Politics: White House

Carney Defends Government Appointments of Big Obama Donors

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June 15, 2011, 10:49 a.m.

Atty Joe Miller (R) “ac­know­ledged” on 10/7 “that in the past his fam­ily re­ceived as­sist­ance from fed­er­al Medi­caid and Denali Kid­Care, the state low-in­come health care pro­gram. His op­pon­ents in the race re­spon­ded that he’s a hy­po­crite for tak­ing as­sist­ance while now say­ing fed­er­al en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams are un­con­sti­tu­tion­al. Miller’s cam­paign didn’t provide an an­swer for the past week-and-a-half when asked what low-in­come as­sist­ance he has re­ceived. But Miller ad­dressed” the ques­tion “when asked by re­port­ers after a de­bate in An­chor­age, say­ing people are en­titled to know about his past be­ne­fits but ‘it’s a bit of a dis­trac­tion from where we’re at today.’”

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Miller: “I have the same sort of struggles in my past that oth­er people have had. There is a prop­er role for gov­ern­ment. The ques­tion is, who con­trols the power, is it at the fed­er­al level or the state level? It’s our per­spect­ive that the state is the best ar­bit­er, the state’s the best point at which we make those de­cisions. Be­cause it gets us closer to the people.”

Miller said he has not been on gov­ern­ment as­sist­ance “for years” (Cock­er­ham, An­chor­age Daily News, 10/8).

Dur­ing the de­bate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) “took aim at” Miller’s “con­ten­tion that the era of ear­marks is dead, say­ing aid to fur­ther build in­fra­struc­ture in this still-young state is vi­tal, not pork.”

Murkowski sug­ges­ted — “to loud ap­plause — that if such cuts are to be made, per­haps the best place to start look­ing to make them is in the Lower 48.”

The event was fo­cused on AK Nat­ive is­sues, “with the can­did­ates agree­ing on the need to im­prove the rur­al eco­nomy and provide for more re­li­able en­ergy — just dif­fer­ing, in some cases, on how to get there.”

Murkowski and Sitka May­or Scott McAdams (D), “for ex­ample, talked about a fo­cus on boost­ing re­new­able en­ergy to help build up loc­al com­munit­ies and cre­ate jobs. Miller said op­tions, in­clud­ing nuc­le­ar, shouldn’t be pre­cluded or over­looked.”

“A big is­sue was money. Miller, who be­lieves the powers of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment should be lim­ited to those spelled out in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, has ar­gued that fed­er­al de­fi­cits are crip­pling, Wash­ing­ton is out of con­trol” and AK “must be weaned off its heavy re­li­ance on fed­er­al help and giv­en great­er con­trol of its own re­sources.”

Miller “said a new day is com­ing” and AK “needs to be pre­pared. While the past few dec­ades have been a bless­ing, he said — a peri­od in which mem­bers” of AK’s del­eg­a­tion “brought home bil­lions in fed­er­al aid and pro­jects — it’s a ‘dream’ to think that will con­tin­ue. He be­lieves the fights should be waged dur­ing the ap­pro­pri­ations pro­cess.”

But McAdams, like Murkowski, “ar­gued the need” for AK “to con­tin­ue fight­ing for what he calls its fair share. Murkowski stressed her seni­or­ity as crit­ic­al to help­ing to en­sure” AK’s “voice is heard.”

McAdams “ques­tioned wheth­er Murkowski, who’d built a repu­ta­tion as a cent­rist but has shif­ted fur­ther right, had put party over policy the last few years. Murkowski has at­trib­uted this to her con­cerns about the dir­ec­tion the coun­try was head­ing” un­der the Dems (Bo­hr­er, AP, 10/7).

Filed, Fi­nally

“After a long delay,” Miller “has filed his fin­an­cial dis­clos­ure pa­per­work” on 10/7.

Miller “should have turned his form in some time this spring, when he had ex­ceeded” $5K in cam­paign dona­tions. “He nev­er turned one in, though — an omis­sion that the cam­paign said pre­vi­ously was un­in­ten­tion­al.”

The dis­clos­ure doc­u­ment shows Miller made $59K from his law firm and $38K from the Fairb­anks North Star Bor­ough. The dis­clos­ure forms also list 21 leg­al cli­ents who paid him more than $5K.

The “forms also show that Miller owes him­self between” $100K and $250K for a cam­paign loan.

“Ac­cord­ing to his dis­clos­ure, Miller has a sub­stan­tial amount of cred­it card debt. That debt in­cludes between” $35K and $80K “on three sep­ar­ate re­volving charge ac­counts.”

He “also owes a stu­dent loan” val­ued at $15K to $50K (Bol­stad, An­chor­age Daily News, 10/7).

Heard Of Joe The Plumb­er, But Now We’ve Got Joe The Leak­er

The “angry on­line ex­change” between Todd Pal­in and Miller that “sur­faced this week” was “in­ad­vert­ently” leaked by the Miller camp. Miller “in­ten­ded to for­ward the e-mail last month from an ir­ate Pal­in to a few of his cam­paign ad­visers, but” he “ac­ci­dent­ally plugged in­to the wrong e-mail ad­dress for one of the re­cip­i­ents.” As a res­ult, “the juicy e-mail mes­sage” was “pos­ted for the en­tire world to see” on a polit­ic­al blog.

In­stead of typ­ing an e-mail ad­dress end­ing in his cam­paign’s do­main “@joe­miller.us,” Miller typed out an ad­dress end­ing in “@joe­miller.com.” Joe­Miller.com is “a simple blog with one para­graph of text” and is un­re­lated to the Miller SEN camp. The do­main own­er re­ceived the email, and leaked it. He also “al­luded that he had some ‘oth­er in­form­a­tion’” about Miller.

Do­main own­er: “Let’s let the gen­er­al elec­tion play out, then I’ll add more in­form­a­tion. I don’t want any­thing said here to in­flu­ence the out­come, and the oth­er in­form­a­tion I have might do that” (Toep­litz, Politico, 10/7).

Pay Up Or Shut Up?

Murkowski “slammed” Miller 10/7 “for be­ing a month late in pay­ing his prop­erty taxes.” Murkowski spokes­per­son Steve Wack­owski in a state­ment: “It is odd that Joe Miller, a can­did­ate who wants states to have to as­sume a host of costly ad­min­is­trat­ive bur­dens, from man­aging un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance be­ne­fits to edu­ca­tion aid, is so care­less about pay­ing for loc­al gov­ern­ment ser­vices. … It is odd that he is deny­ing loc­al gov­ern­ment the means to af­ford to as­sume the bur­dens he wants placed on them” (Freiberg/Richard­son, Fairb­anks Daily News-Miner, 10/7).

Susan B. An­thony’s Song

“Anti-abor­tion” Susan B. An­thony’s List “is back­ing” Miller in the race, and “launch­ing a” $10K “weeklong ra­dio ad cam­paign.” The group is known for “sup­port­ing anti-abor­tion fe­male can­did­ates,” but List pres. Mar­jor­ie Dannen­felser “says the Wash­ing­ton-D.C. group” also “says it will look to sup­port a male can­did­ate who shares its be­liefs” if “a fe­male can­did­ate” is “un­der­min­ing” the anti-abor­tion cause (AP, 10/7).

One way to ex­plain Sen. Richard Lugar’s loss to state Treas­urer Richard Mour­dock in this week’s In­di­ana Re­pub­lic­an primary is to at­trib­ute it to a tea party takeover of the GOP. A second ex­plan­a­tion is that a ven­er­able pub­lic ser­vant over­stayed his wel­come and ran for reelec­tion one time too many. A third is that Lugar was too fo­cused on in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions and grew too dis­tant from his state — that he didn’t keep his polit­ic­al fences men­ded back home.

The fact is, all three factors con­trib­uted to Lugar’s de­feat. To put too much weight on any one reas­on is too con­veni­ent. The end res­ult is that one of the ser­i­ous adults in Con­gress, a real states­man, won’t be com­ing back. It isn’t a sur­prise to those watch­ing his race; the signs had been ap­par­ent for some time.

Al­though there cer­tainly was an ideo­lo­gic­al com­pon­ent to Lugar’s loss, his de­feat was not as ideo­lo­gic­ally fo­cused as, say, the ouster of then-GOP Sen. Robert Ben­nett two years ago in Utah. Lugar’s de­tract­ors had no single light­ning-rod is­sue to hurl against him, in the way that Ben­nett’s vote for the Troubled As­set Re­lief Pro­gram killed him in 2010. In Lugar’s case, ideo­logy just com­bined with the oth­er factors to doom his reelec­tion.

Hos­til­ity to­ward Wash­ing­ton is wide­spread, par­tic­u­larly among con­ser­vat­ive Re­pub­lic­an primary voters. Lugar’s de­cision to seek a sev­enth Sen­ate term was risky. Sev­er­al months ago, a prom­in­ent GOP poll­ster, not in­volved in the In­di­ana race and not spe­cific­ally ad­dress­ing the Hoo­si­er State, railed on and on to me about the hos­til­ity that he saw among GOP primary voters. He warned that some Re­pub­lic­an in­cum­bents would go down in their primar­ies — mem­bers who nor­mally might not have any trouble at all. Voters of all ideo­lo­gic­al stripes ex­press frus­tra­tion with Wash­ing­ton these days, but con­ser­vat­ives har­bor an in­tense dis­like that far sur­passes oth­er voters’ dis­ap­prov­al. For these con­ser­vat­ives, seni­or­ity is a dis­qual­i­fic­a­tion, not a reas­on to reelect an in­cum­bent.

Fi­nally, the sin of be­ing too fo­cused on is­sues bey­ond In­di­ana’s bor­ders caught up with Lugar, just as it did with pre­vi­ous Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee chair­men — J. Wil­li­am Ful­bright of Arkan­sas (1974), Frank Church of Idaho (1980), and Charles Percy of Illinois (1984). The heady world of in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions can pull a sen­at­or far from voters back home. Go­ing to in­nu­mer­able county bean sup­pers and show­ing up in every corner of the state once a year or so no longer seems as ex­hil­ar­at­ing as dis­cuss­ing the vi­tal is­sues of the plan­et with world lead­ers. A Re­pub­lic­an friend of mine, a very loy­al Lugar sup­port­er, warned me many months ago that he was afraid that far too many of In­di­ana’s 92 county Re­pub­lic­an chairs had nev­er met their seni­or sen­at­or.

Prob­ably 30 years ago, I re­call hear­ing a press sec­ret­ary to then-Sen. Joe Biden de­scribe how on snowy days, Biden’s of­fice would ask each of the Delaware ra­dio sta­tions to add to their list of school clos­ings and oth­er in­clement-weath­er an­nounce­ments the mes­sage that “Sen­at­or Joe Biden’s mo­bile of­fice will not be mak­ing its nor­mal rounds today.” The of­fice could very well have been up on blocks that day get­ting an over­haul. The point is that not only did Biden go home to Delaware every night, he and his of­fice were also om­ni­present in the state. If a mem­ber of Con­gress is go­ing to fo­cus on for­eign policy, it cer­tainly be­hooves that law­maker to be all over his or her state or dis­trict like a cheap suit.

For Lugar, the lack of a real In­di­ana res­id­ence, a reg­u­lar place to lay his head at night, be­came the pièce de résist­ance: It was the one thing that wrapped all his oth­er prob­lems up and tied them with a bow. How much could a one-bed­room condo in In­di­ana­pol­is cost? The sym­bol­ism was dev­ast­at­ing; it be­came the smoking gun.

Now what hap­pens to Lugar’s seat? Al­though Pres­id­ent Obama car­ried In­di­ana in 2008 and Demo­crats had a pretty good run there for a while, Re­pub­lic­ans have won nearly every statewide race in re­cent years. Polling in March showed a gen­er­al-elec­tion match­up between Mour­dock and Rep. Joe Don­nelly, the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee, to be com­pet­it­ive. A March 12-15 Glob­al Strategies Group poll for the Don­nelly cam­paign put the Demo­crat ahead by 6 points, 34 per­cent to 28 per­cent; a Liber­tari­an Party can­did­ate, An­drew Horn­ing, pulled 8 per­cent. A March 26-28 Howey Polit­ic­al Re­port/De­Pauw In­di­ana Battle­ground poll of 503 likely gen­er­al-elec­tion voters, con­duc­ted jointly by Demo­crat­ic polling firm Gar­in-Hart Stra­tegic Re­search and Re­pub­lic­an firm Bell­weth­er Re­search, put the race dead even: 35 per­cent each, with Horn­ing at 7 per­cent.

The state’s long-stand­ing Re­pub­lic­an tend­en­cies ap­pear to be re­sur­fa­cing. But to what ex­tent will bruised feel­ings or even scar tis­sue from this very trau­mat­ic primary counter that trend? De­feat­ing an in­cum­bent in a primary by  20 points, 60 per­cent to 40 per­cent, is cer­tainly an im­press­ive feat. And this isn’t Mour­dock’s first big statewide win. He rolled up a massive vic­tory in the state treas­urer’s race two years ago. At the same time, Don­nelly is a far bet­ter can­did­ate than might be ex­pec­ted in such a Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing state in a pres­id­en­tial year. This con­test is more com­pet­it­ive than it should be. 

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