Is Pete Sessions (R-TX) A Crook?
GOP crook Pete Sessions hosting a Republican Party fundraisier
One of Texas' most radical right congressmen, Pete Sessions, who is likely to lose his suburban Dallas seat to demographic changes in the next few years if he can't force through another redistricting, is the current head of the NRCC. Even if Democrat Grier Raggio can't do it in 2010, TX-32 is now a district that is minority white-- and not all that receptive to the kind of right-wing extremism Sessions has built his career on. Right wing extremism and a cozy relationship with Big Business. One of the shrillest and most hysterically determined opponents of health care reform that would serve ordinary American families, Sessions' #2 source of campaign contributions is the Medical-Industrial Complex and Big Insurance (1,485,374). You can probably guess that the banksters and big real estate interests are #1 ($2,799,298). Sessions takes more in thinly legalized bribes from Big Business than any other member of the Texas House delegation. And he serves their interests slavishly. Lately he's been pushing a barrel of desperate lies about health care reform.
Yesterday Sessions was in the news bragging about how his committee is targeting 80 Democrats for defeat. Although some of the Blue Dogs -- like Bobby Bright (AL) and Frank Kratovil (MD), may be in trouble for voting too frequently against working families and with the corporate interests supported by the GOP and their conservative Democratic allies, most observers think Sessions better put his funds into protecting vulnerable Republican seats that are likely to flip blue next year. But Sessions may have a problem focusing on NRCC problems because of the personal ethics scandal developing around him.
John Bresnahan at Politico broke the story today: Pete Sessions' Blimp Flies Into Storm, and like most Republican scandals, its as much about hypocrisy as it is about a tendency to blur the line between criminal behavior and the way the rest of us are expected to conduct our lives. Once the GOP was driven from power, Sessions' website started whining how earmarks had become “a symbol of a broken Washington to the American people.” But even with Bush and the congressional Republicans out of power, Sessions has hardly slowed down his mania for suspiciously corrupt earmarks. Last year, for example, he steered $1.6 million in tax money to a dirigible company that isn't even in his district; it's in Illinois-- ad the president of the company admits that they have no experience in government contracting, in defense or aviation industries, no engineering or research expertise or and experience at all in blimp building! So what was Sessions up to?
What the company did have: the help of Adrian Plesha, a former Sessions aide with a criminal record who has made more than $446,000 lobbying on its behalf... [T]he company that received the earmarked funds, Jim G. Ferguson & Associates, is based in the suburbs of Chicago, with another office in San Antonio-- nearly 300 miles from Dallas. And while Sessions used a Dallas address for the company when he submitted his earmark request to the House Appropriations Committee last year, one of the two men who control the company says that address is merely the home of one of his close friends.
If this smells like fraud to you, you're hardly alone. The owner of the company, Jim Ferguson, is a lobbyist himself and he and his son (a partner in the fake blimp business) have donated thousands of dollars to Republicans in Congress (including $5,000 to Sessions)
Ferguson declined to describe his relationship with Plesha.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” Ferguson said. “As you know, [Washington] is a small town.”
Likewise, Plesha would not comment about his work with the Fergusons or about any interactions he may have had with Sessions or his office concerning the earmark.
“As a policy, I never discuss anything regarding my clients other than what is already publicly available or required to be disclosed by law — especially for a client such as this where their technology is very much sought after by the larger defense and corporate shipping firms,” Plesha said in a statement provided to POLITICO.
In 1997 — before going to work for Sessions — Plesha was arrested for illegal possession of a handgun in Washington, after he shot a man who was burglarizing his apartment, according to court documents. Plesha claimed he had acted in self-defense, but the burglar said Plesha shot him three times in the back as he was running away. Plesha pled guilty to the handgun charge, was sentenced to 18 months’ probation and ordered to do 120 hours of community service.
Within a year, he was working as a campaign manager for Republican House candidate Charles Ball, who was running against then-Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.).
In that campaign, the FEC has said that Plesha created a fake Democratic committee to attack Tauscher. The FEC said the committee sent out 40,000 letters and made 10,000 phone calls to Democratic voters in Tauscher’s district just prior to the 1998 midterm elections suggesting that Democratic Rep. George Miller was opposing Tauscher’s reelection.
But Miller was, in fact, backing Tauscher. The FEC launched an investigation. And in a 2004 news release, the FEC said that Plesha had not only “authorized and distributed the fabricated letters and calls” but also “knowingly made false statements to the FEC” about them, “denying involvement in or knowledge of this scheme.”
According to the FEC and court documents, Plesha pled guilty to lying to investigators in the case. He was fined $5,000, placed on three years’ probation and ordered to do an additional 160 hours of community service, according to federal court documents. He also entered into a “conciliation agreement,” under which he was to pay a $60,000 civil penalty, the FEC said.
Lobbying disclosure records show that, beginning in November 2005, Ferguson and Plesha lobbied on behalf of Sphere Communications, a division of NEC Corp., the Japanese telecommunications giant. Plesha also worked for a time for a San Francisco-based defense contractor whose employees, FEC records show, had contributed heavily to Sessions and his PAC.
By 2006, lobbying disclosure forms show that Plesha was working for the Fergusons. The records show that he collected $51,400 in fees from the Fergusons during the last six months of 2006; nearly $292,000 more in 2007; and $64,500 in 2008.
The records show that the Fergusons are, by far, Plesha’s most lucrative lobbying clients.
Knowing how the Washington Culture of Corruption works-- after all Sessions didn't get caught with stacks of hundred dollar bills in his office freezer and his is white and rich and Republican-- don't look for a trial-- or even an ethics hearing-- any time soon. However, unless blatant bribery of our congressional representatives is stopped and serious campaign finance laws are instituted, don't expect democracy to function in any way other than as an impediment to changing the status quo.
People in Washington, though, are wondering if so many top tier Republican recruits by Sessions' committee are backing away from running in 2010 because of Sessions personal ethical problems, rather than just because of Sessions' crazy pronouncements about how the GOP needs to be more like the Taliban. This morning another one, Connecticut state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, announced he was passing on an expected run against Democratic freshman Jim Himes. Maybe someone should tell the NRCC Twit-master-- or maybe the NRCC has more pressing problems at the moment. Poor Sessions-- sitting and blithely twittering away in the wrong place at the wrong time while Jeff Flake denounces corrupt earmarkers!!! LOL!