Thursday, April 20, 2006

Lobbyist Bilbray's New Necktie

In the 50th District, the inevitable Democratic assault on Brian Bilbray’s lobbyist career and connection to Jack Abramoff began in earnest today. Francine Busby held a news conference flanked by “Republican supporters” of her candidacy. She called upon Bilbray to return money donated to his campaign by convicted Republican felon Randy “Duke” Cunningham; by soon to be indicted Cunningham briber, Brent Wilkes; and by Virginia’s Representative Virgil Goode, who received big bucks from convicted Cunningham briber, Mitchell Wade.

The theme here is easy to discern. Busby is hanging Duke Cunningham around Bilbray’s neck and Bilbray is going to have to try and distance himself from what to voters may be tainted money.

The San Diego Reader didn’t do Bilbray any favors with a summary some of last minute contributors to his campaign immediately prior to the April 11 special election. The list of contributors looks like the Jack Abramoff Lobbying All-Stars

The identities of last-minute contributors to political campaigns often turn out to be of more than passing interest -- sometimes because they have something to hide. And plenty of late money arrived in the coffers of Brian Bilbray, the ex- Imperial Beach mayor and former congressman...

Much of the money has a familiar theme. On April 8 the Chickasaw Nation, an Oklahoma Indian tribe with casino interests, kicked in $5000. On March 31, the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, run by Republican whip Roy Blunt, gave $5000.

Then there was the Promoting Republicans You Can Elect Project, operated by Ohio Republican congresswoman Deborah Pryce, which gave Bilbray $5000, also on March 31. Campaign disclosure records show that Pryce's fund received a total of $8000 in contributions in 2002 and 2004 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, both of which were clients of fallen GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


Yet another beneficiary of Abramoff money, Alaska GOP congressman Don Young's Midnight Sun Political Action Committee, gave Bilbray $2500 on March 30. This January, the Anchorage Daily News reported that since 1999, tribes linked to Abramoff have given Young $20,000, most of it channeled into the Midnight Sun PAC. Young also used Abramoff's luxury skybox at Washington's MCI Center for fund-raisers, the paper said.

I know that politicians are reluctant to turn down contributions, but don't you think that Bilbray might be a little more sensitive to receiving big financial windfalls from a group of legislators who are roundly perceived to be in the pocket of big time lobbying interests?