Republican Congressman Used Scholarship Charity to Fund His Golf Trips; No Scholarships Ever Awarded – The biggest accomplishment so far of U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer’s scholarship foundation has been to send the Indiana congressman to play golf with donors at luxury locales such as the Bahamas and Disney World.
The fundraising golf outings have raised more than $880,000 for the Frontier Foundation that Buyer founded in 2003. Almost all the contributions are from 20 companies and trade organizations that have interests before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on which Buyer serves.
The foundation has yet to award its first scholarship, and it has handed out only $10,500 in charitable grants.
Of those grants, $4,500 went to a cancer fund run by the chief Washington lobbyist for Eli Lilly and Co. That lobbyist, Joe Kelley, said he is refunding the money because Lilly is among the groups that have supported Buyer’s foundation.
In addition, the foundation gave $1,450 in 2008 to the National Rifle Association Foundation.
The foundation is at the same Monticello address as Buyer’s campaign office. From its inception until August, when a new person was hired, the only paid staffer was Stephanie Mattix, who works on Buyer’s campaign and also is paid by his political action committee, Storm Chasers.
Buyer said the board is made up solely of people with close ties to him, including his daughter, Colleen, who was president until 2008 but who remains on the board; son Ryan; Maria Vandersande, a former press secretary in his congressional office; and Sandra Danford, who joined in August as the lone paid staffer and replaced Mattix. The foundation’s 2003 tax filings show a $2,250 payment to Colleen Buyer.
His defense? Buyer said that given his frequent travel as a member of Congress, jetting to these golf outings is “not fun for me. I know someone else may look at that and go, ‘Wow, he got to go on trips. He got to go to great places other people don’t get to see.’ But for me? It’s work.”
Soon after I was born in 1972, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. By the time I was six years old, I was confined to a wheelchair. Doctors doubted I would survive, but I inherited my parents’ determination, and I proved them wrong.
I entered college in 1990 with plans to work in politics and patient advocacy, but at 19, I had a severe setback and I was confronted with a stark choice. My survival would require a machine to breathe and round-the-clock nursing care. A breathing machine usually means life in a nursing facility. But my father’s small business had health insurance from Guardian Life Insurance Co., which promised “Solutions for Life.”
[Later,] Guardian had compiled a “hit list” of its costliest members, including patients with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, and paralysis. Guardian executives referred to us all as “dogs” and “trainwrecks,” and they debated how and when to dump us from the rolls. Laws prohibited the cancellation of the individual members with serious chronic health problems, so Guardian opted to cancel the plan for all members of this specific health plan in New York, an action that violates federal law.
Although my medical costs constituted a minuscule fraction of Guardian’s profits, the company had been trying for 15 years to sidestep its obligations to me. The insurer hired private investigators who searched in vain for evidence to justify canceling the policy. Guardian had similarly targeted the other “dogs” without success. Finally, Guardian launched the unprecedented strategy of withdrawing an established plan throughout an entire state in order to discontinue a few costly members.
Without stricter enforcement of existing laws and the creation of a public health insurance option to keep private insurers honest, it’s only a matter of time before you or someone you love will become the next victim.
Glenn Beck Thinks That Volunteering in Your Community = Communism – The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a Hollywood charitable organization, has helped to organize a push in the television industry to encourage volunteerism among the citizenry. The support for volunteerism will be spread across 60 shows, and in some cases woven into the plot lines.
Enter Glenn Beck, who reads in this yet another conspiracy theory that President Obama is using Hollywood in an attempt to turn American in a communist nation: “Well, this is fantastic. It’s almost like we’re living in Mao’s China right now.”
Beck seems worried that by encouraging more volunteerism we’re creating a problem, or a crisis, that will be exploited later, but it is difficult to follow the logic. Basically, Beck’s main point is that President Obama and Hollywood and the media are colluding to control your lives by promoting more community service and civic participation.
Chamber Of Commerce Spends $34 Million On Lobbying In Three Months – The US Chamber of Commerce reported that it spent a mind-boggling $34.7 million lobbying Congress in the third quarter of 2009 — far surpassing the $10 million it spent in the first quarter and the $7.4 million spent in the second.
The National Journal reports that the Chamber’s aggressive lobbying efforts have placed it firmly in opposition to the Obama administration’s first-year priorities. The business association earned the top spot on the Journal’s “Top Health Care Players” list for the first half of the year and has stirred up controversy amongst its own membership due to its strict stance against climate change legislation.
Wall Street 40% Bonus Rise Feeds Spending on $43 Steak, Co-ops – New York investment houses will dole out $26 billion in bonus checks (a 40% increase from last year) by the end of March, said Alan Johnson, president of compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc. The money will probably boost sales of multimillion-dollar co-op apartments. Delmonico’s, the landmark steakhouse a few blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, sells prime New York strip for $43 and has seen traffic pick up and its catering business improve as firms start to take clients out in bigger groups, said managing partner Dennis Turcinovic, 31, after overseeing a lunch for 150 people last week.
Meanwhile, the city’s unemployment rate is 10.3 percent, the most since 1993.
Obama Wins Family Monopoly Game: Sparks Right Wing Outrage 😉 – Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced this morning that the President and his family played a game of monopoly in the White House kitchen this past Sunday, which the President won. Reaction from the right was instantaneous and vitriolic.
Bill O’Reilly decried the callousness with which the President of the United States would treat the real estate crisis as “just some game.”
Similarly outraged, Glenn Beck demonstrated on a blackboard how the President’s buying Short Line, Pennsylvania, B & O Railroads and the Electric Company were a clear indication of his Socialist plot for a complete government takeover of industry, not to mention the obvious land-grabbing in the game itself.
Sean Hannity questioned the President’s victory in the game, itself, insinuating that perhaps it was indicative of shady financial dealings, particularly in the purchase of Illinois Avenue, which is “of course, the result one would expect when you’re dealing with Chicago politics, payoffs, bribes and cronyism.”
Lou Dobbs proceeded to rant about the dangers of illegal aliens getting out of jail free and draining the Community Chest.