Fitial's Republican Friends in the U.S. Congress

January 8, 2010

The "Corruption Governor" announced that he is dumping the Covenant Party that he helped to establish to return to the Republican Party where he was once a leader. The Saipan Tribune quoted from a one-page letter that he sent to the Republican Party:
“After years of public service to our people and community in the Northern Mariana Islands with most of these years as a loyal member and leader of the NMI Republican Party, I hereby submit this letter of intention to once again join the political party I helped organize. I am a Republican and I will faithfully and vigorously support the principles of the Republican Party and abide by its rules.” 
The "Corruption Governor" never does anything unless it will increase his power, his influence or his personal finances.  This is a move connected to pushing his political agenda in Washington, DC, which focuses on making changes to the federalization law, ensuring that the long-term guest workers never get permanent U.S. status, and pushing Arizona's right to preempt federal law so the CNMI can do the same through PL 17-1 to maintain local control over labor and immigration.

When the attempt to block federalization with the very expensive lawsuit failed, Fitial put his flying monkeys in place in Washington to work on diluting it. People like Willie Tan's Lynn Knight, Deanne  Siemer, and Howard Willens have been doing the lobbying for the CNMI Corruption Governor for years. Newspaper articles followed their meetings with officials in Washington, DC, and Knight's questionable status as a self-proclaimed Fitial lobbyist and member of his lobbying and consulting firm, Management Analysis, Inc. In his State of the Commonwealth address that was delivered in writing (guess he was afraid of being booed or egged) in the last week of the year, Fitial mentioned pushing for amendments to the CNRA.

Fitial doesn't want to see the long-term guest workers get what many have recommended - an unobstructed pathway to citizenship for the legal foreign workers who have worked in the CNMI for 5 years or more. He went ballistic when the Department of Interior's mandated report to Congress concerning recommendations for status was released. He reacted by organizing his xenophobic army of anti-federalization Covenant followers from the Indigenous and Carolinian Affairs Offices and the indigenous rights groups. He organized a rally that garnered about 100 others who share his beliefs that the long-term foreign workers should continue as temporary workers, without permanent status.  His plan is to let the contract workers keep coming in and going out as a disenfranchised underclass so that he can ensure that they can ever get voting rights, never have the chance to organize, never have a fair chance to sue an employer who fails to pay wages.

Last year the Attorney General Edward Buckingham led the CNMI in joining the anti-immigrant, racist Arizona lawsuit backing state and territorial rights to preempt federal law with their own local anti-immigrant laws.  Unbelievably, no CNMI attorney has stepped forward to challenge unconstitutional provisions within PL 17-1 that echo those in Arizona's laws challenged by the USDOJ.

The Marianas Variety quoted Republican Party's election committee chair, John Reyes, as saying, "The governor has “clout” in the national GOP and it is important that Fitial returns to the local party so he can bring up CNMI concerns to the new Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives."

Let's take a look at some of those Republican leaders that Fitial intends to cozy up to:

John Boehner (R-Ohio), Speaker: Fitial will be a "dear friend" of Boehner, if he isn't already. He is a Tom DeLay mini-me.  In fact, he voted with DeLay 96% of the time between 1991 and 2005.

Boehner received campaign money from Abramoff and his clientsFrom Vanity Fair (April 2006):
John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, also doesn’t know Abramoff, but Abramoff’s clients gave him $30,000 over the past few years, and ate many meals at Signatures. (For a couple of years, Abramoff’s principal liaison with Boehner was David Safavian—a former member of “Team Abramoff” and later head of procurement for the White House Office of Management and Budget—who has been indicted for lying about his Abramoff ties.)
Critics of Boehner cite his close relationship to K Street.  He rents his apartment from a lobbyist, John Milne. He worked with DeLay to ensure that Republicans were hired by the lobbying firms and helping to create the revolving door between Congress and lobbying firms.  Boehner, like DeLay, raises money from "the industries he regulates." Big tobacco pours money in Boehner's PAC, Freedom Project.

Like DeLay, Boehner and his staff accept trips funded by special interest groups. It was reported that there were over 400 trips costing $150,000, some of them golf trips. Sound familiar?


Eric Cantor, Majority Leader:   Between 2001 and 2004, Eric Cantor (R-VA) received $31,000 from Jack Abramoff, and his clients.  He is an Abramoff lackey. Like convicted felon Tom DeLay, he signed Abramoff-written letters to support legislation favorable to Abramoff clients.  Cantor joined Tom DeLay (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Dennis Hasert (R-IL) in co-signing an Abramoff-penned letter to the Department of Interior's Secretary Gale Norton supporting the Coushatta Indian's casino legislation. Cantor followed DeLay in his support of the CNMI's agenda.

CREW called Cantor "ethically unfit for leadership":
Some of the questionable activities Rep. Cantor has engaged in:

• Held a fundraising event at a delicatessen owned by Mr. Abramoff , failing to pay the $1,732 bill for the event until six months later and then, only after the Jewish Forward raised questions about whether Rep. Cantor had broken campaign finance laws by failing to pay the bill.

• Accepted $12,000 in campaign contributions from Mr. Abramoff, his wife and associates in 2003-2004.
He also was the subject of an ethics investigation in 2009 concerning the questionable establishment of Cantor's organization, the National Council for a new America, and accepted over $2 million in contributions from the health care lobby since 2005.

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Majority Whip: The new House Majority Whip, hired Tim Berry as his chief of staff. Tim Berry was the chief of staff for former majority whip Tom DeLay.

Berry accepted a trip to the Super Bowl in Tampa, a golf club, and a trip on the Sun Cruz casino cruise ship from DeLay's friend, convicted felon, Jack Abramoff. He failed to report the trips or gift.

On January 9, 2006, The St. Petersburg Times reported:
The plea agreement, signed by Abramoff and federal prosecutors, says the Tampa trip was part of an elaborate quid pro quo. It says Abramoff, Scanlon and others "offered and provided a stream of things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts and influence and agreements to provide official action and influence."
...Berry left DeLay's staff last year to become a senior lobbyist for Time Warner.
None of them filed a report for the trip, as congressional rules would require for a privately paid trip to a meeting or speaking engagement. Rules allow them to accept travel expenses for meetings or "fact-finding" trips, but there's been no indication there were any such events over Super Bowl weekend. Other rules prohibit members of Congress and staffers from accepting a gift valued at $50 or more, or a total of $100 or more in a single year.
Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources: Juan Babauta must have thought Hastings had clout, because during his campaign for Delegate he visited Rep. Doc Hastings in Washington, DC. The Saipan Tribune reported that while in DC, Babauta garnered the backing of the GOP and invited all the Members of Congress that he met with to visit the CNMI. Nice gesture, but there will be an outcry if any of these Republicans use taxpayer money to trot off to the CNMI when we have a major deficit.

By no means were these the first meetings with Hastings concerning CNMI issues. In fact, Hastings, like so many other Republicans in leadership positions in the 112th Congress, worked closely with DeLay and Abramoff to block federalization. In 1996 and 1997 Abramoff and members of his lobby team  held 36 meetings with Hastings' office, according to the CNMI-Abramoff billing records. In exchange Hastings received campaign contributions from Abramoff, and invested individuals from the CNMI. Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates also contributed and even held a fundraiser for the Washington State Representative.

In a 1995 pitch letter to the CNMI government, Abramoff cited close connections to Hastings as a reason to rehire him. From Fox News:
In a June 1996 report to the islands' government, Abramoff's lobbying team claimed a successful push to get Hastings to attend a hearing on oversight of the Marianas as one of its achievements for the month. 
The day before the hearing, a member of Abramoff's Marianas lobbying team talked to Hastings about his participation at the hearing, including possible questions, and suggested opening remarks for the lawmaker to make, the billing documents indicate. 
At the June 26, 1996, hearing, Hastings submitted a statement calling the Marianas an "economic success story." He urged Congress to continue a hands-off approach, in part by rejecting imposition of a minimum wage. 
"Those workers' jobs and livelihoods were being threatened by the Clinton administration and Representative Hastings served on the subcommittee that could help them, so of course he was willing to hear their side of the story and help publicize their plight," Cassidy said.
The day after the hearing, Hastings received $500 from the Preston Gates political action committee. The money was given as part of a campaign fundraiser that Hastings had, by coincidence, held the evening of the hearing day, Cassidy said.
In June 2005 as Chair of the House Ethics Committee, Hastings was accused of purposely failing to schedule ethics hearings against his good friend, Tom DeLay. Read more: Young Out, Hastings In

Don Young (R-ALASKA): Another "dear friend" of Fitial's is Rep. Don Young, an Abramoff pal and co-conspirator who is also covered up the labor abuses in the CNMI and promoted the CNMI's dysfunctional labor and immigration system.  I've written many posts about Young and the Abramoff connections.

Young took a junket to the CNMI arranged by Abramoff as disclosed in his "secret memo"; he shamelessly backed the CNMI's agenda, and like other Congressional liars, he minimized the severity of the abuses of the foreign workershe made a mockery of the 1999 House Hearing; and he also received campaign contributions from Abramoff and his clients. From TPMMuckraker:
In 2000, Abramoff's firm (Preston, Gates LLP) held a held a tribute to Young during the Republican Convention and between 1999 and 2006, Young's PAC, Midnight Sun, received $19,708 from Abramoff's tribal clients. Five weeks after Young sent a letter on behalf of Abramoff's tribal clients, he received $7,000 from them. Young also held fundraisers in Abramoff's skybox.
Former CNMI Secretary of the Department of Labor and Immigration, Mark Zachares is now a convicted felon.  His illegal Abramoff-connected actions were committed while he served on the House Transportation Committee that Young chaired. Read more on Young and Zachares here.

It's clear that Fitial's definition of "dear friend" is someone who pushes his agenda, no questions asked.

One thing is for sure. Any of the Republican House Members who publicly support Fitial or his undemocratic, unjust, and xenophobic agenda will be starring in headlines in a variety of media across the nation.  Fitial's questionable antics from massage-gate to his ties to felons that he calls his "dear friends" make for good news for a media seeking sensational stories to feed to a scandal-hungry public.  So the "Corruption Governor's" dreams of holding hands with those in power may come true, but they will backfire in a media frenzy hungry for stories that only Fitial mafia-style type leaders can provide.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

In light of the tragedy in Tuscon, let us pray that published (in the Marianas Variety & M.V. blog) incitements to "revolution" in the CNMI by Edwin Propst, "Captain" Carl Brachear, Ron Hodges, Mitch Westlund, and Dr. Thomas Arkle Jr. do not result in violence here in the Commonwealth.

No matter what our political differences they must be resolved under the rule of law, at the ballot box, through civil debate, and our own good examples -- not by violence or trying to impose our wills on one another.

Bitterness and hatred will not resolve the CNMI's many problems.

Anonymous said...

I never seem to make it through your Blog and I didn't make it through this time either. i made it to where you mention our contract workers and Arizona's (U.S.) law

CNMI.

Our contract workers are here legally, this could be a pathway to legal immigration or the legal right to work and live here, nothing else. if you ask a contract worker where their home is, 9 out of 10 will say the Philippines. I have had foreign workers working for me for 10 years and all of them went home every year and came back after vacation.


U.S.

Illegally entering the U.S.A is a crime. Crime = go to jail, do no pass go, do not get a drivers license, do not get benefits, go to jail, thats what it means.... end of discussion

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:44

Your comment is disturbing. There may be violent people in the CNMI, in fact some are routinely pardoned or paroled. However, the individuals that you mentioned are not among them. Shame on you for suggesting that these people who work peacefully for reform are in any way violent. Change or revolution can, and has been, achieved through peaceful means.

How have any of the people that you mentioned "impose their wills" on anyone?" Through their criticisms, or by pointing out the truth? Thank goodness they have the courage to speak up against corruption and injustice in a place where "kill the messenger" is a popular idea.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:44

You'd do better to pray for a few extra brain cells, or for a little humanity. Your transparent attempt to spin the comments of Ed, Ron and the rest as incitements to violence would be laughable, had you not done so in the context of such a tragic event.

Anonymous said...

11:44 is an idiot of the highest order. I would say even one of the crooks and criminals that run rampant around here.

Captain said...

Hi, Wendy,
it seems that (11:44)statement is racial. There are others, that are pure local that are, at times, actually calling for "vigilantism" that this person did not name.

Since my nationality is not known and Ed is mixed seems like this is a bigoted person.

IF anything violence was to come about involving any of our politicians it would most likely be from within, and not from outside in the general populace.
With all of the ex-cons, many with very violent past/present that is employed within this Govt.(all local)
That would be the most likely candidates to be looking at, not the people on the Blogs that call it like it is.

I also do not remember of anyone calling for a "revolution" OR a violent overthrow of the NMI Govt.
Maybe some of us should follow certain English words with the Chamoro word, so some may better comprehend.(maybe this person should also consult an English dictionary)

Anonymous said...

See also Haidee V. Eugenio, “Fitial seeks lenient sentence for 'dear friend' Tom DeLay,” Saipan Tribune, Tuesday, January 11, 2011, available at http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=106050&cat=1.

If Haidee reads this comment, she should note in future articles that DeLay is in Texas state district court, not a federal court. As she notes near the bottom of her own article:

“The 2005 criminal charges in Texas, as well as a separate federal investigation of DeLay's ties to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, ended his 22-year political career. The Abramoff-related probe ended without any charges filed against DeLay, AP said.”

Judge Priest is a Texas state district court judge.

Anonymous said...

there is absolutely NOTHING racist about the Arizona law. NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

It's not racist. Neither was reserving water fountains for whites.