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House Republicans Move to Blunt Ethics Issue

House Republicans are keeping busy these days.

Not content with their efforts to knock a top-tier Democrat out of the Ohio 6th District race, the National Republican Congressional Committee is trying to capitalize on the ethics question currently surrounding Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) by funding automated phone calls to voters represented by Mollohan and three other Democratic House members.

The calls are going into the districts held by Mollohan (W.Va.-1) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.-5); they are also targeting voters represented by Melissa Bean (Ill.-8) and Chet Edwards (Texas-17) -- two of the biggest targets for Republicans this fall.

"I'm calling with an important congressional update," the call begins.

In the calls going to Mollohan's constituents, the script details the allegations against Mollohan, including his "orchestration of ear-marked pork barrel projects that may benefit him personally."

"These charges will bring Congressman Mollohan under scrutiny that could lead to an investigation into his activities," the caller continues before asking the listener to call Mollohan and ask him to resign from the House Ethics Committee. Mollohan has mounted a vigorous defense, charging that the complaint against him was crafted by a GOP-aligned group. (The Post's Tom Edsall wrote about it last week, as did The Fix.)

The scripts in the other three districts are quite similar, running through the list of allegations against Mollohan and then asking listeners to call their representative and ask him or her to call on Mollohan to step down from the Ethics Committee.

The only major difference between the call going to Mollohan's constituents and those going to voters represented by Emanuel, Bean and Edwards is that the latter makes mention of a New York Times editorial that called on Mollohan to resign his post as the ranking Democrat on the Ethics Committee until the Department of Justice concludes its probe into the complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center. (The Washington Post editorial page has also called on Mollohan to step aside.)

The phone banks are being run by Conquest Communications Group, which is based in Richmond, Va., according to independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this morning. The smallest expenditure is in Emanuel's district (a safe Democratic seat) at just $965.30. The NRCC is spending $3,100 to make the calls to Mollohan's district, $3,200 for calls to Edwards's district and $3,500 to Bean's.

While Emanuel's Chicago-area seat is impenetrable to a Republican challenge, Mollohan, Bean and Edwards are all being targeted by the NRCC this fall. Mollohan has held West Virginia's 1st District since 1982 and has rarely faced even a semi-serious challenge, but Republicans are already investing time and money to support state Del. Chris Wakim's (R) campaign.

Bean, who defeated longtime Rep. Phil Crane (R) in 2004, represents the most Republican district in Illinois and will be challenged by wealthy investment banker David McSweeney in the fall. Edwards is set to face off against Iraq war veteran Van Taylor (R) come November in a central Texas district where President Bush won 70 percent of the vote in 2004.

The calls represent the leading edge of Republicans' push back on the "culture of corruption" argument that Democrats have been voicing for months and which is likely to be a centerpiece of their campaign to reclaim congressional majorities. "Nancy Pelosi called for [Ohio Republican Rep.] Bob Ney to step down," said NRCC communications director Carl Forti. "She should do the same for Alan Mollohan." Ney, who is embroiled in the Jack Abramoff scandal, resigned as chairman of the House Administration Committee in January under pressure from the House Republican leadership.

Bill Burton, communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, responded that "after spending a year saying that ethics wouldn't be an issue this cycle, it's no surprise that national Republicans are cynically using the issue to distract from their long litany of ethical problems from Ney, to [California Rep. Richard] Pombo all the way to the White House."

Phone banks can be effective in ginning up voter interest (and outrage), although they are rarely as effective at persuading voters as television and radio ads. For the moment, the automated calls serve the NRCC's purpose -- keep the issue bubbling in hopes of forcing a Mollohan resignation from the Ethics Committee, a move that could have consequences not just in his targeted reelection race but in contests across the country.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 18, 2006; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: Parsing the Polls: Iraq, Vietnam and Public Opinion

Comments

when you commit fraud against your country so that you can occupy another...

you call that defending our country?


and how did 12,000,000 to 20,000,000 illegals get into our


_defended_


country in the last 5 years?


our country isn't defended, we are having an attack of imperialism..


your president is acting out

project for a NewAmericanCentury.org.


look it up PNAC.

be a man.

quit pandering.

Posted by: defending our nation? | April 24, 2006 12:17 AM | Report abuse

require them to obey the same laws that you


_have_

to

establish a Rudy Guilliani attitude towards our Congress, lawmakers, Administration and bureaucrats including NSA, CIA, FBI and Secret Service...


IF they break the law, any law, not in the line of duty...they get arrested.


parking ticket, tax evasion, hiring illegals, stealing, dui, etcetera...


WE need a group of people passing laws that affect them too,


that they are willing to abide by.....


for example we could start with this small change:

enforcing the law against illegal hiring of illegal aliens should be easy....


those that have to compete against them, can pretty easily point out the violations, perhaps we should have a bounty,

for
turning in those that hire illegals.


It's a lot easier to lock up a few hundred, violaters for a few months with a felony charge that radically alters their ability to bid on jobs or to vote or to not register with local law enforcement...


you wouldn't have to do it for very long...


keep the bounty in place for 5 years.


try it.


Guilliani found that if he arrested anybody commiting any crime in NYC about 10 years ago, that the felons that would have commited the most heinious crimes were already in jail because they were

_by_habit_

scofflaws,

sound like any congess peoples that you know?

cunning ham, deal aide, cheyney/oil-interests/futures market/$380,000,000 payoff.

partisan-ship is like believeing in professional wrestling

....it aint real, it's for the rubes...


crack down on corruption, as an ordinary thing, enforce the laws against your congress...

publish names.

.

Posted by: you want a better government quickly | April 24, 2006 12:14 AM | Report abuse

John Kerry came across as a WIMP in 2004, no leadership at all. There were more military people against him than standing on the stage in Boston, NO home court advantage for Kerry.
If the Dems keep rolling out wimps who offer no record for defending our nation (their votes are their record, you know)
they will continue to be seen as weak, liberal pacifists. That is why Dukakis and Kerry lost, the nation saw them as wimps.

Posted by: Helen | April 21, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I would like to get a briefing on how Bob Woodward is doing now that he was called on to do his Godfather a favor. The first law of thermo-dynamics is there is no free lunch. Pay up Bob. You have to admit how incredible a story and with just the right timing. Completely, out of the blue, here comes Bob with news that, guess what, he was the first reporter to hear the story on

Posted by: Robert Machado | April 20, 2006 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Rob in CA is at best naive and more than likely just ignorant. What can you say other than just your typical Bushite Republican. Republicans can't stand it when the Democrats use the Rovian techniques on them. Instead they resort to name calling and childish behavior. Look guys if you can't stand the heat get the heck out of the kitchen. Don't complain about dirty tactics when it was your people who devised those very tactics.

Posted by: Loyd | April 19, 2006 9:47 PM | Report abuse

ROB IN LA WROTE:

"I wonder if they will slash 10 times the number of tires from GOP vans next election."

I wonder if the GOP will block blacks and other minorities from their legal right to vote? I wonder if the GOP will continue to jam phone lines in NH so as to subvert the election? I wonder if the GOP will in fact steal the next election in some GOP state. Seems to me, Rob, that slashing a few tires dosen't compare to slashing the Consitution.

ROB WROTE: "If only the democrats would have used "METH" instead of "CRACK" there just may have been a diiferent outcome but I doubt it. Democrats are the ones that say the people are stupid and that they can better spend your money. Remember Hilary? "we are going to take things from you for the better of common man". Ya right!"

Yawn. Did you cut and paste that from some lunatic GOP Web site? It's a pity that all the GOP has left are insults and unserved prison sentences. That, too, will be solved as the cases move through the courts. Enjoy your 1,000 years of exile, Comrade Rob.

Posted by: Simba | April 19, 2006 8:09 PM | Report abuse

ROB in LA is upset because Dems call Repugs "liars." Well, the proof is in the pudding: where are the WMD? What became of the "mushroom clouds" over American cities.

I'm enjoying this political season because America is finally coming to see the GOP for what it is: corrupt, untrustworthy, weak on nation defense, pathetic on national security and incompetent in everything else -- oh, except for lying and stealing.

ROB in LA, Sir, your party had a chance to lead and instead it chose to steal. It's time for the Democrats to return to power and restore sanity to America. It's also high time for Republicans of integrity to demand their party get out of bed with the extremist religious moolahs.

Stop it, ROB, stop hating America.

Posted by: Tab Khan | April 19, 2006 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Voters are smart enough to collect some data before they vote. Most Dems vote for a Dem, and most Republicans vote for their candidate, so it is the group in the middle who really decide which person gets to be in Congress. Issues are important, and I think the lobbyist hub bub hits all sides. Quite a few Dems leave office and stay in DC to earn big bucks as lobbyists.

Posted by: Susan | April 19, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

From elsewhere in the WaPo:
"Also, a senior administration official revealed another move in the ongoing shakeup of Bush's staff, saying that longtime confidant and adviser Karl Rove is giving up oversight of policy development to focus more on politics with the approach of the fall midterm elections."

So we can expect more of the same.

Also, when Bush's term is over Rove WILL be chair of the RNC. Bet on it.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 19, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

The comments on the races in wv and the call made to the reps od districts fron the NRCC. If they think that they can call voters in Chet Edwards dist in Texas and try to get a republican elected thay are crazy the person that is challagening Chet Edwards is a rubber stamp for Bush as all republicans are his name is Van Taylor, Edwards has done more for Veterans then any other Congressman in this area so Bring it on we will fight the fight.

Posted by: Frank J Wright Jr | April 19, 2006 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Rob in CA, You are a straight up republican liar. This has been the republican's #1 effective normal opperating procedure. Call the Democrats liars and accuse them of the very exact thing they are currently engaged and have commited before the the evidence is overwelming and the republicans are caught. that way the republicans can play stupid and say nuh uh! that's what you are doing. Childish and infantile but that is the state of the republican party seeing that they are in the MAJORITY and WILL SAY ANYTHING and DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES to get what they can't freely be given in an honest election, POWER. I wonder if they will slash 10 times the number of tires from Dem vans next election. If only the republicans would have used "METH" instead of "CRACK" there just may have been a diiferent outcome but I doubt it. Republicans are the ones that say the people are stupid and that they can better spend your money. Remember Reagan? "we are going to take things from you for the better of common man". Ya right!

Posted by: original thought hurts my brain | April 19, 2006 8:14 AM | Report abuse

The fact that this post was even written at all is just sad. They won't investigate DeLay, the leader of the house, in multiple improprieties, involving a tangled network of criminal activity... but they investigate this guy on some 'suspicion' that is probably unfounded.

Tho, I guess knowing that the GOP went and spent a bunch of money on electric phone calls is pretty hilarious. Especially since the White House is possibly (probably) connected to the criminal phone jamming probe about the NH '02 election that has convicted 3 and indicted one more, including GOP operative James Tobin.

It must take a lot of hard work to cheat that hard.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | April 18, 2006 9:23 PM | Report abuse

More likely is that people in Illinois are going to ask "Why the hell do I care about a congressman in WVA?"

Another cute tactic (see OH 6) by a desperate GOP trying to save midterm elections.

And as far as this being the normal operating proceedure by Dems, Rob in CA, the GOP wrote the book and love to take credit (go ask Karl Rove). Your broad generalizations and regurgitation of Rush Limbaugh talking points might work in other blogs but we're not as stupid as you say Dems think the American public is.

Posted by: RMill | April 18, 2006 8:13 PM | Report abuse

John, You are a straight up democrat liar. This has been the democrat's #1 effective normal opperating procedure. Call the Republicans liars and accuse them of the very exact thing they are currently engaged and have commited before the the evidence is overwelming and the democrats are caught. that way the democrats can play stupid and say nuh uh! that's what you are doing. Childish and infantile but that is the state of the democrat party seeing that they are in the MINORITY and WILL SAY ANYTHING and DO WHAT EVER IT TAKES to get what they can't freely be given in an honest election, POWER. I wonder if they will slash 10 times the number of tires from GOP vans next election. If only the democrats would have used "METH" instead of "CRACK" there just may have been a diiferent outcome but I doubt it. Democrats are the ones that say the people are stupid and that they can better spend your money. Remember Hilary? "we are going to take things from you for the better of common man". Ya right!

Posted by: ROB in LA Calif. | April 18, 2006 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Incredible how shameless the Republicans are! They are taking a page straight out of Karl Rove's playbook: go after the other side's strength, and do it with as much sleeze as you can.

Rove was faced with a bona fide war hero in John Kerry in 2004, who was going up against, in George Bush, a guy who not only got his daddy to pull strings to keep him out of the war, but who also specifically checked a box saying that he would NOT be willing to serve in combat.

So Rove got a bunch of former Vietnam vets to out and out lie about what Kerry did over there.

Now, faced with overwhelming corruption in the Republican Party, the Republicans are trying to pick out a couple of Democrats whose ethical questions are minimal at worst. That's what you call hutzpah. Rove and the Republicans are betting that the American people are so stupid that they can be fooled into ignoring the Republicans' culture of corruption.

Don't take the bet, no matter what the odds!

Posted by: John | April 18, 2006 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Agreeing with Judge C. "the script details the allegations against Mollohan, including his "orchestration of ear-marked pork barrel projects that may benefit him personally."

Unless you are directly on the take, in West Virigina this is what gets you elected, not defeated right?

Posted by: Duh | April 18, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"In the calls going to Mollohan's constituents, the script details the allegations against Mollohan, including his "orchestration of ear-marked pork barrel projects that may benefit him personally.""

Not sure how effective this will be. Along with the inherent vagueness of it ("Ma, what the heck does 'orchestration' mean? Is Mollohan playin' on a dulcimer in a show?") is the widespread voter perception that ALL Congressmen do this. Does anyone think that the idiotic "Bridge to Nowhere" will not confer some level of personal benefits to Ted Stevens? And WV has, more than any other state, become inured to the budgetary excesses of pork barrel politics.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 18, 2006 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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