draws votes from both major political parties. That edge would pretty much evaporate if she were to play the "politics as usual" game by appointing her own successor.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pete Sessions hires three new aides

Excerpt from Politico:
Sessions, the incoming chairman of the committee, has hired Elizabeth Verrill, who served as a regional finance director for Sen. John McCain, to head the NRCC's finance operations...

Sessions has also tapped Bob Honold to head the NRCC's incumbent retention efforts for a second consecutive cycle. Honold is a former director of public affairs at CTIA-The Wireless Association and is a veteran of GOP House campaigns.

John Randall, meanwhile, will handle new media for the NRCC. Randall was previously the online communications manager at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Pete Sessions: Lost in Oak Cliff" by Steve Blow

Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow picked up the Oak Cliff story and wrote about it on his blog today: Pete Sessions: Lost in Oak Cliff

Steve Blow says, "If someone finds U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions wandering lost in his district, please give him directions." He then goes on to publish the Oak Cliff portion of Sessions' district neighbood articles.

In the comments section of the blog, Steve Blow posted this email he received from Sessions' Communication Director Emily Davis, who explains
We paid to have our new website pages populated and they obviously copied and pasted the wrong information together (eek!). Thanks for the heads up - I just made the quick fix in our website system.

Note to Congress: if there's money in the budget for "populating websites," how 'bout paying it to neighborhood associations to write their own articles? You'd have to adhere to a word limit to keep overzealous neighborhood association presidents from bragging too much about their little corners of Dallas, but at least the articles would be authentic and geographically correct.

Pete Sessions votes against auto industry loan

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 7321, to authorize financial assistance to eligible automobile manufacturers, by a recorded vote of 237 ayes to 170 noes with 1 voting "present", Roll No. 690.

Pete Sessions was among the House members who voted against the bill, in what turned out to be pretty much of a standard party-line vote. Only 32 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, with 20 Democrats crossing party lines to vote against it.

One Republican voted "present," and the "not voting" members consisted of 11 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pete Sessions: "He doesn't know the territory"

A Sessions Watcher in Oak Cliff alerted me to this page on Pete Sessions' website, where he summarizes key neighborhoods in his district.

The section on Oak Cliff is so far off-the-mark you'd swear he's never set foot in this part of the District. I took this screen shot for posterity (click image to view full size):

Oak Cliff residents will be surprised to know these "facts" about their part of town...
Oak Cliff

Oak Cliff’s estimated population is 280,000, and Oak Cliff includes the popular “M-Streets” and Lakewood neighborhoods. On March 17, 1903, voters in Oak Cliff approved annexation to the city of Dallas. Little known about Oak Cliff is that it was home to the Southland Ice Company, what would later become the first 7-Eleven Convenience Store. Oak Cliff also contains The Sixth Floor Museum, the memorial site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
Good grief! Okay, let's start with the "M" streets. While Oak Cliff does have some streets that start with the letter "M," the "popular" M-street district is around Upper Greenville Avenue. That area of Dallas is north of downtown, about 10 miles from Oak Cliff!

Oak Cliff does have Lake Cliff Park, but that's not Lakewood. Lakewood is in East Dallas around...y'know...the lake. White Rock Lake, which is nowhere near Oak Cliff.

Pete Sessions gets partial credit for including two actual facts about Oak Cliff, the fact that it was annexed in 1903, and that "it was home to the Southland Ice Company, what would later become the first 7-Eleven Convenience Store." True. The first 7-11 was at 12th and Edgefield. The building still stands, and is now home to LULAC.

But then he screws it up by mentioning the Sixth Floor Museum. D'oh! Pete, that's in an area of Dallas known as "downtown." The Sixth Floor Museum isn't in Pete Sessions' district, anyway. The Sixth Floor Museum is in TX-30, Eddie Bernice Johnson's district.

Reminds me of the patter song in "The Music Man" where all the salesmen talk about knowing the territory:
1st Salesman
Ya can talk, ya can talk, ya can bicker, ya can talk...
ya can talk all ya want but is different than it was.

No it ain't, no it ain't, but you gotta know the territory...

2nd Salesman
Now he doesn't know the territory

1st Salesman
Doesn't know the territory?!?

3rd Salesman
What's the fellow's line?

2nd Salesman
Never worries 'bout his line

1st Salesman
Never worries 'bout his line?!?...

He's a fake, and he doesn't know the territory...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another PETE PAC loss in Ohio

Ohio Republican Steve Stivers (OH-15) was the recipient of $10,000 from Pete Sessions' notorious Vegas strip club fundraiser. He was in a close race against Democratic candidate Mary Jo Kilroy, a race too close to call on election night.

Yesterday, the absentee and provisional ballots were finally counted, and Mary Jo Kilroy emerged as the clear winner, with 2,311 more votes than Stivers. The margin gave her more than the number of votes necessary to avoid a recount.

Kilroy's win gives OH-15 a Democratic representative for the first time in 42 years.

The Ohio Delegation now has a majority of Democrats, with 10 Democrats and 8 Republicans.

An interesting side note to this contest is that in November, with the race still undecided, both candidates went to the orientation for new members of Congress, promising that whichever one of them lost would reimburse the government for their expenses.

Pete Sessions says auto industry has to "earn" bailout

Back in September, Pete Sessions was one of only 65 House Republicans to vote for the Wall St. bailout, a plan with no pre-conditions attached to it, a blank check to Henry Paulson, no questions asked. So what does he think about helping the auto industry?

Dallas Morning News reporter Mark Norris asked Pete Sessions about Congressional help for the auto industry:
I asked him about Thursday's automaker bailout hearings and what the next step is.
Mr. Sessions said he does not believe the votes are there in the House to pass any such legislation right now.

"They did not sufficiently prove to us that they would make the necessary changes to take their part of the equation and be successful," Mr. Sessions said. "GM is the private sector and owned by shareholders. In a free enterprise system, that is not something the government should look lightly of being a part of."

However, Mr. Sessions said he would be open to more hearings and questioning to find out more about what the automakers would do to modernize and evolve.
I agree that the auto industry needs to make a lot of changes, but so does Wall Street, which is why so many of us told Congress not bail them unconditionally. Apparently, Pete Sessions has one set of standards for people who make cars, and another for those who make money.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Article on Dallas County GOP

Guess who wasn't available to comment for a Dallas Observer article on the Dallas County Republican Party? That's right, our Congresman Pete Sessions was missing in action when asked if he encouraged Jonathan Neerman to run for chair of the Dallas County Republican Party:
Neerman became involved in local politics, working at the grassroots level by making yard signs for Gary Griffith's successful Dallas City Council campaign in 2003, block walking for Republican Pete Sessions' congressional campaign and assisting in fund-raising efforts for Bush's second presidential bid in 2004...

...Two Republican consultants, not speaking for attribution, claim it wasn't friendship that dissuaded Neerman [from running for State representative], it was Sessions, who, during that same trip to Washington, asked Neerman to run for county chair. Kenn George had decided not to seek another term and "Sessions wanted someone as chair that he could control," says one of the consultants.

Sessions did not return phone calls from the Observer, and Neerman denies he discussed the position with Sessions. He says he shifted his focus to George's job because "I thought about the direction that I wanted the Republican Party to go nationally, but the way to start it was locally, right here in Dallas."
Interesting. Maybe Pete Sessions is starting to figure out that the GOP needs to broaden its appeal to stay in power:
Nearly 100 people take up Neerman on his gripe session on November 20, overflowing the meeting room at GOP headquarters near Walnut Hill Lane on Central Expressway...

...Neerman says most attendees agreed the party must reach out to minorities, gays and lesbians, but only a small faction seemed willing to speak about changing the party's conservative social agenda in order to incorporate more diverse points of view. "You've got a conundrum because you've got to broaden the party, but there are going to be segments who don't want to do the things necessary to achieve that type of outreach," he says.
Cathie Adams of Texas Eagle Forum disagrees that broadening appeal is the way to grow the party:
Cathie Adams, president of the conservative, pro-family organization Texas Eagle Forum, strongly disagrees with Neerman's plan to broaden the party's base at the expense of compromising on social issues. Adams, who served on the Republican National Platform Committee, points out that it took a social conservative like Sarah Palin to energize the base of the party.

"When you think that you've got to appeal to the moderates by setting aside the moral issues, you're denying the cost of tearing away the fabric of the morality of our community," Adams says. "You're also denying the fact that Sarah Palin brought not only excitement, but the coffers people poured into in the form of not only money but hours of volunteer time."
The article goes on to quote her as saying that the party should not reach out to "Log Cabin Republicans, pro-choice Republicans and 'environmental wackos.'"

Cathie Adams should take a look at the website Republican Majority for Choice, which claims that they--not the right-wing wackos--are in the majority. According to Mark Hillman of Rocky Mountain News, though, only a third of the GOP is pro-choice, but he adds
According to Gallup, rigid single-issue voters constitute just 22 percent of pro-life Republicans and 8 percent of pro-choicers.
Neerman insists that the GOP was undone by Obama's superstar status this year, and will get back to "normal" in the next election cycle. But Darlene Ewing, chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party, says they're just making excuses again:
"Two years ago, they said it was a fluke. Now they're saying it's just Obama. I don't think they get it," she says. "The voters in this county are tired of what we've had for the last 25 years, and that's the Republicans."
Neerman, in the end, agrees with Ewing:
"If we're losing 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds right off the bat, it's because they see us as the party that is against the environment, discriminates against gay people, [proselytizes] on whatever moral grounds there are, and they see us as this very narrow-minded, anti-Hispanic party," he says. "We spend way too much time worrying about shit that just doesn't matter."
Too bad Pete Sessions was unavailable to make a comment for the article. Looks like he's laying low again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Right-wing blog interviews Pete Sessions

Today's edition of the ultra-right-wing website Human Events Online had this exclusive interview with Pete Sessions. Excerpt:
“We’re going to develop some new energy as we find our footing while Democrats have all the marbles,” Sessions told me two days after his election. “They are not going to do anything half-way on their agenda. Not when they control everything. They’ll try to do it all, relying on taxing, spending, and regulating the market place.”
In response, of course, to eight years of Republicans borrowing, spending, and deregulating the market, paving the way for the mess we're in today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's official--Pete Sessions will chair NRCC

From Dallas Morning News: Pete Sessions wins leadership role in GOP campaign efforts Excerpt:
Reeling from electoral setbacks, House Republicans put their hopes Wednesday on Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions to round up the cash and candidates needed to reverse their fortunes.

“Our members will not be satisfied until we regain the majority,” Mr. Sessions said.
Problem is, Pete Sessions gives money to extremists like Robin Hayes, a right-wing extremist who lost to Larry Kissell after claiming that liberals hate real Americans who work and believe in God.
Mr. Sessions’ profile among Republicans grew exponentially when he drove Mr. Frost from Congress in a costly post-redistricting fight in 2004, though it took him more time than he’d hoped to parlay that into a party leadership role.
Yeah, except he didn't drive Martin Frost from Congress all by himself. Sessions would never have been able to do that without help from Tom DeLay's redistricting plan which created this horribly gerrymandered district, cutting out the historic African-American neighborhood of Hamilton Park and the heavily GLBT Oak Lawn area. If he ever had to run on his own merits in a truly bipartisan district, he would never be able to win; even in the gerrymandered TX-32, he's never been able to get a 60% win. In the 2008 race, he came the closest, with 57%. This quote says it all:
As for Mr. Sessions, some Democrats reacted with some glee at news of his promotion to the GOP leadership.

“This guy is about an inch deep,” said Matt Angle, a veteran Texas Democratic strategist. “They just can’t do any better.”

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Boehner Endorses Sessions for NRCC Chairman

John Boehner has just endorsed Pete Sessions for NRCC Chair, saying:
“Pete has the skills needed to recruit top-tier candidates and give them the support they need to challenge a Democratic Congress that has been bought and paid for by liberal special interests. We need Pete Sessions at the leadership table as the next chairman of the NRCC.”
By "top tier," I suppose Boehner is referring to extreme partisans like Michele Bachmanm, who barely won her seat in Congress after making controversial remarks about "anti-Americans" in Congress.

After Bachmann appeared on Hardball and said Barack Obama had "anti-American views," irate viewers sent her opponent Elwyn Tinklenberg $800,000, making the campaign one of the most-watched in the nation.

Bachmann received $2,500 from PETE PAC, so we can suppose that John Boehner is looking forward to working with more "top tier" people like that.

Sessions Watch sends best wishes to Pete Sessions on his run for NRCC Chair. If he's in a high-profile position, it'll make our job easier.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The tide is turning

Though Sessions Watchers are disappointed that we didn't unseat Pete Sessions last night, it's encouraging that Pete Sessions' brand of hyper-partisanship is growing increasingly unpopular across the nation.

Pundits will analyze McCain's loss for weeks, but in my opinion, he lost by not being himself, by concentrating on "the base" instead of moderate Republicans.

In North Carolina, Kay Hagan won Elizabeth Dole's senate seat, mainly because of negative campaigning on Dole's part. When the Dole campaign a voice actor to make it sound like Kay Hagan said "there is no God," the plan backfired, sending a wave of support to Hagan--who happens to be a lifelong Presbyterian and Sunday School teacher!

Michelle Bachmann's negative campaign sent a wave of financial support to her opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg. Although Bachmann (MN-06) ended winning back her House seat, she did so with a margin of only 4%.

And Sessions fundraiser recipient Robin Hayes, the 10-year Republican incumbent who got $10,000 from Pete Sessions' notorious strip club fundraiser was defeated by Democratic Party challenger Larry Kissell. Robin Hayes gained nation-wide notoriety in this election cycle by saying that "liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God." Last night, he found out that over half of his constituents disagree.

The tide is turning, finally, away from negativity and hyper-partisanship. Although we still don't have a representative who works for us, it should be of some consolation to voters in our district knowing that the American people are tired of right-wing extremism, and they're ready to vote for hope over fear. In TX-32, our day will come--but, sadly, not this year.

Pete Sessions: Sore Winner

Although Pete Sessions easily won re-election in the gerrymandered 32nd congressional district, he didn't sound too happy about it last night. While Republicans who lost last night, most notably John McCain, were gracious in defeat, promising to work across party lines, winning candidate Pete Sessions was his old partisan self in an interview with CBS 11. Since I can't embed the video, I'll attempt a transcript:
Nov. 4, 9:52 pm CT
Marianne Martinez: First of all, let's react to some of the state and local wins for the Republican Party.

Pete Sessions: Well, the Republican party appears that we're going to win the congressional races in North Texas; we appear that we're going to pick up the seat that we lost a couple of years ago down with, uh, in Texas 22 with a great Republican victory. And so the State of Texas with Senator Cornyn and the things which we have done to make Texas great, uh, that will we'll be back in power.
Yeah, I know, it doesn't make much sense, but that's how Pete Sessions talks when he's speaking extemporaneously. Continuing on:
Marianne Martinez: Tell me about the national stage, though, there must be a little bit of a down feeling considering the electoral college, 200 to 90 I believe is the last that I saw.

Pete Sessions: Well, well certainly the national scene is way different. The national scene is way different, uh, Senator Barack Obama, now what I assume will be President-elect Obama tonight has done a very good job of selling the view that we ought to raise taxes, uh, and, and do things differently. That we ought to change the way things have been done. He's going to have that opportunity. The Republican Party, while we disagree with that, we want to see the country move forward and do better. And that's where the Republican Party is going to be very much in favor of trying to work to make sure this country gets what it needs to compete and be ready. If that does not happen, the Republican Party will have a message that we have about cutting taxes and growing our economy, which we'll get back to.
(This is an example of what I refer to as "Pete Speak," circuitous sentences that don't really add up to anything resembling a coherent thought, kind of like we heard with Sarah Palin).
Marianne Martinez: Obama talked a lot during his campaign about reaching across the aisle to the Republicans. Do you think that can be done, especially considering that the Democrats will have a stronghold also now in the Senate?

Pete Sessions: Well, I don't think that Nancy Pelosi, uh, even once these past two years has reached across the aisle, not once. So if she reaches across, they'll be somebody to shake her hand and work with her, but I have not seen that desire or effort on behalf of Speaker Pelosi yet.
Again with Nancy Pelosi! He's so hung up on her. Good grief, the Democrats could conceivably elect another House Speaker, and the interviewer asked specifically about Obama. Would it kill Pete Sessions to at least acknowledge Obama's gracious message of inclusiveness, where he promised to work on behalf of people who didn't vote for him?
Marianne Martinez: Describe your mood here at this particular watch party.

Pete Sessions: Well, the mood here is, is one of disappointment. It's one, uh, where we are not going to throw in the towel. We recognize that we have a lot to be proud of. We believe the Republican Party still has a lot to offer, not only the State of Texas but really Dallas County. We believe what we did during a period of time of, of Republican control was to transform this county to what it is, and that is that it's one of the greatest cities in America, entrepreneurship lives and breathes here and the growth of jobs and the opportunity to grow jobs and have people call this home is what the Republican Party's made this.
I'll swear, I listened to that last part three times, and it still doesn't make much since. Watch the interview for yourself at this link and see if it makes sense to you: Interview with Pete Sessions, Nov. 4, 2008

What the interviewer should have asked is if Pete Sessions felt inspired by Obama to reach out to the 40% of voters in the District who didn't vote for him. But seasoned Sessions Watchers already know the answer to that--he barely reaches out to constituents in his own party, except to ask them to vote for him and put his signs all over the place every two years. The rest of the time, he's concentrated on marketing the Republican brand and raising money for other right-wing extremist Republicans.

As it stands now, the gerrymandered 32nd District remains safe for Pete Sessions; although Dallas County turn solidly Democratic in 2006 and remains Democratic in 2008, the Tom Delay gerrymandered district remains a Republican stronghold. So the next step will be a push for redistricting--not to make "safe" Democratic or Republican Party enclaves, but to better represent districts. Until that happens, Sessions Watch is watching...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Closing arguments: the case against Pete Sessions

Since January of 2007, I've kept track of the voting record of our Congressman, Pete Sessions, operating under the assumption that Sessions keeps getting elected because voters don't really know anything about him. Since 2004, he's been elected solely because he's a Republican in a district gerrymandered as a "safe" Republican seat by Tom DeLay and his cronies. Voting for the "R" label, in my opinion, is like continuing to buy your favoring "Made in U.S.A" product, not realizing that it's now made in China.

So let's review the record of Pete Sessions.

Pete Sessions has been pretty much of a rubber stamp for the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party, and supports President Bush about 90% of the time.

But sometimes, when it suits his own special interests, Pete Sessions has been known to vote with people like Barney Frank on a bill supportive of online gambling.

That's what Pete Sessions' strip club fundraiser was really about--Pete Sessions' Vegas trip was really about online poker.

What Pete Sessions really wants is leadership of the Republican Party. He's already looking forward to winning--not to serve the constituents, but to become chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Pete Sessions is scared of Democrats, except when there's one lone protester among 100 Republicans, flanked by Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Then, Pete Sessions is brave enough to taunt the protester, but with a really strange comment that makes one wonder, "Did Pete Sessions own son lead an anti-Sessions protest?"

Pete Sessions thinks anyone who doesn't agree with him is "unhinged."

Pete Sessions votes against rate cuts to student loans, SCHIP and renewable energy. Pete Sessions also voted against the anti-predatory lending act, and Sessions Watchers know that the current economic crisis was caused, in part, by predatory lenders.

Pete Sessions got an "F" from MiddleClass.Org, which monitors votes affecting ordinary people all over the nation.

Pete Sessions' "power ranking" in Congress is 349th most powerful out of 435 members. That's actually a step up, since Pete Sessions used to be 10th from the bottom in power, at 425, pretty good for a beginning Congressman, but not for someone like Pete Sessions, who has been in Congress since 1996.

Tomorrow's Election Day, and it's time to vote for change. Once again, here are the candidates running against Pete Sessions, listed in alphabetical order:

Alex Bischoff, Libertarian: League of Women Voters survey; Project Vote Smart bio; Campaign website

Eric Roberson, Democrat: League of Woman Voters survey; Project Vote Smart bio; Campaign website.

To find your Election Day polling location, visit the Dallas County Elections website.

(And to the person who posted advertisements for another blog in my comment boxes, yes I'm "censoring" your posts, because this website is specifically about watching Pete Sessions, not watching some other candidate. By the way, your blog doesn't allow comments, so you're censoring, too, right?)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pete Sessions taunts protester

Pete Sessions may cut and run from a debate, but he's awfully brave taunting a lone protester in a rally of 100 Republicans, flanked by Kay Bailey Hutchison. From Dallas Morning News:
The diminutive young man clutching a giant Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate sign had some serious pipes.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison enjoyed support from a crowd at Fretz Park Library in Far North Dallas, where she gave an impromptu speech.

"Change! Change! Change! Change!" he barked endlessly ...Another woman grabbed his sign. "Don't touch me!" the protester screamed back before dialing 911 on his BlackBerry.

Mr. Sessions, R-Dallas, then joined the melee, taunting: "Aren't you glad your mommy and daddy take care of you? You couldn't hold a job if you had to."
Hmmmm...interesting comment by Pete Sessions. The only way for a candidate to know if a single protester is out of work and supported by mom and dad is if the protester was the candidate's own son! But seriously, what an immature comment.

And, really--a "diminutive man" has the lung power to drown out Kay Bailey Hutchison in an open air rally? C'mon, people, how hard is it to set up an amp and a mic for Senator Hutchison? Are Republicans that hard up for cash that they can't spring for a portable sound system for just such an occasion?

One protester at the rally had this to say in the comment section of the story:
I attended the rally at Fretz park yesterday morning and was verbally assaulted by the Republican women. While quietly holding my signs for Noriega and Roberson, one especially loud, angry woman continually shouted at me that I had no right to be there. "Go to your own rally" she said over and over. "We don't go to your rallies." I replied that I had a free speech right to be in a public park and protest and told her that if she did attend a Democratic rally, we would not be rude to her. She continued to shout at me and called me a variety of non complimentary names ... like low class and stupid. This kind of angry aggressive behavior resulted in at least 6 police officers to show up by the end of the event.

While I was quietly discussing free speech rights with one of the officers, this same woman approached, again yelling that we had no right to be there. The officer responded that "you are the one creating a disturbance. You need to move away!"

I can only say that I have NEVER seen this type of behavior at any Democratic rally and I have been to many! Republicans must be really scared for them to resort in this type of behavior!
Wow. "Go to your own rally," huh? Any time any politicians gather, it's our rally. What part of "We, the People" do these Republican women not understand?

Friday, October 24, 2008

SessionsWatch PSA: "Bailout"

The following is our 2008 PSA called "Bailout," about how Pete Sessions didn't listen when voters called asking him not to vote for the bailout, and was one of only 65 House Republicans to vote for the original "blank check" bailout, with no provisions for oversight:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vote early in Dallas, starting this week

Just a reminder that early voting has started in Texas. In Dallas County, you may vote at any early voting location in the country from October 20-31. A list of early voting locations is available at Dallas County Elections

SessionsWatch is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates, we just think TX-32 deserves better representation than we're getting from Pete Sessions.

Democrats in TX-32 who vote a straight-party ballot will automatically cast a vote for Sessions' Democratic Party opponent, Eric Roberson.

Republicans and Independents who don't want to cast a vote for Pete Sessions may choose between the Democratic Candidate or the Libertarian candidate, Alex Bischoff, or you may choose to skip the race altogether.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pete Sessions' strip club fundraiser causes problems for Republicans in Alabama

Pete Sessions' notorious strip-club fundraiser is back in the news again, this time in Alabama, causing problems for a Republican running for Alabama's 2nd congressional district. Apparently, Jay Love received $2,500 from the Las Vegas fundraiser; his opponent, Democrat Bobby Bright, is using it against him in a campaign ad, challenging Love's Christian values:
"For some people, conserva­tive Christian values are just words," Bright said in the line he recorded. "You know what? They're more than just words to me."
Gee, that sounds a lot like what Dallas conservatives said when the story first broke. As it turned out, the fundraiser had less to do with scantily clad women than online gambling, which is also a big problem for Jay Love:
Love and the Alabama Re­publican Party oppose gambling in Alabama. The state lawmaker said he is adamantly opposed to gambling.
At this writing, The Democratic Party is trying to shame Jay Love into returning the money.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dallas Morning News endorses Pete Sessions

Pete Sessions won the endorsement of Dallas Morning News today, no big surprise. Dallas Morning News has been a big cheerleader of the bailout plan and praised Pete Sessions for supporting it right from the start, when it was nothing more than a $700 billion check to Henry Paulson with not one scrap of oversight:
Considering the distaste many conservatives had for the recent financial rescue plan passed by Congress, it's admirable that Rep. Pete Sessions grasped the seriousness of the problem, bucked pressure from many of his allies and voted for the $700 billion package.
All right, how many Sessions Watchers called his office asking him not to vote for that thing? Right-wingers asked him, left-wingers asked--just about every organization from both sides of the aisle sent out emails asking us to write Congress to oppose the bailout, but Pete Sessions was one of only 65 House Republicans to vote for it.

Dallas Morning News goes on to praise Pete Sessions for moving towards the political center by supporting both Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid and a guest-worker program, which won't win him much support from his conservative base:
Mr. Sessions has shown other signs of moving from hard-liner toward the political center. He endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the Republican presidential nomination, for example. And he now says he wants to press ahead soon with immigration reform, including a guest-worker program and legalization provisions...
Fortunately, readers can now comment directly to the editorial page online, instead of just hoping your letter to the editor gets published. Make your voice heard on the comment blog at the bottom of the editorial.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pete Sessions "cuts and runs" after debate with Eric Roberson

Probably the most difficult thing about being a SessionsWatcher is actually seeing Pete Sessions in person. It's kinda like hanging out in the rain forest with binoculars, trying to catch a glimpse of a rare bird that only shows up every two years, then flits away into the night.

After last night's debate--which only lasted half an hour--Sessions made a hasty retreat out the door of the elementary school cafetorium, instead of hanging around with constituents, enjoying cookies and coffee and listening to the other debates of the evening. Granted, it wasn't an ideal format; it was a town hall meeting, with the congressional debate followed by the county sheriff debate and a Texas house district race, but the whole thing was over in under two hours. Congress is not in session at the moment, there's no urgent business that needs attention. Would it have hurt Pete Sessions so terribly to hang out with us for a couple of hours, pose for pictures with constituents, shake hands, work the room--you know, stuff that politicians do?

Democratic challenger Eric Roberson, on the other hand, stayed through the other debates and spent time afterward answering people's questions, calming their anxieties about these tough economic times. If he'd done nothing more than that, he would have won the debate, but he also bested the 6th-term incumbent in answering questions from constituents. As an attendee posted this morning in the comment box:
Anonymous said...

I attended the debate yesterday and I must say that Eric won a decisive victory. Pete was out of touch with the audience... Go Eric Roberson!

October 9, 2008 5:04 AM
That just about says it all--our congressman is out of touch.

Last night's debate was co-sponsored by the Republican and Democratic precinct chairs of a precinct at the far north end of the district, which voted 68.7% Republican in 2006 (75.9% Republican in 2004). So it's not like we asked him to come all the way down to my "scary" neighborhood 25 miles to the south where people vote predominately Democratic. He was in friendly territory, where usually the candidate has to do nothing more than say "I'm the Republican" to get people's vote.

But times have changed since 2006.

On Wednesday, the Dow closed at 9,258; those of use who have retirement plans received our statements in the mail this week. Some of those envelopes remain unopened on our desks, because we're afraid to see how far our savings have plummeted.

The mix of people seemed to be fairly evenly divided politically, though it was difficult to tell from audience response, which favored Eric Roberson. People are scared, they want to know how our economy got into such a mess, what our representatives are going to do to fix it, and what they're going to do to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Before the debate, organizers distributed 3x5 cards to attendees in advance of the debate; we wrote our questions, which were collected and taken to the two precinct chairs moderating the debate. The candidates began with 4-minute opening statements, then proceeded to answer questions chosen by the moderators, who took equal turns posing the questions.

Pete Sessions lost the audience with his opening statement. He began with telling us his name, reminding us how long he's been in office, and said he went to D.C. to "grow the economy and provide jobs," a statement which received a rumble of groans and one "boo" from a man in the audience. He didn't even stop to thank the debate sponsors before launching into a partisan statement:
The first vote in the House of Representatives is to elect the Speaker of the House, so you're either voting for me, a Republican, or Nancy Pelosi...
More grumbles from the audience. No one wants to hear that stuff. We want to know if we're going to have any savings left for retirement, if there are going to be foreclosures in our neighborhood, if our favorite local coffee shop is going to be there in the morning when we stop by for donuts and coffee before work, if our job is going to still be there when we get to work, or if we'll find the doors chained shut.

No one cares about Nancy Pelosi.

But Pete Sessions ignored the groans in the audience and just plowed right ahead with canned Republican talking points about cutting taxes and creating jobs; he berated Democrats for "tax increase after tax increase," giving no specifics, seemingly unaware that Republicans were in control of the House and Senate--hence, the budget--until January of 2007. He concluded with a statement I couldn't quite follow, how we should cut taxes and have more money for us instead of the government. I didn't understand that, because tax money is our money and we're the government--as in "we, the people."

Eric Roberson looked relaxed and happy to be there, welcoming the chance to talk to people in the district. He began by thanking the debate co-sponsors--which Sessions failed to do--and started with his biography, how he graduated from Richardson High School before serving in the Navy and returning back to the district to start a family of his own. He spoke briefly about his military service, and how the GI bill helped him attend college. Roberson, while respectfully referring to Pete Sessions as a "great guy: with whom he has some "disagreements," launched into some obvious differences between himself and the incumbent, namely Pete Sessions' vote against the G.I. Bill. Roberson went on to explain that he was raised in a Republican household, but that "extremists" in the party have driven away moderate people like himself. Eric Roberson's just about the only speaker I've heard who can say the word "extremist" in a way that doesn't sound like a radical. With a smile on his face, he said it with an attitude of jovial camaraderie guys have when they're hanging out together, saying something like, "C'mon, Pete, you brag about being at the far right of the Republican Party and I disagree with you on that." Roberson was interrupted several times for applause, as he talked directly to constituents about how government should work on behalf of us, our kids, our parents, and how politicians should be loyal to the people in the district, not to the President or to the political party.

Following opening statements, the moderators read questions from the audience, ranging from the economy to term limits for members of Congress.

On taxes, Pete Sessions advocated "across the board" tax cuts and delivered more standard conservative fare on lowering corporate taxes.

On the economy, Pete Sessions actually blamed "community organizers" for the sub prime mortgage crisis, implying that organizations like ACORN actually write NINJA ("no income, no job, no assets") loans.

Okay, I have to take a pause here and interject something on that topic. I almost laughed out loud when he blamed ACORN and "community organizers," the latest in a long line of Republican-fabricated boogeymen, frequently employed to scare us into voting for them instead of for our own best interest. Mortgage brokers were talking people into lying about income to get loans, and I know a little about it from a friend, who's employed as a teacher. A well-respected mortgage broker tried to talk my friend into lying about her income to qualify for a bigger loan. This broker wasn't the "liberal wacko community organizer" who exists only in Pete Sessions' imagination, but a nicely dressed professional, working in posh upscale office building--probably a Republican. My friend told me about the meeting afterward, about telling the broker that she wanted what she could afford and didn't think lying about her income sounded like the right thing to do. My friend ended up walking away, deciding not to buy a house after all. But how many other people were taken in by the nice office, the expensive suit, the professional sales job; how many people bought the lie that they could do better than just a "starter home," that they could have a "nice" house with every kid in his or her own room?

One person who promoted this type of loan was Pete Sessions' favorite president, George W. Bush. Check out this video of President Bush saying that "deserving families with bad credit histories" should be able to get "just as nice a house as anybody else," then tell me he's not part of the problem!

But I digress.

Eric Roberson countered that we don't need "across the board" cuts in taxes, we need to take a smart look at everything, cutting taxes where it will do the most good in stimulating the economy and leaving other taxes as they are, instead of coming in with a "one size fits all" tax plan.

The final question from the audience concerned a constitutional amendment on term limits for members of Congress. This question was read by the Republican precinct chair, and she got a laugh from the audience as soon as she said the words "term limits." For a few seconds, it sounded like we were at a comedy club!

Pete Sessions said that he supports term limits and has voted for them (I seem to remember him talking about term limits about 10 years ago, but a google-search of "pete sessions term limits" didn't yield much of anything).

Eric Roberson said that he does favor term limits, but would want members of Congress to have enough time in office so the people have experienced members representing them, saying that if there was constant turnover in the House, the people back home wouldn't be very well served.

After both candidates had made their closing statements, as the audience applauded and the moderators thanked them for being there, Pete Sessions slipped out the back. "He's leaving!" said a man across the aisle from me. "He's going out the back door...come out this way," he said, indicating a door behind the seating area. Actually, to be fair, the main entrance to the cafetorium was the one off the parking lot, where we all came in, and where Pete Sessions headed out after the debate. But the visual effect was the same; it looked like he was "sneaking out the back" to avoid talking to us. The applause hadn't even stopped before Pete Sessions was out of sight.

"Was it something we said?" another debate attendee joked, to no one in particular. Another laugh from others in the audience.

Well, I can't blame Pete Sessions from leaving--we didn't have the kind of venue he likes. No strippers, no high stakes poker game in the back room, just coffee, cookies and a lot of questions about what he's been doing for us for the past 12 years. Where's the fun in that?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pete Sessions to debate Eric Roberson tomorrow

My apologies to SessionsWatchers for the late notice, but I just got the email myself, courtesy of Park Cities Democrats. This will be a town hall format, so if you have questions about the bailout, now's your chance to ask Pete Sessions about that vote:

Eric Roberson and Pete Sessions will be appearing together Wednesday evening

Congressional candidates to conduct a joint town hall

DATE: October 8, 2008
TIME: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
LOCATION: Spring Creek Elementary School
7667 Roundrock 75248
(near Meandering Way and Arapaho)


This is a golden and rare opportunity to hear and see the differences between Eric Roberson and his opponent. We also need to be there to give physical evidence to Eric and the media of his support in the district.

Get your grumbling conservative friends and neighbors to come decide for themselves which candidate they trust to deal with our economic situation and to make ethical decisions. The candidates will take questions from the audience!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pete Sessions casts "yes" vote for revised bailout

Despite phone calls and emails from constituents asking him to vote against the bailout, Pete Sessions voted yes to the revised bailout plan (see H.R. 1424, Roll No. 681). If anyone has an explanation of why he voted for this bill--other than to support President Bush--please post it in the comments box. Meanwhile, let's see what Ron Paul (TX-14) has to say about it:
Madame Speaker, only in Washington could a bill demonstrably worse than its predecessor be brought back for another vote and actually expect to gain votes. That this bailout was initially defeated was a welcome surprise, but the power-brokers in Washington and on Wall Street could not allow that defeat to be permanent. It was most unfortunate that this monstrosity of a bill, loaded up with even more pork, was able to pass...

...The money for this bailout does not just materialize out of thin air. The entire burden will be borne by the taxpayers, not now, because that is politically unacceptable, but in the future...

...As usual, Congress has show itself to be reactive rather than proactive. For years, many people have been warning about the housing bubble and the inevitable bust. Congress ignored the impending storm, and responded to this crisis with a poorly thought-out piece of legislation that will only further harm the economy. We ought to be ashamed.
For the entire statement, visit Ron Paul's website.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pete Sessions explains bailout to Republican constituents only

I was surfing the 'net, trying to figure out why Pete Sessions voted for the for the bailout plan (See Roll No. 674) and ran across this blog post:
I live in the 32nd Congressional District of Texas. I am represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Pete Sessions, a Republican (for better or for worse). Recently, Congressman Sessions sent an email to me and other constituents in the 32nd District giving us greater detail on the Republican counter-proposal to the current Bush-Paulson-Bernanke proposal asking Congress for unlimited authority over $700 billion to buy bad debts from Wall Street firms at U.S. taxpayer expense. At the end of his email, Congressman Sessions invited me to share my comments on the counter-proposal with his office in Washington, D.C...
Hmmmm...that's funny. I didn't get an email from Pete Sessions asking for my opinion on the plan, did you? He certainly has my email address, since I did express my opinion to his office on this bill--as well as many other bills. But apparently, Pete Sessions only serves half the constituency, leaving out Democrats, Green Party, Libertarian and non-ID'd voters. If he really wanted to communicate with constituents on an important vote, wouldn't he do a robo-call to the whole district? Wouldn't he collect email address from everybody who's ever sent him an email?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pete Sessions votes no to renewable energy

No, this isn't a re-run, just Pete Sessions casting another no-vote on renewable energy. From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 7060, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, and to provide individual income tax relief, by a yea-and-nay vote of 257 yeas to 166 nays, Roll No. 649.
The bill went to the Senate, where it passed 92-2 with 5 not voting; both of our Republican Senators voted yes! See U.S. Senate Roll No. 205.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pete Sessions votes no to Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 7110, to make supplemental appropriations for job creation and preservation, infrastructure investment, and economic and energy assistance for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, by a yea-and-nay vote of 264 yeas to 158 nays, Roll No. 660.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pete Sessions votes no to credit card holder protection

In a bipartisan show of support for consumers, the House passed H.R. 5244, the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2008, "To amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open end consumer credit plan, and for other purposes." The bill passed 312-112, with Pete Sessions among those voting no. (See Roll No. 623.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pete Sessions votes "no" to renewable, clean energy and environmental education

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R.6899,to advance the national security interests of the United States by reducing its dependency on oil through renewable and clean, alternative fuel technologies while building a bridge to the future through expanded access to Federal oil and natural gas resources, revising the relationship between the oil and gas industry and the consumers who own those resources and deserve a fair return from the development of publicly owned oil and gas, ending tax subsidies for large oil and gas companies, and facilitating energy efficiencies in the building, housing, and transportation sectors, by a recorded vote of 236 ayes to 189 noes, Roll No. 599.
While this bill allows offshore drilling, it sets a goal for utility companies of 15% electricity generated from alternative energy, and cuts $18 billion dollars in tax breaks for big oil companies. Pete Sessions, of course, voted against this bill.

In a related bill, Pete Sessions voted against H.R. 3036, the No Child Left Inside Act of 2008, which amends and enhances the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to include education about the environment. The bill passed 293-109 (See Roll No. 614).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pete Sessions votes "no" to Paycheck Fairness Act

Pete Sessions joined fellow Republicans in a party-line vote against H.R. 1338, The Paycheck Fairness Act, "to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex". The bill passed 247-178, with 9 not voting and 14 Republicans crossing party lines to vote for paycheck fairness. (See Roll Call No. 556).

D Magazine asks, "What’s the Deal With Pete Sessions and Poker?"

Ever since the news broke about Pete Sessions' Las Vegas fundraising party, inquiring minds want to know, why Vegas? In an interview with KERA, Cathie Adams of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum said:
It surprises me that such a venue would be acceptable to a man whose record has been held so high as far as integrity, as far as conservative values. Certainly this is a family community and I don't think Mr. Sessions would particularly like either of his sons to be participants in such a venue.
Instead of focusing on the dancers and what they were (or weren't) wearing, D Magazine takes a "follow the money" approach in this article by Wick Allision: What’s the Deal With Pete Sessions and Poker?
...suddenly the Las Vegas connnection started getting more interesting. For example, there’s self-described “professional poker player” Howard Lederer and his wife Susan with a combined donation of $10,000. Andrew Bloch, another “professional poker player,” gave $4,000. Doyle Brunson tossed some more chips on the table with another $4,000. Barry Shulman was in for $2,000, and Linda Johnson matched up to $500.

...why did they choose a Dallas congressman as the vessel of their civic participation? Simple. Go to the the congressman’s statement on proposed UIGEA regulations issued on April 2, 2008. Then note that this year’s Vegas cash started flowing on April 7, 2008. Seems like Nevada has bought itself an extra congressman.
In the letter, Sessions expresses concern about how the regulations regarding the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) are drafted and enforced:
Like every Member of this committee, I believe that the accurate and faithful application of our nation’s laws is of the utmost importance, and I understand the important role that clear and consistent federal regulations play in achieving this goal. However, when regulatory guidance is vague, an unintended consequence can be the suppression of legitimate commerce caused by a regulated community exercising an unnecessary abundance of caution...

The unintended consequence of this lack of clarity will be for many financial institutions to block broadly anything which may in any way resemble gambling, be it legal or illegal. Indeed, I understand that the providers of online skill games are already having difficulty with payment processing...
I did a google search of "pete sessions, uigea" and found this interesting article from Online Casinos.com, an internet gambling website from Denmark:
New U.S. proposal to limit prosecution of pre-2006 online gambling activities

Yet more legislation on Internet gambling was introduced to Congress by Representative Pete Sessions this week in the shape of HR6663, titled the UIGEA Clarification Act.

The proposal will probably be welcomed by online gambling companies which were active in the U.S. market prior to the signing into law of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in late 2006, but withdrew when it was passed. This is because it seeks to prohibit the prosecution, on gambling charges or for any financial crime related to gambling, of any company or individual associated with a company that stopped taking U.S. Internet bets after October 13, 2006.

That would benefit companies like Party Gaming, 888.com and other majors who exited the US market when UIGEA was introduced, with the implication that these should not suffer punitive action for respecting the new law.
On July 30, Pete Sessions introduced H.R. 6663, "To amend title 31, United States Code, to provide additional clarification with regard to the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, and for other purposes." Text of the bill is available from Thomas: H.R. 6663

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Family Values" Minnesota Republicans got strip club money

The blog Dump Michele Bachmann reports that Pete Sessions' strip club money is helping finance the re-election campaign of "family values" candidate Michele Bachmann, as well as the 3rd District Republican candidate, Erik Paulsen:
Not only did Bachmann receive some of this stripper money, 3rd District Republican candidate, Erik Paulsen received $5000 from PETEPAC. In an election where Minnesota Republicans are faux outraged about satirical comments made by Al Franken, it appears as though they are concerned primarily with comments and not with instances in which women are actually exploited and in which they benefit from said exploitation. Between the erotic elixirs of William Hudlow and stripraiser money from PETEPAC, it might be safe to say that the sex industry is throwing its support behind Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen, and the Republican Party of Minnesota. I guess I had never realized that family values meant strippers and horny goat weed.

Sessions' strip-club story goes national

From Washington Post:
We had never heard of a member of Congress holding a fundraiser at a Las Vegas burlesque nightclub... until now.

And the culprit is card-carrying conservative Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.). The same Pete Sessions who scolded Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake for forcing "their liberal values upon the rest of the country" after their infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime striptease.
The article goes on to tell (again) about how Pete Sessions was a streaker in 1974:
Sessions himself has been known to have an exhibitionist streak -- streak being the operative word.

In 1974, as a college freshman, he participated in a mass streaking rampage across the campus of what was then called Texas State University. As the Sleuth, in a previous incarnation, reported in this subscription-only Roll Call newspaper column in 2004, Sessions bragged about his streaking abilities to the San Antonio News. At the time, he was two weeks shy of his 19th birthday.

"Just taking off your clothes and running around is kind of a free spirit thing," Sessions said.
Okay, I'm old enough to remember streaking. Here's the way it's supposed to happen--you take your clothes off, run like hell, and disappear without getting caught. Hence, the "streak." It defeats the purpose to give interviews afterwards, using your real name! That's what I've always loved about Pete Sessions' streaking story, that he was actually quoted in the paper afterwards saying, "Just taking off your clothes and running around is kind of a free spirit thing."

Americablog has pictures of the "tasteful strip joint" where Pete Sessions held his fundraiser. Good lord--is that an American flag behind the stripper pole?

This year's Las Vegas fundraiser was held at a much more family friendly venue, the 40/40 Lounge, owned by hip-hop artist Jay-Z, who happens to be an avid supporter of Barack Obama!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dallas Conservatives "Shocked" by Sessions' Strip-Club Party

Well, it looks like the saying isn't true after all that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."Dallas Morning News just reported the story of Pete Sessions' Las Vegas strip-club fundraiser and the right-wingers are "shocked":
Aides to Mr. Sessions, a self-described conservative, and others said the act was a mild burlesque show, but some conservative activists were aghast that the event was held at an adult club.

"What's the difference?" asked Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum. "I don't think that it's representative of the constituents of the district. I'm in shock."
Texas Eagle Forum's mission is to "enable conservative and pro-family men and women to participate in the process of self-government and public policy-making" and are all about promoting "conservative and pro-family policies through the media."

They also claim to in favor of "individual liberty" and "private enterprise," but apparently, they draw the line at the adult entertainment industry.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pete Sessions says "no" to foreclosure prevention, road and bridge safety

Pete Sessions was one of only 55 House members to vote against H.R. 3999, to "improve the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges, to strengthen bridge inspection standards and processes, and to increase investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System." (See Congress.Org) The bill passed 367-55,12 Not Voting (See Roll Call 530.

Pete Sessions also voted against a Senate amendment to H.R. 3221, to prevent homeowners from going into foreclosure. The bill passed 272-152. (See Roll No. 519).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pete Sessions fundraiser in Vegas strip club

When the "family values" crowd wants to party, they call Monica Notzen. She's a Republican consultant whose job it is to invite lobbyists to parties, like the one she threw for Pete Sessions at the Las Vegas strip club, Forty Deuce.
Sessions: That's right, we do a Las Vegas fundraiser every year and not only raise money, but see Las Vegas. It's a beautiful town.

Henn: Forty Deuce is a strip club.

Sessions: You know, I've never seen that. It is what I would call a burlesque show where there's a woman who comes out and has a dress on... Uh, she never gets naked. There's no nudity, there's no nudity in there...
Yeah, right. This is how the club's owner, Ivan Kane, describes his brand of burlesque.
Ivan Kane: The key component would be to have girls who were dancers taking their clothes off, not just girls taking their clothes off.
According to Marketwatch, Pete Sessions spent $5,000 at the strip club and another $2,100 at his hotel. Pete's PAC explains that the evening was "tame" and that "none of it violated a single law."

Hmmmm...not to cast aspersions on Pete's "tame" evening, but I know of at least one activity that's legal in Vegas but would get you thrown in jail if you were caught doing it in Dallas!

I thought this part was interesting, too:
Officially, Pete Sessions' leadership PAC picked up the tab, but just days before the party at Forty Deuce, casino interests donated $5,000 to his PAC. Payday lenders threw in another $2,500.
So, if you're wondering why Pete Sessions votes against the interest of his constituents most of the time, just remember who he really works for--people like the casino lobbyists and predatory lenders who bought him $7,500 worth of fun in Las Vegas.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pete Sessions votes "no" on responsible drilling

Pete Sessions and House Republicans helped sink a bill designed to require energy companies to explore and drill on land where they've already obtained leases. H.R. 6511 passed 244-173, but failed to attain the 2/3 necessary to override a veto. (See Roll No. 511).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sessions breaks with Bush to support Medicare

In a rare break with Bush (and his own previous vote), Pete Sessions voted to override the president's veto of the Medicare bill. See Roll Call 491.

Pete Sessions joins Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and many other Republicans who decided just this once to vote with the constituents instead of the President.

But then, Pete Sessions demonstrated his loyalty to Bush by voting "no" to H. Res. 1345, to investigate Bush's rationale for starting the war in Iraq. The resolution passed 238 - 180 (See Roll Call 492)

A panel will now conduct hearings on whether or not Bush mislead the nation into war.

Funny that Pete Sessions would vote no to an impeachment inquiry against Bush, when he was so doggedly determined to impeach Clinton for...what was it again? Lying about having sex? Maybe one day Pete Sessions will remind us how many thousands of military personnel died when Clinton lied to us.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pete Sessions votes no to preserving presidential e-mail

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 5811, to amend title 44, United States Code, to require preservation of certain electronic records by Federal agencies and to require a certification and reports relating to Presidential records, by a yea-and-nay vote of 286 yeas to 137 nays.
Pete Sessions was among the majority of Republicans who vote no. (See Roll No. 477).

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pete Sessions votes against Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

I heard this on the news, that Congress amended the National Trails System Act to include an historic route "taken by the armies of General George Washington and Count Rochambeau between Newport, Rhode Island, and Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781 and 1782." This is one of those votes I consider to be a "no-brainer" vote, one agreeable to most patriotic Americans. The majority of Republicans voted "yes," as did Democrats. The bill passed 345 - 69, with Pete Sessions as one of the nay-sayers.

Doesn't it seem odd that Pete Sessions, who is so involved with the Boy Scouts of America, would vote against a national trail?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Pete Sessions responds to H.R. 6331 vote

Today, I received an email from Pete Sessions, in response to my email urging him to vote yes to H.R. 6331. In response, he sent a form letter about Medicare Advantage, which did not acknowledge my call for passage of H.R. 6331. He writes:
Thank you for contacting Congressman Sessions regarding the Medicare Advantage program. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views on this matter.

In the past, when individuals became eligible for Medicare they had no choice; they were enrolled in traditional Medicare fee-for-service. Now, however, those enrolled in Medicare Advantage may choose from Preferred Provider Organizations, Provider Sponsored Organizations, Private Fee-For-Service, Medical Savings Accounts, and Health Maintenance Organizations. By allowing choice, market competition has increased and consumers are able to receive a higher quality of service at lower rates.

The available options in the Medicare Advantage program allow senior citizens to choose their plan according to their individual needs. Without these choices, the quality of health care for America's senior citizens would diminish. I believe Medicare patients are best equipped to choose the most suitable plan, not the federal government...
Medicare Advantage is a privatized plan, generating huge profits for the insurance industry and not much of anything for the rest of us. This document, prepared by the Alliance of Retired Americans calls Medicare Advantage A Windfall For Insurers; Downfall for Beneficiaries; an article by Ben Wasserman of FoodConsumer.org explains that payments to Medicare private insurers for Medicare Advantage plans cost the government 13 percent more than traditional Medicare, and presents a concise overview of the latest Medicare votes.

Pete Sessions voted against G.I. Bill 2008

This afternoon, I got an email from the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) saying that President Bush has signed the G.I. Bill 2008 into law:
Today, history was made.

Just this morning, President Bush signed the new GI Bill into law. Since we are only a few days away from celebrating the 4th of July, this milestone is a fitting way to honor our veterans who have bravely served this nation.

IAVA has led the fight for the new GI Bill from the beginning, and your dedication over the past year and a half ensured that our lawmakers kept it a top priority. Over 20,000 of you called your representatives in Congress, spread the word in your communities and signed the petition at www.GIBill2008.org. Thanks to your hard work, we finally achieved our goal...
On the website, there's a link to see if your representative voted for the bill. I'm thinking that surely Pete Sessions would support our veterans and sign this bill.

But no, Pete Session let the troops down and voted no to H.R. 2642. List of yeas and nays available at this link: Roll Call No. 330. For more information about this new G.I. Bill, see the "quickfacts" at the IAVA website: A New G.I. Bill: Rewarding our Troops, Rebuilding our Military

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pete Sessions one of only 19 against Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008

Pete Sessions was one of only 19 House members to vote against the Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008, "To direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to utilize all its authority, including its emergency powers, to curb immediately the role of excessive speculation in any contract market within the jurisdiction and control of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, on or through which energy futures or swaps are traded, and to eliminate excessive speculation, price distortion, sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in prices, or other unlawful activity that is causing major market disturbances that prevent the market from accurately reflecting the forces of supply and demand for energy commodities."

This bill passed 402-19, with 13 not voting. Roll call information available at this link: Roll Call 468

Pete Sessions votes against public transportation

Once again, Pete Sessions found himself among the minority in Congress who voted against H.R.6052, "To promote increased public transportation use, to promote increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation, and for other purposes." The bill passed 322 - 98 (See Roll Call No. 467)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pete Sessions votes "no" on Medicare bill

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 6331 by a veto-proof majority, "To amend titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to extend expiring provisions under the Medicare Program, to improve beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, to enhance low-income benefit programs, and to maintain access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access, and for other purposes." What this bill does is block further cuts to Medicare reimbursements. The bill is supported by just about everybody but insurance company lobbyists who want to eviscerate Medicare in favor of more privatization.

The bill passed 355 - 59, Pete Sessions being one of the 59 who voted against it.

The bill is supported by the American Medical Association; in this op-ed, AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen, MD urges the Senate to follow suit by passing a veto-proof bill:
"Today, we stand at the brink of a Medicare meltdown. On July 1 — just five days from now — the government will slash Medicare physician payments by 10.6 percent.

"This cut would force 60 percent of doctors to limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat. More than half of doctors say they'd need to cut staff, and 14 percent say they'd quit patient care altogether...

..."The House made this critical issue a top priority. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives acted decisively to pass this legislation — H.R. 6331 — by an overwhelming, veto-proof, bipartisan margin of 355 to 59.

"Now, it's the Senate's turn to consider this same legislation. We urge the Senate to act today - before their Fourth of July recess — to stop these cuts and allow Medicare to keep its promise to America's seniors.

"We can't put patients into limbo —where their physicians are forced to make no-win decisions just to keep their office doors open. Medicare patients deserve better from Washington! And frankly, so do those who care for Medicare patients.

"We've made a diagnosis. The treatment is clear. The House has prepped the patient. Now the Senate needs to administer the cure.

"Access to Medicare for our patients — among them some of the most vulnerable of our family, friends and neighbors — hangs in the balance. There's a lot at stake, and today the physicians of America call on the Senate to do the right thing for the Greatest Generation."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pete Sessions: "...the energy companies are our friends."

Just saw this, from Think Progress--it's Pete Sessions speaking on the House floor on behalf of his friends in the oil industry:
SESSIONS: "What do we hear back from Washington, DC? … “Let’s stick it to Big Oil!” Well, in fact, what we ought to be saying is that energy companies are our friends. … What are the energy companies saying? They’re saying please give us the opportunity to go where there is oil or the perception that there’s oil and go looking for it and provide it to the American public."

The energy companies are certainly friends of Pete Sessions. Since 2004, Sessions has received over $330,000 from the oil and gas industry. In return, Sessions is aggressively promoting greater oil drilling. But as the Energy Information Administration states, increased drilling in the outer continental shelf will have an “insignificant” impact on oil prices.
Video at this link.

House votes to override Bush veto of farm bill--Pete Sessions votes "no"

Yesterday, the House voted to override Bush's veto of H.R. 6124, "To provide for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes." Even our two pro-Bush Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voted in favor of overriding Bush's veto of their Senate bill. The slim minority who voted against this bill is illustrated by this map, by Congress.org. Notice that Texas voted against President Bush, putting us with the majority of the country. Only Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin are in the president's column, along with Pete Sessions and a handful of Texas congressmen. (See Roll Call 417).

Pete Sessions clinging to McCain's coattails

From Dallas Morning News:
Dallas-area Republicans need Mr. McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, to be a powerful draw at the top of their ticket...

..."He's going to bring us all together," Rep. Pete Sessions , R-Dallas, said of Mr. McCain. "He will win Texas."

The question for Mr. Sessions and others who attended the fundraiser is: Can Mr. McCain win Dallas County?

... Every county Republican's chances hinge on whether Mr. McCain can be competitive here.

In 2006, straight-ticket voting, among other things, helped doom Republicans such as former County Judge Margaret Keliher. She was swept out of office by little-known Democrat Jim Foster.

George W. Bush narrowly carried Dallas County in the last two presidential contests. And he was a Texan running in years when the Republican brand was not tarnished.

And only now are Texas Republicans rallying around Mr. McCain in earnest, with most saying Mr. Obama would be a worse alternative.

The primary contest, though, showed Mr. Obama is most dominant in areas like Dallas and Harris counties.

The Democratic, independent and new voters he brings to the polls could wash away any McCain momentum...
At the beginning, Pete Sessions supported Giulianni, which caused quite a stir among right-wing purists who asked why a staunch pro-life congressman would support a left-of-center candidate. This blog post from the right-wing Human Events Online indicate that hard-R voters in this district are getting tired of Pete Sessions:
Pete Session[s] is my Congressman, and believe me, he'll sell out the social conservatives at the drop of a hat for personal gain. Rudy Giuliani must have offered him a top job in exchange for delivering the pro-life vote. After he wins, Rudy will do his usual pro-choice thing, Pete Sessions will get a top appointment, and both will hope the social conservatives forget all the campaign promises...
Now, Pete Sessions is counting on McCain's popularity in Dallas County to carry him back to the Congress, a county that went Democratic in 2006 and is increasingly turning away from anybody connected with Bush.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pete Sessions chickens out on impeachment vote

In a previous blog post, Pete Sessions was quoted as saying, "Everybody hates George Bush," but apparently, "hating" him only goes so far. Pete Sessions was given an opportunity to cast a vote on impeachment, but chickened out. He was one of only 16 House members who declined to go on record one way or the other. (H. Res. 1258, Roll No. 401. The resolution passed 251-166, to send it on to the Judiciary Committee.

Pete Sessions votes 'no' to Amtrak

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 6003, Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 by a veto-proof majority of 311 yeas to 104 nays, with Pete Sessions, of course, being one of the nay-sayers. (See Roll No. 400. From Southern Mississippi's Sun-Herald:
The House on Wednesday approved a large investment in passenger rail service by re-authorizing Amtrak with $14.9 billion for capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years, including proposed corridors in Texas and Mississippi...

...Unlike past battles, the House debate was overwhelmingly positive as members cited the high cost of gasoline and the need to provide national rail service in support of the bill.

"Given this energy and congestion crisis, Americans need transportation solutions that are affordable, accessible and environmentally sustainable - and that is what Amtrak and high-speed rail can offer," said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn. "One full passenger train can take 250 to 350 cars off the road."

...Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, proposed eliminating the Sunset Limited altogether - which now connects Los Angeles to New Orleans - because of its high costs but the amendment was soundly defeated with 150 in favor and 275 against.

Pete Sessions votes "no" to American-made goods!

This is pretty astounding--yesterday, the House passed one of those "Sense of the House" resolutions saying "...that rebate checks would better stimulate the economy if spent on American-made products and services from American-owned companies." Every now and then, Congress passes one of these "no-brainer" non-binding resolutions, so everybody can come together and feel good about passing something that everybody likes--in this case, American-made goods and services.

Who would vote against American-made goods and services?

Pete Sessions, of course, who was one of only six--count 'em, six--to vote no! Others who didn't want to take part voted "present" or just didn't vote at all, but Pete Sessions came out and cast his vote against made-in-America products. Good grief--even Joe "Smokey Joe" Barton voted "yes."

The resolution passed 404 - 6, with 6 voting "present" and 17 not voting. Roll Call information is available at this link: Roll No. 404

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pete Sessions says "no" to Green Schools

Today, the House passed the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which provides "outreach and technical assistance to States and school districts concerning the best practices in school modernization, renovation, repair, and construction, including those related to student academic achievement and student and staff health, energy efficiency, and environmental protection." The bill passed 250 yeas to 164 nays, with 27 Republicans voting with the majority, and the rest--including Pete Sessions--voting no. Roll Call information at this link: Roll Call 379

Monday, May 26, 2008

Pete Sessions: "Everybody Hates George Bush."

Somebody accused me once of "hating" George W. Bush. I corrected the person, explaining that I don't "hate" anybody. Sure, I believe Bush to be the worst president we've ever had, but that statement is based on facts, not emotion. I'm perfectly capable of pointing out the President's flaws, substantiated by things like The Downing Street Memo, his abuse of signing statements, and I sure do agree with Bruce Fein that Bush should be impeached.

But "hate?" Hmmmm...I'm trying to think of something or someone I hate. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Yet there's our Congressman, explaining to a group of students that his political party is in trouble, in part, because "everybody hates George Bush."

Republicans like Pete Sessions who "hate" George Bush must be the opposite from me--although they're blinded by "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury," they just can't bring themselves to vote against his wishes or use their constitutional authority to kick him out of office. Interesting.

Okay, let's see...things I hate. I've got one! Fire ants. Hate 'em.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pete Sessions voted against Farm Bill

The House voted to override Bush's veto of the farm bill, by a 2/3 majority of 306-110. From Congress.Org:
H.R. 6124, to provide for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2012, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 306 yeas to 110 nays, Roll No. 353.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pete Sessions says no to renewable energy, farm, nutrition & bioenergy

From Congress.Org:
The House passed H.R. 6049, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, and to provide individual income tax relief, by a recorded vote of 263 ayes to 160 noes, Roll No. 344.
Pete Sessions voted no.

The House also voted to override Bush's veto of the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act, with a 2/3 vote of 316-108, and Pete Sessions, once again, voting no. From Congress.org:
Subsequently, the House voted to override the President's veto of H.R. 2419, to provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012, by a yea-and-nay vote of 316 yeas to 108 nays, Roll No. 346 (two-thirds of those present voting to override).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

House votes to allow suit against OPEC

The House today passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan bill creating a Justice Department task force to investigate oil prices, and to subject OPEC oil producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, to the same antitrust laws that U.S. companies must follow.

The bill passed 324-84, with 26--including Pete Sessions--not voting. The text of the bill is available at The Library of Congress, with roll call information at this link: Roll Call 332.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Pete Sessions benefits from Exxon record profits

In February, Exxon posted record profits, which is good news to Pete Sessions and family, who own quite a bit of stock in the company:
In the House, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, owns Exxon stock but is less of a player on energy issues than Ms. Hutchison. Mr. Sessions owns between $15,001 and $50,000 of Exxon stock; his two dependents own shares worth between $100,001 and $250,000, said Emily Davis, Mr. Sessions' spokesman.

"He's strongly advocated for domestic production, regardless of the company," Ms. Davis said.
"Hey, wait a minute," says SessionsWatch, "Hasn't Pete Sessions cast votes against renewable energy, and isn't it a conflict of interest for him to be raking in big bucks from big oil, while voting against renewable energy?"

Apparently not. According to rules of the House and Senate, it's only "conflict of interest" if they vote to give a contract to a specific oil company, and it's not a conflict if they always vote "pro-oil" over other sources of energy.

And, according to the article, there's no law about conflict of interest at all, when it concerns House or Senate votes.
While Congress prescribed a strict conflict-of-interest law for the judiciary, which prompted Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to remove himself from a punitive-damages case involving Exxon Mobil, it didn't apply the same test to lawmakers...

...Ms. Hutchison, R-Texas, also owns between $50,000 and $100,000 of stock in Chevron, which, like Exxon, opposes proposed legislation to impose a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies.

In December, Ms. Hutchison put a "hold" on a bill – a tactic that allows one senator to stop legislation – that would have repealed tax breaks for Exxon, Chevron and three other major oil companies. The measure would have raised $9.4 billion for the U.S. Treasury over 10 years...
Worthwhile read. Kudos to Dave Michaels for bringing this to our attention.