Sunday, March 23, 2014

Shaheen's Shadow

"The photographs offered black and white evidence of her enduring place atop the Granite State’s politics, proof of a life, from operative to governor to US senator, spent in power. But now that position is threatened from the outside."

SeeBrown Candidacy Signals Change in Senate

N.H. state of mind for Scott Brown

He is out of his mind because he should have stayed in Massachusetts and ran against this guy:

Markey's Herbalife Mi$chief

Washington today is crawling with phony grass-roots movements that serve big-money interests

Yeah, but they are $weet when it comes to politics.

"Penchant for press releases ensnares Ed Markey" by Noah Bierman | Globe Staff   March 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — Hours after Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos predicted on “60 Minutes” that he would someday deliver packages via drones, Senator Edward J. Markey issued a critical press release that was picked up by news outlets around the country.

Last week’s fatal natural gas explosion in Harlem? It, too, prompted a Markey response. Cellphones on airplanes? Daylight saving time? Markey has it covered, with statements, bills, and of course press releases.

No member of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation pounces as persistently on current events as Markey. The strategy has helped the Massachusetts Democrat gain valuable exposure over four decades in Congress, making him a hero for consumer advocacy and environmental groups.

But recent scrutiny of his letters to the Federal Trade Commission and other regulators urging an investigation into the health supplements distributor Herbalife reveal the perils of Markey’s quick response strategy. His intervention against Herbalife has drawn criticism because he became embroiled in a high-stakes Wall Street clash, coming down on the side of a wealthy hedge fund manager and big Democratic donor who is trying to leverage political connections in Washington for his own financial gain.

Markey’s actions in the case risk making him appear as an instrument of wealthy interests, rather than defender of the little guy.

“He’s a press release machine,” said Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate who has known Markey since 1976 but is no longer close with him. “When you put out a lot of press releases, you don’t pay all that much attention to each one.”

I thought he was talking about the newspaper there for a minute, the man I voted for president three times and would again. Talk about a man right for the office in this day of corporate governance. No wonder he never got a whiff near the office.

Nader noted that Markey is running in this November’s Senate election, even though he has not drawn well-known or well-funded opponents.

That's the last word from Nader.

Markey, in a phone interview Wednesday, said it is not unusual for his actions to hurt or help wealthy interests; that is often part of politics.

We know.

As an example, he pointed to a recent letter he wrote to federal regulators demanding greater scrutiny of potential automobile safety problems. The letter, which followed a safety-related recall of the Chevy Cobalt, could have broad financial implications for the entire industry, he said.

“There are billionaire interest on both sides” of the Herbalife issue, he said. “But it’s the individual families caught in the middle who are getting hurt. Constituents in Massachusetts reported that they were harmed by this company’s business practices, and they lost a lot of money, and that’s why I wrote those letters and that is consistent with all my advocacy on behalf of consumers throughout my career.”

That's a mischievous lie.


Markey wrote his letters to regulators in January after his office was lobbied by William A. Ackman, a hedge fund manager who has a $1 billion “short” position on Herbalife that will pay off if the company’s stock drops. Ackman donated $32,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in April, received the same day Markey won a special election primary to replace John Kerry in the Senate.

That number $eems oddly familiar to me.

Markey’s office has acknowledged that his staff met with Ackman or his representatives twice before Markey’s letters were issued in late January. But he has not provided details of how he made his decision to involve himself in a fight that other senators — including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — shunned.

Markey said that he did not know about Ackman’s financial stake in the Herbalife battle — even though it has been public knowledge since last year — because his staff did not inform him that Ackman had met with them. Even if he did know about Ackman’s interest in damaging Herbalife’s stock price, Markey says, he would have taken the same action against what he believes could be a pyramid marketing scheme.

That second part would seem to imply that they did tell him, but if not he needs to replace some staff, right?

Markey said Wednesday that he wants his staff to focus primarily on consumer issues, but “they should be aware that there could be a political distraction from that agenda if they haven’t factored in the totality of the political environment.”

“I think that will be something they will be factoring in from now on,” he said.

A Republican challenging Markey in this year’s Senate election filed a Senate ethics complaint against the incumbent this week, tying Markey’s action to the contribution Ackman made to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in last year’s special election. Markey and Ackman deny any connection between contributions and official action.

As is the case with many of Markey’s actions on consumer protection issues, the nexus between the issue and Markey’s constituents is not clear. In the Herbalife case, Markey cited two alleged Massachusetts victims of the company, which is based in Los Angeles, in his letters to regulators. But those constituents, in interviews with the Globe last week, said they had never made any complaints either to Markey or to other officials before they were contacted by Markey’s staff.

One of the constituents, 60-year-old Norton resident Michael Araujo, said he believes Ackman had given his name to Markey. Markey’s office could not cite any examples of constituents who went to the senator of their own volition demanding action.

Several consumer advocates who are big fans of Markey give him the benefit of the doubt....

I've gone long past that for any "public" $erpant, 'er, servant.

The ethics complaint could be a problem for Markey....

Scottie, Scottie, Scottie!



"In airwaves war, N.H. Democrats fret; Barrage of ads laying foundation for Brown" by Matt Viser | Globe Staff   March 24, 2014

WASHINGTON — On New Year’s Eve, station managers at WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., received a request from a media buyer in northern Virginia: Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit backed by the billionaires David and Charles Koch, wanted to buy some ads.

Lots of ads.

During the next week, nearly $120,000 worth of ads aired during commercial breaks of shows like “Ellen,” “The Bachelor,” and “Modern Family.”

The hard-hitting, 30-second spots were among the first in a wave to attack Senator Jeanne Shaheen, helping lay the groundwork for former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown to challenge the Democratic incumbent.

“Tell Senator Shaheen it’s time to be honest,” the ad said. “ObamaCare doesn’t work.”

Shaheen’s allies have fought back but, in a sign of potential trouble for the Democrat and her supporters, they have been overwhelmed by the opposition’s barrage, outspent by a margin of more than 4-to-1. The gap is already becoming a grave concern among state Democrats who fear that national party leaders are not making the race a priority.

“Let me be clear: I am worried. . . . ”

Something about a Democratic $avior named Steyer?


RelatedShaheen launching ad attacking Brown

As for Liz Warren, she is lost back in the business section

UPDATE: In N.H., Brown criticizes health care law