Frist’s 2000 Election Broke Federal Campaign Laws

June 2, 2006

From The Seattle PI:

The Federal Election Commission has determined that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's 2000 Senate campaign violated federal campaign finance laws.

The federal agency fined Frist 2000, Inc., $11,000, according to a lawyer representing Frist's campaign and a watchdog group. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had filed a complaint last year against Frist's 2000 campaign committee and received the FEC's findings Thursday.

The FEC found that Frist 2000, Inc., failed to disclose a $1.44 million loan taken out jointly by the campaign and Frist's 1994 campaign committee.

The Tennessee Republican, who was elected to the Senate in 1994, is not seeking another term and is weighing a possible bid for the presidency in 2008.

Federal law requires full disclosure of any loans taken out by campaign committees. Frist's 1994 campaign committee did disclose the loan to the FEC in January 2001, but the 2000 campaign did not, according to the FEC.

In an agreement reached with the Frist campaign committee, the agency said Frist 2000, Inc., violated the law by failing to report the loan in its January 2001 campaign finance report and did not properly report the repayment of the loan in a July 2001 report.

Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer representing Frist 2000, Inc., said the campaign settled the FEC complaint. "What the FEC suggested, we believe would have resulted in double reporting of the loan," Torchinsky said.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group, praised the FEC action.

"We have campaign finance laws, and everyone's supposed to abide by them," she said. "It's such a clear area of the law."


I’m A Uniter, Not A Divider, Except When….

May 19, 2006

Jack Cafferty from CNN call out Frist and Specter over Senate committee's constitutional ammendment to ban same-sex marriage:

Jack Cafferty: Wolf, Today's lesson in hypocrisy comes to us courtesy of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They met in a different private room behind closed doors today and approved a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. at one point the thing got pretty ugly. A shouting match, between the Republican Chairman Senator Arlen Spector and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who said he was against the Amendment as well as Spector's decision to hold the vote in a private room out of the public's view.

These guys are shameless. Feingold eventually stormed out telling Spector "I've enjoyed your lecture Mr Chairman. See ya."

Senator Spector in a real show of courage, says that he is "totally opposed to the Amendment", but he voted for it anyway saying that it deserves a debate in the Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist says the full Senate will now debate a Constitutional Amendment which has absolutely no chance of passing. Frist hopes to have a vote by June 5th.

This is all being done by the republican majority in an effort to appeal to Right-wing nuts in the Republican Party ahead of the upcoming mid-term elections. Ignore all of the pressing issues facing the country, and instead go grovel at the feet of the lunatic fringe. Senator Frist should be very proud of himself. That's leadership.  Here's the question: Is now the time for the Senate to consider a constitutional Amendment on gay marriage?


BellSouth Denies Giving Records To NSA

May 16, 2006

Senators Frist and Lott apparently believe that if you "aren't doing anything wrong" you should not be worried about being illegally wiretapped.  So much for preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution.  I wonder of they think only guilty people "pleed the fifth"?  Perhaps they shuld both enroll in a remedial constitutional law class?

–DS

From CNN:

Despite media reports to the contrary, BellSouth said late Monday it had not participated in any effort by the National Security Agency to collect customer phone records.

"We have provided no customer information whatsoever to the NSA," said BellSouth spokesman Jeff Battcher.

In a statement released Monday, Atlanta-based BellSouth said it had conducted an internal review after reports surfaced last week that the company and two other telecommunications firms, Verizon and AT&T, had provided information to the NSA.

"Based on our review to date, we have confirmed no such contract [with the NSA] exists, and we have not provided bulk customer calling records to the NSA," the statement said.

The newspaper USA Today reported Thursday the companies had provided the NSA with records of billions of domestic phone calls since shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

According to the report, the NSA does not record or listen to the conversations, but uses data about the calls — numbers, times and locations — to look for patterns that might suggest terrorist activity. (Full story)

Bush: Privacy 'fiercely protected'

In the wake of the report, President Bush and other administration officials neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such a program.

But Bush insisted that NSA intelligence activities are lawful and target only suspected al Qaeda operatives.

"The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval," he said Thursday. "The privacy of ordinary Americans is being fiercely protected."

Verizon and AT&T each issued statements saying they could neither confirm nor deny they had given customer records to the NSA.

Both companies insisted, however, that data would have been provided only with safeguards to protect customers' privacy.

According to the USA Today report, Qwest, a Denver, Colorado-based telecommunications company, refused to cooperate with the program.

In March, San Antonio, Texas-based AT&T announced it would acquire BellSouth in a $67 billion deal that will create the nation's biggest phone company.

Calls for hearings

Lawmakers from both parties said the USA Today report raised new questions about the extent of the administration's surveillance efforts.

Some warned it could complicate Bush's nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden, a former NSA director, to replace Porter Goss as head of the CIA.

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would call phone company executives to testify about their involvement.

Specter has complained the administration has been reluctant to provide details of the previously known surveillance program since its disclosure in December.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters he "strongly" agrees with Bush and said, "We'll discuss whether hearings are necessary." Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi said Specter should back off his call for hearings.

"What are people worried about? What is the problem?" asked Lott, a former majority leader. "Are you doing something you're not supposed to?"

Hayden, now deputy national intelligence director, faces a confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee for the CIA post on Thursday.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee, said Thursday's disclosure presented "a growing impediment" to his nomination.

"I happen to believe we are on our way to a major constitutional confrontation on Fourth Amendment guarantees of unreasonable search and seizure," said Feinstein, who had expressed no reservations about Hayden earlier this week.

White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said the Bush administration would continue to push Hayden's nomination "full steam ahead."

"All I would want to say is that everything that NSA does is lawful and very carefully done, and that the appropriate members of Congress, the House and Senate, are briefed on all NSA activities," Hayden said last week.


Frist Sells Out US Public To Drug Manufacturers

May 8, 2006

From Think Progress:

Frist and Hastert Let Vaccine Industry Write Its Own Multi-Billion Dollar Giveaway

Last December, Senate Majority Leader Bill First (R-TN) and House Speaker Dennis Hastert inserted a provision in the Defense Appropriations bill that granted vaccine manufactures near-total immunity for injuries or deaths (even in cases of “gross negligence”) caused by their drugs during a viral pandemic, such as an outbreak of the avian flu. The legislation was “worth billions of dollars” to a small group of drug makers.

The provision was inserted in the dead of the night, after House and Senate conferees had agreed the provision would not be included in the bill. According to Roll Call, the brazen move was completely unprecedented.

A new report from Public Citizen reveals that vaccine-industry lobbyists essentially wrote the provision themselves. This morning’s Tennessean reports:

Vaccine industry officials helped shape legislation behind the scenes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist secretly amended into a bill to shield them from lawsuits, according to e-mails obtained by a public advocacy group.

E-mails and documents written by a trade group for the vaccine-makers show the organization met privately with Frist’s staff and the White House about measures that would give the industry protection from lawsuits filed by people hurt by the vaccines.

The final language of the provision was exactly what the vaccine manufactures requested in thier emails and meetings.

How did the industry get such VIP treatment from First and Hastert? Generous campaign contributions always help. Another key component: the vaccine industry was represented by a lobbying team that included three former Frist staffers and Dennis Hastert’s son, Joshua Hastert.


Lott Slams Frist

March 26, 2006

From NewsMax:

Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., had harsh words this weekend for his GOP successor when asked about the legacy of current Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

According to the Galveston County Daily News, Lott told a local gathering that Frist did not have the political experience necessary to lead the fractious Senate.

"I don’t think he’ll go down in history as one of the greats,” said Lott, who titled his autobiography "Herding Cats” to describe the difficulty in leading 100 Senators with 100 competing agendas.

And Lott didn’t stop there. Asked whether Frist had a legitimate chance to become the next president, he replied, "I don’t think he has a shot at that.”

As noted by the Daily News, Frist is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year, and his departure could open the door for Lott’s return to the majority leader’s office. Lott did not deny the ambition, admitting that he was contemplating a run for Senate leadership.

Lott’s prognostications stand in stark contrast to the results of a straw poll conducted in Memphis, Tenn. during the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in early March. Frist emerged the victor with 40 percent of all ballots cast. Experts have dismissed the win because of Frist's "home state advantage" with poll voters.