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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chief of Staffs Say the Darnedest Things

With power comes treasure, and no doubt the Democrats are bringing it in for the 2008 election. PACs have come calling, businesses trying to stay on the offensive against potential regulation are cutting checks, and so on and so forth.

Dan Bice was nice enough to look at the numbers for the Wisconsin Democrats in the House. Everyone's making out like bandits; especially Obey; as Appropriations Chair, and Kagen; being the rookie they need in place to maintain the majority.

Obey's office wasn't willing to comment on campaign finances. (Wonder why...)

David B. Williams (See how much he makes in three months here.), Chief of Staff for Rep. Steve Kagen, M.D. (D-Appleton), was surprisingly open about it.

(He clearly doesn't know you only give Bice tips, not full-fledged interviews. He'll learn.)

Next in line after Obey: first-termer Steve Kagen, who collected nearly $450,000 from January to June. Of that, about $325,000 came from PACs - more than eight times what he took in from special-interest accounts during his entire election run last year.

"Two things," said Kagen chief of staff David Williams, describing his boss' sudden popularity on the money circuit. "He's now an incumbent, and he's in the majority."


Williams said it is Kagen's aim not to dip into his wallet to underwrite his campaign, even if it takes several million dollars to win. Last year, he pumped more than $2.5 million into the race.

"People here - for instance, in the D.C. PAC community - have gotten the message that it's important to (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority, including people like Dave Obey, that Steve return," Williams said. "So people are stepping up."

And they'll keep doing so as long as he's the incumbent and the Democrats are in charge.

And the clear reality is, as long as Kagen's in that seat; he's never going to have anything close to an easy re-election fight. He's going to need a gerrymander to ever end the constant looking over his political shoulder.

Funny thing is, I'd don't recall Mark Graul, Chris Tuttle, or Nicole Vernon -- Green's Chief of Staffs during his eight years in Congress -- ever openly talking about campaign finances and PAC donations in what was clearly their position as "Policy Guru and Congressional Office Manager."

Did ethics laws change for the worse since then?

Truth be told, none of this is news to me. Kagen's pulled in about 80% of his total contributions from PACs, as I've reported previously. His donations from individuals; particularly from his own district, are next to nothing.

As for his Chief of Staff's gaffe; hey par for the course. It's getting hard to tell the office and the campaign apart in recent months.

I'd also like to thank Williams for confirming what I've been saying for months: Kagen wants others to pay the bills this time. He's not going into his pockets a second time.

Perhaps, this just might end the "He's Loaded" talk from the Recess Supervisor once and for all. But from what I've been told, Gruber's always had a hard time with mea culpas since college.

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