Forget “frothy”, Slimy is a better adjective

I really never thought we’d have to front page Rick Santorum.  He’s a two term senator from Pennsylvania with more corruption and crazy problems than Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann combined.  Yesterday, TV news was full of reporters following the man around New Hampshire.  I spent a bit of time on twitter trying to get them to ask relevant questions like “Do you regret your association with Jack Abramhoff?”  It took a group of college students to get “man on dog”, sex-obsessed Santorum to get his freak on.  He was heartily booed for suggesting gay marriage would lead to polygamy.  Yes, Santorum’s culture war is probably his hallmark.  That and his battle with Google and the man on dog sex attribution.  Cannonfire has a piece up today on Santorum’s really weird brand of Catholicism.  (Think Mel Gibson.) However, what really has me jumping up and down is the level of corruption that characterized Santorum’s years in the senate.

Santorum’s tenure includes a fake charity, a fake leadership PAC and a level of man on lobbyist coziness that would make Tom Delay blush.  It actually makes me wonder why Santorum isn’t sharing a jail cell with Delay or wasn’t taken down during the Abramhoff scandal. When you Google Santorum, the results should read a slimy mixture of corruption and sanctimonious blather.  Philly News Writer Will Bunch has a laundry list of Santorum’s shocking abuse of public office. It’s enough to make me mourn for the loss of Michelle Bachmann.  She was just plain crazy.  Santorum takes corruption to a whole ‘nother level.  These are only Bunch’s top 5.

1. This compassionate Christian conservative founded a charity that was actually a bit of a scam. In 2001, following up on a faith-based urban charity initiative around the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia, Santorum launched a charitable foundation called the Operation Good Neighbor Foundation. While in its first few years the charity cut checks to community groups for $474,000, Operation Good Neighbor Foundation had actually raised more than $1 million, from donors who overlapped with Santorum’s political fund raising. Where did the majority of the charity’s money go? In salary and consulting fees to a network of politically connected lobbyists, aides and fundraisers, including rent and office payments to Santorum’s finance director Rob Bickhart, later finance chair of the Republican National Committee. When I reported on Santorum’s charity for The American Prospect in 2006, experts told me a responsible charity doles out at least 75 percent of its income in grants, and they were shocked to learn the figure for Operation Good Neighbor Fund was less than 36 percent. The charity – which didn’t register with the state of Pennsylvania as required under the law — was finally disbanded in 2007.

2. Likewise, a so-called “leadership PAC” created by Santorum that was supposed to fund other Republicans instead seemed to mostly pay for the lifestyle of Santorum and those around him. My investigation of the America’s Foundation PAC showed that only 18 percent of its money went to fund political candidates, less — and typically far less — than any other “leadership PACs.” What America’s Foundation did spend a lot on with what looked like everyday expenses, including 66 trips to the Starbucks in Santorum’s then hometown of Leesburg, Va., multiple fast-food outings and expenditures at Wal-Mart, Target and Giant supermarkets. Campaign finance experts said the PAC’s expenses – paid for by donations from wealthy businessmen and lobbyists – were “unconventional,” at best and arguably not legal. Santorum also funded his large Leesburg “McMansion” with a $500,000 mortgage from a private bank run by a major campaign donor, in a program that was only supposed to be open to high-wealth investment clients in the trust, which Santorum was not, and closed to the general public.

3. Santorum was never above mingling his cultural crusades with the everyday work of raising political cash. In 2005, Santorum made headlines – not all positive – for visiting the deathbed of Terri Schiavo, the woman at the center of a national right-to-die controversy.What my Philadelphia Daily News colleague John Baer later exposed was that the real reason he was in the Tampa, Fla., area was to collect money at a $250,000 fundraiser organized by executives of Outback Steakhouses, a company that shared Santorum’s passion for a low minimum wage for waitresses and other rank-and-file workers. Santorum’s efforts were also aided by his unusual mode of travel: Wal-Mart’s corporate jet. And he canceled a public meeting on Social Security reform “out of respect for the Schiavo family”  even as the closed fundraisers went on.

4. Santorum didn’t seem to be against government waste when it came to his family. During his years in the Senate, Santorum raised his family in northern Virginia and rarely if ever seemed to use the small house that he claimed as his legal residence, in a blue-collar Pittsburgh suburb called Penn Hills. So Pennsylvania voters were shocked when they found out the Penn Hills School District had paid out $72,000 for the home cyberschooling of five of Santorum’s kids, hundreds of miles away in a different state. The cash=strapped district was unsuccessful in its efforts to get any of its money back from Santorum.

5. Washington’s lobbyist culture — Santorum was soaking in it. The ex-Pennsylvania senator spent much of his final years in government trying to downplay and defend his involvement in the so-called “K Street Project,” an effort created by GOP uber-lobbyist and tax-cutting fanatic Grover Norquist and future felon and House majority whip Tom DeLay. By all accounts, Santorum was the Senate’s “point man” on the K Street Project and he met with Norquist — at least occasionally and perhaps frequently — to discuss the effort to sure that Republicans were landing well-paying jobs in lobbying firms that were seeking to then access and influence other Republicans.

Marcus Stern and Kristina Cooke at Reuters remind us that Santorum was knee deep in the excesses of the K Street Project.  What I wonder is if this information will come out soon enough to stop Santorum’s momentum? Santorum has so many questionable ties to lobbyists that it’s hard to come away from any reading of articles about him not feeling the need for a shower.  It’s not just his senatorial past that is in question, however.  This particular item is from his current antics as a lobbyist.  Santorum has made his millions in the last few years on deals like this.

For example, his million-dollar-plus 2010 income included payments from a lobbying firm, an energy company engaged in controversial “hydrofracking” and a hospital conglomerate that was sued for allegedly defrauding the federal government.

Again, his past is even more fraught with behavior that looks a lot like being a senator for hire. So much for hyper-morality.

But the rubric “K Street Project” came to encompass the entire climate of cozy cooperation between Republicans and lobbyists.

When Republicans won control of the House in 1994, House Majority Leader Tom Delay and others organized regular meetings with lobbyists that reviewed K Street job openings with an eye toward filling them with party loyalists, who would in turn steer support and donations to the members.

By 2001, Sen. Santorum was also holding one-hour breakfast meetings with lobbyists on alternating Tuesday mornings at 8:30 a.m.

In 2004 he denied being involved with Norquist’s effort to staff K Street. But Santorum convened Senate Republicans to discuss the appointment of Democrat Dan Glickman as head the Motion Picture Association, according to Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.

“Yeah, we had a meeting, and yeah, we talked about making sure that we have fair representation on K Street. I admit that I pay attention to who is hiring, and I think it’s important for leadership to pay attention,” he told the paper at the time.

In 2006, as the influence-peddling scandal that sent lobbyist Jack Abramoff to jail unfolded, Santorum said he was ending the breakfasts in his conference room. However, his staff confirmed to Washington newspapers that they resumed almost immediately, on the same day and at the same time, at a location off the Capitol grounds.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington  named Santorum among three “most corrupt” senators in 2005 and 2006.  The 2006 report accuses Santorum of “using his position as a member of Congress to financially benefit those who have made contributions to his campaign committee and political action committee.” 

Despite a number of denials, there is evidence that Santorum and Abramhoff had met on the infamous Marianas Islands scam.  I wrote about this last March.  It is a horrifying example of modern slavery.  The story includes all kinds of immoralities like forced prostitution and abortions of young girls that were supposedly hired to work in garment factories in this US commonwealth territory  that is not covered by US labor laws.  The Delay Republicans held the associate companies up as beacons of capitalism.  Abramhoff says that he didn’t have any associations with Santorum but Roll Call and other sources show quite the opposite story.

Santorum definitely left the Senate through the revolving door.

Within months of leaving the Senate, Mr. Santorum joined the board of Universal Health Services, where he collected $395,000 in director’s fees and stock options before resigning last year. He also became a consultant to Consol Energy, after years of advocating drilling and extraction policies helpful to the company, a Pennsylvania gas and coal producer. And he consulted for the American Continental Group, a lobbying firm whose clients won earmarks he sponsored.

Its hard to reconcile this level of prostitution with a morality crusader, isn’t it?  But, there it is and if you goggle Santorum’s name and add lobbyist, corruption, K Street or any other number of combinations that go beyond the frothy mix definition, you’ll see the vast documentation.  It’s hard to imagine the tea party diehards getting behind a man with this kind of background.  Even Bill O’Reilly took issue with Santorum’s views on the rights of states to outlaw contraception with Santorum’s odd explanation that contraception put things out of the proper ‘order’.  Every thing about Santorum screams odd and narcissistic.

There’s been a reason that this man has been scraping along the bottom of the Republican presidential wannabe heap for some time.  My only hope is that when he is sent packing, that nearly every politician will want to avoid the stench and that will put an end to Santorum’s lucrative lobbying career as well.  In the mean time,  get ready for a few weeks of  the puppy dog press following Santorum around New Hampshire and South Carolina asking banal questions when they should be shouting  “show us your ill-got money”.  This guy may have had a coal miner grandfather, but he’s a total gold digger now.  What’s worse?  One man and one dog or one Senator and an army of lobbyists?  Evangelical Republicans, you’ve been Rick-Rolled!

I apologize to any earth worms I may have unintentionally insulted by the title of this thread.

31 Comments on “Forget “frothy”, Slimy is a better adjective”

  1. I think Batshitty fits

  2. ralphb says:

    A really great post on a really slimy guy.

  3. dakinikat says:

    Florida Bill Would Make Abortion a Felony

    Tanya Somanader, ThinkProgress

    Excerpt: “… the Florida for Life Act would essentially (and
    unconstitutionally) make it a felony to perform an abortion except
    when a physician meets very specific circumstances. … If physicians
    fail to meet these stipulations or provide abortion services in any
    other case including rape or incest, they would face maximum penalty
    of life in prison.”

    • ralphb says:

      That’s insane but then again with the GOP I guess that’s redundant now.

      • dakinikat says:

        It makes me worry about my daughter, although she wants to head to Seattle. Can you imagine having to through an inquest every time a woman needs an abortion? Especially in an emergency situation?

      • ralphb says:

        All these bills, like Personhood, are just nuts. I don’t think the people in this country will put up with this junk much longer.

  4. dakinikat says:

    from CNN breaking News:

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is surging in South Carolina and now has a solid lead over his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a new CNN/Time/ORC International poll released today.

    The poll also shows that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s support in South Carolina has soared, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s numbers have nose-dived.

    South Carolina holds the first in the south contest in the race for the nomination with its critical January 21 primary.

    According to the poll, 37% of likely GOP primary voters in South Carolina say they are currently backing Romney, nearly double his most recent support from CNN’s last South Carolina survey conducted early last month. The new poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after Romney’s eight-vote victory over Santorum in Tuesday night’s Iowa caucuses.

    Santorum had 19% support in the survey, up from 4%, and Gingrich was at 18%, down from 43% in the ea rly December poll.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Rick Santorum’s Mortal Sin in the Terri Schiavo Case
    By Charles P. Pierce

    • dakinikat says:

      As it happens, in a book which, by the way, ahem, er, ah, makes a swell Valentine’s Day gift, I included a chapter on the Schiavo case from the perspective of the good people who worked at the Woodside Hospice and lived through the completely unnecessary political donkeyshow brought down on the place by opportunistic Pecksniff assholes like Rick Santorum. There was the elementary school down the block that had to be closed because of bomb threats. There was the Haitian cook who got called a “Nazi” and a “murderer” on her way to work. There was the volunteer — a woman whom both George H.W. Bush and his son, Jeb, had commended for her work at the hospice — who had to stop coming because of the whackaloons who had laid siege to the place. There was the brave and strong Annie Santa Maria, who had to try and keep that good place running through all the foul madness that had been visited upon it and the people who do such great work there, every fking day, and who once was unable to break up a near fistfight between priests in her lobby because she had to stay by a fax machine to wait for a congressional subpoena for Terri Schiavo that was being faxed from Washington by opportunistic Pecksniff yahoos very similar to Rick Santorum. These people wanted Terri to testify, despite the fact that she pretty much had no brain left to speak of.

      The Schiavo case was a Moment, and the conservative movement in this country was revealed for the deceitful, arrogant, anti-humanity enterprise that it always has been. (I remember Barney Frank once telling me, with some amazement, that Democrats were telling their Republican colleagues that the party was going over a cliff on this case. It didn’t help.) I don’t even care that Santorum went down there on the Wal-Mart corporate jet to raise money from a bunch of steakhouse fatcats.

      • I’ll never forget what happened to Terri Schiavo and the way she was taken advantage of by both opportunistic politicians and a morally bankrupt media.

        • dakinikat says:

          That was a dark day in the history of our country. Demagoguery run amok! Having been stalked my self by right-to-Lyfe wing nuts in a much lesser way, I can only imagine the people in that hospice still have PTSD. It’s something that’s hard to get beyond. Not being able to feel safe in your home, you work place, and out and about in your community is a terrifying thing. Also, knowing that they’re not just after you, they are after your children too! The politicians that rode this poor woman’s dead body to shame should’ve been dumped into one very dark, nasty, cellar and left to rot. That includes Dubya who did his part in making a family’s tragedy a national political spectacle. Santorum and Frisk should be ashamed to show their faces in public still.

  6. ralphb says:

    OMG, Rasmussen now shows South Carolina Primary: Romney 27%, Santorum 24%, Gingrich 18%

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    One is hard pressed to wade through the sludge these candidates bring to the table in their quest to “lead” us. Santorum and Newt are up to their eyeballs in this stuff, each outrying to outbid the other for the sleaziest of all.

    These are the characters currently presented to the nation as public servants? Are you kidding me?

    The depth of their combined characters, and this includes Mittens, is paper thin. While money is now pouring into Santorum’s campaign, you just have to wonder at those who see this guy as worthy of attention albeit from the FBI.

    The only sleazier version of these people is Bernie Madoff and I have no doubt that somewhere, someone would be willing to finance his run on the grounds that “he knew how to make money”.

    Mitt and Bain. Rick and K Street. Newt and Fannie Mae. Obama and Wall Street.

    Christ on cracker, is this it?

    • ralphb says:

      As Charlie says …

      This is your democracy. Cherish it.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I love this guy. Thanks for “turning me onto him” since before this I never had heard of him.

        Anyone wiling to “tell it like it is” and combining it with a huge dose of humor has my approval.

        Like this blog, he is a “must read” as I sip my morning coffee.

      • ralphb says:

        You’re welcome. He is such a breath of fresh air from the normal pundits.

      • dakinikat says:

        Yup. Thanks from me too. He’s got that right twist of acerbic and cantankerous!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      If I were Obama I would be on my knees thanking the Baby Jesus for making this election possible!.

      Up against a racist lunatic, a flip flopping fraud, an empty headed Texas governor, and a bible thumping asshole, he must feel the stars are in perfect alignment.

      Debates? What debates? Whoever emerges from this Clown School won’t be worth the time and effort to bother shaking hands with.

      Mitt won’t do well in those debates since he will be feeling around trying to figure out what he said last week and won’t be able to keep up. And should he choose to use that lame sense of humor of his, he will lose most of the audience anyway. The stammering is always a signal that Mitt’s memory of what he declared 24 hrs ago may very well be what he needs to adjust today.

      What a sorry group of “contenders” this year’s mob turns out to be.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Great Post, Dak. Just FYI, Santorum served two terms in the Senate and lost his bid for a third.

  9. ralphb says:

    WSJ: Unemployment Rate Drop Is for Real

    Apparently, the 200K jobs created in December had a real effect for a change. Rate is now 8.5% and U6 went from 15.6 to 15.2. It ain’t great but I’ll take it for now.

  10. peggysue22 says:

    Strange isn’t it? So frequently you peel back the veneer on many of these religious right guys and all you find are maggots. Ralph Reed is another Abramhoff water boy, who has recently popping up as a pundit [after being thoroughly discredited in the casino scams that Abramhoff ran].

    But at least Reed isn’t running for POTUS.

    Santorum was soundly defeated in Pennsylvania last time out. He’ll wiggle around the loss, frequently say he was merely a victim of the wave that swept away everyone tied to the Bush years. In truth? He was well hated in the area.

    I just don’t see Santorum holding in the primaries. His expressed social values are twisted, completely on the fringe. They also have nothing to do with jobs or economic security, which poll after poll indicates is the electorate’s primary concern. Under the glare of public scrutiny and bombarding PAC attacks, I think we’ll see Santorum shrivel up like the other freaks.

    What a complete circus!

    Good info, Dak, a necessary trip down memory lane. Which in Santorum’s case is not pleasant.