What is the “real” reason Senator Lugar supports earmarks?
By: Callum Dalgliesh
Friday, March 09, 2012
|Senator Richard Lugar|
Indiana Tea Party leaders accepted Senator Lugar’s invitation to meet with him on December13th, 2010. They arrived a half hour early at the Marriott hotel in order to review their list of grievances and coordinate their efforts. The senator’s assistant approached them as they walked in the lobby and spoke to each person by name even though he had never met them before. He suggested, since they were already there, that they start the meeting early. He told them that the Senator was upstairs in his room reading a newspaper and could meet with them at that time.
Senator Lugar directly answered each concern on their list, was direct, confident and articulate. He was not argumentative and appeared sincere. The meeting did not nullify the grievances or change anyone’s mind; but, it did dull some of the rough edges of their feelings toward that obviously eighty-year old man.I was not at the December meeting. But, exactly one month later, on Thursday January 13, 2011, I received a call from Mr. Giacomo from Washington DC. He stated that his employer, Mr. Grendel, was a staunch Republican and was interested in helping the Indiana Tea Party and wanted to get involved. While we spoke pleasantries, I Google-searched Grendel’s name and quickly found that he controlled several companies and was very wealthy. Mr. Giacomo asked if I would meet Mr. Grendel the following week near the Indianapolis International Airport and I agreed to do so. A meeting was set for 11:00 A.M. on January 20th at the Wyndham Hotel.
I met Mr. Grendel in the bar area where we discussed political issues for the next two hours over his iced tea and my Coke. His assistant, Gian Giacomo, sat a polite 20 feet away on a barstool drinking coffee. The middle button of his oversized suit jacket was unbuttoned. His eyes never left us. Not even to check his cell phone.
Mr. Grendel started the conversation with political philosophy and, although I had my suspicions, I listened as he spoke for thirty minutes non-stop. He specifically addressed every issue on the grievance list that the Tea Party representatives had reviewed with Senator Lugar.Mr. Grendel went down the list, apparently from memory, and discussed them all point by point except for one issue very important to the Indiana Tea Party: earmarks. First he said that the START Treaty was no big deal because both sides cheat and therefore it wasn’t really an issue to have with the Senator. He then went on to say that the DREAM Act was really an important first step towards immigration reform and that the country was in serious need of workers that would actually work. He stated, to my disbelief, that our economy had tens of thousands of unfilled jobs and that we needed more workers to fill them. He continued down the list we had reviewed with the Senator’s representative. It was clear to me at this point that Mr. Grendel did not want to help the Tea Party.
I waited for the other shoe to drop.He next said that even he was a bit disappointed with Senator Lugar’s confirmation vote on Justices Sotamayor and Kagan. He said ‘geez’ we were even confused on why he did that. But he added, “nobody is going to agree with someone 100%”. He said that the Senator had voted conservative over 80% of the time. I thought that that might be true now; but, two years ago he was ranked voting conservative just over 50% of the time.
I sat and primarily listened during this entire time which lasted close to two hours. Finally,Mr. Grendel said that he invites influential people from around the country to his home and that this would be a great networking opportunity for “key” Tea Party leaders like me. He said that I could be invited to this soiree, even bring some friends, and it would connect me to people such as Mitch McConnell and other important people. I did not flinch and sat silently offended that he thought I could be bought by a party invite.
Mr. Grendel was not deterred and pressed on. He said that it would be a shame for the Senator to face a needless primary challenge when the potential challenges by Richard Mourdock and Mike Delph would not pose a credible challenge. He said that it was extremely important that the Republicans win the senate in 2012, and not risk losing the senate seat in Indiana over minor differences between conservative Republicans. It simply was not worth it. He mentioned the Nevada and Delaware senate races in 2010. Mr. Grendel went on to say that the governor’s race was important and that Mike Pence would be the likely candidate and it would be a shame to have a rift within the party. He told me that it was hard enough to raise money and then to have to needlessly spend ten or twelve million dollars defending Lugar’s seat when it could be used elsewhere. This would be foolish.I suppose he saw the blank stare on my face and he came out with his next and probably final offer. I noticed him looking over to Gian Giacomo, who adjusted (again) his jacket.
Mr. Grendel said that the ‘key’ Tea Party leaders (like me) were a valuable resource and there were many jobs available to them on senator’s and congressmen’s staff. He did not specifically say Senator Lugar was making an offer, but I took this as an offer that he could deliver if I backed off the efforts contrary to his objectives. I was convinced that he could deliver.I did not respond to this “offer”; but, I did mention that the Tea Party was not at war with the GOP. I said that we had more in common with the GOP than the Dems. But, I said, “it is a shame that the GOP has so many RINO’s in it that vote with the Progressives and yet are accepted by Republicans solely because they had an “R” at the end of their name.”
The meeting then came to a rapid close, he pulled out his card and wrote his cell number on it. Sliding it across the small table to me, he asked that I think over our conversation and call him in a few days. He concluded the meeting hastily, Mr. Giacomo slid off his bar stool, placed folding money on the bar, and followed a few paces behind him. Neither man looked back.
I have not spoken to either of them since that meeting.I knew that I had just been served either an offer or a warning. I had been asked by a multi-millionaire to a private meeting that lasted two hours. He may have flown in on his private jet just to see me. His purpose appeared to be to assess me and see if I could be easily bought off or intimidated. Some rich men collect art and others collect exotic cars. Perhaps Mr. Grendel collects politicians or maybe an ideologue.
It wasn’t until a new friend helped us follow the money that we had a better idea about Mr. Grendel’s motives and perhaps knew why Senator Lugar supported earmarks. He found that Mr. Grendel is a campaign contribution “bundler” for several congressional RINOs.
Indiana Senator Richard Lugar has publicly stated that he favors earmarks and has said that calls for banning congressional earmarks are "a bogus issue." Conservative critics dub them a “gateway drug” to corruption and crony capitalism. Also, when you look closely at the earmark co-sponsors from the opposite political party, it looks like a whole lot of political “logrolling” is going on. This corruption also merits a deeper look.Listed below are three of Senator Lugar’s earmark recipients and corresponding campaign contributions he received from those earmark recipients (or related parties). Mr. Grendel (not his real name) is an executive with one of those organizations.
$3,440,000 High Pressure Pasteurization and Pressure Assisted Thermal Sterilization Project
$3,200,000 Military High Pressure Packaging Project
Campaign contributions: $22,150
Science Applications International Corp
(Reported Contractor Misconduct: 16 Instances)
$1,600,000 Joint Technology Insertion and Accelerated System
$1,600,000 High Power Fiber Laser (HPFL)-Based Pod
Campaign contributions: $7,000
$1,000,000 Distributed Common Ground System-Nay/AFATDS Interoperability
Campaign contributions: $4,000