Saturday, February 21, 2009

Memo to Congress: If you took Stanford's money, just admit it!

This is the problem ordinary people have with our members of Congress, they try to run away from a story instead of taking it on headlong. The latest story about R. Allen Stanford has politicians on both sides of the aisle "scrambling to distance themselves from Allen Stanford," according to Talking Points Memo.

The February 18 edition of Bloomberg, for instance, has this to say about Pete Sessions' relationship with Stanford:
Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, got $41,375. Spokeswoman Emily Davis said Sessions didn’t know Stanford personally.
But take a look at the January 20, 2006 edition of Bloomberg, which reports on the House Caribbean Caucus, of which Pete Sessions was caucus co-chair:
Sessions's biggest campaign donors for the 2004 elections were employees of Stanford Financial, Federal Election Commission records show. He was asked to join the Caribbean Caucus by Allen Stanford, said Guy Harrison, Sessions's chief of staff.

``Mr. Stanford is very focused on making sure the Caribbean is noticed within the U.S. foreign policy structure,'' said Harrison. He said Stanford never asked Sessions for anything else.
And, of course, Talking Points Memo has dug up pictures of key representatives in photographs with Stanford--like this one, which shows Pete Sessions, R. Allen Stanford, and Donald Payne (D-NJ) at a 2005 trip to Antigua.

In congressional districts all over the U.S., constituents are asking the same thing: if there's nothing to hide, what are you running away from?

7 comments:

jj999 said...

I can understand the members of Congress scrambling to distance themselves from Stanford. I agree, though, that the more they try to get away, the guiltier they look.

Hopefully Congress will actually choose to open up a discussion about this. Now that they have passed the stimulus package, they should be able to move on to issues like this.

I saw that the Friends of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is still asking people to give their opinion on the most important thing for Congress to do next. Then they are going to focus their efforts on getting Congress to accomplish what we actually want them to do.

What do the other readers think Congress should do? Should they work to investigate the various ties to Stanford? Should they focus on campaign finance reform? Or should they focus their efforts on completely different areas? Make sure to add your opinion so Congress can know what we want them to do next - http://www.friendsoftheuschamber.com/email/email4.cfm?id=200

Sessions Watch said...

Thanks for the link.

Nick said...

I'm torn on this one. I'd like to see congress investigate links between any big money donor to any bills that might have been written, but I'd rather just see congress focus on reforming the whole campaign finance system. Maybe this one guy didn't influence anybody, but the system's still all wrong. Somehow, big money needs to be taken out of the game so anybody can play. That way, anybody could run without having to raise millions, and congress could get back to working for the people instead of for big donors. I mean, who do you think they're listening to, the guy with a $40,000 check or us with only our letters, faxes, phone calls and so forth.

Lisa said...

I agree that there needs to be an emphasis on campaign finance reform, but I don't think it's a top priority with our economy in such bad shape.

In my opinion, Congress should focus on getting manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., and work on a health care delivery system that's not tied to employment. My husband and I have gone from one job to another lately, and we're lucky to keep finding new jobs after losing jobs, but paying for our own health insurance is outrageously expensive. I'd like to see Congress focus on getting anybody who wants into the same health plan they have. We taxpayers are paying for it, anyway, so we should get to join the plan if we want to.

John Peterson said...

I should mention that Pete Sessions is one of the larger individual recipients of Stanford Financial Group's money ($41,375). Second only to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla) who received $45,900.

Stanford Financial Group's largest donation was to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the amount of... Quick hold your eyeballs in so they don't pop out...

$965,500

The second largest donation was the National Republican Congressional Committee in the amount of $250,125. More numbers at OpenSecrets.org. Gotta love the Internet.

JOhn

Sessions Watch said...

Thanks for the link, John.

To those who've posted, it's probably up to activists in each state and congressional district to investigate their own representatives to determine whether or not big money donations affected legislation. It's doubtful that congres will investigate their own, since Stanford worked both sides the street, so to speak, and just about everybody took somehing from him.

One thing in Sessions' favor in this case is one of the things we don't like about him--after all his years in Congress he has little influence. So it's doubtful that he would successfully sponsor a bill benefitting a large donor.

Sessions' summary page on Gov Track (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/person.xpd?id=400367)says it all: "Peter Sessions has sponsored 79 bills since Jan 7, 1997. of which 68 haven't made it out of committee and 2 were successfully enacted."

If anyone cares to investigate his bills, have at it; if you find anything, post it in the most recent comment box, and one of our SessionsWatchers will follow up.

Jim said...

I think people who got Stanford's money should set up a trust fund for the folks who got ripped off. People invested with Stanford and lost lots of money because he turned out to be a crook just the same as that Madoff guy.