Cong OH-14: More Evidence that LaTourette (R) is Neck-Deep in Corruption
Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Concord Township) needs to go. He has repeatedly broken his promises (for example, not to exceed four terms, and to vote against CAFTA), he had a secret affair with a lobbyist, and when he divorced and re-married his best man was Bob Ney. He has a capable opponent in Lew Katz (D-Chesterland), but the mainstream media isn't reporting LaTourette's ties to the culture of corruption.
I wrote before about LaTourette's ties to convicted felons Abramoff, Ney, Volz and Safavian, largely involving LaTourette's prior tenure as chair of the subcommittee that oversees the General Services Administration, and the suspicious surge in campaign contributions from gambling-promoting Cleveland real estate developers who recently received a huge development contract from the GSA. However, that barely scratches the surface. LaTourette is neck deep in tainted campaign cash, including $10,000 donations from PACs associated with Abramoff (two of them), DeLay, and Boehner. Although LaTourette returned one donation from an Abramoff tribal client, there are other suspicious donations that LaTourette has not returned.
Here's a timeline that spells out LaTourette's ties to the Republican culture of corruption:
Sept. 5, 2002: LaTourette signed a letter drafted by Neil Volz, convicted former Abramoff associate and staffer to Rep. Bob Ney, which urged GSA official Steve Perry to give preferential treatment to disadvantaged business groups when evaluating development proposals for the Old Post Office. LaTourette chaired the subcommittee that oversaw the GSA at this time. David Safavian later testified that LaTourette was part of an effort to "rig the rules" in favor of Abramoff's Native American Indian Tribe clients, who were not named but were among the disadvantaged groups. Two such clients subsequently donated to LaTourette.
September 16, 2002: LaTourette receives at least $80,000 in individual $500 donations from persons associated with Cleveland real estate developer Forest City Enterprises (owned by the powerful Ratner family), which company eventually receives an enormous contract from the GSA to develop 44 acres of the Southeast Federal Center (SEFC) in Washington, DC. The law requires donations to be deposited within ten days of receipt, so these strangely timed donations may coincide almost exactly with the GSA letter.
The donations are from Albert Ratner: Executive VP Administration, Forest City Enterprises; Audrey Ratner, Housewife; Betty Ratner, Retired; Brian Ratner, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Charles Ratner, Exec. VP Administration, Forest City Enterprises; Deborah Ratner, Homemaker; Ilana Ratner, Retired; James Ratner, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Mark Ratner, Professor, Northwestern University; Nancy Ratner, Teacher, North Shore School; Ron Ratner, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Susan Ratner, Administrator, Bellfaire; Tawny Ratner, Housewife; Deborah Salzberg, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Michael Salzberg, Contractor, Salco Mechanical Contractors ; Samuel H. Miller, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Abraham Miller, self-employed, Graffiti, plus owns 37,988 shares of Forest City Enterprises as of 2001; Barbara Miller, Self-employed, Graffiti. The suspicious grouping and low, identical amount of these donations suggest both improper funnelling of the contributions and a desire to avoid public notice.
October 18, 2002: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California, well-known client of Abramoff, donated $1,000 to LaTourette. This contribution was never returned.
October 19, 2002: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, well-known client of Abramoff, donated $500 to LaTourette. Also never returned.
From 2002 to June 2006: Ratner and Salzberg families, connected to Forest City Enterprises, donate a total of at least $112,000 to LaTourette.
September 26, 2003: Neil Volz donated $500 to LaTourette. Never returned.
2004: During LaTourette's Congressional campaign this year, LaTourette received:
* $10,000 from The American Liberty PAC, put together by Rep. Bob Ney and funded in large measure by Jack Abramoff;July 27, 2004: Neil Volz donated $500 to LaTourette. Never returned.
* $10,000 from The Freedom Project PAC of Rep. John Boehner, who received at least $15,000 in campaign donations from the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, an Abramoff client.
* $10,000 from the Midnight Sun PAC, another fund closely associated with Jack Abramoff.
* $10,000 from The Americans for a Republican Majority PAC, put together by disgraced and indicted Rep. Tom Delay, who is also closely tied to the Abramoff scandal.
June 2, 2005: GSA awarded Forest City Enterprises with a contract to develop 44 acres of the SEFC.
October 29, 2005: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, well-known client of Abramoff, donated $1,000 to LaTourette. This one donation was returned two months later, with the statement that "I didn't ask for the money and said to send it back." Why did LaTourette not return the earlier tribal donations? Because they were so close in time to the GSA letter, a connection that the mainstream media has so far failed to publicize?
June 26, 2006: LaTourette says, "If Jack Abramoff himself came into my office asking me to sign a letter saying sunshine was good, would it make sunshine bad just because Abramoff wrote it?"
Just this month Bob Ney has pleaded guilty and the FBI has indicated that the Abramoff investigation is expanding. It may be well after the election that LaTourette's ties to this mess are dragged into the national spotlight, but Ohioans in the 14th Congressional District can take matters into their own hands by electing Lew Katz!
[cross-posted at DailyKos]