GOP Ethics Chair cheats on wife – support Vietnam Vet Bill O’Neill for Memorial Day

I know Rob already diaried this, but I really want to help Bill O’Neill turn OH-14 blue – so here’s a little more information about this race and our Memorial Day Donor Bomb

Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio is scum, but his opponent, Bill O’Neill is a Vietnam veteran we can really get behind. Summary of this Diary:

1. Support Bill O’Neill, winner of Election Inspection’s Memorial Day Donor Bomb contest to support a veteran running for Congress.

2. Why O’Neill is good for Veterans, Labor, Civil Rights, Small Business, and restoring the rule of law.

3. The sordid tale of GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette, a phony moderate, a corrupt scumbag who is literally in bed with his lobbyist, and a toothless ethics chair who made a mockery of the job and was still yanked by Tom DeLay for the smallest ounce of insubordination.

Please donate to Bill O’Neill for Memorial Day! Let’s give our veterans and the families of the fallen a congress that understands them and will vote to end the Iraq War.

Ohio’s 14th district is in the suburbs of Cleveland – exactly the kind of place where Democrats have been making inroads in the past two cycles. The PVI of the district is R+2 – a very winnable district. Steve LaTourette has a scandal against him and an opponent who’s both a Vietnam Vet and an elected Judge. We need to send O’Neill money to help get this race onto the DCCC radar and attract attention from VoteVets as well. That’s right, the only barrier to this race becoming competitive is money, the one thing nearly any of us can help with. Send a lot or a little to a veteran running for congress this Memorial Day.

Bill O’Neill is a Vietnam veteran who received a Bronze Star – that’s patriotism that no flag pin can match. He’s also been a civil rights lawyer, a small businessman, and a union organizer – a man who understands the economic challenges faced by Ohioans who’ve felt the brunt of the Bush Economy. In more recent years, he’s been one of the most respected appellate judges in Ohio – a man of integrity who can be trusted to make sure that no man, even the President of the United States, is above the law. He stepped down from the bench in June 2007 to run for Congress, because he knows a judge cannot be compromised by the trials of campaigning. Learn more about O’Neill.

Steve LaTourette is scum – he cheated on his wife with his former chief of staff, who was lobbying his committee, who LaTourette then remarried after getting a divorce. So he’s literally in bed with a lobbyist, and she suddenly got all sorts of new clients. For example, she represents the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, while he’s the ranking member on the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime, a part of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee. This isn’t why the GOP removed him as chair of the Ethics committee, of course – they simply didn’t like his toothless admonishment (with no penalties) of Tom Delay. LaTourette quickly fell in line after that. Salon article on LaTourette by Cliff Schecter. LaTourette has a perfect score on the Family Values card according to the GOP – that is, unless you count his own family values. (Is that why people think he’s a moderate?)

So please – spread the word, and Donate to Bill O’Neill!

This Memorial Day Donor Bomb brought to you by Election Inspection – your source for polls, predictions, analysis, news, and now fundraising efforts. Don’t forget to tip ActBlue for the great work they do!

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OH-14: LaTourette (R) Gets Blogger Fired From Newspaper-Sponsored Group Blog

Today I was terminated from my engagement as a freelance blogger at the blog “Wide Open” as a direct result of intervention of Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) of the 14th Ohio Congressional District, in retaliation for my previous blogging about his re-election campaign and my financial support for two of his election opponents.

In August, the Cleveland Plain Dealer hired four Ohio political bloggers to contribute to a daily political group blog called “Wide Open“. In order to assure balance, two bloggers with liberal leanings were chosen, and two with conservative leanings. The other participants are Jill Miller Zimon of Writes Like She Talks, Tom Blumer of BizzyBlog, and Dave of Nixguy.

My participation in the project soon came to the attention of Rep. LaTourette. More after the flip.

I had written extensively about LaTourette’s 2006 re-election contest and I explicitly supported his challenger, law professor Lew Katz (D-Pepper Pike). I also wrote about what I regard as the suspicious connection between large amounts of campaign cash LaTourette received from the Ratner family of Cleveland, of the Forest City real estate empire, and their receiving an enormous contract to develop 44 acres of the Southeast Federal Center in Washington DC. LaTourette was a member of the powerful Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, which oversees the agency that awarded the contract (the General Services Administration). (That writing is here and was picked up here.) My wife and I also contributed a modest amount to the Katz campaign.

I was told by Cleveland Plain Dealer Online Editor Jean DuBail that Rep. LaTourette complained about my involvement in “Wide Open” to Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Page Editor Brent Larkin. I was also informed that LaTourette brought the matter of my participation up during an interview with Cleveland Plain Dealer political reporter Sabrina Eaton, when she talked to LaTourette about the retirement of Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield). LaTourette mentioned that I had contributed the sum of $100 to the campaign of LaTourette’s current opponent, Bill O’Neill (D-South Russell). Eaton suggested that he raise his concerns with more senior people at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As a result of the conversation, Eaton reported my contribution in her story about third quarter campaign fund-raising by various Ohio Congressional candidates.

Cleveland Plain Dealer Online Editor Jean DuBail raised the matter of LaTourette’s displeasure with my participation in “Wide Open” in discussion with the four bloggeres on at least two occasions. We discussed the possibility of my making a disclosure of my support for LaTourette’s opponents whenever I wrote anything about LaTourette.

Today Dubail called me and asked if I would agree to never write about LaTourette on “Wide Open,” as a condition of my continued participation. He said that the arrangement was sought by Susan Goldberg, Editor of the Plain Dealer. When I declined to agree that I would never write about LaTourette on “Wide Open,” I was terminated by DuBail.

As a political blogger, I am a partisan. My political orientation as a progressive Democrat is an integral part of what I do and is completely transparent to my readers. This is a crucial component of being a political blogger/activist, and sets us apart from journalists in the classic sense. It was understood among the four participants in “Wide Open” that we are political partisans and that we would engage in political debate from our respective political points of view.

I am extremely disappointed that the Cleveland Plain Dealer bowed to pressure from an elected official, to the extent of attempting to limit what a freelance political blogger could write on a hosted group blog and of terminating the services of the blogger to please the offical. To me, this sad episode strikes a heavy blow at freedom of expression and the purported journalistic independence of a once proud newspaper.

Of course, I am appalled at this petty exercise of political power by Rep. LaTourette to retaliate agianst even so insignificant an enemy as me. I do not believe that a Congressman who stoops to the level of manipulating a newspaper to strike back at a critic deserves to remain in office. Fortunately, LaTourette has a strong opponent in 2008 challenger Bill O’Neill.