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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Kline's Support For Boehner Pays Off

After a bit of confusion, John Boehner has officially been elected to replace Tom DeLay as the Republican majority leader in Congress. This suits John Kline just fine, as Kline was one of Boehner's most prominent backers. Indeed, Kline has sent out a letter stating (emphasis in original):

I supported Congressman John Boehner because over the last three years I've seen his leadership up close. Boehner is the chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee, of which I am a member.


Congressman Boehner, one of 12 children, worked his way through college by working as a janitor, will offer a breath of fresh air to a body in need of reform. When I bucked my party's leadership as one of a handful of Members on Boehner's team who helped develop a plan for his underdog campaign, I knew I was supporting someone with a proven record who would lead us with experience and integrity.

In a separate section of the letter, Kline discusses the need for lobby reform. Presumably Kline believes that Boehner is the right man to lead this reform, since he has "a proven record", will "lead us with experience and integrity", and "will offer a breath of fresh air to a body in need of reform".

And indeed, Boehner is well-known for bringing reforms to Congress --- in 1992. The Los Angles Times explains:

[Boehner] emphasizes his role in the early 1990s in a band of junior Republicans who helped expose the House bank scandal. Hundreds of lawmakers were found to have overdrawn their accounts at the in-house bank, without incurring penalties. Also, Boehner boasts that he has never sought pork barrel projects for his district.

Wow, Boehner is a reformer with integrity! Of course, Republicans were in the minority in the House in 1990, and thus had great motivation to cast themselves as reformers in contrast to the Democrats in power. The Times also discusses Boehner's record since the Republicans took over in 1994:

As House Republican Conference chairman from 1995 to 1998, Boehner played a key role in the party's effort to systematically build stronger ties to businesses and lobbyists. It was an effort that included DeLay's vaunted "K Street Project" to encourage lobbying firms to hire Republicans.

Beginning soon after the GOP took control of Congress in 1995, Boehner held weekly meetings with about a dozen of the most powerful lobbyists in the speaker's suite in the Capitol.

He was heavily criticized in 1996 for distributing campaign checks from tobacco interests to colleagues on the House floor. It was not against the rules, but was said to be unseemly.

Oops. That doesn't look so good. But of course, House Republicans staged a coup in 1999 and removed Boehner from his leadership position. Maybe he's reformed his ways in the last 6 years? Not according to The Washington Post:

In years past, when the House recessed for its winter break, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) decamped for warmer climates and a sailing trip to the Caribbean with some of the city's top lobbyists, including Henry Gandy of the well-connected Duberstein Group and Timothy McKone of SBC Communications.

Over the summer, they discussed a trip for this year as well, Boehner said yesterday, but last week the lobbyists weighed anchor without him, content to communicate by telephone while the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee rushed to Washington for a high-stakes run to succeed Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) as House majority leader.

So Boehner has spent years currying cozy relationships with K Street lobbyists, stopping only when it was clear that he might have a shot at returning to his leadership position. There's some integrity for you. There's also this:

And like Blunt, Boehner has been known to accept the largess of companies with ties to his legislative agenda. The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland reported that, in 2004, a lobbyist for student loan giant Sallie Mae, one of the biggest companies affected by the Education Committee, hosted a fundraising dinner for his leadership PAC, where a majority of the company's top executives wrote checks for the event.

Indeed, since 1999, Sallie Mae executives have contributed at least $123,470 to the PAC, called the Freedom Project, Federal Election Commission reports show.

Remember, Kline serves with Boehner on the Education Committee, and for the last three years he's "seen [Boehner's] leadership up close." It's hard to believe the Kline doesn't know about Boehner's conflict of interest with Sallie Mae and his other K Street connections, yet he's telling his constituents that Boehner is a reformer with integrity.

Draw your own conclusions.


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