Tag Archive: Jim Saxton

What will Saxton do with his money?

Congressman Jim Saxton has well over $1 million in the bank, despite the fact that he is not seeking re-election. The NRCC has been meeting with retiring members of the caucus and they want to get their hands on the left over money…

“Between them, there is a significant amount of money,” said Republican Conference Chairman Adam H. Putnam of Florida. “I think that a number of our retirees have been and will be generous to the NRCC upon their retirement.”

I don’t think that I can blame the committee for trying to get their hands on some of the potential $7.6 million in the pot of gold held by retirees, but it doesn’t sound like everyone is willing to help out the cause…

“We’ve had some who have been very generous. We’ve had a few members who kind of slink off in the night,” Rep. Tom Cole , chairman of the NRCC, said Thursday.

To be fair, Congressman Saxton already gave the NRCC 250K last December, but they want more and Saxton isn’t sure yet…

“I haven’t decided yet” what to do with the rest, he said.

So will Saxton continue with his past generosity or to quote the NRCC head, “slink off into the night?”

Saxton and the Scent of Scandal

A scandal most foul is bubbling up like raw sewerage around House Republicans in Washington, and a whiff of the scandal is wafting around retiring Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ3).

House GOP officials acknowledged on Thursday that the longtime and trusted treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee may have skimmed as much as $1 million from the committee. From today’s WaPo:

For at least four years, Christopher J. Ward, who is under investigation by the FBI, used wire transfers to funnel money out of the NRCC and into other political committees he controlled, then shifted the funds into his own personal accounts, the committee said.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Ward is treasurer of SAXPAC, Saxton’s leadership PAC formed in 2005.

Saxton vs Bush

A new analysis estimates that the Iraq war is costing much more than we might think:

In 2008, its sixth year, the war will cost approximately $12 billion a month, triple the “burn” rate of its earliest years, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes report in a new book.

Congressman Saxton poo-pooed the results:

When Stiglitz testified on Feb. 28 before the congressional Joint Economic Committee, the ranking Republican, New Jersey’s Rep. Jim Saxton, complained that such projections are too imprecise to help determine relative costs and benefits of the Iraq war.

Asked about the estimate today, Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino had a different take:

Q: What are the administration’s latest cost estimates on the war? Are you familiar with the Stiglitz article that came out over the weekend…$12 billion a month he’s now estimating.

MS. PERINO: I’m not going to dispute his estimates. […]

Normally it would be good to be on the opposite side of the reality plane from Bush, but even a broken clock is right sometimes. Saxton is paying for a war on credit and not even acknowledging the true costs. Oh, and he’s sending the bill to your grandkids, with interest.

By Defending his Role, Sagnip raises more questions

leonardletterToday, Mount Laurel Activist Lori Leonard filed an ethics complaint with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct accusing Congressman Jim Saxton’s Press Secretary/Candidate Chris Myers’ campaign spokesman Jeff Sagnip with campaigning for Myers on Federal time and pay.  Sagnip denied the accusation…

But Sagnip Hollendonner said that he’s been working part-time for both Saxton and Myers since January 31st. He added that he generally spends the first part of the day, from 8:15 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., working for the Myers campaign. He spends the rest of the day working as Saxton’s legislative spokesman.

“It’s a valid question that taxpayers should know, but it’s a part-time job that I have with the congressman and the campaign,” said Sagnip-Hollendonner, who was on his lunch break. “All the necessary paperwork has been filed with the House committees.”

I agree with Sagnip that this is a valid question and the taxpayers should know, but his answer raises more questions.

It isn’t unusual for a Congressional staffer to take a role in a campaign because their expertise makes them natural resources.  But there must be a complete separation of jobs. A press secretary working for a Member of Congress cannot make campaign statements while on the clock for the Congressional job.  Nor can that same press secretary working for a campaign make statements about the business of Congress (except as it relates to the campaign). Period.

Sagnip says he started part time with the campaign on January 31 leaving us to assume he was full time with Saxton until that date, however on January 11 he played a large role schmoozing with the press and giving Jay Lassiter fashion and etiquette tips during the Myers campaign kickoff.  While “working for Saxton” that day, this was his comment about his new boss…

Sagnip Hollendonner highlighted Myers’ local ties, masters in public policy from Cornell University, and fluency with defense issues as strengths that stood out to Saxton. Additionally, 42-year-old Myers is young enough to build the Congressional rapport required to efficiently legislate, a process that took Saxton a decade, Sagnip Hollendonner said.

That’s a pretty fine line he’s walking between advocating for Myers and working for Saxton.   Sagnip couldn’t have been at the announcement speaking for Saxton while working for Myers as well. His allowable role is defined in the House Ethics rules…

Activities that May Be Either “Official” or “Political” at the Member’s Option. While a Member may not use campaign funds to pay official House expenses, there are a number of activities that may be either “official” or “political” at the option of the Member.

[O]nce the Member makes his determination [on whether an activity is to be official or political], he is bound by it. A single event cannot, for purposes of the House rules, be treated as both political and official.

Conversely, if a Member designates an event (or any other activity) as political by using campaign funds for it, no official resources may then be used. This means that congressional staff should not make arrangements for such an event

Therefore, Myers would have needed a separate press person at his announcement because I can’t imagine the most well financed, best shot that the Republicans have would announce his campaign without having some kind of staff support at the event.

This may just all be a big coincidence, but the questions wouldn’t exist if Sagnip and Myers had not created the situation.  The ethics complaint today may truly be a misunderstanding.  I think more importantly the Myers campaign need to clarify who was helping their candidate before Sagnip came on board, particularly at his campaign kickoff.  Like Sagnip himself said, the taxpayers should know.

SCHIP Blocked Again by Republican Minority

The SCHIP program once again failed today due to a Republican minority which upheld President Bush’s veto.  On the side of the angels, seven Democrats and three Republicans:

Robert Andrews, Mike Ferguson, Rush Holt, Frank LoBiondo, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Donald Payne, Steven Rothman, Albio Sires, Christopher Smith

Three Republicans voted against it:

Rodney Frelinghuysen, Scott Garrett, Jim Saxton

As always, all of these House seats are up in this year’s election, but this year is a rare opportunity.  Will we replace Saxton’s vote in the upcoming open seat election?  Will we allow a Republican even worse than Ferguson to get a vote?

Bad day for Adler’s Rivals

IMG_2522
Chris Myers: sweating bullets.

The race to replace Jim Saxton in Congress just got a lot harder for the GOP clowncar down here in NJ-3 as both candidates on the Republican side (BurlCo’s Chris Myers and Ocean’s Jack Kelly) woke up to see their stock had (figuratively) plummeted.

First was this extremely juicy article from today’s AC Press. In a nutshell, Chris Myers hired one of the infamous players from the book How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative to help run his campaign.

Says (potential?) primary rival Justin Murphy (via the article):

Myers needs to explain to voters the association between the staff he has retained and what we now know is a corrupt political operative who served prison time for doing just what his book title suggests. If you’re Chris Myers, I think you’re having a bad day today and rightfully so. He owes an explanation to the voters

Presumably Myers did himself few favors with his mealy-mouthed response: “I can’t speak to what happened in the past.”

And yet distancing himself from this demi-scandal will be tough. Afterall,

Saxton lent Myers his support; his spokesman – Jeff [“you’re not a real reporter”] Sagnip; and apparently his strategists: Jamestown’s Web site touts Saxton as a victorious client.

Yuck indeed, but some schadenfreude nonetheless. Afterall, Democrat Adler will likely benefit from any GOP miscues.

But in this case Myer’s poor judgement will also elevate his most serious primary foe Jack Kelly.

It’ll admit it, I prefer Kelly in the general simply because he’s probably the weaker candidate. First of all, being out in Ocean he’s at a historic and geographic disadvantage to Myers, whose powerbase is more centrally located in the district.

Secondly Kelly doesn’t have the defen$e industry in his pocket as Myers — a VP at Lockheed — does.

And thirdly, and most personally, Jack Kelly’s role in the Laurel Hester tragedy makes him a very appealing target. Can’t you just imagine all that pink money that will pour in to beat him if he’s the candidate?

ACT 2, Oscar Buzz

Now the minute i think to myself how great it would be to take this guy down, I discovered with unbridled glee that Freeheld, the Laurel Hester Story was nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary category!

Now that’s good (and surprisingly relevant) news for many reasons, primarily that a wider audience now gets to know Laurel. But I hasten to remind you all what a prominent figure Jack Kelly played in this story, too. Afterall, he was on the board of freeholders that forced Laurel Hester to spend her dying days fighting their bigotry.

So now that the Academy has taken notice, the whole world will see Jack Kelly for what he is: an unsympathetic character.

And now he’s running for Congress.

So thanks to Oscar, every glbt blogger on the planet would have an anti-Kelly fundraising widget on their site should he win the primary this spring.

I don’t have any idea who’s gonna win that one, time will tell. But I do know that Chris Myers and Jack Kelly –the two greatest obstacles to “flipping” Saxton’s seat — each found themselves in a nasty glare of their own tomfoolery.

Which makes the Oscar buzz all the more delicious.

Blogger’s Notebook, Congressional edition

IMG_2522
Medford Mayor Myers, Congressman Saxton

Wanted to share a little story with you guys about an incident last week that got lost in the shuffle of a very news-heavy day. As you may recall, I caught the campaign kickoff of GOPer Chris Myers who wants to take Jim Saxton’s place representing NJ-3 in Washington.

Thankfully Democrat John Adler has similar designs, as does Republican Jack Kelly — who Myers will have to vault past for his party’s nod. (So given the competition, Myers is hardly an heir apparent.) Anyway, the kickoff was underwhelming, but something from beforehand is still in my craw. Jim Saxton’s chief of staff (correction: Communication director) Jeff Sagnip approached the press and introduced himself before hand. First to the reporter on my left, then to my right.

Then he looked at me and declared to everyone within earshot, “Oh Jay Lassiter you’re hardly a reporter!” He then threw his head back and laughed derisively.

“Ouch!”

The reporters nearby seemed a little taken aback, too.

“You don’t think he was trying to compliment you in some ironic way, do you?” asked the print reporter sitting next to me. Nah, he wanted to embarrass me, and it worked for a nanosecond or two.

But mostly that obnoxious gesture served to ratchet-up the tension in an already overheated room. No big deal, I’m a big boy. But the consequences for his candidate seemed more apparent.

By the time Chris Myers stepped up to the microphone he was so nervous he barely managed to choke out his stump speech.

Now making a huge announcement to a phalanx of press would make anyone a little anxious, I’ll give him that much. But it’s also reasonable to assume that Chris Myers might never have recognized the blogger from the Man in the Moon had Saxton’s staff not shot off flare guns over my head. Don’t you all just love it when meanness boomerangs?

This event was announced publicly in local press and billed as a public event. That’s why I was there. Well that and to capture a Macaca Moment which never materialized.

Chris Myers is running for Congress as a “Saxton Republican.” To me that means more war, higher deficit, fewer insured New Jerseyans, more partisanship and more kowtowing to the right wing of the Republican party.

What’s your definition of a “Saxton Republican?” Share your thoughts below!

Saxton annoints Myers

Jim Saxton, Chris MyersYes Mayor, I see you snearing

The race to replace Jim Saxton in Congress continues to evolve.

Today Medford Mayor and Lockheed Veep Chris Myers announced that he's running for the GOP nod. He'll face Ocean County's John Kelly (remember him?) in a primary. The winner of that battle gets a crack at John Adler in November's general election.

Myer's performance today was okay. He managed to avoid a macaca moment, but he did seem pretty nervous. And no i don't begrudge him that. But he'll need plenty of polish to hold up in a debate with John Adler. (With his safe margins, Saxton never bothered to debate so this will be a first for NJ-3 in a long time. How arrogant lame is that?)

The media turnout today was an impressive one, but Myers ducked from the lectern right after making his stump speech. Since no one was taking questions from liberal bloggers, I didn't get a chance to ask him about SCHIP, Iraq or the price of tea in China. (Who Myers calls an “adversary” by the way. Now really, Chris, is that any way to talk about the country we're borrowing from to pay for the wars that make defense exec's rich?) 

I am gonna be timid with a prediction right now and say this much: it's gonna be hardfought. (But you ask me, if Saxton actually thought this race was winable, he'd be in it.)

 

Adler Scores Big Endorsement

With last Thursday’s Iowa caucuses dominating media coverage across the country, quite a bit of news fell through the cracks. One such story is big news in New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district:

The Recreational Fishing Alliance today endorsed John Adler for Congress in the 3rd district.

“John Adler is a staunch advocate of the marine environment and, as a member of the state legislature, has actively supported the recreational fishing community,” said Jim Donofrio, Executive Director of the nonpartisan Recreational Fishing Alliance. “Our experience working with Senator Adler has assured us that he is deeply committed to the well-being of the recreational sector and that he will take the concerns of the recreational fishing community to Washington.”

I had an opportunity to speak with Jim Donofrio on the phone shortly after the announcement. The Recreational Fishing Alliance typically endorses incumbents or legislators with a strong record of supporting recreation, and they’ve consistently endorsed Jim Saxton for reelection.

Part of the reason Jim Saxton has been so successful at building his “moderate” image (which we all know is really a facade) is because he’s gotten strong support from both recreation/fishing and enviornmental organizations almost across the board. These endorsements had important local effects– most importantly building strong grassroots support in the shore communities of Ocean County. But the more important effect, at least for Saxton, had been to moderate his extreme conservative views, which helped him beat his opponents decisively in Cherry Hill and key swing areas of Burlington County.

John Adler winning the RFA’s endorsement shows that he can’t just be written off in Ocean County, and that he’ll be a strong contender to pick up Jim Saxton’s seat this coming November.

NJ-03: Will Christopher Myers Play Santa for Frank Lautenberg?

Well into the holiday season and with Christmas approaching, it’s always good to reflect on who’s played Santa this year. In New Jersey’s third congressional district the battle of the bosses about to heat up as the GOP primary to replace Jim Saxton draws ever nearer.

With Burlington County defense contractor Christopher Myers facing off against Ocean County Freeholder John Kelly in the fundraising race, I wonder if Myers will take some time off from campaigning. Why? To play Santa again for Frank Lautenberg, of course!

After all, Myers wrote a nice $500 check to Lautenberg’s reelection campaign for Senate in 2007, before Jim Saxton announced his retirement and Myers realized he might want to be a Republican candidate to replace him in Congress:

myers donation

Whoops! I’ll bet Myers is fretting a good bit about whether the Republican rank and file will be ok with him donating to one of the most liberal Senators in the country. But one can only hope he’ll feel the holiday spirit and donate through ActBlue to help Lautenberg crush his Republican opponent in 2008.