May 19, 2004
Your irregularly scheduled DeLay sleaze watch

Tom DeLay's sham "charity" Celebrations for Children will not be used to shake down GOP Convention attendees in New York this summer.

"It has become clear New York around the time of the Republican Convention is too expensive a venue, therefore CfC will not hold the New York events and instead will pursue other less expensive locations later this year," the organization said in a statement.

Yeah, yeah, blame it on New York's high prices. Very classy of you. Too bad the Republican Love Boat got spiked - you could have had the Lido Deck for an attractive sum, I'm sure. Via Political Wire.

As noted earlier, there's been another complaint filed with the FEC over DaLay's long and lucrative relationship with Bacardi. Here's more info on that. The Daily Business Review has a longer subscriber-only article which I've reproduced beneath the More link. Note that some Democrats, including Florida Senator Bill Nelson, are also involed, and like DeLay, everyone has the lame "no quid pro quo!" excuse at the forefront. Thanks to AJ Garcia for the tips.

DeLay attended Stephen F. Austin State University's graduation this weekend, and he gave a couple of bizarre quotes to the local paper. I'll leave the commentary on the Iraq stuff to Southpaw, from whom I found this link, but I can't resist one:

On the subject of Congressional redistricting, Delay said some people are upset that the districts were changed so dramatically.

"We haven't been redistricted for almost 30 years," he said. "But it is mandated that state legislators do redistricting - not judges. People are starting to get into the groove, and with campaigns and upcoming elections it should all straighten out."

Haven't been redistricted for 30 years? What does he think happened in 2001, 1991 (you know, when that eeevil Martin Frost fella carved out a safe spot for himself), and 1981? I have no idea what he means by this. Anyone want to take a guess?

UPDATE: Corrected Southpaw link. Sorry about that, Bubba!

May 19, 2004

By: Dan Christensen

The political action committee of Miami-based Bacardi U.S.A. made unreported
campaign contributions to five members of Congress, including Sen. Bill
Nelson and Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, according to a complaint
filed Tuesday by a Washington, D.C., watchdog group.

Four of those members, including Nelson and the Diaz-Balart brothers, signed
on last month as cosponsors of a bill that would help Bacardi in a
longstanding trademark dispute with the Cuban government and French spirits
giant Pernod Ricard.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Federal
Election Commission to expand an ongoing inquiry of the Bacardi political
action committee and its Washington-based treasurer, Robert M. Higdon. The
investigation was opened in March when the citizens group first alleged
failures by the Bacardi PAC to properly disclose contributions.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said the Bacardi PAC’s contributions
were found by combing through campaign reports filed by the various elected
officials or their committees.

Sloan also said the timing of the contributions, in the weeks and months
before the legislation was introduced, “suggests a quid pro quo.”

Bacardi spokeswoman Patricia Neal called that “ludicrous.” Those who got
Bacardi contributions are longtime allies who’ve supported Bacardi before on
other issues, she said. Neal also said that Bacardi has been in constant
communication with the FEC to provide all “additional information that
they’d like.”

The complaint said campaign finance reports showed that, without reporting
the contributions properly to the FEC, the Bacardi PAC gave Nelson’s
re-election campaign $2,500, the Balart-Diaz brothers’ joint leadership PACs
$1,000 each, and the re-election campaign of Iowa Republican Sen. Charles
Grassley $1,000.

In addition, the PAC gave the leadership PAC of longtime Bacardi ally Tom
DeLay, R-Texas, the House majority leader, $2,500. And it gave Connie Mack
IV, who’s running for a U.S. House seat in Fort Lauderdale, $1,000.

Further checking by the Daily Business Review found a $1,000 contribution to
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that Bacardi’s PAC did not report to the FEC.

According to the complaint filed by the citizens group, the Bacardi PAC
failed to file either a year-end report for 2003 or a quarterly report for
the first part of 2004.

The year-end report was deemed not filed by the FEC because the Bacardi PAC
filed only a paper report, not an electronic report as now required by the
FEC. The paper report only disclosed that the PAC took in $37,000 in 2003
and contributed $8,500, but did not identify the sources of that money or
lists of candidates who received contributions.

The group’s allegations come at a time when corporations and labor unions
are struggling to find ways to continue funneling contributions to members
of Congress in the wake of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.

With the new law outlawing huge, unregulated soft money contributions to
political parties, corporations and unions looking to buy influence on
Capitol Hill have returned to the idea of using PACs to raise so-called hard
money for specific candidates. To do that legally, though, PACs must comply
with federal election laws that require them to disclose how much they
raised, who gave it, and who got it.

Bacardi U.S.A. is a subsidiary of Bermuda-based Bacardi Ltd.

U.S. law as interpreted in 1999 by the FEC, in a case brought by Bacardi,
allows U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations to collect and bundle
campaign contributions from officers, managers and stockholders of the

CREW is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public accountability group. It says in its
four-page complaint that the Bacardi PAC also made an undisclosed
contribution in January to DeLay’s leadership PAC.

Bill to help Bacardi

Nelson, the Diaz-Balarts and Grassley all are co-sponsors of controversial
legislation that would benefit Bacardi.

The bill would change U.S. trademark law to help Bacardi in its decade long
war with the Cuban government and French spirits giant Pernod Ricard over
the rights to the Havana Club rum label. The legislation appears to help no
one else.

“What’s so interesting is that every other corporation out there, like
Caterpillar and DuPont and General Motors, hate this legislation,” said CREW
executive director Sloan, a former federal prosecutor. “Only Bacardi likes
it, and, amazingly, people who are pushing it are getting money, which
suggests a quid pro quo.”

A spokesman for Nelson, Dan McLaughlin, disagreed.

“Of course it’s not a quid pro quo,” he said. “It’s a case in which Bill’s
sticking up for a business that’s getting a raw deal.”

Jill Kozeny, a spokeswoman for Sen. Grassley, said he has long had a “policy
of accepting contributions as long as they are legal and there are no
strings attached.” She added that Bacardi’s opponents on the trademark
battle have given to him, too.

Representatives for the Diaz-Balart brothers said the congressmen were
unavailable for comment. Press spokesmen for Rep. DeLay and Sen. Reid did
not return phone messages before deadline.

Bacardi wants to alter Section 211 of U.S. trademark law. That section was
enacted to prevent foreign companies from registering in U.S. courts
trademarks linked to property confiscated by foreign governments.

But in October 2000, the European Union filed suit challenging the law on
behalf of France. The World Trade Organization subsequently held that
Section 211 violated international intellectual property protections by
denying certain trademark owners the opportunity to register and renew their
trademarks in the U.S.

The bills pending in the Senate and House, S 2373 and HR 4225, seek to
modify the law to comply with the WTO ruling and preserve U.S. legal
protections for Bacardi that, among other things, have allowed it to block
Pernod Ricard from obtaining the U.S. trademark registration to the Havana
Club label. Those bills were co-sponsored by Sen. Nelson, Reps. Lincoln and
Mario Diaz-Balart, and Sens. Grassley and Reid after Bacardi made its
unreported contributions to them.

DeLay is not a cosponsor of the legislation sought by Bacardi. But he was
Bacardi’s chief ally last year in a failed attempt to get similar
legislation passed.

CREW’s complaint also identifies Connie Mack IV as a recipient of secret
campaign money from Bacardi’s PAC. Mack is the son of former U.S. Sen.
Connie Mack. In 2000, shortly before retiring from the Senate, the elder
Mack sponsored trademark legislation that helped Bacardi in its Havana Club
battle. He’s currently a Capitol Hill lobbyist for Bacardi. Nelson spokesman
McLaughlin said Mack has lobbied Nelson on Bacardi’s behalf.

CREW investigated and found that the Bacardi PAC made unreported campaign
contributions to the Democracy Believers Political Action Committee, a
leadership PAC jointly sponsored by the Diaz-Balart brothers, and the
Grassley Committee Inc., the Iowa senator’s main campaign committee.

Leadership PACs are established by members of Congress, who use them to
increase their power and influence by, among other things, raising money for
fellow members of Congress.

“There could be a lot more money, but this is all I found going [randomly]
through FEC filings,” Sloan said in an interview. “By Bacardi failing to
file, we can’t know what’s actually going on.”

In October, CREW asked the Internal Revenue Service to audit ARMPAC, DeLay’s
leadership PAC, for allegedly failing to disclose that Bacardi provided free
liquor and merchandise to members of Congress and lobbyists who attended an
ARMPAC fund-raiser at a golf resort in Puerto Rico in February 2002.

Federal law requires such reporting, but Sloan said that the IRS has not
said whether it was looking into the matter.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 19, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

OT - Help! Charles, if you get a minute, could you read my latest post? You seem to know a lot about MT. My individual archive pages are all numbered wrong. If you know anything, please get back to me. Thanks

Posted by: sean on May 19, 2004 10:56 AM

Is it just me, or can you almost see the slime oozing from Tom DeLay's body and coming through the television screen everytime I see him on television?

Also, call me ignorant, but isn't there a Constitutional requirement that the states rearrange the congressional districts every 10 years since the number of Congressmen in each state is based on the census? If so, shouldn't Tom DeLay be aware of this requirement?

Posted by: William Hughes on May 19, 2004 11:46 AM

Maybe Delay was referring to "We haven't redistricted in a manner that was judicial branch free in thirty-years".

In other words, every redistricting since the Voting Rights Act wasn't a "Real" redistricting, because the nasty judges didn't let them disenfranchize blacks, hispanics, liberals, women, and other undesireables (IE: Non-Republicans).

Posted by: Morat on May 19, 2004 12:33 PM

Here's the link to the southpaw entry:

Posted by: Tx Bubba on May 19, 2004 6:00 PM