POLITICAL WRANGLING: TUSSLES, PAYOFFS AND TALL TALES

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 By Buck Shott

 

August 1, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Gearing up for another rough-and-tumble campaign season, our Political Wrangling column is back with answers to questions inquiring minds want to know.

 

  • Which Presidential candidate flunked 13 of 13 fact-checks?
  • What prominent candidates are eyeing Bob Filner’s seat in Congress, in a redrawn district that includes the southern chunk of East County?
  • Which liberal school board member may be living outside her San Diego district, making her potentially ineligible to serve?
  • Which local Republican official admits to paying off folks to pack a council hearing in support of hiking rental rates for mobile home owners?
  • What national office holder is collecting rent from public servants providing security for his family?

 

FILLING FILNER’S SHOES: Long-time Democratic Congressman Bob Filner is stepping down to run for Mayor of San Diego. His district includes much of East County, south of I-8, as well as Imperial County. Last week, ex-State Senator Denise Ducheny she may run for the seat, taking on fellow Democrat and current State Senator Juan Vargas. Biggest winner if Ducheny runs for Congress? Supervisor Greg Cox, since Ducheny had been rumored to challenge the Republican incumbent for his seat, the conservative San Diego Rostra site observed. There’s no word yet on which Republican may brave running in the predominantly Democratic Congressional District vacated by Filner, but the new “top two vote getters win” primary system could make for some interesting political theater. Keep your popcorn on hand!

SLEEPOVERS RAISE RESIDENCY ISSUES: Reporters from Voice of San Diego tailed San Diego School Board trustee Shelia Jackson—and found she slept over four nights at her daughter’s home in Kearny Mesa, which is not in her district. Questioned by the press, Jackson first said she lived at a home she lost to foreclosure four years ago, then later clarified she’s registered to vote at the home of a school district employee, Gwendolyn Kirkland, and her husband. Kirkland says Jackson stays there rent free several nights a week. The law requires trustees to live in the district—but Jackson says she has no plans to run for reelection, since she needs to find a job that pays more than her $18,000 salary.
 

BUYING INFLUENCE: Derrick Roach, secretary of the San Diego County Republican Party, used a more direct approach to influence actions by the Chula Vista City Council. Roach admits he paid at least 50 people to pack a council hearing and support jacking up rents on senior citizens in mobile homes, the Union-Tribune reports. Ironically, Roach previously filed ethics violation charges against some South Bay Democratic candidates and office holders, but now faces questions about his own ethical standards—particularly after the Council voted 4-0 to allow mobile park owners to raise rents on new tenants. Councilman Steve Castanada has revealed that he did not know until after the vote that supporters were actually paid to be in the audience. He called the tactic “distasteful,” adding, “Were they there just to take up seats so the five of us wouldn’t have to look mobile home residents in the face when we voted against them? “ Peter Scheer with the nonpartisan First Amendment Coalition goes further, calling the practice “sleazy in the extreme, if not illegal.”

PAY TO PROTECT: Vice President Biden has been charging the Secret Service to rent a guest cottage on his property while they protect Biden and his family. Washington Times reports the Secret Service previously rented properties farther away and approached Biden about renting the cottage after his mother died. It’s not unprecedented for the Secret Service to occupy guest housing on an official’s property; Bill and Hilary Clinton had Secret Service at their property in Chappaqua, New York. But there’s one big difference: the Clintons declined to accept rent.

BACHMANN’S PINNOCHIO PROBLEM: Most candidates make occasional misstatements—and even the occasional whopper. But one presidential candidate, Republican Michelle Bachmann, has earned the dubious record of having a 100% record of fibbing, says the nonpartisan watchdog group PolitFact. “We have checked her 13 times and [found] seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false,” PolitiFact editor Bill Adair said, Fairness and Accuracy in Media reports. Not a single thing Bachmann said was found to be true, he added. “I don’t know anyone else that we have checked more than a couple of times that has never earned anything above a false.”

National Press Club’s monitor asked Bachmann if it’s fair for her to call for dismantling federal programs that she’s benefitted from lavishly, citing her $417,000 federally-subsidized loan from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase a luxury home as an example. Bachman countered that “Unlike all of you, who I’m sure pay cash for your homes, there are people out there like myself who actually have to go to a bank and get a mortgage.” Whereupon she assailed the same federal program that helped her, adding, “It’s almost impossible to buy a home today with the federal government being involved…What’s impossible is that we do dismantle a number of these federal programs that everyone agrees are clearly out of control.”
 

Wonkette, the ever-smarmy Washington D.C. blogger, said the statement makes no sense, then noted that Bachmann has also received thousands of dollars in farm subsidies plus $137,00 in Medicare payments to her husband’s clinc that purports to cure homosexuality--in addition to her federal home loan. For the Tea Party presidential candidate to trash recipients of federal funds as “freeloading layabouts” when she’s accepted three large federal cash payments amounts to “the Holy Trinity of hypocrisy” Wonkette concluded.