Drug czar sent to prop up N.Cal. Republicans?

The White House apparently sent drug czar John Walters and his deputy out on the Congressional campaign trail last year on the taxpayers’ dime to benefit embattled Republicans including former Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman claimed today.

Waxman, D-Los Angeles, released documents including former White House Political Affairs Director Sara Taylor’s Nov. 20, 2006 memo which recapped all the “suggested participation” events Walters or his deputies had attended earlier in the year. Among them were April 11 and 12 community roundtables that Walters and Doolittle held in Nevada City and Oroville, respectively, and a May 8 “meth roundtable” Deputy Director Scott Burns held with Pombo in Stockton.

Waxman wrote a letter to Taylor today requesting that she testify before his committee Monday, July 30 about the apparent politicization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

The list of Republican officials named in your memo reads like a roster of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress seeking reelection in 2006. Your memo identifies 29 events with 26 Republican office-holders. Assessments by political analyst Chartie Cook in October and November 2006 considered the re-election races of 23 of the 26 candidates identified in your memo as “competitive;” 15 of the races were listed as “toss-ups.” Your list included eleven Republican candidates who lost, ten who won their races with less than 53% of the vote, and two who won by fewer than 1100 votes. You included no Democrats or Independents in your memo of suggested travel by the ONDCP Director.

There’s also a post-election e-mail memo from Douglas Simon — the ONDCP’s White House liaison — to other staffers relating White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser Karl Rove’s “thank you for all of the work that went into the surrogate appearances by Cabinet members… He specifically thanked, for going above and beyond the call of duty, the Dept. of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture, AND the WH Drug Policy Office. This recognition is not something we hear everyday and we should feel confident that our hard work is noticed.”

See other documents released today here. Pombo, of course, was unseated by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Doolittle fended off Democratic challenger Charlie Brown, who now is hard at work raising funds and building support for another run at Doolittle in 2008.


Today’s Congressional odds and ends

lee3.jpgLee’s latest Darfur bill advances: The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday approved a bill by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, calling on the Arab League‘s member nations to take more aggressive action to end the genocide in Darfur; the hearing, which included testimony from actress Mia Farrow, sets the bill up for a floor vote next week. H.Con.Res. 7, the Darfur Partners for Peace Act, has 79 co-sponsors, including Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, and urges the League of Arab States to declare the systematic torture, rape, and displacement of Darfurians a genocide; pass a resolution to support and accept a robust, hybrid United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force to enforce the ceasefire, protect civilians, and ensure access to humanitarian assistance in Darfur; and work with the United Nations, the African Union and the U.S. Presidential Special Envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, to bring peace and stability to Darfur, the refugee camps, and along the Chadian border. Lee recently returned from her third trip to Darfur, along with a stop in Egypt to discuss efforts to end the genocide with President Hosni Mubarak.

pete-stark.jpgStark to hold town meetings: Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, has scheduled three town-hall meetings in his district this Saturday, April 21. “Given recent news, likely topics include Congressman Stark’s initiatives in the new Congress as well as ‘Cover the Uninsured Week,’ President Bush’s request for additional funds for his War in Iraq, and the Supreme Court’s decision to restrict a woman’s right to choose,” the news release says. The meetings are scheduled for 9 to 10 a.m. in the Ruggieri Senior Center, 33997 Alvarado-Niles Road in Union City; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the San Lorenzo Adult School Auditorium, 820 Bockman Road in San Lorenzo; and noon to 1 p.m. in Alameda City Hall’s Council Chambers, 2263 Santa Clara Ave.

doolittle.jpgDoolittle resigns committee post: Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay, whose house was searched by the FBI in an influence-peddling investigation, said Thursday he will step down temporarily from the House Appropriations Committee. The nine-term lawmaker’s announcement came one day after the disclosure that agents had raided his home in Oakton, Va. In the search last Friday, the FBI had a warrant for information connected with a fundraising business run by Doolittle’s wife, Julie, that had done work for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Doolittle was one of two Northern California Republican incumbents seen as vulnerable in 2006’s election; the other was House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who was unseated by Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton. Despite massive grassroots efforts — including those of many Bay Area activists — Doolittle pulled the football away from Democrat Charlie Brown, taking 49.1 percent of the vote to Brown’s 45.9 percent, to keep his seat… a seat which now seems to be growing very, very hot. Brown’s 2008 campaign already is under way.