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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

John Shadegg Answers The Tough Questions

Anyone who has listened to Hugh Hewitt knows that when he doesn't want to fool around, he won't. Today, John Shadegg was his guest via phone, and Hugh asked the questions that are extremely relevant for the upcoming House elections. Transcript courtesy of Generalissimo Duane at Radio Blogger.

HH: One of the men who would replace Tom Delay is the Congressman from the 3rd District in Arizona, John Shadegg, originally elected in the landslide year of 1994. He is now contending with Roy Blunt of Missouri, and John Boehner of Ohio, to be the new majority leader. I'm pleased to welcome John Shadegg to the Hugh Hewitt Show. Congressman, great to have you on.

JS: It's great to be on. Thank you for the opportunity. Great to be with you.

HH: Congressman, I want to start with Abramoff, because it matters so much, and just run right down the hard ones. What exactly are your ties, if any, to Jack Abramoff's various operations?

JS: Hugh, I had no tie directly to Jack Abramoff. I've never met him, wouldn't know him...I guess maybe now that I've seen his picture in the paper, maybe I would know him if he walked in the room...and I hope he doesn't. But I did not know him, and have not known him in my tenure in Washington.

HH: Were you ever entertained at any of his skyboxes?

JS: Yeah.

HH: And if so, how often?

JS: Let me walk through that. There was a young man that worked for the Republican Study Committee, which is kind of the organization of conservatives in the U.S. House, who was...he had been a staff director on the Hill for a while. Then he went to work and was the staff director of the Republican Study Committee. That was the group of conservative members of Congress. It's kind of the benchmark or the biggest organization of conservatives in the House. He left that position, and he went, apparently, I didn't know this, he went to work for the firm where Jack Abramoff was, and apparently started working with Mr. Abramoff. After he left and went to work in the firm where Mr. Abramoff was. He came back to me on I believe two occcasions, maybe three occasions, and proprosed that I do a fundraiser at, I guess, the MCI Center. He did not mention Jack Abramoff, mentioned the name of firm, and said look, our firm has this skybox, and we will make it available to you. And the firm will in-kind the box to you. And it'll be a good fundraising event for you. We did that on three different occasions. Unbeknownst to me, the firm didn't in fact own the skybox. I don't even know today who owned the skybox. What I have learned is that what Mr. Abramoff did was he got Indian tribes to in-kind the value of the skybox to whoever used it on those occasions. When we discovered that, subsequently, we returned, last year, to each of the...to the Indian tribe that we knew about, we returned the value of those in-kind contributions, when we realized there was a link to Jack Abramoff. We did it last year, we did it before Mr. Abramoff was indicted.

HH: That's good news. What was the name of the young staffer, Congressman?

JS: His name was Kevin Ring.

HH: All right. Did you ever have signature privileges at his restaurant, Signatures?

JS: No, I never had signature privileges at his restaurant.

HH: That's great. Last question...

JS: And Kevin Ring also made...Kevin Ring also made two different personal contributions to me, and he got the firm's political action committee to make a contribution to me. I believed those were all driven by the fact that Kevin Ring had been the staff director of this very solidly conservative organization. Again, when we learned of the link of that organization to Mr. Abramoff, we did not give the money back to Mr. Ring, nor did we give it back to the firm's political action committee. We donated that money to an anti-gambling organization in Washington, D.C.

HH: Great pro-active answers. Have you vetted your staff, Congressman, on their ties with Abramoff and his operations?

JS: Pardon me?

HH: Have you vetted your staff to make sure that none of them have compromises...

JS: Yes. We've vetted our entire office on contacts or ties to Mr. Abramoff.

HH: That's good news. Can we switch to policy now?

JS: Sure.

HH: Because that's what I wanted to hear, that's what I expected to hear, but I think everyone should answer those very questions.

JS: Yup. You've got to get it right out there. It was a total of $6,900 dollars in those various contributions, or in-kinds, and we, as I said, we got rid of all of it last year.

HH: From Mark Tapscott, my colleague in the blogging business at the Heritage Foundation, comes some questions. Will you introduce and support a proposal to require all earmarks be identified by the name of the requesting member?

JS: I think my answer to that question is yes. I haven't given...I have not formed by specific earmark proposal, but we cannot have earmarks put in where you do now know who they benefit, or where you do not know why they're being done, and where they can't be debated. My understanding is that most...well, many earmarks, at least the ones that are abusive, are snuck in, in the dark of night, often by, quite frankly, some powerful members, and rank and file members don't even know about them. One of the problems with the earmarks is that as this question suggests, the earmarks don't even often, at least in some instances, you cannot find out from the bill itself who benefitted by the earmark, because the language goes into what's called report language, and it's not in the bill itself. And my colleague, Jeff Flake, has a bill to make sure that you simply can't do that, because right now, if we go to the floor and we try to strike an earmark, and force the proponent of that earmark to come out and defend it, it turns out the earmark is in the report language, and it's impossible to strike it, or even to force a debate on it.

HH: Would you support, again a Tapscott question, a proposal to require legislation to be posted on the internet, say 72 hours prior to a vote, so that the American public can see what's in there?

JS: Absolutely, absent, I supposed, the closing days of the session, where you might have to have a limited exemption to that. We have a rule that we waive all the time, that requires a 3-day holdover period before a measure can be voted upon. And it is when...quite frankly, when we waive that rule to try to get out of town at the end, when we have seen some of the worst abuses of that. But we don't just waive it at the end of the session, we waive it all the time. So I believe that there should be the greatest amount of sunshine possible in this process, and I want to make the point, Hugh. When I got elected in 1994 as a part of the revolutionary class of 1994, we based our campaign on two things: one, we were going to shrink the size and scope of government. We were going to reduce spending, we were going to cut taxes. We were going to decrease regulation. We were going to increase local responsibility. We were going to increase individual responsibility, and individual freedom, and of course, keep a strong national defense. But there was a second plank in that promise, and that was to clean up the backroom deals, to stop the ability of members to sneak language in, in the middle of the night, or to use their position of power to try to benefit themselves or their cronies. And the scandals of late, particularly the Cunningham scandal, demonstrates that we've failed in that. It's not just bad actors. We have procedures that those bad actors can take advantage of.

HH: You're absolutely right.

JS: All of that's got to be cleaned up.

HH: Let me switch to some political issues of great importance to me, and I think a lot of people who listen in the Republican base. Drilling in ANWAR, a fence on the border, and repeal of those portions of McCain-Feingold that limit political speech in the 60 days prior to a campaign, Congressman. Any order you want to go in.

JS: ANWAR? absolutely. A strengthening of the fence? Yes. And what was the third one?

HH: Political speech, the McCain-Feingold restrictions on political speech 60 days prior to an election.

JS: Repeal them. They don't work. They favor the media. and there are other provisions in McCain-Feingold that need to be cleared up.

HH: When you say strengthen the fence, expand on your immigration position, Congressman, since this is a divisive issue within the caucus.

JS: It is a very divisive issue within the conference, and within the country. I chaired a series of unity dinners to try to bridge kind of the huge gap in our conference between members who are very hard over on this issue, and believe that the only answer is enforcement, including completely closing the border and other enforcement mechanisms, and those who believe that you have to have, I guess at the other end of the spectrum, who say well no, the answer is recognizing that people are going to come in, and perhaps a mechanism through where we can identify those that are already here, something bordering on amnesty, although I would argue that there's nobody in the Republican side in the House that favors amnesty. In any event, I tried to hold a series...I did hold a series of dinners to try to get those two groups talking to each other, and find out where there's common ground. The bill that we passed, just before we came home, I would argue is substantially a product of that unity dinner process.

HH: Great. Last question, Congressman. We've got 45 seconds. The House went right back at John Murtha when he proposed a cut and run. Did you support that? Do you support a Republican support for the war approach that does go right at defeatism?

JS: Oh, absolutely. We cannot abandon Iraq at this point. This has vastly more consequences than Vietnam. If we walk away from Iraq right now, it will be a debacle, and we will pay the price here on American soil. That one's not even...that's a no-brainer.

HH: Congressman John Shadegg, good luck. You've answered all my questions. I'm going to urge everyone to call their Congressman, get you elected majority leader. Congressman, thank you for joining us on the Hugh Hewitt Show. That's the voice of the man who should be the next majority leader. It's a voice of leadership and principle. Call your Congressman, if he or she is a Republican, and ask for change. Ask for John Shadegg.

And these are the answers that now prompt us to throw our backing to Rep. Shadegg. This is not a personal thing for us. Yes, Thomas and I do live in Arizona, and yes, Rep. Shadegg does represent our state, however we must remember this tiny little tidbit.

I do not live in Arizona. I live in Chicago; that's a long ways off from Arizona. However, I was most impressed with two particular things. He was upfront about ANY ties to Jack Abarmoff, and assured the listeners that he didn't know him personally, had never met him, and when it was discovered by his office that there were ties--unknown at the time--to Abramoff, the deal was severed, and just compensation was paid for the privileges received. That compensation was made well before the indictment was handed down. So many others have scrambled to give the money back at this point, and it's sickening to me. Once your hand's been caught in the cookie jar, you can't drop the cookie and claim you weren't doing anything wrong. This, above all else, struck a chord with me. The second thing was his pro-active stance on issues that America is concerned about, and how they should be addressed.

We said this on Sunday and reminded everyone what is needed for this transition. We're right--bloggers, that is--and we're taking the lead on this. We don't need anyone that has ties to Abramoff, nor anyone who is interested in playing the CYA game to protect the status quo. On top of that, we know we need a strong leader in the House (hopefully matched by a stronger one in the Senate after the November elections.

This is why we called for this. This is why we are supporting Rep. Shadegg. He showed in this interview that he is not all lip service. He understands that there was a problem in the House. He also wishes to see that problem disappear. I can assure him that America is behind such moves; they have complained for a long time that the "status quo" in Washington has got to go to accomplish anything. I tend to agree.

The call by bloggers isn't a light one; certainly not to be taken lightly by those in the House. They face a full election this year, and bloggers were very influential in 2004. This could be yet another watershed moment in their brief history, and one that might just lay low the media once and for all. In short, I see not only this appeal a being a recognition of a problem--and one that must be corrected post haste--but also a gauntlet tossed down. We can only do our best, but when we do it's rarely pretty for the other side. So, yes, even as an Illinois resident, I'm throwing my support behind John Shadegg, and all three of us urge readers to call the offices of their representatives, and put in with us, and a fair majority of bloggers. We know what needs to be done; we just need the support.

Publius II
The Bunny ;)
Mistress Pundit


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm also impressed by the interview but more than that we need fresh blood in leadership roles in both chambers. Rawriter

11:05 PM  

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