Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CPSIA - Jan Schakowsky's Expert Opinion

790 days have passed since ANY Democrat in Congress did ANYTHING to help us on the CPSIA. There are only 20 days left until Election Day.

I guess I'm famous now. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL9) is talking about me to the Wall Street Journal:

"Ms. Schakowsky said Mr. Woldenberg's success as a fundraiser, is proof that 'very cynical … special interests are highly engaged in the [Ninth District] campaign.'"

It seems strange that Ms. Schakowsky is so certain that I am an official Special Interest, a cynical one at that. When I ran into her at the BJBE candidate forum on Monday night, she asked me who I was. I was just a touch insulted, since as a cynical Special Interest, I would have expected her to know who I am. After all, she did tell Elizabeth Williamson of the WSJ that I was attempting to cynically influence the election in her district. This is what cynical Special Interests do, apparently.

What sneaky business am I up to? I want to amend the CPSIA. Ms. Schakowsky does not want to change her seminal law. That makes me a Special Interest. In other words, I disagree with her. And I thought my "special interest" was educating kids. Apparently not.

I never met a Special Interest before but now I know what one looks like. Here's a picture of a Special Interest:

What makes Ms. Schakowsky such an expert on Special Interests, anyhow? Well, it turns out she has experience. For instance, Crain's Chicago Business recently pointed out the "highly unusual intervention" by Ms. Schakowsky to stop foreclosure procedures against a "group" of borrowers in her district. What a caring, generous act, always looking out for her constituents! Here's Ms. Schakowsky both explaining and congratulating herself:

"In an interview, Ms. Schakowsky says she was concerned that Devon Avenue 'essentially would go dark. . . . If there are communities that are (in danger of being) decimated, I assure you that any member of Congress would do everything they could to deal with the devastation of foreclosures. I feel very proud of this,' she says, adding that Mr. Singh’s contributions had nothing to do with her decision to help. 'It was clear to me there was a widespread problem,' she says." [Emphasis added]

What a swell Congresswoman!

Ummm, some of the borrowers were donors to Ms. Schakowsky and her Democratic cronies. Is it okay for the Congresswoman to do this? Should she be "proud" of her magnanimous act? Republican challenger Joel Pollak filed an updated House Ethics Complaint against Ms. Schakowsky providing following details:

  • "While initial reports suggested that Schakowsky had helped about 20 businesses in the local South Asian-American community, court documents show that 19 of the 24 loans (80%) in foreclosure . . . were held by just three individuals: Mr. Amrit Patel (12, including 3 held jointly), Mr. Balvinder Singh (5), and Ms. Shahira Khan (4, including 2 held with Patel). One of the remaining 5 loans is held by Mr. Haresh Patel, who is apparently Mr. Amrit Patel’s son."
  • "Court documents indicate that only 3 of the 24 affected properties are actually located on Devon Avenue. Only 4 are actually in the neighborhood. Except for those few, and for a small cluster of multi-unit properties further north near the intersection of Touhy Avenue and Clark Street, most are well outside the area, including properties as far away as Calumet City, Itasca, Barrington, and Sauk Village, IL."
  • "Some of the key individuals who benefited from Schakowsky’s actions have close political ties to her and her allies. Mr. Singh contributed $500 to Schakowsky in 2004 and $2000 in 2006. He has also given thousands of dollars to other federal, state, and local Democratic candidates. Mr. Patel contributed $1000 to Ms. Schakowsky in 2002, and raised $50,000 for former governor (and convicted felon) Rod Blagojevich (D) in 2006. He also paid $34,000 to Mr. Blagojevich’s wife in real estate consulting fees; similar transactions were probed by prosecutors during Mr. Blagojevich’s recent corruption trial. . . . In addition, Mr. Patel’s lawyer is Democratic state senator Ira Silverstein, whom Schakowsky backed successfully in 2008 for the position of 50th Ward Democratic Committeeman."

Cozy! Does that sound like a Special Interests story to you? If it does, perhaps Ms. Schakowsky IS an expert on such things . . . .

[Btw, I am Joel Pollak's Finance Chair. On the occasion of the WSJ profiling me in that role, Ms. Schakowsky labeled me as a Special Interest.]

Still wondering about her authority on the topic of Special Interests? According to FEC records, Ms. Schakowsky seems to hang out with Special Interests by the basketful. How many Labor Unions, lobbyists and trial lawyers does it take to be tainted by Special Interests? Or are Special Interests just small educational toy companies which complain about laws that Schakowsky defends???

Let's see who gave money to Rep. Schakowsky through June 30:


Union PACs:

• Air-line Pilots Association PAC
• Amalgamated Transit Union PAC
• Am. Fed of Govt Employees PAC
• Am. Fed. Of State, County and Municipal Employees PAC
• Am. Fed. Of Teachers (AFL-CIO) PAC
• Am. Postal Workers Union PAC
• United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners PAC
• Letter Carriers Political Action Fund
• Intl Brotherhood of Teamsters DRIVE PAC
• Intl Union of Operating Engineers
• Intl Assn of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers PAC
• Intl Assn of Firefighters PAC
• Intl Assn of Machinists and Aerospace Workers PAC
• Intl Brotherhood of Boilermakers Campaign Assistance Fund
• Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC
• Laborers International Union of North America PAC
• Natl Air Traffic Controllers PAC
• Natl Assn of Social Workers PAC
• Transport Workers Union PAC
• United Auto Workers PAC
• UniteHere (Garment and Textile Workers) PAC
• United Food & Commercial Workers Intl Union PAC
• United Pilots PAC
• United Transportation Union PAC

Medical Interest Group PACs –

• Am. Academy of Family Physicians PAC
• Am. Academy of Neurology Prof. Assn BrainPAC
• Am. Academy of Phys. Assts PAC
• Am. Assn of Nurse Anesthestists CRNA-PAC
• Am. Assn of Orthospaedic Surgeons PAC
• Am. College of Radiology Assn PAC
• Am. College of Surgeons PAC
• Am. Congress of Oby-Gyn PAC
• Am. Hospital Assn PAC
• Am. Nurses Assn PAC
• Am. Occupational Therapists Assn PAC
• Am. Optometric Assn PAC
• Am. Podiatric Medical Assn PAC
• Blue Cross Blue Shield PAC
• Natl Community Pharmacists Assn PAC
• Natl Emergency Medicine PAC

Corporate PACs -

• CME Group PAC
• Coca-Cola Enterprises PAC
• Credit Union PAC
• Emergent Biosolutions PAC
• Entertainment Software Association PAC
• Ford Motor Civic Action PAC
• General Electric PAC
• Illinois Central Rail Co. PAC
• Harris N.A. PAC
• Hospira Inc. PAC
• Kellogg Company PAC
• Kraft Foods PAC
• Lockheed-Martin PAC
• Microsoft Corporation PAC
• Natl Assn of Chain Drug Stores PAC
• Natl Assn of Realtors PAC
• Natl Beer Wholesalers Assn PAC
• Natl Cable and Telecom Assn PAC
• Northern Trust Corporation PAC
• Raytheon Company PAC
• Walgreen Co. PAC

Trial Lawyer PACs–

American Association for Justice (formerly the Assn of Trial Lawyers of America) PAC

Law Firm PACs

Drinker Biddle
Dykema Gossett
Hogan Lovells
Holland & Knight
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough (former firm of Inez Tenenbaum's Chief of Staff Matt Howsare and CPSC Executive Director Kenneth Hinson)
Venable LLP (VEN-PAC)

Others –

• J Street PAC
• Medical Marijuana PAC


Lobbyists –

Michael Bauer (community organizer/lobbyist)
Jonathan Cuneo
Andrew Fields
Ken Inouye
Charles LaDuca
Andrew Quinn
Ed Rothschild (Podesta Group)
Larry Suffredin See also this link.
Susan White (health insurance lobbyist)

CPSC-related -

Pamela Gilbert (former Exec. Dir. of CPSC under Ann Brown; partner in Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca law firm and lobbying firm; member of Obama Transition team - with now Commissioner Bob Adler - responsible for the CPSC)

Plaintiff/Trial Lawyers –

Patricia Bobb
Thomas Clancy
Robert Clifford
Kevin Conway
Philip Corboy, Jr.
Anne Megan Davis
Jay Paul Deratany
Linda Friedman See also this link.
Andrew Greene
Keith Heibeisen
Penny Nathan Kahan
Thomas Keefe See this link, too.
Clint Krislov
Jerry Latherow
Joseph Power
Thomas Prindable See this link, too.
Larry Rogers
Antonio Romanucci
Mary Stowell [She gave a mere $98,525 in 2008 campaign donations, and recently felt it was her "duty" to file a complaint with the FEC about Republican Bob Dold's June 30 campaign disclosure for the missing cost of a bus (bill not received).]
Candace Wayne

Other Notable Lawyers:

Patricia Curtner (bond lawyer)
Lynn Cutler (government affairs lawyer)
Elizabeth Gracie (real estate tax lawyer) See also her 2008 campaign contributions.
Gail Morse (state tax specialist)

Large Contributors to Dem Causes –

Lucy Ascoli
Prudence Beidler
Pam Crutchfield
Grace Allen Newton
Bettylu Salzman
Susan White
Lois Zoller

Others –

Gila Bronner (prominent government contractor)
Anna Giannoulias (mother of Democratic Senatorial candidate Alexi Giannoulias and family owners of well-known failed bank)
Laura Ricketts (part-owner of the Chicago Cubs)
Sheli Rosenberg (executive in various Sam Zell entities)
Howard Trienens (longtime Chairman of Board of Trustees of Northwestern University)

This list gives me a whole new perspective on Schakowsky's campaign slogan "A Fighter on Our Side". Which side is that, precisely?

While I am sure Ms. Schakowsky meant "cynical . . . special interest" as a compliment, I hardly deserve to be in such august company as her campaign contributors. I am sure she really meant "Shoo, fly, shoo".

On November 2nd, we'll see who shoos. Don't forget to VOTE!


Dan Marshall said...

Worth noting, too, that Jan Schakowsky blatantly used the victims of dangerous consumer products as a bludgeon to criticize those who seek to reform the CPSIA. Personally, I can't think of a clearer definition of the word "cynical".


halojones-fan said...

Well, Rick, as a business owner yourself, surely you must know how all business owners are all filthy rich, money-grubbing penny-pinchers who'd sell their mother's kidney if it made a profit. I mean, you MUST be HUGELY wealthy--otherwise how would you OWN a WHOLE BUSINESS?

(As I've said elsewhere, it's like these people can't conceive of a business smaller than 1200 employees with its own office building.)

bchiasson said...

I just got the dry-heaves. I think Jan Schakowsky is confusing you with the one-and-only Special Interest CYNIC, Rachel Weintraub. After all, the definition of a cynic is one who believes selfishness motivates human actions. I would say both Jan and Rachel believe business people cannot possibly be in business for the purpose of enriching people's lives like elementary students and their teachers! Perhaps Jan should look up the definition of "hypocrite"!

Paul said...

Cynical? Could it be that Schakowsky is just not too good with words?