Central to Republican Marty Ozinga's bid for the open 11th Congressional District seat is his claim to be a Washington outsider. His campaign's slogan -- "I am not a politician" -- says it all. But if this is the image Ozinga wants to project, he probably should ...
Central to Republican Marty Ozinga's bid for the open 11th Congressional District seat is his claim to be a Washington outsider. His campaign's slogan -- "I am not a politician" -- says it all. But if this is the image Ozinga wants to project, he probably should have thought twice about hiring GOP political operative Jonathan Poe as his media consultant.
According to the Associated Press, from his post at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in 2002, Poe consulted since-convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff on how to use "large political donations as a way to pressure lawmakers into securing federal money for a tribal client." In case you've forgotten, Abramoff's lobbying firm tried to buy votes for the Indian tribes it represented through political contributions to GOP lawmakers. From the April 11, 2006, AP article:
The plan [to secure construction funding for the wealthy Saginaw tribe of Michigan] hit a snag in summer 2002 when a single GOP House appropriations staffer, Joel Kaplan, objected. An angry Abramoff team frantically reached Republican leaders.
A staffer for the National Republican Congressional Committee, Jonathan Poe, suggested Abramoff's team compile a list of tribal donations, comparing Republicans with Democrats, to help make the case for lawmakers to overrrule Kaplan, the e-mails state.
Poe's "suggestion for me was to have a list of money contributed by tribes broken down r to d so that I can make the cleanest argument that we are about to let the Senate Democrats take credit for the biggest ask of the year by the most Republican-leaning tribes," Abramoff lobbying associate Neil Volz wrote.
Abramoff's team obliged, creating a tally that showed his tribal clients overwhelmingly donated to Republicans -- $225,000 compared with $79,000 for Democrats.
To be clear: Poe's actions were never alleged to have been illegal. But this incident just gives you a sense of how things were done at the NRCC -- and in GOP-controlled Washington -- during Poe's tenure there from 2002 to 2006 (during which he climbed the ranks to deputy political director).
Poe was entrenched in that culture. Now he's a central member of the Ozinga campaign's braintrust.
(Image used under a Creative Commons license by Flickr user Aaron Webb.)