Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Abramoff Effect
Ties to Lobbyist May Hobble Ralph Reed's Bid for Georgia Office
CUMMINGSApril 20, 2006;
HAMILTON, Ga. -- Ralph Reed, White House confidant and an architect of the Religious Right movement, was favored to win the nomination in the Georgia lieutenant governor's race when the 2006 campaign season began. But his work with Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist who has admitted to trying to bribe lawmakers, is becoming a drag on Mr. Reed's first bid for public office. Several surveys show Mr. Reed still holding a narrow lead, but with high unfavorable ratings and many voters undecided. While the Abramoff scandal has affected other campaigns, such as the re-election bid of Montana Republican Sen. Conrad Burns, the Georgia race appears the most competitive. So Mr. Reed's dilemma raises the question: Will Mr. Reed, a star of the national Republican Party, become the first campaign casualty of the Abramoff scandal when he squares off with state Sen. Casey Cagle in the July 18 primary? Mr. Reed hasn't been charged with wrongdoing and his campaign manager says he is cooperating with Washington investigators. But he is having trouble squaring his opposition to gambling with his work for Mr. Abramoff's Indian casino clients. On the campaign trail his answer to queries about the matter has been: "If I had known then what I know now, I would not have done that work." Sadie Fields, head of the Christian Coalition chapter in Georgia, considers Mr. Reed a friend and champion of the religious conservative cause in politics. "He's apologized," she says, and the chapter is closed for her. But other Republicans once close to Mr. Reed aren't satisfied with his explanation of his role in Mr. Abramoff's work. Maurice Atkinson, a Christian Coalition activist, quit the Reed campaign after the scandal became public and signed up with Mr. Cagle. "Nobody likes to be a hypocrite and nobody likes to follow a hypocrite," he says. Erosion of support from religious activists could signal trouble for Mr. Reed as he heads into the primary's home stretch. The pastor of his church has teamed up with Richard Lee, senior pastor of the First Redeemer Church, a large Southern Baptist church in Atlanta's Republican suburbs, to organize a get-to-know-you session with hundreds of other pastors. Asked if the Abramoff scandal is likely to come up, Mr. Lee said: "I would think so." Mr. Reed first worked alongside Mr. Abramoff in 1981 when they were active in the College Republicans National Committee. Mr. Reed went on to make his political mark in the 1990s by orchestrating the rise of the Christian Coalition political action group, as executive director to founder and evangelist Pat Robertson. In 1997, he returned home to Georgia to open a lobbying firm, Century Strategies, and emails show he turned to his old friend to juice up earnings. "I need to start humping in some corporate accounts!" he wrote in 1998 to Mr. Abramoff. Between 2001 and 2003, Mr. Reed collected more than $4 million in fees from Abramoff clients with gambling interests, including Indian tribes. Mr. Reed's specialty was ginning up opposition from religious leaders to tribes trying to elbow into Abramoff clients' turf. Payments to Mr. Reed's firm were funneled through organizations such as tax-exempt or charitable groups aligned with Mr. Abramoff, which obscured their source. After Mr. Reed complained about a tardy payment in 2001, Mr. Abramoff emailed this explanation: "The originating entity had to transfer to a separate account before they transferred it to the entity which is going to transfer it to you." Mr. Reed's work -- and his emails -- came to light last year during hearings by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and became a campaign issue. The Abramoff affair even shadowed the campaign kick-off, headlined by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. In 2002, when the two men's lobbying firms had been on opposite sides of a Louisiana gambling fight between Indian tribes, Mr. Abramoff had bragged in an email to a colleague that Mr. Reed would get James Dobson, head of the conservative advocacy group Focus on the Family, to attack Mr. Barbour. "Let me know when Dobson hits him. I want to savor it," Mr. Abramoff wrote in a separate email to Mr. Reed. Mr. Dobson ultimately didn't criticize Mr. Barbour. Mr. Reed declined to comment publicly on the matter. Gov. Barbour's office didn't return telephone messages. Ed Rogers, a partner in Barbour, Griffiths & Rogers, Gov. Barbour's former firm, calls the email from Mr. Abramoff "petty and deceitful" but doesn't blame Mr. Reed. "Ralph Reed and Haley Barbour have been friends for a long time," Mr. Rogers says. "Ralph gets the benefit of the doubt." Although the Reed campaign says it has weathered the worst of the Abramoff news, the candidate's position remains precarious. The Senate Finance Committee is considering holding hearings on Mr. Abramoff's use of shell groups to pay entities such as Mr. Reed's lobbying firm. New revelations -- or even rehashing of events -- could be fuel for his political opponents. Mr. Reed is counting on a big turnout by his loyalists to mute any effect of the Abramoff scandal. He is applying the skills he used to build the Christian Coalition and, as Georgia's Republican Party chairman, to create a turnout operation that in 2002 elected the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.
But his opponent, Mr. Cagle, isn't dismissing the Abramoff matter, which helps him emphasize differences between the two Georgia natives: the balding Mr. Cagle's down-home style, soft twang and local ties compared with Mr. Reed's matinee looks and national alliances -- former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in May will be top draw for a fund-raiser. "I am not going to be a lightening rod," Mr. Cagle says. Mr. Reed "is defined" by his ties to the Christian Coalition and Mr. Abramoff and "that puts him in a very narrow box that is difficult to get out of," Mr. Cagle says.
A majority of elected officials in the Georgia Legislature and hundreds of county commissioners and sheriffs have endorsed Mr. Cagle. Here in Hamilton, state Rep. Vance Smith Jr., the governor's House floor leader, held a reception for him. "I don't know Ralph that well. I've met him," Mr. Smith says. "But Casey has been on the front lines."
Monday, April 17, 2006
Apr 17, 2006 – Savannah Morning News BREAKING NEWSEric Johnson to run againScott M. Larson reports that State Senator Eric Johnson told supporters this morning that he will seek election in November. "I have been reflecting on my past service as I contemplated whether to run again," Johnson, the Senate President Pro Tempore, said. " I looked deep within myself and found a heart that still wants to serve." Johnson will face former Democratic State Sen. Mell Traylor, who served in the 1970s.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
65 additional elected officials endorse Casey Cagle
State Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Casey Cagle today welcome the support of 65 additional elected officials to his team, bringing his total number of endorsements by Georgia elected officials to 267. Cagle has previously announced endorsements from 23 state senators, 41 state representatives, 21 sheriffs, 42 county commissioners and numerous other elected officials. By contrast, Cagle’s opponent - lobbyist Ralph Reed - has announced the support of only a handful of elected officials.
Additionally, five former members of Ralph Reed’s Statewide Steering Committee announced today that they are backing Cagle. All told, 14 Reed Steering Committee members have asked to have their names removed from the list and are fully backing Cagle.
“Georgia’s elected officials understand how important it is to elect conservative leaders our citizens can trust. I am proud to have the strong support of these leaders and the grassroots political networks they will be engaging for our campaign in their communities,” said Cagle.
The elected officials endorsing Cagle today are:
Representative Henry Geisinger (Roswell)
Representative Martin Scott (Rossville)
Representative Ron Stephens (Savannah)
Representative Steve “Thunder” Tumlin (Marietta)
District Attorney David McDade (Douglas County)
Sheriff Wayne Bennett (Glynn County)
Sheriff Bobby McLemore (Ben Hill County)
Sheriff Eddie Mixon (Haralson County)
Sheriff Howard Sills (Putnam County)
Chairman Brian Anderson (Whitfield County)
Chairman Charlie Bishop (Bibb County)
Chairman Rod Casey (Lowndes County)
Chairman Carlton Corbitt (Ware County)
Chairman Eddie Freeman (Spalding County)
Chairman Alvin Long (Gordon County)
Chairman Greg Tarbutton (Coweta County)
Sole Commissioner David Wills (Webster County)
Commissioner Judy Bailey (Gordon County)
Commissioner Joe Cornelius (Ware County)
Commissioner Ester Fleming (Newton County)
Commissioner Rick Gardner (Bibb County)
Commissioner Chuck Horton (Oconee County)
Commissioner Terrell Hudson (Dooly County)
Commissioner Deborah Hutcheson (Lumpkin County)
Commissioner Jim King (Dawson County)
Commissioner Karen Mahurin (Cherokee County)
Commissioner Harry Johnston (Cherokee County)
Commissioner Elmo Richardson (Bibb County)
Commissioner David Stevens (McIntosh County)
Commissioner Tony Thaw (Glynn County)
Commissioner Stanley Thomas (Madison County)
Commissioner Roger Waldrop (Polk County)
Commissioner Leo Whaley (Whitfield County)
Commissioner David Young (Dade County)
School Board President Gail Dean (Fulton County)
School Board Member Mark Banks (Muscogee County)
School Board Member Fife Whiteside (Muscogee County)
Mayor Tommy Allegood (Acworth)
Mayor Curtis Lewis (Rockmart)
Mayor Jimmy Pace (Forsyth)
Mayor Mark Reed (Baldwin)
Mayor Ken Steele (Fayetteville)
Mayor Pro-Tem Tommy Young (Adairsville)
Councilman Will Britt (Statesboro)
Councilman Jimmy Burnette (Suwanee)
Councilman Jeff Edgens (Irwinton)
Councilman Steve Edwards (Sugar Hill)
Councilman Mitchell Gailey (Baldwin)
Councilman Donnie Henriques (Woodstock)
Councilman David Little (Hartwell)
Councilman Nick Thompson (Sugar Hill)
Councilman Ken Vance (Milledgeville)
Solictor General Markette Baker (Troup County)
Tax Commissioner Tommy Ferrell (Coweta County)
Tax Commissioner Sylvia Hollums (Spalding County)
Tax Commissioner Patricia Malcolm (Walton County)
Tax Commissioner Andy Pipkin (Henry County)
Court Clerk Jay Stephenson (Cobb County)
Court Clerk Kathy Keesee Trost (Walton County)
Additionally, Cagle earned the endorsements of four police chiefs: Ken Brown of Georgia Southern University, Tim Callahan of Kennesaw, Randall Moon of Oakwood, and Roy Whitehead of Snellville.
The individuals listed on Reed’s Statewide Steering Committee who announced their support for Cagle are Brian Dart of Statesboro, Donovan Head of Marietta, Martin Sullivan of Savannah, Gerald Smith of Americus and Chairman David Wills of Preston.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Christian Coalition dogged by debt
April 10, 2006
WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- The conservative Christian Coalition organization is down to a single Washington lobbyist and is in more than $2 million debt, The Washington Post reports.
The 17-year-old movement was founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed as the political fundraising and lobbying engine of the Christian right. Both men have left the group, and last month, one of its most effective chapters, the Christian Coalition of Iowa, cut ties with the national organization and reincorporated itself as the Iowa Christian Alliance, saying it found it impossible to continue to carry a name that in any way associated us with this national organization.Ten years ago, the coalition employed 12 lobbyists in Washington but now has a single employee who works out of his South Carolina home, the newspaper said.Roberta Combs became the head of the Christian Coalition five years ago, and said the organization was in worse financial shape then with debts approaching $4 million.People have been writing our obituary for years, Combs told the Post. But you go out in the hinterlands and talk to the grass roots, and it's a whole different story. People call us every day and want to be involved.Copyright 2006 by United Press International
Monday, April 10, 2006
NASCAR LEGEND JOINS CAGLE RACE TEAM
BILL ELLIOTT TO HEADLINE CAGLE KICKOFF
Gainesville, GA - Senator and Lt. Governor candidate Casey Cagle announced today that NASCAR legend Bill Elliott has joined the Cagle Race Team.
Elliott will headline a campagin kickoff BBQ for Cagle's Lt. Governor campaign at the old Thunder Road facility at 415 Highway 53 in Dawsonville, GA on Saturday, April 29th. Additionally, Bill Elliott's brothers - Ernie and Dan - will also attend and show their support for Cagle.
"Bill Elliott literally helped build the sport of NASCAR racing, and remains a living legend on the track today. I am thrilled to have him on our team, and look forward to an exciting day of fun and fellowship with the Elliotts and race fans and Republican activists from across Georgia," said Cagle.
The BBQ will begin at 12noon and last until 2:00pm, and will be preceded by a VIP reception and photo opportunity with the Elliotts at 11:00am. Tickets for the noon BBQ are just $50 and allow an entire family to attend. Anyone interested in obtaining tickets or serving as a host should contact Julie Reagan at mailto:Julie@caseycagle.comor 770-536-9998.
Racing legend Bill Elliott has built one of the most distinguished records in NASCAR Winston Cup history. Throughout his career he has radiated a modest and friendly personality that has endeared him to race fans of all ages. From cutting up car bodies in the early days to winning NASCAR's first million dollar bonus, Bill Elliott has seen and done it all. Though quiet and unpretentious, this NASCAR Cup champion has been dazzling fans with his racing ability for an amazing three decades. Elliott is a two-time Daytona 500 winner, and his 44 career wins rank him second in trips to victory lane among active drivers.
Raised by a single mom, Casey Cagle seized the American Dream to become a successful, self-made business leader and one of the most experienced Republican leaders in the State Senate. A devout believer, a devoted husband, and a proud father, Casey Cagle has been the champion for Georgia's families at our State Capitol for over a decade. As our next Lt. Governor, Casey Cagle will continue to passionately advocate our values and lead with a vision of opportunity for all of Georgia.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Will Ralph Reed crap out?
The one-time golden boy of the Christian right did the bidding of Abramoff's casino clients. Will the unholy alliance be his undoing?
By Michael Scherer
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April 6, 2006 ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- On the campaign trail in south Georgia, Ralph Reed, the Republican strategist who created the Christian Coalition, wears shiny black cowboy boots -- full quill ostrich leather -- to help give him the swagger of a man still on the make. He is running for lieutenant governor in the Peach State, his first campaign for public office, but he wants everyone to know that he is not just another local boy trying to break into state politics. As we mingle at a private reception at Sea Palms Resort on the state's eastern shore, he tells me, "This isn't my first rodeo."
It just may be his last, however. Reed has been weathering a blizzard of revelations about his partnership with the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Prominent state Republicans have called for him to drop out of the race before the April 28 filing deadline. A recent poll showed that his candidacy might even hurt other Republicans, like Gov. Sonny Perdue, who are on the ticket in November. Matt Towery, a pollster who is a former aide to Newt Gingrich, said the Democrats could easily skewer Reed with an ad campaign. "He could just be tattooed by the Democrats with paid media," Towery explained. "Most people in this state don't know who Ralph Reed is."
As we now know, Reed, the former "cherub-in-chief" of American politics, traded his halo to work as a gun for hire in Abramoff's operation, secretly rallying conservative Christians to do the bidding of Abramoff's casino clients. This was, in many ways, an understandable role for Reed, a political prodigy, who started in politics as a disciple of Abramoff, the former chairman of the College Republicans. "I used to tell people he was going to be either president of the United States or Al Capone," Reed's mother, Marcy, once told USA Today. By the end of the 1990s, when Abramoff came calling, Reed seemed destined for the White House, at least as a top political aide. He was known as the organizational mastermind of the religious right, joining with televangelist Pat Robertson to bring the GOP to Jesus.
Those exploits, as well as his recent public career as an advisor to President Bush, have given him an aura of celebrity in Georgia political circles. He led the state Republican Party in 2002, during the phenomenal upset that unseated Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, a wounded Vietnam veteran. Two years later, Reed led George W. Bush's 2004 Southern campaign, delivering every state of the former Confederacy. "Until you have seen it firsthand you won't appreciate it," Glynn County's GOP leader Kevin Gough had warned me. "He is like a rock star."
In person, Reed, 44, doesn't look anything like a rock star. If it were not for his boots, his tie and the folded four-cornered handkerchief in his sport coat, the Rod Stewart of Southern politics could easily be mistaken for a gangly teenager. He stands about four-fifths the size of a full-grown man, with a doll's nose, bronzed skin and a wide smile. He can easily disappear in a crowd. But when he speaks, he can also command the room, instantly transforming himself from a choirboy to a statesman, the NASCAR fan's Bill Clinton.
"I'm a mainstream, balanced-budget, tax-cutting, pro-family, pro-life conservative," he told a crowd at a candidate forum last month on St. Simons Island. "You are here for the same reason why I am here, because you love your state, and you love your country, and because you want to see good government, and because you want to see people of integrity and conservative principles in office."
The integrity line has worked well for Reed in the past -- Time magazine once called him the "Right Hand of God" in a cover story. But in recent months, with the release by Senate investigators of hundreds of Reed's e-mails, "integrity" has not been a concept that many have associated with Ralph Reed. Back in 1998, the e-mails reveal, Reed contacted Abramoff to beg for new work in decidedly un-Christian terms. "Now that I am done with electoral politics, I need to start humping in some corporate accounts," Reed wrote.
Over the next five years, Reed humped the corporate accounts of just about every company that crossed his path -- Microsoft, Enron and Verizon, to name a few. He also raked in more than $4 million from Abramoff clients, including an online lottery company and two Indian tribes with casinos. In return, Reed worked, as he put it in one e-mail, to get "our pastors all riled up" -- organizing his unwitting followers to oppose gambling regulations and new casinos that would have competed with Abramoff's clients.
Through radio and mailings, Reed mobilized more than 100 congregations to do Abramoff's bidding. "We want to bring out the wackos to vote against something," Abramoff's partner Michael Scanlon explained in a proposal to one Indian tribe. "The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the Internet and telephone trees." The arrangement paid huge returns for both Abramoff and Reed, who had worked together during the Reagan years for the College Republicans.
Before long, the partners were scheming to find even bigger paydays. At one point, Reed e-mailed Abramoff, asking for a contribution to his campaign for Republican state chairman of Georgia. "Sure," replied Abramoff. "Give me the name of the entity." Reed responded by joking that the check should be made out to "the Reed Family Retirement and Educational Foundation" and gave a fake address in the Grand Cayman Islands. "Ha ha ha," Abramoff wrote back, promising to send Reed a check for $10,000. In one e-mail exchange with Reed, Abramoff cited a prospective tribal casino client and gushed, "I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!!" Reed replied, "Got it."
By early 2002, even Abramoff was complaining about the greed of Reed. "He is a bad version of us!" the lobbyist exclaimed in an e-mail to Scanlon. "No more money for him." But the money kept flowing -- and Reed wasn't exactly upfront about where it was coming from. When gambling clients sent in six-figure checks for Reed, Abramoff would pass them through several groups, including a bogus think tank chaired by a yoga instructor and a lifeguard, and a phony outfit called the Faith and Family Alliance. It was a shoddy operation all the way around: Robin Vanderwall, the 37-year-old Republican "director" of the Family Alliance, is currently serving a seven-year sentence for trying to solicit sex over the Internet from a 13-year-old boy.
On the stump, Reed regularly claims that he knew nothing about the scandalous operation that his close friend Abramoff was running. "I was approached by one of the most respected law firms in America and a friend of 20 years," Reed said during the same St. Simons forum, explaining his cooperation with Abramoff. "I said sure I would be glad to do so as long as I could be assured that I wouldn't be paid with revenues from another casino. I was assured that wouldn't be the case. And we know now for the most part that I was not."
This is a careful non-denial denial. "For the most part" is the key phrase, a lawyerly dodge that Reed uses to obscure the mountains of e-mail evidence against him. At the St. Simons event, I asked him about a recent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that quoted e-mails Reed responded to that clearly mentioned one of Abramoff's clients, an online gambling firm called E-Lottery. Reed told me he never noticed the name of the company, which paid Abramoff for Reed's services. "It was at the bottom of a long e-mail," Reed said, in what was either a lie or faulty recollection. In fact, the reference to "elot" comes in the first paragraph of a May 23, 2000, e-mail Abramoff forwarded to Reed. A year later, on Jan. 30, 2001, Reed wrote an e-mail to Abramoff referring to the convicted lobbyist's "elottery friends."
Other luminaries of the religious right are not fooled. For many anti-gambling activists, he is nothing less than the second coming of Judas, a one-time apostle who violated the first rule of the battle: Never take money from gambling interests. "The Bible says you can't serve God and Mammon," Robertson told the New York Times, in one of his only public comments on Reed. "It's sort of the betrayal of a basic value," says Rev. Tom Grey of the National Coalition Against Gambling. "Ralph is running for office on the basis of his values." As a result Reed's stature among Georgians has taken a beating, with his unfavorable ratings rising from 35 percent to 44 percent among the state's Republicans, according to a poll in early March by Strategic Vision. "It's frightened a lot of people, and it's sad," said Jerry Loupee, a longtime Republican activist who is helping the Reed campaign. "They are all, 'Hey, I'm for Ralph, but there are these things out there that bother me.'"
Nonetheless, polls still show Reed with a slight, if dwindling, lead over his July primary opponent, Casey Cagle, a well-meaning local boy -- think Woody Harrelson with a Southern accent -- on the stump. But the primary is different from the general election. Democrats across the state say privately that a Reed race could be manna from heaven, allowing them to tar all Georgia Republicans with the "culture of corruption" taint.
Following the Republican playbook, Reed has attempted to overcome bothersome facts by taking aim at the messengers -- the liberal media. "What I am confident that the voters of this state are going to reject," Reed announces on the stump, "is an attempt by the liberal media or by others in this campaign to engage in guilt by association." Bashing the big city newspapers is a well-worn pastime in south Georgia, where folks tend to trust what they see firsthand and what their friends tell them. "You know who is going to decide the outcome of this election," Gough, the Glynn County GOP chair tells me. "Bubba." By that, he means that the hypothetical swing voter in the region: a middle-aged white guy who graduated high school and hunts when he can, but does not trust much of what he reads from journalists.
Bubba, in other words, is the kind of voter who might notice a shiny black pair of cowboy boots, but might forgive the fact that Reed traded on his ideals to make a buck. If that happens, Reed, one of the most natural and brilliant political minds in the Republican Party, will be able to count himself one of the lucky ones. If it doesn't happen, then Reed will find himself the latest in an ever-lengthening list of Republicans whose own hubris was their undoing.
Monday, April 03, 2006
CAGLE RAISES $100,000 IN ONE DAY
Atlanta, GA - The Casey Cagle for Lt. Governor campaign announced today that it raised over $100,000 on Friday, March 31st despite having only a single day to raise funds. The $100,000 Cagle raised came solely in response to phone calls and emails during the day on Friday.
Friday was the last day of the upcoming reporting period, and the only day in that period where Cagle was allowed to raise money following the conclusion of the legislative session. By contrast, Cagle's opponent - Ralph Reed -- is a lobbyist who is not elected to any office and has therefore been allowed to raise funds without any legal restrictions for the entire year.
"With just eight hours to raise funds, the response from our supporters during the last day of the reporting period on Friday was truly overwhelming. The level of excitement about our campaign builds across Georgia every day, and these outstanding results are yet another indication of how momentum continues to move our way," said Cagle.
"We know that we cannot match three months of fundraising by our opponent in a single day, and we do not intend to. However, there is no doubt we will have the resources we need to compete. Our job now is to continue building on the financial successes of last week with a sustained effort that secures a strong victory on July 18th," Cagle continued.
In the most recently concluded fundraising reporting period (which ended on December 31 of last year), Cagle outraised Reed by a wide margin. Additionally, 99% of Cagle's donors resided in Georgia, while roughly half of Reed's contributions came from out of state.
Cagle also leads the race in endorsements from Republican elected officials and is the only candidate current polling shows would beat the Democrat nominee in November.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
By: The Directors · Section: GOP
“Westmoreland . . . chose principle over the party line.”
Seventeen hours after being named a deputy whip, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia was kicked off the team. For that, Westmoreland is our RedState hero this week.
On March 14th, aided by 22 Democrats, the Republicans passed a rule for consideration of the emergency spending bill dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, and hurricane relief. The vote was 218-200. Lynn Westmoreland, along with John Shadegg, Mike Pence, and 25 other Republicans, voted against the rule because, among other things, it failed to offset hurricane relief costs. Leadership had refused to separate out war spending to increase chances of their fiscal recklessness passing.
Westmoreland, along with John Shadegg who was also a deputy whip, was uncerimoniously kicked off the leadership team because, in the words of Roy Blunt, "You need an example every once in a while."
According to news reports, Westmoreland said he chose principle over the party line. Westmoreland, quoted in Congress Daily AM, said, "I'm not a martyr. You do what you got to do."
Blunt said Thursday that when members are removed from the whip team, the ban only applies to the current Congress, and members like Westmoreland or Shadegg could be asked back in the 110th Congress.
Blunt also marveled at Westmoreland's tenure.
"I don't think anyone will beat his record for a while," he joked. Blunt said he will likely ask other members to fill the slots, perhaps as early as next week. Blunt does not make public his whip operation, but members are generally allowed to announce it independently.
For putting principle over politics, Westmoreland is our RedState hero of the week.
Lynn Westmoreland for Governor 2010