I wonder if I am the only one interested in the Louisville Mayoral election primary that is taking place on Tuesday. Jerry Abramson was eligible to run for another term yet shocked residents by giving up the title “Mayor for Life” to run for Lieutenant Governor in the 2011 election. I thought it would be nice to give a brief overview of the candidates running before Tuesday’s primary.
I am a vocal supporter of Greg Fischer. He is a prominent local businessman who ran against Bruce Lunsford for the Democratic nomination for Senate in 2008. I honestly think he would be a good Mayor who could self finance a run for statewide office in the future. He comes off as very progressive to boot.
If David Tandy gets the nomination I would probably vomit. He was the former Council President who, in my view, did a HORRIBLE job. I’m not too worried though because I think he will come in a solid third or possibly even fourth. Polling has indicated that Fischer is the front runner with Tandy coming close. However that was a long time ago.
Former Council President Jim King has been advertising constantly and I think he is making headway. His advertisements mainly include talk of job creation, his experience and attacks on front runner Fischer. Fischer has done adds responding to King’s attacks and talking about his record. I expect Fischer and King to run a close election. I have nothing against King’s record but I have not been impressed with his constant attacks on Fischer. I would still support King in November, but could not say the same about Tandy.
Other candidates for the Democratic nomination include:
Tyler Allen- founder of 8664.
Connie Marshall- small business owner
Lisa Moxley- Barack Obama’s communication director for Kentucky
Shannon White- John Yarmuth’s finance director
The Republicans have not put up any viable candidates in my view. The best they have is Hal Heiner who is a member of the City Council. The field will also include businessman Chris Thienemanm who unsuccessfully challenged Anne Northup for the Republican nomination in 2008 and small business owner Jonathan Robertson. I feel that Heiner will win the primary by a fairly comfortable margin and will be crushed by either King or Fischer come November. Although a Republican victory is certainly not impossible.
This election will certainly be interesting and I hope you will join me in supporting Greg Fischer on Tuesday. I hope this diary was well liked and if your view is different than mine please feel free to express it. Thanks!
Like him or not Fischer is the Democratic nominee. Tandy comes in a distance second and King in third. I’m looking forward to November!
SurveyUSA (10/29-11/01, likely voters, 10/18-20 in parens):
Lunsford (D): 45 (48)
McConnell (R-inc): 53 (48)
Very discouraging trendlines for Lunsford at this late date. The earlier SUSA poll which showed the race tied matched Lunsford’s best performance all cycle (apart from a Rasmussen outlier back in May). But the drift in just a couple of weeks has been pretty stark. Whites were +3 for McConnell in the last poll; they are now +13. Independents were +6 for Lunsford; now they are +6 for Mitch.
As exciting as this race has been for some time, the problem (as I allude above) is that Lunsford has never had a lead in this race. With the last batch of polls all showing him behind anywhere from two to eight points, Bruce has to pull a serious rabbit out of his hat if we’re going to paint KY blue.
UPDATE: A cause for optimism? ChadinFL points out the final SUSA poll (PDF) of KY-Sen in 2004 (Mongiardo v. Bunning) was 51R-42D. The actual result? A 51-49 Bunning heartbreaker. The big difference, though, is that Mongiardo had moved up five net points in that last poll, where here, Lunsford has dropped eight.
Last week, SUSA shook KY and America with its poll showing Mitch “Wall St.” McConnell and Bruce Lunsford in a statistical tie at 49-46%. The poll was a 9 point plunge for McConnell, despite the fact that Democrats were severely undersampled.
The latest Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll shows that Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Bruce Lunsford is a statistical tie.
The telephone survey of 717 likely voters taken last week showed that McConnell and Lunsford are in a dead heat when respondents were asked who they would vote for if the election were held “today.”
McConnell moves ahead by one point when those who are undecided are asked which candidate they are leaning toward. The Bluegrass Poll, which was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
No, that’s not KY rain you feel, that’s Mitch McConnell sweating bullets…
Just down the road from Paducah, Kentucky sits St. John’s Catholic Church. Every year, they have an annual picnic with games and political speaking. While not as famous, and a lot tamer than the Fancy Farm Picnic, it is a really good idea for candidates to stop in and work for votes in Western Kentucky.
As with a lot of events in Kentucky Politics today, Heather Ryan stole the show. Unfortunately, at the last minute our camera had some technical difficulties, but I want to share a transcript of Heather’s speech, that once again fired up Democrats in attendence, and offended Republicans deeply with the hard truth of their records:
Well, we were going to bring our tractor-trailer to St. John’s Picnic like Exxon Eddie, but we simply couldn’t afford it.
After the Republican National Convention ended this week, analysts said the Republicans didn’t mention their achievements because they didn’t have any. Unfortunately, I disagree.
Republicans achieved everything they set out to achieve. They’ve made the rich richer, and the middle-class poor. You may think it is unfair for me to say, but when my opponent votes against Healthcare for poor children, he is representing Insurance companies, not you.
When Exxon Eddie votes against funding Alternative Energy, he is representing Big Oil, and his own stock options, not you. When he votes to give himself and the richest 1% of Americans a huge tax break while cutting veteran’s benefits he is representing his own wallet, not yours.
(Republican heckles from side) That is unless you are sitting over there with that bunch, who obviously aren’t hurting.
Because that is what we have had in office for 14 yrs, a cookie-cutter Republican who votes over 90% of the time with President Bush. If you are proud of what George W. Bush has done to our country, then by all means vote for Exxon Ed Whitfield.
But if you are embarrassed that we are the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t provide healthcare for it’s citizens, and if you are angry that Big Oil holds our economy hostage, and if your furious that the richest among us own the politicians that are supposed to represent us, then vote for me, Heather Ryan and support the Democratic ticket.
I am Heather Ryan and I am just an ordinary person during an extra-ordinary time. I am a wife, and mother, previous labor union member, and a veteran, which means that even I have more experience than Sarah Palin.
You have heard a lot of talk about change in this election. Its something we desperately need in Kentucky’s First Congressional District, and in fact in America. Friends, if you always do what you did, then you will always get what you have gotten. So please, vote Democrat on Nov. 4th. Change isn’t a campaign slogan, it is a neccesity.
Now for some pics of St. John’s!! Here is Heather, and her daughter Heaven, everyone’s favorite Mitch McConnell antagonist arriving at the picnic. (McConnell was a no-show):
Here is Bruce Lunsford, McConnell’s opponent who did show to meet with the voters of Western Kentucky:
Here is our opponent, Exxon Eddie, looking worried as he arrived in an empty tractor-trailer with his face and name on the side, burning $4.10 a gallon diesel while Paducah Trucking Companies are closing their doors. Of course, with his Exxon and Chevron Stock he will get it back. The taxpayers of Western Kentucky won’t:
Here is Exxon Eddie on the stage, trying to explain away $4.00 a gallon gas, and voting against Healthcare for Children:
Here is the reaction of Democrats as Exxon Eddie states how he has worked for Energy Independence. From left to right, Former Congressman and State Senate candidate Carroll Hubbard, Bruce Lunsford, Heather Ryan, and Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo:
Here is Heather, doing what she does like no other, calling the Republicans out on their sorry records of representing us:
Here is Carroll Hubbard, showing he still has what it takes to deliver a knockout speech:
Here is the leader of the Kentucky Democratic Party, Jennifer Moore, who is doing an awesome job and as Carroll Hubbard reminded us at Breakfast is the prettiest leader of the KDP ever:
It was a long, and great day for Democrats. Heather fired everyone up as usual, and better yet got under some Republican skin. As is the case every time people hear Heather for the first time, we signed up many new volunteers and recieved several contributions.
Please, help us in this race. This seat is ripe for the picking if we get the funds, and Heather would be an awesome Democrat with a spine in the Congress. Just ask Russ Feingold!! We are fighting hard here, and Exxon Eddie knows he is vulnerable. Go here to expand our Congressional majority!!:
Well, the political season has gotten pretty hot in Kentucky. With a Senate seat, and four hotly contested House seats here, Democrats here are fired up. Despite what any poll has said to this point, all these races are winnable. We have fielded a surprisingly impressive lineup of candidates and we are ready to fight for them. Meeting some of the delegates, and Jennifer Moore, the KDP chairman has convinced me that our party is ready to fight.
Our Senate campaign is first and foremost. Living in Kentucky, I have seen the terrible Mitch McConnell ads. I will not grace Mitch McConnell with their prescense in my diary, but they should be easlily findable on YouTube.
For his part, Bruce Lunsford has been hitting back:
He also recieved a huge endorsement from a formal rival:
DENVER-Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler of Kentucky’s 6th District officially endorsed Bruce Lunsford in his race for U.S. Senate against Mitch McConnell. Chandler made the announcement this morning during a Kentucky Delegation breakfast at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
“I am delighted that Ben has publicly expressed the support that he’s been expressing to me privately throughout the year,” said Lunsford, who attended the breakfast. “I’m thrilled to have Ben’s endorsement, and very grateful for it. Ben and I are united in the fight to put an end to the Bush-McConnell policies that have damaged Kentucky and the nation this decade. For many years, Ben Chandler has been an important leader in Kentucky, and I know Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush realize that when Democrats are united behind a cause, it spells trouble for them.”
Bruce can still win this race and still needs our help. Defeating Mitch McConnell should be as important as expelling Joe Lieberman, and would should get behind it with as much effort.
Now, in Congressional races, we simply must keep John Yarmuth, incumbent in the 3rd District. Anyone can find his record and easily see why. I got the priviledge of sitting next to him during Kennedy’s speech at the Convention. Here is a video he gave the grassroots Progressives at bluegrassroots.org:
I don’t think he is in trouble, but we must remain vigilent in this race, because Anne Northup is a Republican sweetheart who will raise a ton of cash. Yarmuth is a fine man, and a great Democrat we need to keep in our U.S. House. Please remember him:
David Boswell is in a hot race too. There have been hints of a DCCC investment, and Boswell has polled ahead in this race. You can see him here. As a State Senator, he has high name recognition in his district:
Ah, and finally, we have Heather Ryan!! Yes, this is my home, my race and my friend. Thanks to all who helped us win the Progressive Patriots contest, it was huge for us. Thanks to Jennifer Moore and the KDP for helping us achieve it, and to all the many folks I asked to vote for her that did. You have all our gratitudes.
It seems the Exxon Ed Whitfield people just have something against this fiery grassroots Democrat. Not only do they take money from terrorist, but they hate free speech too. With a million dollars in their campaign account, they continue to rip up our campaign signs, many handpainted ones and two of the fifty printed ones we had donated. With a million dollars in their account they fear us because we speak the truth to power:
The good news is the Feingold money, that many people were kind enough to help us win will keep Whitfield and his cronies plenty busy yanking up yard signs from now until November so we have time to go on the offensive. We need to run T.V., and we need your help to do it.
One T.V. spot on cable here costs about $6. Please, chip in just $6 to buy us one spot here:
In the last couple days, there have been several posts across the blogosphere citing what various candidates running for Congress have said on FISA and retroactive immunity for the telecoms. But so far, it’s been all over the map. I’ll try to corral all their statements into this diary, so you can see who the “good guys” are.
First, let’s start off with the current House and Senate members who voted against this bill. They do deserve credit, as it’s their jobs on the line.
Follow me below the fold to see the dozens of Democratic challengers who are standing up for the Constitution, and are against this FISA bill and retroactive immunity.
Now, not all of these statements were made this past week. Some came from 2007, and others came around February when this issue was last up in the air. But hey, they’re on record. So here goes, alphabetically by district. If you know of a candidate who HAS spoken out against retroactive immunity and the FISA bill, please let me know in the comments, and please include the link where we can read their statement, and I’ll update the diary accordingly.
It was Ben Franklin who said that “any man who is willing to sacrifice essential liberties for the sake of security deserves, neither.” We seem to have a country full of people who are willing to sacrifice essential liberties for the sake of an empty promise of security. As a free country, founded on concepts like justice and liberty, the de-evolution of our free society should not be tolerated by any people of conscience.
CA-04: Charlie Brown (seriously, read his entire diary, it’s excellent)
I flew missions that monitored electronic communications around the world-often with Soviet MIGs flying off my wing and hoping I’d make a wrong turn. Our standing order was “if you even suspect you are collecting data on an American citizen, you are to cease immediately, flag the tape, and bring it to a supervisor.” We knew failure to comply would yield serious consequences-the kind that can end your career, or worse, land you in jail.
In short, professional, accurate intelligence collection guidelines were used to protect America “from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” without also undermining the very freedoms we were protecting.
But this debate isn’t just about security; it’s about accountability. As an officer who was both involved in these programs and held personally accountable for my actions in the name of defending America, I have a problem with giving a few well-connected, well-healed companies who knowingly usurp the law a free pass.
And when I see companies acting “in the interest of national security” held to a lower standard of accountability than the dedicated professionals charged with our nation’s defense, silence is not an option.
And to those few companies seeking immunity for breaking the law despite the best of intentions—might I offer a few comforting words on behalf of all who serve, and all who have borne the responsibilities of safeguarding our great nation…freedom isn’t free.
Members of Congress take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. So do members of the Executive and Judiciary Branches. Unlike the Bush Administration, however, I will do all in my power to uphold and defend the Constitution, particularly regarding the protections and inalienable rights of all humanity it guarantees to the American people.
We live in an unsafe world. We need to ensure we take all necessary and legal steps to safeguard our country and its citizens. Our Constitution provides for checks and balances against government intrusiveness infringing upon fundamental rights of speech, religion, privacy, unlawful search and seizure, etc. It is ironic that the most efficient way to ensure perfect safety is by discarding these fundamental rights. In fact, some of the most repressive governments today (North Korea, anyone?) rule over some of the safest countries – at least when it comes to walking the streets at night.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration has ignored the Constitutions checks and balances. Instead it has created its own Rule of Law. The Bush Administration has suspended habeas corpus, sanctioned torture and illegal spying on Americans and created an extralegal detention center in Guantanamo. This arrogance continues even though the American people and many of our leading jurists and representatives have stated they want our Constitution followed in the manner envisioned by our Founding Fathers and confirmed by all subsequent administrations except the current one.
In the past the United States has ensured that those persons on its soil or under its jurisdiction or power are treated with the same dignity and respect as American citizens. This is based on that marvelous statement in the Declaration of Independence, [w]e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights. These inalienable rights are not limited to one gender, one party or one nationality. While we cannot always influence other governments to respect these rights we can guarantee them whenever they involve those on our soil or under our jurisdiction or power.
Therefore, it is ironic that the Bush Administration, which denounces the human rights record of the Cuban government, echoes that record by claiming the Guantanamo detainees are not subject to American due process in legal proceedings precisely because they are housed in Cuba even though they are under American jurisdiction and power. How long will it be before the current infringement of inalienable rights on our own soil, which now consists of illegal spying on Americans, escalates to suspension of Habeas Corpus or even torture against Americans?
No one not the President, not the Vice President, not members of the Cabinet is above the law, nor should any governmental branch be allowed to discard Constitutional guarantees. When I become your congressional representative I will do more than merely recite my constitutional oath of office as a rite of passage. I will act upon that oath and support and defend the Constitution. I will act to restore the constitutional balance between inalienable rights and safety. As Americans we will be free . . . we will be safe . . . and we will not participate in violations of those inalienable rights guaranteed to all by our Constitution.
Our nation was founded on a system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, the checks and balances in the Constitution and the freedoms Americans hold dear have been slowly eroding. Finally, last week the Supreme Court drew a line in the sand and restored habeas corpus, one of the Constitution’s most basic and essential protections against government abuse.
Some in Congress wish to eliminate another essential freedom by allowing the government to spy on its citizens without a warrant and giving lawbreakers who do so immunity from prosecution. Our founding fathers would be outraged at the bargaining away of the Bill of Rights.
You don’t fight terrorism abroad by taking away at our freedoms at home.
We now know George Bush’s wiretapping program is not a narrow examination of calls made to and from suspected terrorist suspects — unless you believe that you and I are terrorists. I am worried and angry that the National Security Agency (NSA) has secretly purchased from the three largest telecommunications companies in the country, telephone records on tens of millions of Americans. On December 17, 2005, President Bush said he authorized the program, “to intercept the international communication of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Then on January 23, 2006, after concerns were expressed that the NSA tapped into telecommunications arteries, Gen. Michael Hayden, then NSA chief, now CIA nominee, asserted his organization engages in surveillance if there is a “reasonable” basis for eavesdropping.
George Bush asks us to believe the NSA is not listening to phone conversations. Does that comfort you? Anyone with experience in data management knows the government now has the information necessary to cross-reference phone numbers, with available databases that link names and numbers to compile a substantial dossier on every American. Evidently, Bush now sees the enemy, and it is us.
I will insist on national security — we all must — but we must also insist that America is a land of laws. No one is above the law. If the law is a circumstantial inconvenience for President Bush, the law will soon be irrelevant to the ordinary American. Bush repeatedly asserts that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — which established a special court to confidentially review and authorize sensitive surveillance requests — does not apply to his surveillance program, so George Bush bypasses the court.
When you elect me to Congress, I will sponsor and pass legislation to remove any doubt that warrantless spying on ordinary Americans is illegal. We must do what is right, let the consequences follow.
What’s much MUCH more disconcerting to me is the entire FISA bill…As somebody who has been a prosecutor and dealt with the 4th Amendment, I can tell you that this happened to have been the one amendment in the Bill of Rights that all the Founding Fathers could agree upon; that in order for the government intrusion there had to be probable cause signed off on by an independent magistrate that says you may have committed a crime. I find the entire FISA process to be constitutionally dubious. That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be made constitutionally valid but I think that anytime you have wiretaps involved…that deals with an American citizen, you’ve gotta have a court sign off on it. The only question in my mind is whether or not that has to be done prior to there warrant being executed or whether or not there is some grace period. There is no doubt in my mind that the executive branch itself cannot act as both overseer and executioner (of warrants or wiretaps). That, I think, is constitutionally impermissible; I think it’s a violation of the judiciary’s proper role of interpreting laws.
As a former prosecutor [and] law clerk in the US Attorney’s office in the Major Frauds and Economic Crimes section…I’ve never heard of anybody being given immunity when you don’t know what they’ve done. It’s not how the immunity process works. You don’t say to somebody ‘Whatever you’ve done, don’t worry about it.’…It’s unthinkable to me as a lawyer and as somebody who will have…sworn to uphold the Constitution that I could ever support that.
FISA should never have been expanded. The government’s ability to spy was extensive enough already. The government is failing us in so many ways right now, this can just be added to the list. I want a safe, secure country. I have lived my life trying to secure exactly that. Frankly, the reason I joined the service was to defend my country’s beautiful liberties and secure them for future generations of Americans. Some attribute the following quote to Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” No one can express the ideology of our democracy better than one of the founders.
As far as telecommunications immunity, my understanding is that legal culpability is determined in context. It is quite a thing to have the power of the executive branch of the government pointed in your direction making demands. Lack of courage to say “no” under such circumstances is no surprise. I think courts are well equipped to unravel this type of legal factual minutia and get to a just result. Immunity from the law is something to be dolled out sparingly.
Said land conservation activist Shafroth: “While this current bill takes some small steps to weaken the authority of the president to unilaterally spy on Americans, it does not go far enough in protecting our civil liberties.”
Internet entrepreneur Polis said that “phone companies should not be given a pass and should be held accountable for their involvement in unwarranted wiretapping.”
And former state Senate President Fitz-Gerald criticized the bill’s “de facto immunity for telecommunications companies that broke the law.”
“The government has no right to listen and wiretap any phone without judicial oversight,” she said.
Fitz-Gerald said the House version of the legislation amending FISA was better than an earlier U.S. Senate version, but “it still was not acceptable and I would have rejected the House measure.”
Shafroth said he would have voted against the bill because “many of the protections in the bill are superficial and there are too many avenues left to the president to unconstitutionally spy on American citizens.”
Polis said the nation must restore people’s trust in their government, but “rushing FISA reform through Congress is not the answer.”
It is disappointing that some of our Democratic leaders are rushing FISA reform through Congress. I strongly oppose telecom immunity that paves the ground for the further erosion of our privacy and civil liberties.
Our Democratic leaders in Washington should stand firm against allowing Republicans and the Bush Administration to violate the civil liberties of our citizens any more than they already have; phone companies should not be given a pass and should be held fully accountable for their involvement in unwarranted wiretapping.
Rather than providing cover for the Bush administration, our leaders should show backbone and not allow FISA reform to be rushed through Congress.
The fear mongering tactics of President Bush and his cronies on Capitol Hill are tired; the American public now understands that we can have security at home while also protecting the civil liberties of our law abiding citizens.
“In Congress, I will always stand up for the fundamental American belief that no man, and no corporation, is above the law. As always, this is a matter for the courts to decide– not for Congress, and absolutely not for the same Bush Administration who may have violated the law in the first place. It is great to see so many American citizens of all backgrounds coming together to stand up for the rule of law and in opposition to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who may have illegally spied on American citizens at the Bush Administration’s request. I am disappointed that Chris Shays and so many others continue to stand with President Bush by refusing to stand up for this most fundamental of American principles.”
What, exactly, is the Right Wing’s problem with the Fourth Amendment? Why do they constantly seek ways to evade and subvert the Fourth Amendment? It seems to have worked pretty well, for over 200 years. And over 99% of the time, the federal judges give all POTUS the warrants he wants.
What it really comes down to is that they want a dictatorship. It’s issues like this one, where the Right has to choose between conservatism and fascism, when you see their true colors.
As the “New York Times” said in its June 18 editorial: “The bill is not a compromise. The final details are being worked out, but all indications are that many of its provisions are both unnecessary and a threat to the Bill of Rights. The White House and the Congressional Republicans who support the bill have two real aims. They want to undermine the power of the courts to review the legality of domestic spying programs. And they want to give a legal shield to the telecommunications companies that broke the law by helping Mr. Bush carry out his warrantless wiretapping operation.”
The problem is special interest money, Curtis said, coupled with a business-as-usual attitude in Washington.
“This is the root cause of the Democrats’ inability to stand up to the Republicans. They are all eating from the same trough,” Curtis said. “This is why we need leadership that will stay true to our values rather than cater to special interest contributors.”
“The laws that were created under FISA were sufficient to meet our country?s national security needs. What the Bush administration has done, again, is present Americans with a false choice between national security and civil liberties, while this bill increases neither. I oppose any broad retroactive immunity provided to companies who may have broken the law. The legal purpose of immunity is to use the protection granted by such immunity as an inducement to divulge information about what occurred. Immunity in this case would do the opposite: it would shut down any investigation into what actually occurred.”
The latest demand from President Bush, that the US Congress shield telecommunication providers from liability for breaking federal law, is a real step backwards in the important mission of authorizing an effective intelligence surveillance program. Congress not give blanket immunity for any unlawful acts, it should renew its call for increased oversight of the telecom providers that may or may not have broken federal surveillance laws.
Further, the US Congress must not budge in insisting that any surveillance program with the capability of eavesdropping on US citizens be subject to court oversight.
The Congress should insist on codifying in the statute a court order requirement for any surveillance done on American citizens.
This last August, Representative Marshall voted for a temporary bill that allowed for expanded wiretapping and surveillance on Americans without a court order. Allowing that regime to continue is unacceptable.
After reading the FISA bill — Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — I thought “This can not be good for Americans. That the Bush Administration wants unlimited powers for spying on not only terrorists, but on any American citizen. This is against and violates the Constitutional Fourth Amendment [right of] privacy. This also allows warrant-less monitoring of any form of communication in the United States.” I was disappointed and dismayed with my Congressman John Barrow supporting this Bush Republican initiative against Americans. Too often Congressman Barrow from the 12th district in Georgia has voted with Bush and the Republicans on key issues.
The Congress is considering a bill that guarantees retroactive immunity for telecom companies who participated in the President’s illegal wiretap program, and that fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans at home. This measure would require the courts to grant immunity to big telecom companies for their past illegal eavesdropping on American citizens, and authorize future surveillance on citizens without adequate checks and balances to protect their rights.
This is wrong. No one should get a free pass for breaking the law. Iowans and all Americans have a right to live their lives without government intrusion on their privacy.
If elected, I would vigorously oppose this measure. I believe that the constitutional rights of everyday Americans are at issue here, and full accountability is needed. No President should ever have unchecked power. Americans in the U. S. with no connection to suspected terrorists should never have their privacy abridged by an overzealous, unchecked executive branch. As Americans, we can protect ourselves without destroying our Constitutional rights. We need to focus on the very real threats we face, and not waste our resources on spying on loyal Americans.
Today, Rep. Mark Kirk once again showed how out-of-step he is with Illinois’ 10th district, by siding with the Bush administration to protect telecommunications companies who participated in illegal spying on American citizens. Kirk has received over $80,000 in contributions from the telecom companies he has continually voted to protect.
Coming in the wake of his vote against outlawing waterboarding, Kirk has shown that he is more interested in following the Bush administration than upholding our international agreements, like the Geneva Convention, and protecting our constitutional rights.
Congressional Candidate Dan Seals (IL-10) released the following statement today:
“While I was pleased to see the House Democrats stand their ground against granting amnesty to the telecommunications companies who broke the law, I was disappointed to see Mark Kirk side once again with the Bush administration and his campaign contributors over the 4th amendment.
“The U.S. Constitution is not a discretionary document. It’s time we elect leaders with the courage and independence to stand up for our most sacred rights. When I go to Congress, I will stand up for our Constitution and ensure that no one is above the law.”
I like Brad Ellsworth, and yes he is that good looking in person, I like Baron Hill, and always have, I like Joe Donnelly and have since the first time I met him, and the same for Senator Bayh, but I really, really, really, have a fondness for this piece of paper called the United States Constitution.
I would not have voted as they did on FISA, but I am more liberal than they are and we all know that, you know that, I know that, and they know that. Some in Indiana are afraid of being called a Liberal and the word comes from Liberty, so I think we should embrace it.
Brad, Baron and Beyond, (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, it’s the blogger in me) voted the way they did because of National Security, and I do not hate them for voting what they believe, because I believe in National Security too, but I also understand the potential for expansion of the FISA bill, and the potential danger. I love this country but since 2000, have feared this government and do not agree with granting this administration any additional power. It is my hope that in 6 months this will not be re-newed, it is my fear that it will.
There are several reasons why I feel this bill is unnecessary. First, I think that we have lost focus on the fact that a competent Administration could have actually gone a long way in preventing this tragedy. The Bush Administration was warned in advance of 9-11 and did nothing at the time to prevent it. I believe if the Bush Administration would have acted on the intelligence provided them, then the 9-11 tragedy could have been avoided through the laws that existed at the time.
I also believe this law is an extension of the Bush Administration’s attempts to politicize the Justice Department. Prosecuting entities are provided by the Constitution with checks and balances on which to operate. They already have very broad powers and if they found a credible threat would have no problem getting a warrant in a timely fashion.
Finally, I believe that FISA and this compromise are an abomination to the Constitution because it seeks to circumvent the checks and balances provided all of us by that sacred document. I strongly oppose giving the Telecom Corporations immunity when they knew they were breaking the law, when the Bush Administration asked them to break the law.
I saw where my opponent in this race, “Exxon Ed” Whitfield voted for this Legislation. I think it is pretty ironic when the very Republicans who lecture us regarding limiting the roll of the Federal Government propose, and push through, the House of Representatives a bill that vastly broadens the powers of the Federal Government. This is one issue on which Progressives, Moderates and Conservatives should all be able to agree. There are certain things on which none of us should ever compromise, and the Constitution is one thing on which I will never compromise as Representative of Kentucky’s First District.
Personally I’m tired of Tim Walberg and George W. Bush using fear about our national security to score cheap political points. Congress has passed legislation to ensure that tools are in place to protect our country’s safety, but Walberg and Bush seem more interested in protecting big corporations that have helped them listen to our phone calls, read our emails, violate our privacy, then they are about protecting law-abiding citizens. I believe our Constitution, and our rights, including our right to privacy, are worth fighting for. If our government or big corporations break the rules, they should be held accountable.
I would have voted no. Let me start out by saying that, I am absolutely committed to keeping America safe, taking on the terrorists, and defending our national security. I was a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve, and I spent time over in the Persian Gulf. I understand what kind of pressure our people are under to get good intelligence. Good intelligence is absolutely critical to the safety of our soldiers and to protecting our country. We can’t function without it.
We definitely need to update FISA to give our intelligence agencies the tools they need, while also absolutely guaranteeing that Americans’ rights are protected.
There are important updates that we need to make to FISA, but I can’t support the retroactive immunity – and I sincerely hope that those provisions get stripped out in the Senate.
I am troubled by the House passage of HR 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. There is much we can do to prevent terrorism, but such measures do not require the sacrifice of fundamental constitutional freedoms which our country was founded upon. This legislation demonstrates the need for leaders in Congress who have experience in the military and in Iraq, and who value the rule of law as we fight the War on Terror.
The Fourth Amendment doesn’t exclude lobbyists. The “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” means George Bush and the other Washington politicians can’t grant immunity to law breakers no matter how much they give to campaigns.
It is unfortunate that it appears that the telecom industry has managed to falsely conflate its quest for retroactive immunity for lawbreaking with the issue of national security. The Founding Fathers understood that our safety as a nation depended on our being a nation of laws. Retroactive immunity undermines the rule of law, and therefore undermines our principles and security as a nation.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a release today taunting Linda Stender, candidate for New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District, on the issue of Congress’ re-authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Stender hit back this afternoon.
“It’s clear from this nonsensical attack that the national Republicans know they’re in jeopardy of losing this seat,” said Stender campaign spokesman Joshua Henne. “Linda Stender believes we can defend both our nation’s security, and the Constitution. The Bush Republicans sadly still haven’t learned its possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
In America, no one is above the law. We shouldn’t compromise the integrity of our justice system to protect George Bush’s friends and allies in the telecommunications industry. Anyone who illegally spies on American citizens should be brought to justice.
This Friday, legislation was passed that will take away constitutionally guaranteed rights. The FISA bill strips Americans of these rights and protects telecommunications companies from being held accountable by the people.
I am standing up against my own party because I believe we can have sound legislation that defends our country and, at the same time, protects our Constitution. If we are to hold our government accountable, retroactive immunity is the wrong path to go down.
It’s time to support Democrats with democratic values and principles, Democrats who will work on behalf of the American people and protect their rights. When I’m elected to Congress, I will be that Democrat.
Today, Darius Shahinfar, candidate for the 21st Congressional District, called the compromise reached on amendment of the Federal Information Surveillance Act (FISA) a compromise of Constitutional principles.
“The critical problem of this compromise is that it contains a free pass for the Bush Administration’s and telecommunication companies’ past actions. The Administration’s use of warrantless wiretaps cannot be reviewed, and the process to review the telecommunications companies’ participation in the wiretapping program leads inevitably to immunity for those companies” Shahinfar said.
Darius’ remarks come at a time when the controversial piece of legislation would allow immunity to phone companies who currently face lawsuits for violating the constitutional rights of their members, according to plaintiff claims.
“By passing this piece of legislation, we are telling our government and our citizens that as long as the President tells you to do so, breaking the law is legal. No one, not even the President, is above our laws, especially when it comes to the issue of protecting our Constitutional rights.”
When asked further of his views about FISA, Shahinfar continued, “FISA was created 30 years ago, is applicable with today’s advanced technology and has been a vital tool in collecting intelligence for our nations’ security.It had not been an issue, until this administration decided to use it improperly and against its intended purpose. This will not make Americans any safer from threats at home or abroad; rather it will put us at the mercy of secret agreements between corporations and our government.”
If the Bush Administration had read the constitution the first time, we wouldn’t find ourselves having this debate. Granting amnesty to these companies would set a precedent that would allow others to arbitrarily ignore the constitution. No one should be above the law in America.
Growing up in Western New York, one of the first lessons I was taught was that each of us has to take responsibility for our actions. As a social studies teacher, I came to understand this principle in the broader context of our democracy. We are, first and foremost, a nation of laws. Each of us should be treated equally under the law, and no one should be given special treatment. The founding fathers designed the courts as the proper place to weigh one’s actions under the law, not the White House. I trust that the courts, which have ensured the rights and liberty of all Americans for over 200 years, are more than able to continue providing the wisdom and protections that keep us free.
NY-29: Eric Massa (you should really read the entire diary and Massa’s analysis)
At the heart of the debate is the truncation of the Fourth Amendment, which outlines the right of the people to be secure in their persons and belongings. That right, which many would consider a bedrock of basic liberties in the Nation, is altered to allow the Federal Government to conduct searches and seizures of personal property without a warrant from a court of law.
But the bigger problem here is the immunity that would be given if it is found that the government and cooperating officials acted without due justification. Under current law, those involved can be held accountable and the individual on whom the actions were perpetrated can seek redress before the government. This right to seek redress is another fundamental individual liberty that the Revolutionary War was fought to gain for all Americans. This current bill takes away the right of citizens to seek redress.
The Bush Administration has run roughshod over the Constitution and now they expect the American people to pay for it by granting retroactive immunity to big corporations that illegally violated their customers’ privacy. Congress cannot not let itself be bullied into giving away the civil liberties that belong to every American, and I promise that as a congresswoman I will never put the interests of corporations before the rights of the people.
I am opposed to affording any immunity to the telecommunications companies who may have broken the law by their participation in handing over information or granting wire-taping access to the Bush Administration without first properly receiving permission through FISA Court.
I am hoping that before the current legislation makes its way to the President’s desk, members of the U.S. Senate will see that the protection of civil rights should precede any special treatment for any special interest. When the Patriot Act was first debated and wrongly passed, the telecommunications lobbying arm kept quiet and now they want to ensure that justice is silenced forever.
As the daughter of a cop, I have great respect for our Constitution and the pursuit of the truth. Any immunity that is granted before giving the American people the opportunity to even uncover a violation is a violation unto itself.
The Constitution also places no one above, below or immune from the law. The House Judiciary Committee was absolutely correct today to reject President Bush’s demand for blind and blanket immunity for large telecom companies who aided illegal spying. It should be noted that not all such companies heeded the call for unchecked Presidential power, and those who resisted should be commended. For the others, blind immunity for crimes, especially when not even yet fully documented, is an alien and disturbing idea to Americans.
“Finally, to those who imply that by opposing warrantless, illegal spying in America, Democrats somehow are aiding our enemies: I urge you to take an evening off, turn off that distracting talk radio and Fox News, and spend a quiet evening reading the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. You may learn something new, and wonderful.
This out of control president has systematically shredded the Constitutional protections of every American, trashing the patriotism of anyone who is willing to stand up to him. To think that the U.S. Congress should come along behind George Bush rubber-stamping the suspension of the Bill of Rights is offensive to me. Congress is sworn to protect the Constitution, and gagging the courts from upholding the Rule of Law is the wrong way to protect this country from its enemies.
Has anyone in Washington these days ever heard of (let alone read) the U.S. Constitution– remember that document? We were guaranteed certain rights. It seems many Republican members of Congress lay awake at night, thinking what rights can we take away from our fellow Americans today.
Specifically my opponent J. Randy Forbes, VA (R) wanted to add language that would have ensured that nothing in the bill would be construed to prohibit surveillance of, or grant any rights to, a state sponsor of terrorism or agents of state sponsors of terrorism. In addition, the language would have permitted the intelligence community to conduct surveillance of any person concerning an imminent attack on the United States, any U.S. person, including members of the Armed Forces, or an ally of the United States, Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, members of the al-Queda Iranian Revolutionary Guard, or any terrorist or terrorist organization. This language failed to garner enough votes to be included in H.R. 3773.
The right-wing is operating in force in Congress and the typical corporate Republicrats are once again falling in line. We have a Democratic majority in the House and yet they seem to be as confused by the meaning of the Constitution as the Republicans. Apparently, since impeachment is off the table, so is the U.S. Constitution. When I look at this new bill I can’t help wondering if this is the new Democratic thinking, “If we make all illegal actions legal, then the President and Vice President have done nothing wrong. Ergo there is no need to consider impeachment because no laws were broken.”
“This “compromise” will not make Americans safer,” said Perriello, a national security consultant with experience in Afghanistan, Darfur and West Africa. “If Congress and the President were serious about national security they would have spent their time and energy giving our brave intelligence officers the resources they need, not the American freedoms that our armed forces defend. Our constitutional principles are never up for negotiation.”
No one in this country should be above the law and saying Alberto Gonzales told me it was okay is hardly an excuse. I oppose retroactive immunity for the telecoms who engaged in illegal surveillance. Unfortunately, Frank Wolf has again sided with the President on this issue voting in favor of immunity for those who circumvented the FISA courts and our legal process.
Honestly, I don’t understand why at this point any member of Congress would think it was a good idea to give George Bush the power to grant immunity to anyone he wants around warrantless wiretapping – and to cover all tracks in the process. George Bush has proven, over and over again, that he cannot be trusted to uphold either the letter or the spirit of the laws that protect the people of the United States from the abuse of our government.
All I can say is that I’m sorry Congress failed on this one – and that I will honor the pledge I hope to take to uphold the Constitution.
WY-AL: Gary Trauner (also see here for some excellent choice quotes Gary dug up from our own Founding Fathers)
Wow. I am deeply saddened today by the news that the US House has voted to pass a bill amending the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which strikes at the very core of American democracy – our Constitutional Bill of Rights and the rule of law. It enables our federal government to intercept, without probable cause, all international communications of American citizens, and it provides retroactive immunity for companies that may have broken the law (if they did nothing wrong, why would they need immunity?).
Wow! Is that what it’s come to? Our federal government says you must do something, even if it is against the law, and we “need” to do it? Well, I don’t care whether it’s the Republican Leadership in Washington DC or the Democrats in the House, I’ll proudly tell them – and you – where I stand on warrantless wiretapping, the rule of law and protecting our national security:
I want to ensure that my children, and all of our children, are safe from terrorist attacks by beefing up our intelligence capabilities, protecting vulnerable targets, proactively taking out terrorists such as Al-Qaeda in their hideouts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and around the world, and working to remove safe havens for terrorists by winning the battle of ideas, not simply the battle for Tikrit.
I believe in the Constitution and rule of law, the two things that define our great American experiment. We must not gut our freedoms in order to save our freedoms. If we do that, those who use terror as a tactic will achieve their goal – after all, what would we be fighting to protect?.
We can protect our nation without sacrificing everything our founding fathers and millions of veterans fought for; the FISA law, already updated in 2001 after 9/11 and recently patched to fix some omissions due to changing technology, works.
I would rather bring Osama Bin Laden to justice than help large corporations avoid justice.
If we value our Constitutional rights such as the 2nd amendment right to bear arms, we better think twice about ignoring other Constitutional rights, such as the 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant and probable cause. Because once we cherry pick the Constitution, someone will eventually come after the rights we hold most dear.
Finally, the truth is that Congress last year passed a temporary extension of the Protect America Act that was vetoed by the President and voted against by the Republican leadership and certain Democrats. They said they would not accept a bill that does not include giving a free pass to companies that might have broken the law! Incredible. It deserve saying one more time – these so-called leaders are telling us the Protect America Act was so important, without it America is not protected from terrorists; however, they were willing to block this incredibly important Act, and leave America unprotected, unless large corporations were let off the hook for knowingly breaking the law. Because unlike you and me, who in the event of potential wrongdoing only get off the hook by presenting our case in a court of law, they think large corporations should be held to a different standard – no accountability.
The Alaskan Constitution protects the right of privacy. The 4th Amendment demands a warrant be issued for any search. And FISA says that domestic electronic surveillance must be approved by a special court. None of these facts should be forgotten on behalf of telecommunications companies that now face legal consequences for the role they played in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. I am strongly opposed to retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
The Church Committee’s investigations resulted in the creation of a permanent Senate Committee on Intelligence, and the passage of substantial legislation, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978.
Church’s work is now being shredded by the Bush Administration.
FISA established a legal framework for electronic eavesdropping at home, including a special FISA court. It was originally passed to allow the government to collect intelligence involving communications with “agents of foreign powers.”
The Bush Administration exploited this narrow exception in the passage of the Patriot Act that allows use of FISA to obtain personal records from many sources including libraries and internet service providers, even when they have no connection to terrorism.
Even worse, the Bush Administration now uses FISA to get around the constitutional requirement of seeking a warrant before it eavesdrops on communications by the NSA.
When I am elected to the Senate, I will demand an end to the abuse of FISA and a return to the checks and balances espoused by Frank Church and the Church Committee.
As a former Congressman, Frank Church staff member, and U.S. Army intelligence office, I will help lead the way back from the civil liberty abuses of this administration.
The secret warrantless wiretapping program was flat out wrong. The Bush administration went too far when it may not have even been necessary. Almost 99 percent of wiretapping applications were approved when they were submitted to judges. We must do all we can to ensure that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the necessary tools to protect our homeland but individual privacy and civil liberties must be protected because those are the freedoms we fight for. That is America. And I think we should be focused finding terrorists and not protecting corporate CEOs. I’m sure there was pressure from the Bush administration and that isn’t an enviable position to be in for a company but what is wrong is wrong and there must be accountability. When mistakes were made in my companies, I took responsibility, took action and solved the problems.
I was encouraged by news a few months ago that both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed new FISA bills with added privacy protections. Now Mitch McConnell and his Republican leadership in Washington need to work with Senate and House Democrats to finalize legislation that protects the safety, and freedoms, of all Americans. I hear this issue will be brought up again in the Senate sometime during the summer.
ME-Sen: Tom Allen (who just voted against it in the House)
As I have stated before, neither the government nor large telecommunications corporations are above the law; everyone must be held accountable. This ‘compromise’ fails to hold either the Bush administration or the telecommunications companies to the same standards that apply to other Americans.
Having lost my brother in the World Trade Center on 9/11, I am very sensitive to the importance of the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to effectively monitor foreign terrorist targets. However, our country must preserve our constitutional principles and such monitoring must be accomplished without compromising the civil liberties of American citizens. I am hopeful that Congress is on the verge of finally properly scrutinizing the Bush Administration’s warrantless surveillance programs, and can create reasonable legislation that provides our government the tools it needs to monitor legitimate international threats, while at the same time not compromising the personal liberties of law-abiding Americans. Members of congress must ensure that any surveillance of U.S Citizens be granted with the proper warrant. If they fail to accomplish this, then we will have lost something very sacred about America and what our system of values is supposed to provide for all Americans.
The provision for corporate immunity for the telecom companies who may have violated federal law is unacceptable and unfortunately another example of the Bush administration wanting the legislative branch to craft legislation that protects the executive branch from its own incompetance.
The bill will force federal district courts to immediately dismiss any cases against telecommunications companies that participated in illegal surveillance. This is unacceptable. The Constitution of the United States was violated. Over several years telecommunications companies turned over the records of millions of innocent Americans to the federal government without proper oversight and without a warrant.
The Bush Administration disregarded the Fourth Amendment when it authorized this surveillance and now Congress may provide the Administration and these companies a free pass. This is a mistake. The Senate is set to vote on the FISA bill this week. For the sake of our constitution and the foundation of our democracy, I urge all Senators to unite in opposition to this bill.
If I’m elected to the Senate, I will not hesitate to fight to protect our civil liberties and the laws this nation was founded upon.
I have spoken out against immunity for telecommunications companies throughout this campaign. Last February, I urged my supporters to sign a petition to pressure my opponent, Republican Senator Gordon Smith, to vote against the FISA bill that granted retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.
Unfortunately, Gordon Smith voted in favor of granting retroactive immunity. I expect him to do the same when the Senate votes on this issue in the coming days. For years, the Bush Administration has been undermining the balance of powers. Checks and balances must be restored and a vote against the immunity bill would be a critical starting point.
On Christmas morning 2004, outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, my buddies and I drove to our base camp to use the computers. We wanted to be with our kids when they woke up that Christmas. To get there we drove through a near ambush–anytime we drove on the Jalalabad Road, it was risky, and we had an incident on our way.
That Christmas morning, I suspect the government listened to our conversations. They occurred between two countries; Afghanistan and the US. They probably didn’t realize the difference in tone in my voice as I spoke to my wife and children that morning as my heart raced still from our encounter on the road. My wife did.
I fought to defend our country and our constitution in Afghanistan. I fought for the right to privacy for every Texan. Mr. Cornyn must now stand up for the privacy of every Texan and American too. We as a nation cannot grant anyone sweeping amnesty if they violated the law.
Americans understand the need for safety and the need for intelligence gathering. What they will not accept is an abuse of power, of crossing the line on American’s privacy.
I would join Sen. Dodd in opposition to any retroactive provisions that allow a “get out of jail card” for violating the Constitution. If Mr. Cornyn had ever had the opportunity to have his Christmas conversation listened to by the government, on a day that he feared for his life in a convoy on Jalalabad Road, he would do the same.
Then there’s those whose names have been bandied about the blogosphere that we’d like to think they’d be opposed to Bush taking away the Fourth Amendment, but where I cannot find a single statement from them about this specific issue. Much help would be appreciated in figuring out exactly where they stand on FISA.
AZ-03: Bob Lord (nobody asked him in his diary two days ago?)
FL-18: Annette Taddeo
FL-21: Raul Martinez
FL-24: Suzanne Kosmas
IL-11: Debbie Halvorson
MD-01: Frank Kratovil
MN-02: Steve Sarvi
NE-02: Jim Esch
NM-02: Harry Teague
NM-03: Ben Ray Lujan (who even diaried here last week, but nobody asked him about FISA!)
NV-02: Jill Derby
NV-03: Dina Titus
OH-15: Mary Jo Kilroy
OH-16: John Boccieri
TX-07: Michael Skelly
WV-02: Anne Barth
KS-Sen: Jim Slattery
MN-Sen: Al Franken (though he did write a satire piece about wiretapping)
MS-Sen: Ronnie Musgrove
NE-Sen: Scott Kleeb
And then there’s even some Democratic challengers who have come out in FAVOR of this FISA bill.
For his part, Adler released a statement today, underscoring his own support for reupping FISA “so that our intelligence community has the tools needed to keep America safe in a dangerous world. We must also protect the freedoms for which our troops have made so many courageous sacrifices.”
She was asked if she would have voted for, or against, the FISA bill this week which would have granted retroactive immunity to Telcos for felony violations of the current FISA law.
Ms. Hagan explained that she was against Telcos spying on Americans, but that she would have voted FOR the bill, and granted them immunity, but that future law breaking would not be tolerated.
And of course, Mark Udall running for the Senate in Colorado voted for this bill last week. And perception on the blogs seems to be that Mark Warner and Jeanne Shaheen would’ve supported this bill had they been in the Senate, so I’m not exactly holding my breath to hear statements from them against telecom immunity.
Now, some of the candidates above still have a contested primary to go, like in CO-02, where all three of them came out against it, even as the person they’re trying to replace, Mark Udall, voted for it. There’s other districts, like in AZ-01 and NY-21, where only that candidate has released a statement on FISA, and others haven’t seemed to. (I’m looking at you, Ann Kirkpatrick.) If you guys can find statements by them, please let me know in the comments.
An eye-popping Rasmussen poll (5/22, likely voters) this morning shows Democratic senate candidate Bruce Lunsford leading Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell– yes, you read that right, leading McConnell:
Bruce Lunsford (D): 49
Mitch McConnell (R-inc): 44
Granted, it's a long way from here to election day, and McConnell is already tying Lunsford to Barack Obama, who, as we all know, is not especially popular in Kentucky. Still, the fact that a Democratic candidate is polling this well against the senate minority leader, in a blood-red state, is a heartening development. I'm just hoping that Tom Daschle's iPod includes James Brown's "The Big Payback" . . .
Update (James): It’s worth noting that earlier this month, Lunsford trailed McConnell by 36% to 48% in a poll commissioned by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Rasmussen’s been giving us an awful lot of good news lately. Maybe too much good news.
Update II (James): Like clockwork, the McConnell campaign has released an internal poll conducted around the same time showing the Senator leading Lunsford by 50%-39%.
It has been a rocky road in Kentucky’s Democratic Senate Primary. First, we kept losing candidates as the establishment lined it up for Bruce Lunsford. I actually lost interest in the race knowing I would vote my straight ticket in the fall. Now it seems we will be able to mount a successful Progressive challenge after all. That is because Greg Fischer has stepped to the plate and is charging to the finish. This race is heating up and has begun to tighten.
In exchanges yesterday and today, these campaigns kept slugging it out. First, Bruce Lunsford released this:
LOUISVILLE – In a stunning display of hypocrisy, U.S. Senate candidate Greg Fischer touted his record as “an open book,” yet he failed to file his Personal Financial Disclosure (PFD) report with the Senate Ethics Committee until 11 days after the deadline.
Fischer has repeatedly attacked fellow Democrat Bruce Lunsford for his management of Vencor and spread false information about Lunsford’s business record. Yet, when Fischer finally filed his PFD, it revealed he has investments in five different publicly traded funds which invest in either Ventas or Kindred – both corporate descendants of Vencor.
“Greg Fischer has gone against the will of Kentucky’s voters and Democratic leaders by taking a page out of Mitch McConnell’s playbook, slinging mud at his fellow Democrat Bruce Lunsford rather than focusing on what he would do as Senator to improve the lives of Kentucky families,” Lunsford spokesperson Allison Haley said. “The fact that all the while, Fischer has investments in the very companies he claims Bruce ran into the ground makes Fischer’s actions the ultimate hypocrisy.”
Senate ethics rules require all candidates in the Kentucky Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate to submit their PFD form to the Senate Ethic Committee 30 days before the election. Greg Fischer didn’t even sign his form until more than a week after the deadline and then took an additional three days to send it in.
Examination of Fischer’s PFD shows his investment portfolio includes public funds that have a combined total investment of over $26 million in Ventas and Kindred.
“If I were Greg Fischer, I wouldn’t want the public to know I had been investing in the same companies I was openly criticizing either. Maybe that’s why he waited so long to file his PFD.,” Haley said. “What else is he hiding?”
LOUISVILLE, May 6, 2008 – Kim Geveden, Political Director for Greg Fischer’s U.S. Senate campaign blasted Lunsford’s Swift-Boat-Style attack yesterday saying. “Bruce Lunsford’s latest negative attack against Greg Fischer is as false as it its ridiculous and desperate. It looks like it could have been authored by Mitch McConnell.
“You know Lunsford is desperate when he reverts to his true Republican roots and takes a page from his 2003 playbook in which he spent $8 million falsely attacking Ben Chandler, only to quit, desert our Democratic Party, stand with Mitch McConnell and publicly endorse Ernie Fletcher,” Geveden said.
“Confronted with independent poll results showing Fischer gaining rapidly, Bruce Lunsford has abandoned his much touted “Integrity Pledge” and is once again falsely attacking an honorable Democrat in Greg Fischer, while desperately trying to stop the political hemorrhaging that threatens his ego and quest for the Democratic nomination.”
The campaign added this “fact sheet” to counter Lunsford’s claims:
Lunsford’s False Claim:
“Fischer has investments in the very companies (Ventas and Kindred Healthcare) he claims Bruce ran into the ground.”
Fischer has no direct or indirect investment in Vencor, the company that Bruce Lunsford ran into the ground and bankrupted. Lunsford’s mismanagement of Vencor in the period leading up to its bankruptcy is well-documented and includes charges of patient abuse and falsely billing the federal government.
Ventas and Kindred have absolutely nothing to do with Bruce Lunsford’s mismanagement of Vencor. Bruce Lunsford has absolutely no managing control over either Ventas or Kindred. Lunsford’s is attempting to use Kindred and Ventas as a smoke-screen to hide his appalling behavior as CEO of Vencor.
Fischer holds no direct investment in Ventas or Kindred – The truth is, Fischer owns shares in two mutual investment funds – iShares Russell 1000 Growth Fund and iShares Russell 2000 Value Fund. Ventas and Kindred make up an extremely small fraction of the holdings of the two funds.
Fischer owns 5,500 shares of iShares Russell 1000 Growth Fund. At market close yesterday, the Ventas portion of Fischer’s investment in the fund was valued at $289.18.
Fischer owns 1,300 shares of iShares Russell 2000 Value Fund. At market close yesterday, the Kindred portion of Fischer’s investment in the fund was valued at $113.47
All this comes at the same time a new SurveyUsa poll is released which shows Fischer creep steadily up the polls as time runs quickly away:
Two Weeks Out, Lunsford Still Well in Front in KY Dem Senate Primary: In a Democratic Primary for United States Senator from Kentucky today, 05/06/08, 2 weeks until the primary, Bruce Lunsford defeats Greg Fischer, 41% to 22%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WHAS-TV Louisville and WCPO-TV Cincinnati. Five other candidates are in single digits. Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released one week ago, Fischer is up 4, Lunsford is down 2. Among men, three weeks ago, Lunsford led by 40 points; one week ago, by 21; today, by 20. Among women, Lunsford led by 35, by 27, and now by 19. Among voters 50+, Lunsford led by 44, by 21, and now by 14. The winner of the 05/20/08 closed Democratic Primary advances to face incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the U.S. Senate, who is running for his 5th term.
The Political Director of Fischer’s campaign had this to say about the new numbers, showing a steady rise for Fischer:
The polling trends clearly shows that Bruce Lunsford is a fatally flawed candidate,” said Kim Geveden, political director for the Fischer campaign. Matt Stoller, a nationally prominent political commentator who regularly appears on CNN and other national news broadcasts, has described Lunsford as, “…definitely the worst Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the country.”
She then went on to explain this sentiment which is shared by many Kentuckians including myself:
“Kentucky Democrats are starting to focus on this race. They’re learning more about Greg Fischer. And they’re remembering Lunsford’s defection to the Republican party in 2003 and his support of Republican Ernie Fletcher for governor.” said Geveden. “The conclusion they’re coming to is the obvious one: Greg Fischer is the best Democratic candidate in this race and he’ll give Mitch McConnell more than he’s bargained for in the general election this fall.”
Now, Fischer’s rise in this race has given me hope that we can actually run a candidate I can be proud of, a candidate that hasn’t been fighting against me through all these long years we have been losing here. A candidate that is Progressive, and won’t turn on us if he gets mad.
Greg Fischer believes in our kind of Change:
He tells a truth Kentuckians can believe in:
Please help us avoid risking our support to elect another DINO into the United States Senate. Greg Fischer can still win this race!! All the momentum is his, and he still has time. Two weeks can be an eternity in politics!! Please help us and support Greg here:
The question of the Senate race in Kentucky is coming down to the question not of, do we want to replace Mitch McConnell, but who will be best to replace Mitch McConnell in the fall. I am one Democrat that would never entertain the thought of not only voting for McConnell but indeed NOT VOTING AGAIMST HIM. You can bet this is one Democrat that will be voting for our nominee.
That being said this is one Democrat that that wants to vote for what he fights for. In this election year I just see no reason why Democrats can’t stand up and fight as Democrats without shame. It works when it is tried.
Now, I admit at the beginning of this process, I didn’t know who Greg Fischer was. I originally supported Greg Stumbo, former A.G. of Kentucky to run against McConnell. He made a trip to talk to the DSCC and never came back. Well, not as a candidate for Senate at least.
Then I went to automatic second choice Andrew Horne. His fate is more widely publicized and known than Greg Stumbo’s, but were basically the same. I went through a month when I didn’t know who I would vote for in that race, and I will admit lost interest in it to a certain degree. I like Kenneth Stepp a lot, but realized the problems he would have. He is a great Democrat though. I talked to the Cassaro campaign, and will admit those are some class folks who did respond over there. I just didn’t feel their views matched up with mine.
I began to think that I would have to vote for Bruce Lunsford, holding my nose and hoping that he voted my fight at least 50% of the time if he won. McConnell is after-all 0%. At least it would be an improvement.
But then in support of Heather Ryan I went to an event in Benton to meet with the DEC there. Greg Fischer showed up at the same meeting. After it was over he came up and wished Heather luck in her fall election. He said how he really hoped he would be on that ticket to. He asked my name, and for my support and I flat out told him there were a few things I was concerned about. He took the time to talk to me about his views on healthcare as I told him that I was recently stricken with Type 1 Diabetes.
Greg Fischer won my vote that day. Although he never said anything about the Presidential race, his views and statements seemed to have an Edwards Populist ring to them. From healthcare, to Fair Trade, to a sensible exit from Iraq, to fighting Corporate Greed, fighting for workers, all down the line, he shared my views, and wanted to fight for them. He would be an excellent Senator for a new Democratic President.
Now, I hate to trash Democrats, but I am never going to be anyone’s robot. (Not insinuating anyone is.) I can speak out on even my party and it’s candidates if I feel they are wrong. That is my right and I will do so. There are many things that can be used against Bruce Lunsford, but this one is foremost to me:
Do I even have to comment on that? Add to that his past contributions to Republicans up to and INCLUDING Mitch McConnell!!!, leads me to believe that he will not fight for me, and will turn coat more times than not. I mean, the whole time I was fighting uphill fights for Democratic candidates in several races Bruce Lunsford fought against me. I don’t dislike the man personally, but that is just the truth of reality.
Reality is I support Greg Fischer in the Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate. His truth is my truth, as summed up here:
A lot has happened in the Democratic Primary for the Senate seat of Kentucky. Already, we have seen Greg Stumbo and Andrew Horne step aside. The consensus now seems to be that Bruce Lunsford should be the nominee for Kentucky’s Senate race. However, it seems another candidate has stepped foward as a true Democratic voice in this race. Now, it seems Greg Fischer is making his move in this race.
First, Greg Fischer has showed that he can raise funds. One of the main reason I believe that Lunsford was recruited was because he could self-fund. However, this story shows that Fischer can self-fund too, and raise seperate funds to boot:
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Greg Fischer says his upcoming campaign finance report will show that he’s collected more than $500,000 from donors in addition to the $510,000 of his own money he has pumped into his bid.
Of course, Greg was encouraged by the numbers:
“Dollar by dollar, voter by voter, momentum is growing stronger in every region of the state. We are confident that our campaign is positioned to defeat Bruce Lunsford on May 20,” Fischer said in a statement. “Voters are beginning to realize I am the real Democrat offering real change.”
Fischer is going to begin running T.V. in the state soon, about a month before the May 20 primary. I think when Kentucky Democrats get to know him a little better, they are going to like what they see.
Greg has also spoken out for a sane policy in Iraq. He recently took McConnell to task on that issue:
In 2002, Mitch McConnell handed President Bush a blank check for operations in Iraq – a war that was ill-conceived, ill-advised and terribly mismanaged. We have now been in Iraq longer than we were in World War II. To date, there have been more than 4,000 American military casualties. Over 30,000 U.S. soldiers have been injured. By the end of 2007, the war in Iraq cost American taxpayers more than $500 billion. Kentucky’s share of the bill: $3.5 billion – money that could have been invested in our economy, built 358 new elementary schools, provided 593,000 Kentucky students with college scholarships, delivered health care benefits to 970,000 Kentuckians, built miles of new roads and bridges or saved thousands of homeowners from foreclosure.
Today, Mitch McConnell still supports President Bush’s never ending war in Iraq, while continuing to play partisan political games and obstructing every opportunity to reach a bipartisan plan to end the war once and for all in Iraq.
Greg Fischer believes it’s time to bring our soldiers home from Iraq in a swift, safe and responsible manner. Our brave men and women have done everything we have asked of them and are still fighting a courageous fight. They put their lives on the line for us everyday and we owe them and their families an end to this war. Washington has failed them.
Although Greg will fight to begin a responsible draw down of our forces in Iraq and end the war, he knows we need to refocus our efforts in Afghanistan where Al Qaeda and Taliban are experiencing a resurgence. That’s where Osama Bin Laden and the real war against terrorism is and needs to be fought.
He has endorsed A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq found here:
Greg also believes we must respect our returning heros. He endorses the G.I. Bill for the 21st century:
For our returning Veterans, Greg will make it a top priority to ensure that when veterans return home they are treated like the heroes they are. He will work to provide them and their families with benefits designed to meet the needs of today’s soldiers and their families. That is why Greg supports the bipartisan G.I. Bill for the 21st Century.
The G.I. Bill for the 21st Century would repeal unfair tax burdens on military families and provide Veterans with the benefits they deserve; affordable health care, education and job training, strengthen our support for our men and women in uniform, and improve benefits for our National Guard and Reservists.
Most importantly, it will modernize and enhance the GI Bill Education and Job Training Programs to provide the full cost of tuition and fees, and a living allowance for 36 months of schooling, for those who enlist for four years of active duty military service. They have fought to defend our freedoms. They have fought to defend our families. Our Veterans deserve it.
The G.I. Bill for the 21st Century has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
After the disappointments of the early primary season, I think that Greg Fischer as emerging as a serious candidate. He has shown his ability to not only self-fund, but to raise funds as well. Most importantly, he is showing that he can be depended on to fight for a Democratic vision for this country.
I hope Kentuckians and Americans will get behind Greg to defeat Bruce Lunsford, and then Mitch McConnell in the fall. Although he is a political newcomer the last month is showing him to be a serious candidate who can make a serious run at Mitch McConnell. Best of all, he will do it as a Democrat.