Saturday, June 28, 2008

Murphy, Altmire: Accepted Political Payoffs

In Pennsylvania Democratic politics, vote-buying and racism are time-"honored" traditions. In the 2006 gubernatorial race, Democrat Ed Rendell sent out $740,000 in so-called "walking around money," mainly to Black districts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (source: The Almanac of American Politics, p. 1378, 2008 edition). Was this money to buy votes? I'm "shocked, shocked" to hear that you think so. In his campaign (against Black Republican Lynn Swann)., Rendell ran commercials against his African-American opponent. Some of the TV ads were in black-and-white and slow motion. They made Swann, an NFL-Hall-of-Fame football player and national sports reporter, look like a numbers runner in Harlem in the 1940s. For those of you who don't pay a lot of attention to Pennsylvania politics, this is probably the first time you're hearing these stories. It's par for the course -- and so are the payoffs by the Obama Campaign for "services rendered" by Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Jason Altmire. In PA Democratic politics, money talks . . . a blue-state streak.

Exactly how much "walking around money" does Barack Obama intend to pour into Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (and don't forget Harrsiburg and Lancaster!)? Since Obama has gone back on his word to accept public financing, he will have perhaps a half-billion dollars (!!!!) to play around with. That should make the vote-buyers and street corner "consultants" in urban Pennsylvania very happy. On the question of "how much?" perhaps one of our intrepid PA journalists might ask him? But that may be asking too much.

One of the great mysteries this year has been why Democratic SuperDelegates (elected officials) in Pennsylvania supported Barack Obama when their districts (and state) went heavily for Hillary Clinton. Information recently released by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Reform organization shows they did it for old-fashioned reasons: they got paid off.

Three of the biggest culprits are Rep. Patrick Murphy (8th district, Bucks County), Rep. Jason Altmire (4th district, western PA), and Rep. Tim Holden (17th district, Harrisburg area). As discussed in previous columns, Murphy endorsed Obama last August and Altmire did so in June, when he said mysteriously that he remained "undeclared" but that he "supported" Obama.
Holden refused to endorse Sen. Clinton even given her popularity among his constituents..

How did these men's districts vote?

Murphy's southeastern PA district went for Mrs. Clinton by 78,655 to 46,287.

Altmire's western PA district went for Mrs. Clinton by 84,122 to 43,962.

Holden's central PA district went for Mrs. Clinton by a smaller margin as her huge victory in Schuykill (combined with smaller victories in Lebanon and Perry) wiped out Obama's margin in Dauphin County (Harrisburg). Exact results up later on Saturday.

During the Primary season, Holden refused to declare which candidate he was supporting. After Sen. Clinton's concession, as reported previously, he announced his position was "moot." Presumably at the convention he will cast his "moot" ballot for Sen. Obama.

There's no record of Holden receiving money from the Obama Campaign, but it's conceivable he could between now and the election (Nov. 4). With Murphy and Altmire, the situation is different.

The Obama Campaign handed over to Murphy a large "donation" with a strange total: $18,826. The "contribution" obviously derived from Murphy's support of the Illinois Senator.

In the case of Altmire, the donation was somewhat smaller: $10,000.

Were these apparent contributions for services rendered illegal? Apparently not. Were they examples of unethical behavior? I'll leave that up to you.

What's very clear is that Murphy, Altmire, and Holden went against the will of the voters in their districts. Apparently, they did so because they believe voters have short memories. Whether they're correct is up to the voters to determine.

Tip O'Neill famously said that "money is the mother's milk of politics." One has the hunch that Murphy and Altmire will never lack for "mother's milk," at least while the Obama money-machine is around.

Will the large and angry group of Hillary Clinton Supporters seek retribution, not only on Murphy and Altmire, but also on wafflers like Holden? There's a good chance Hillaryites will target those Democratic incumbents for defeat.

In the words of the DNC Reform organization, "Super Delegates on the list [like Altmire and Murphy] MUST be held accountable for their lack of courage and inability and unwillingness to stand up for the will and voice of the voters.". (

Jason Altmire's opponent is Melissa Harr
Patrick Murphy's opponent is Tom Manion
Tim Holden's opponent is Toni Gilhooley

They all need your support -- moral, political, and financial.

1 comment:

Michael Pasternak said...

You must be running out of material already. You and Melissa Hart brought this up months ago and it was just as silly then as it is now. Obama’s PAC made 3-4 contributions to Jason Altmire’s campaign. The first one was even before he beat Melissa Hart the first time in 2006. The last one was last fall when Hilary Clinton had a huge lead in the polls. Either Barack Obama was supporting fellow Democrats with promising futures, or he is clairvoyant. You and Melissa Hart must think Obama is clairvoyant to be bringing this up again and again.

Claiming that these were political payoffs is truly dishonest. I can’t imagine why anyone would take you and Melissa Hart seriously when you continue to bring fake news like this up. Maybe the Chinese drilling story wasn’t a mistake, but part of a pattern of dishonesty.

By the way, isn’t this the Pennsylvanian’s for John McCain blog? You hardly ever talk about him.