Thursday, February 12, 2009

Appropriating the Machinery of Government...

Now that Democrats are back in the majority in the New York State government, they have begun taking a close look at budget items that were one off limits to them. What they have discovered is truly shocking, if sadly predictable. It appears that the GOP has been using a sizable portion of the Senate's $100 million budget for GOP centered electioneering purposes:

On Long Island, they found a small television studio, which had been set up — all with public money, with two press aides on hand to help operate it — for the exclusive use of Republican senators to record cable TV shows.
Bills, mailings and various brochures were printed [at the Senate's printing plant], with Republicans receiving premium service. For instance, the constituent newsletters sent to Republican districts were printed in multiple colors, while those printed for Democratic districts were printed in black and white, with one color. Democratic leaders say the lease for the plant currently costs the state $632,460 per year, and that the payroll appears to be about $2.7 million.

At 90 Swan Street, in the building across the street from the Capitol, 45 employees worked for the Senate Research Service, which generated a variety of documents for the Senate, though Democrats and Republicans differ on the partisanship of their service.

A memo circulated late last year by top staff members of Mr. Skelos said the research service needed to coordinate with the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, then the majority’s political arm. The memo’s existence was previously reported by The New York Post.

“It was a mistake, it was unauthorized and it should never have been done,” Mr. McArdle said of the directive.
When Democrats finally took the reins of power in Washington after the 2006 elections, they discovered much the same behavior from Republicans on a national level. Here, too, government agencies were repurposed with their mission changed to reflect a goal of electing Republican public officials. The Washington Post reported on this in 2007:
An invitation to a March 12, 2001, political briefing for federal officials -- one of the Rove team's earliest -- framed the mission this way: "How we can work together."

In practical terms, that meant Cabinet officials concentrated their official government travel on the media markets Rove's team chose, rolling out grant decisions made by agencies with red-carpet fanfare in GOP congressional districts, and carefully crafted announcements highlighting the release of federal money in battleground states.

"We did that from Day One of the administration, strategically utilizing the president's appointees to sell his agenda," Drew DeBerry, the Agriculture Department's liaison to the White House between 2001 and 2005, recalled in an interview last week.
And let us not forget the firings of U.S. Attorney Generals in a brazen attempt to appropriate the U.S. judicial system and turn it into the defacto enforcement branch of the Republican Party.

When George Bosh came to power in the aftermath of the 2000 election fiasco there was much talk of the possibility of the establishment of a GOP permanent majority in U.S. governing circles. What is clear from the eight years that followed is that the GOP sought to make it so, whether by hook or by crook.

Thank God that corrupt scheme has been derailed... for now.

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