John Boehner: "As for me, I'm with the President"

Thursday, February 02, 2006 at 02:36 PM

So John Boehner, Congressman from Ohio, has won the race to succeed Tom DeLay as House leader.  And who is John Boehner?  Well, he's been around the House for about 15 years, and he's the Chair of the House Education & the Workforce Committee.

Among many things that lead me to think that things are not likely to get better in the House is the fact that Boehner is the guy who issued a public statement about his own tremendous reaction to the President's State of the Union speech, saying, "The years ahead are colored in shades of hope and opportunity...As for me, I'm with the President."

Among the many publicly known facts about the new House leader:

--Forbes says he voted with Chamber of Commerce positions 95% of the time during his career, supported the positions of the National Federation of Independent Business 100% of the time, has championed "for-profit education companies," and has received more than $120,000 in donations from  student loan giant Sallie Mae, an entity likely to benefit enormously from the  budget reconciliation act's adoption of a fixed 6.8% loan rate after years of it being a variable rate pegged to the 90-day T-bill (critics complained the new rules were a sweetheart deal for the loan companies at the expense of students).

--Boehner authored a Committee on Education and the Workforce press release, dated 3-24-04 which took the Democrats to task for submitting a FY 2005 budget that provided $5.1 billion less than the technical maximum that could have been authorized for No Child Left Behind's Title I program, in an effort to distract from the fact that the Republican budget provided $2.1 billion less than the Democrats did.

--Boehner reportedly donated $5,000 to the campaign committee of Rep.  Don Sherwood, after Sherwood was accused of beating his mistress during their five year relationship, despite the fact that Boehner had excoriated Clinton's adulterous conduct with Monica Lewinsky by saying, "It's clear that the president's acknowledged behavior was outrageous and reprehensible, and I think that the president has lowered the standard for morals in America, and really ought to take some serious action to correct it."

--The Cincinnati Post says Boehner received $32,500 in political contributions from Indian tribes represented by fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff, more than all but 12 other members of Congress, and more than Bob Ney, the Ohio Congressman in big trouble in the Abramoff affair.

--The Dayton Daily News says that, since rising to power as part of Newt Gingrich's "Gang of 7," Boehner "built an effective fundraising machine, one that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for more vulnerable members...Boehner's PAC gave $242,822 to 53 Republican House candidates last year alone"; he has "raised hundreds of thousands of dollars" from PACS including RJR Nabisco/RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Merrill Lynch, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Philip Morris, and the aforementioned Sallie Mae.

--Also according to the Dayton Daily News, Boehner rose to "political power, in part, by using close ties with K Street lobbyists to raise cash to sustain the Republican majority" although Boehner, after announcing that he was a candidate for the House leader position, said, "If I am elected majority leader, there will no longer be a 'K Street Project' or anything else like it." Be sure to write that down someplace and keep it handy--we'll see if that's true in another 6 months.

--Beohner was the person who sued Democrat James McDermott (unsuccessfully) for allegedly breaking the wiretap law when McDermott gave the New York Times the transcript of a taped phone call in which Boehner and other Republicans plotted how to respond to ethics charges against Newt Gingrich; since the call was actually intercepted by a Florida couple, not by the congressman, the suit was dismissed.

--Boehner uses his role as Chair of the House Education & the Workforce Committee to issue blatantly partisan press releases and "fact sheets," such as one headlined "Job Creation is the Ultimate Unemployment Benefit," that contains a prominent boldfaced heading "House Republicans Create Opportunity & Jobs While Democrats Practice Hypocrisy."

--Boehner has often made public statements of "fact" that manage to leave out details and qualifications that significantly alter the stated fact, such as statements that the individual states were sitting on existing federal funds that could be used to extend unemployment benefits, which the National Conference of State Legislatures felt compelled to clarify by pointing out that many of the states needing the extension the most had already spent all available funds, and that there were several restrictions on the funds that Boehner referenced which reduced the persons for whom they could be used.

Boehner versus DeLay.  Looks like one giant step sideways.
Update [2006-2-5 7:15:16 by Lee Russ]:I've been informed that Beohner's lawsuit against James McDermott is not dead, but continues on...and on...and on. Our informant believes that the ongoing lawsuit, which Boehner refuses to settle, is payback because McDermott was the co-chair of the ethics committee when it fined Newt Gingrich $300K, the largest ethics fine ever, for trying to abuse non-profit c-3 rules. The details of the ethics case and the lawsuit are detailed on McDermott's web site.