Now, How Do You Really Feel?

Posted March 11, 2008 at 6:37pm

Now, How Do You Really Feel? Back in December, former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) threw his considerable Windy City political clout behind Jim Oberweis (R), endorsing the now 0-for-4 millionaire milkman as his successor in what at the time amounted to a coronation ceremony.

[IMGCAP(1)]After all, for decades the beloved Hastert owned the suburban 14th district seat, a predictable GOP stronghold starting a few dozen miles westward down Interstate 90 from Chicago’s powerful Democratic machine.

“Jim has the integrity, he has the right conservative philosophy that fits our district and is a lifelong resident of our district,” Hastert told television news cameras on the day of the Oberweis endorsement. “He’s been instilled with a good dose of Midwestern common sense — something Washington very much needs.”

But did Hastert mean it? Well, if money talks, it’s definitely a case of political like, not love. According to a preliminary Roll Call scrub of campaign finance records, Hastert’s contributions to Oberweis’ campaign this cycle totaled $15,000, the maximum for a political action committee this race, out of his still-bloated Keep Our Mission PAC.

The former Speaker, however, did not make a personal contribution or write a check out of his principal campaign account, as of Federal Election Commission records available Tuesday, potentially skipping out on an additional $10,000-plus in possible contributions to Oberweis’ 2008 House campaign — a bid

Hastert only halfheartedly supported, rumor has it.

Hastert declined to discuss his campaign contributions with Roll Call.

All told, Rep. Bill Foster (D), Oberweis and House party committees spent more than $6 million ahead of last Saturday’s special election upset, in which Foster bested Oberweis, 53 percent to 47 percent.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent about $2.5 million, while Oberweis and the National Republican Congressional Committee collectively kicked in about $3.6 million.

And Members? Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) wrote Oberweis a check. So did Republican Reps. Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Ray LaHood (Ill.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Mike Ferguson (N.J.).

Skim, No-Whip, Blue Dog Democrat. A Rhode Island-based coffee shop has promised its customers that it’s turning a hefty chunk of its proceeds to Democratic causes and groups like the People for the American Way.

Blue State Coffee, which sells its beans online and in its Providence store, is donating “10 percent of every single purchase,” says Blue State spokesman Alex Payson, and letting its presumably liberal clientele pick which groups get the cut.

“We pick four or five causes every quarter and let our customers vote every time they make a purchase for what cause they like best,” Payson told Money Matters on Tuesday, before clarifying contributions are not awarded like some primaries and the electoral college. “It’s not winner takes all,” he added. “Every vote counts.”

The coffee shop also is on pace to give nearly one-quarter of its set-aside funds to ActBlue, an online political action committee that supports Democratic candidates.

“We don’t really have any say as to where it goes from there. We’re just trying to have it go to a general Democratic cause,” Payson said.

Blowing Off Steam. After more than two months out of work, marooned FEC nominee Hans von Spakovsky has put pen to paper on an issue soon to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Von Spakovsky, the Republican at the center of the ongoing FEC stalemate in the Senate, argues the case for voter identification laws with “Stolen Identities, Stolen Votes: A Case Study in Voter Impersonation,” which is available on the Heritage Foundation’s Web site.

“In recent elections, thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms have been detected by election officials all over the country,” von Spakovsky wrote. “Given the minimal to nonexistent screening efforts engaged in by most election jurisdictions, there is no way to know how many others slipped through.

“In states without identification requirements, election officials have no way to prevent bogus votes from being cast by unscrupulous individuals based on fictitious voter registrations, by impersonators, or by non-citizens who are registered to vote — another growing problem,” he continued. “This is a security problem that requires a solution.”

Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who writes the popular Election Law Blog, suggested von Spakovsky’s new opinion piece hints that the former election official doesn’t expect to go back to work at the agency.

And if not, Hasen asked on his blog Tuesday, then why is the White House delaying a new slate of commission nominees?

“If this means that von Spakovsky no longer expects to get his FEC position back, why doesn’t he ask the president to withdraw the nomination, so that the FEC can be reconstituted with a quorum so that it can deal with pressing business?” Hasen wrote.

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