Campaign 2010

Sep 07, 2006

Leadership Land Grab: A Pattern Forms as GOP Puts Themselves Ahead of Families

DCCC Press

Sep 7, 2006

Leadership Land Grab: A Pattern Forms as GOP Puts Themselves Ahead of Families

Land Deals Call Republican Behavior Into Question as Families Continue to Find Themselves Last on the List of Republican Priorities

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, after new reports that show California Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis being investigated for a land deal involving donors and money appropriated from his committee, even more of a pattern has formed regarding the Republican leadership and their shady land deals. A series of land deals where top Republicans in Congress, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, Congressmen Gary Miller, Richard Pombo, Ken Calvert and Jerry Lewis all allegedly sought to benefit themselves at a time when they are working for the taxpayers and families they represent.

“Who knew public service could be this rewarding?” asked Bill Burton, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Jerry Lewis: Feds Investigating Land Deal Involving Rep. Jerry Lewis: Federal investigators probing Rep. Jerry Lewis' ties to lobbyists are looking into a land deal that put nearly 41 pristine acres in the congressman's neighborhood off-limits to developers, The Associated Press has learned. The land was given to the city of Redlands by Jack and Laura Dangermond, who have donated generously to Mr. Lewis (R., Calif.). The Dangermonds founded and run a company -- Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. of Redlands -- that has gotten tens of millions of dollars' worth of contracts through the powerful House Appropriations Committee that Mr. Lewis now chairs. [AP, 9/6/06]

Dennis Hastert: Speaker Hastert's Land Deal Questioned; Group Says Lawmaker Pushed For Highway Funding To Boost His Profits: House Speaker Dennis Hastert denied Thursday that he pushed for federal funding for a proposed highway in northeastern Illinois so he and his wife could reap about $1.8 million from land deals near their home in Kendall County. The Sunlight Foundation, a newly created group whose declared aim is to inform the public about what members of Congress do, has accused Hastert of not divulging connections between the $207 million earmark he won for a highway, the Prairie Parkway, and an investment he and his wife made in nearby land. [CBS News, 6/22/06]

Gary Miller: Miller's land deals ethically questionable; A $7.5 million loan from a contributor and role in closing airport at issue: After a long hiatus, Rep. Gary Miller returned to the real estate game in 2003 – and among the land deals, he's finding political controversy. Key issues are a $7.5 million loan from a major contributor who's also a business partner, and a bill the Republican carried that helped close the Rialto airport – which was then purchased by that contributor, the Lewis Group of Companies. [Orange County Register, 8/10/06]

Richard Pombo: Welcome to Pombo Country; Congressman Richard Pombo always sides with property owners. Sometimes that includes his own family: What's more, a recent review of public records shows that Pombo and his family could profit handsomely from the highway proposals, even if no freeways are ever built. The Pombo clan owns more than 1,500 acres of land near the two new freeways and the value of its property will likely skyrocket because of the congressman's actions -- and may already have. [East Bay Express, 8/24/05]

Calvert Earmarked Funds for Projects Near Properties He Sold for a Profit. In May 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that Calvert “earmarked funds for Riverside County projects near properties he sold for a profit.” According to the Los Angeles Times, “Last year, [Calvert] and a partner paid $550,000 for a dusty four-acre parcel just south of March Air Reserve Base. Less than a year later, without even cutting the weeds or carting off old septic tank parts that littered the ground, they sold the land for almost $1 million. Even for a speculator like Calvert, it was an unusually good deal. During the time he owned the land, Calvert used the legislative process known as earmarking to secure $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles from the property, and an additional $1.5 million to support commercial development of the area around the airfield.” According to development experts, improvements to the transportation infrastructure have contributed to the area’s explosive growth. Ethical specialists said Calvert’s actions raised serious questions and “created at least the appearance that he personally benefited.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/15/06]