Patton Boggs, Karl Rove and OHA

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The November 28, 2005 issue of "Newsweek" magazine includes an article linking White House chief of staff Karl Rove to Washington lobbying firm Patton Boggs and the payment of $400,000 by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to Patton Boggs to lobby for the Akaka bill. The implication is that Rove may be improperly using his influence with the President to lobby on behalf of Patton Boggs clients, including lobbying for the Akaka bill, in return for money and legal representation for himself regarding the investigation of CIA leaks involving Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Here are excerpts from the "Newsweek" article:

Deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove recently took out a $100,000 line of credit from Wells Fargo Bank ... any Rove legal debts -- which won't have to be publicly disclosed until next year -- could bring attention to his relationship with Patton Boggs, the D.C. powerhouse lobbying firm, where his lawyer in the leak case, Robert Luskin, is a partner. Lobbying records show Patton Boggs represents a battery of foreign governments, corporations and others with interests before the government. Rove has been involved in White House meetings involving at least one big Patton Boggs client: the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which paid the firm $400,000 earlier this year to lobby for a controversial native-Hawaiian recognition bill. Patton Boggs lawyer Ben Ginsberg, a Rove friend and big GOP lawyer who recommended he hire Luskin, is a principal on the case. The White House -- which recently ordered all staffers to take an ethics training course -- declined to say if there is any policy for Rove to recuse himself from issues involving Patton Boggs clients.

The Bush administration has shown ambivalence on the Akaka bill. The "Newsweek" revelations about Rove might explain why. Political influence-peddling sometimes squeezes out principled decision-making.

On the policy side, career civil rights experts and Constitutional lawyers in the Department of Justice have consistently opposed the Akaka bill and other Hawaiian race-based programs, but have sometimes been muzzled and over-ruled by political pressure. The Republican conservative base has strongly opposed the Akaka bill as shown by dozens of newspaper articles and blog comments during the period in mid-2005 when the Akaka bill appeared headed for Senate action. Even as far back as year 2000 the Wall Street Journal editorialized against it; and in 2001 Roger Clegg and Michelle Malkin published commentaries opposing it. For a collection of the most important published articles opposing the Akaka bill, in chronological order (about 200 pages), see: http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/AkakaPublishedOpposition.html

On the political side, there have been many rumors that Karl Rove and other strategists in the Republican party want to support the Akaka bill as a way of helping Hawai'i's Republican (in name only) Governor Linda Lingle, who is likely to run for re-election or who might someday run for the Senate. For example, the Grassroot Institute survey of Hawai'i households showed that 2/3 of all who responded to the question said they oppose the Akaka bill. http://www.angelfire.com/hi5/bigfiles3/AkakaScientificSurvey070505.html

A rumor is that when those results were in the process of being distributed by hand to the offices of all 100 Senators, the person distributing them was told by a White House operative to stop doing that because it would embarrass Governor Lingle who was at that moment personally lobbying Senators for the Akaka bill. Lingle has made the Akaka bill her top priority in an all-out effort to win the support of what she regards as a monolithic ethnic Hawaiian swing vote comprising 20% of Hawai'i's population. She has ordered her appointed Attorney General to vigorously defend state government agencies providing racially exclusionary benefits, against civil rights and taxpayer lawsuits. Lingle has also marched in red-shirt rallies in support of powerful race-based institutions (both government and private); see http://www.angelfire.com/hi5/bigfiles3/AntiAmericanHawaiianProtesters.html and also http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/redshirtsept2004.html

Throughout all 5 years of the Bush administration so far, there has been the same tension between principle and politics on issues such as affirmative action and border control. Karl Rove is the political "architect" trying to broaden the Republican base by appealing to powerful leaders and institutions in the black and Hispanic communities (and the ethnic Hawaiian 20% "swing vote" in Hawai'i). Identity politics caters to a mistaken stereotype that all blacks support racial quotas or affirmative action, that all Hispanics support open borders, or that all people with a drop of Hawaiian native blood support racial separatism or ethnic nationalism. Identity politics conflicts with the traditional Republican focus on individual rights and equality under the law.

Political expediency sometimes triumphs in the short run over principled decision-making. Unfortunately, political expediency might also sometimes lead politicians to take money under questionable circumstances, or to exchange political influence for money-equivalents such as legal representation. The connection between Karl Rove, Patton Boggs, $400,000, and the Akaka bill is troubling, although so far only circumstantial.

For further information about the Bush administration's activities related to the Akaka bill, see: "Bush Administration Actions and Statements on Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill, 2000-2004 (includes 2005 addendum)" at: http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/AkakaBush20002004.html

Full text of Newsweek report

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10117472/site/newsweek/print/1/displaymode/1098/

MSNBC.com

Leak Investigation: For Libby and Rove, Legal Woes—And Bills

Newsweek

Nov. 28, 2005 issue - As special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald continues his probe into the CIA leak affair, the probe is taking an escalating financial toll. I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the indicted former vice presidential chief of staff, has set up a legal defense fund to pay the bills of his high-priced lawyers. In an effort to raise $5 million, the trust has assembled a board of major Republican fund-raisers, lobbyists and prominent neoconservatives. The chair: Melvin Sembler, a wealthy Florida real-estate developer and ex GOP finance chief who, ironically, was President George W. Bush's ambassador to Italy when the embassy in Rome first got the forged yellowcake documents that helped trigger the affair. Others include ex CIA director (and outspoken Iraq-war supporter) James Woolsey, ex GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes, former senator Fred Thompson, ex U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and lobbyists Bill Paxon and Wayne Berman (whose wife is the White House social secretary). During a conference call last week, Libby thanked the participants. "The money is pouring in," said Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the group. But because it was set up after Libby left the White House, the fund is private—and donors won't be disclosed.

Libby may not be the only one with pressing financial needs. Deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove recently took out a $100,000 line of credit from Wells Fargo Bank, according to real-estate records obtained by NEWSWEEK. The loan is secured by Rove's vacation home in Rosemary Beach in the Florida Panhandle worth more than $1 million, according to his most recent financial disclosure. Rove signed the loan papers on Oct. 22—just nine days after he testified before the grand jury for the fourth time. A White House spokeswoman said Rove's new line of credit is "unrelated" to his legal expenses. But any Rove legal debts—which won't have to be publicly disclosed until next year—could bring attention to his relationship with Patton Boggs, the D.C. powerhouse lobbying firm, where his lawyer in the leak case, Robert Luskin, is a partner. Lobbying records show Patton Boggs represents a battery of foreign governments, corporations and others with interests before the government. Rove has been involved in White House meetings involving at least one big Patton Boggs client: the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which paid the firm $400,000 earlier this year to lobby for a controversial native-Hawaiian recognition bill. Patton Boggs lawyer Ben Ginsberg, a Rove friend and big GOP lawyer who recommended he hire Luskin, is a principal on the case. The White House—which recently ordered all staffers to take an ethics training course—declined to say if there is any policy for Rove to recuse himself from issues involving Patton Boggs clients. "All ethical obligations are being met," said spokeswoman Nicole Wallace.

—Michael Isikoff and Holly Bailey
© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
© 2005 MSNBC.com