Vote The Clowns Out

Tim Burns seeks to run against John Murtha
The Tribune-Democrat

For Tim Burns, it’s all about the economy.

The Johnstown native knows his potential political opponent in 2010

– Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha

– has taken heat for his stance on the war in Iraq and for the earmarked

federal money he brings home to his 12th Congressional District.

But the Republican candidate is not focusing on those issues, saying instead that he is focused on the future of his two young sons as the U.S. government takes on additional debt in an attempt to bail out struggling businesses.

“All we are doing is burdening future generations with our debt,” Burns said. “To me, that’s more than wrong. It’s immoral.”

Burns, 41, now lives in the Washington County community of Eighty Four but grew up in Johnstown’s Horners-town neighborhood and graduated from Greater Johnstown High School in 1986.

So he is well aware of Murtha’s political power: The congressman has held his seat since winning a special election in early 1974.

But Burns also seems unfazed, saying he believes voters may be ready for a change.

“There seems to me to be a growing sense that John Murtha has been a good congressman, but ... he may be out of touch,” Burns said.

The candidate attempted to underscore that point by arranging a town-hall meeting Thursday evening at Johnstown’s Masonic Temple to discuss health-care reform.

Murtha has scheduled no such sessions, prefering instead to host “telephone town-hall meetings” on the topic. Burns says that’s not good enough.

“At some point, (Murtha) has decided that he no longer has to listen to his constituents,” Burns said.

But Murtha spokesman Matt Mazonkey argues that, with nearly 650,000 people living in the sprawling congressional district, the congressman’s method is more effective.

“A town-hall meeting only reaches a few hundred people, whereas a telephone town hall reaches thousands,” Mazonkey said Thursday.

He added that Murtha has attended “dozens of events throughout the district this month,” including visits to health-care facilities to speak with doctors and patients.

A highly partisan crowd showed up at Burns’ event Thursday, with about 130 people shouting “Amen” when the candidate said he was “upset with the politicians in Washington.”

In spite of the warm reception he received Thursday, however, Burns has a long road ahead. He likely will face Republican William Russell in next year’s primary election.

Russell – a career Army man who served in both Iraq wars – staged a spirited run last year, forcing Murtha to engage in a last-minute fundraising spree before the congressman pulled out another convincing win.

But Burns believes that the 2010 race “requires a different kind of candidate.”

He says he will focus on economic issues, adding that his local roots and business expertise should serve him well.

Burns, an IUP graduate, started a pharmacy-technology company called TechRx Inc. in his basement in 1992. He grew that company to more than 400 employees before selling it in 2003 – a transaction that made him a millionaire.

“I understand what it takes to meet a payroll,” Burns said. “I understand what it means to have hundreds of people counting on you for a paycheck.”

He is not to be confused with Timothy Burns of Richland Towmship, a lawyer who ran for Cambria County judge in this year’s primary election.

Sue Lowden Update
Source: Mike D'Amore
Oct 11, 2009 - 2:41:20 PM

This morning, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published a poll showing Sue Lowden beating Senator Harry Reid by 10 percentage points, 49 to 39 percent. The same poll, of 500 Nevada voters, also shows her winning in the GOP primary field of nine announced candidates. This is all very good news for her campaign - especially considering that the interviews of voters occurred after she had been a candidate for less than one week.

In a letter to supporters she stated: 

As our next U.S. Senator, I will fight to lower taxes, spur economic growth, create jobs and lessen our ballooning deficits. On health care, I will provide the necessary reforms that actually reduces costs and increase accessibility ... all without raising your taxes and robbing our seniors' Medicare benefits. And, as our brave men and women fight abroad to keep us safe at home, I will listen to their commanders and vote to make sure our troops have all the equipment and personnel needed to complete their tasks. I will NEVER tell our troops and their families that they have lost a war that they are in the middle of fighting.

Danny Tarkanian to run for U.S. Senate against Majority Leader Harry Reid


Nevada Sen. Harry Reid could have a familiar name to contend with in his re-election campaign next year. Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, announced Friday afternoon that he's running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Danny Tarkanian was an assistant basketball coach at Fresno State during the Bulldogs coaching tenure of his father. Jerry Tarkanian made his mark, of course, coaching UNLV to a national championship in 1990 and having three Final Four appearances for the Runnin' Rebels.

This is from Danny Tarkanian's Web site: "Danny runs a real estate business and is co-director of the Tarkanian Basketball Academy, which teaches over 350 Clark County kids both basketball skills and life skills, such as work ethic, overcoming adversity, teamwork, winning with class and losing with dignity.

"Danny's family is the most important part of his life. He and his wife Amy live in Las Vegas with their three daughters, Lois, Ava and Ashley."

Here's Tarkanian's complete statement:

Today I am announcing my campaign for the United States Senate.

I am certainly not a Washington insider, but speaking just as a Nevadan, I'm very concerned about the direction Senator Reid is taking us in Washington. We simply cannot continue to allow our federal government to borrow, spend and bail out entire industries at the expense of future generations of Nevadans.

I believe that government can have a role in our economic recovery, but it needs to be a limited and effective role; however, currently, our vast and intrusive federal government is growing well beyond the powers set out in the Constitution. This centralized power is a direct threat to our personal liberties.

Despite these threats, Mr. Reid, in partnership with Speaker Pelosi, is one of the principal architects of this unprecedented effort to expand Washingtons reach, and every day he succeeds in his mission, Nevadas future is put at greater risk.

Now some say that this massive expansion is needed to stimulate the economy, but in fact it is creating even more economic danger to Nevadans. In just this last year, for example, the Federal Reserve announced with the administrations approval that it was flooding our economy with $1 trillion additional dollars. Added to that, we have spent nearly $1 trillion for TARP, authorized almost $800 billion in so-called stimulus spending. My fear is that this unchecked dollar printing and spending growth is exposing Nevadans to the specter of runaway inflation and unsustainable deficits.

And while all this is happening, Reid says hes focused on raising $25 million dollars from special interests for his re-election and his partys partisan goals. He should be focused on helping average Nevadans.

Now, today is not a day to confront Mr. Reid beyond what I have already said. There are many candidates considering this primary race and I certainly welcome them all. We are all in this race to propose an alternative to the direction we are heading, and what is important is that we will listen to each others ideas and offer up our own. This race must be about solutions and ideas and I intend to provide the voters with a new vision for how Nevada should be represented. I dont have all the answers, but I understand that for us to come together as a country we have to start listening to each other.

As I begin moving forward, I will learn from and build on my past experience in a statewide campaign as a starting point for both organization and fundraising. I will solicit and take advice from policy experts in their respective fields, and those who have traveled this path before. I have started putting together a new, experienced team to help guide my effort. And once I have my full team, I will have a formal campaign kickoff event.

I have no illusions about the difficult path ahead of me. But as I learned in my recent court fight against a powerful State Senator, sometimes you have to stand up for what is right. And sometimes when you speak truth to power, you can win. So without reservation I am committing myself to this cause to fight for what is right for Nevadans. And I hope Republicans, Independents and Democrats will join me. I have a new website, or - where supporters can volunteer or contribute.

The past month has been an eventful one, with my father recovering from surgery, and a panel of Clark County citizens clearing my name. I want to thank all of those who have wished our family well through calls, letters and emails. And as I go forward, I especially want to thank my wife and children, my parents, the rest of my family, and our many friends for all their love and support.

Doug Hoffman, Ordinary American

State Route 3 runs through New York's 23rd Congressional District from Hannibal on the west end near Lake Ontario to Plattsburgh on the shore of Lake Champlain that forms the state's eastern border with the Vermont.

From Hannibal, it takes about an hour and a half to drive to Watertown (population 27,310, which makes it one of the district's largest towns). Drive another 115 miles east from Watertown, and State Route 3 crosses a bridge and becomes known locally as River Street. There's a pizza shop on the right as you cross the intersection with Main Street. Just past Church Street on the left, in the former location of a Nice 'n' Easy convenience store, is the main headquarters of the Doug Hoffman for Congress campaign.

Friday afternoon, two campaign staffers and a handful of volunteers were manning Hoffman HQ, stuffing envelopes, answering phones and handing out yard signs to supporters who occasionally dropped in. Unless you were already aware of the news surrounding the Conservative Party candidate in this three-way special election, you'd never suspect that this building in Saranac Lake, N.Y. (population 4,908) was Ground Zero for one of the biggest political stories of the year.

Just a few weeks ago, Doug Hoffman never would have suspected such a thing. The candidate has expressed astonishment that his underdog campaign against two major party opponents has suddenly made him the hero of conservatives nationwide. "I would have laughed in disbelief," Hoffman said in a Sunday column for the New York Post, describing a few of the most recent developments in the campaign.

Thursday morning, Hoffman was endorsed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in an event at the campaign's office in Watertown. Then he traveled to Syracuse for an afternoon press conference where he reciprocated by endorsing the flat tax, a policy long promoted by Armey, who is now chairman of FreedomWorks.

By the time Armey and Hoffman appeared in Syracuse, rumors were already swirling and, within a few hours, the buzz was confirmed when Hoffman unexpectedly picked up the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican Party's 2008 vice-presidential candidate. That day, the Hoffman campaign raised $116,000 in online contributions.

Things were happening so fast that plans for a sit-down interview with Hoffman on Friday were canceled between the time I left Watertown and the time I arrived in Saranac Lake. An aide phoned to explain that producers for the Neal Cavuto show had just called and the candidate was on his way to Albany for a 4:30 p.m. appearance via satellite on the Fox News Channel program.

Still, I kept driving until I reached 111 River Street. There is a story behind the building that now serves as Hoffman HQ. It was in the summer of 1964 at this location, then a Mobil station, that Doug Hoffman took a job pumping gas. His father had abandoned the family when Doug was 10 and, as the second-oldest of four children, his income was needed to help his mother pay the bills.

Such is the symbolic meaning of the headquarters site, while the meaning of the campaign to elect Hoffman -- now a successful executive for a major accounting firm -- has now become apparent to everyone who pays attention to politics.

The Nov. 3 election to replace longtime Rep. John McHugh, a Republican appointed by President Obama to be Secretary of the Army, has especially drawn the attention of conservatives in recent weeks. That's mainly because the New York GOP leadership picked liberal state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava as their candidate, sparking a struggle that pits the Republican establishment against grassroots activists -- "a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party," as Hoffman calls it.

Given his hardscrabble upbringing, Hoffman's sympathies are clearly with the conservative grassroots. He was able to get a college education only because his excellent academic record in high school inspired local businessmen to establish a scholarship fund to assist him. Joining the National Guard also helped, and he served a total of six years in Guard and Army Reserves before finishing his enlistment as a staff sergeant. Shortly thereafter, already married with two young children, Hoffman completed his MBA at the University of Connecticut and returned home. At age 27, he became controller -- that is to say, the chief accountant -- for the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee, responsible for a multimillion dollar budget.

Memories of that Winter Olympiad, particularly the U.S. hockey team's gold-medal upset of the heavily favored Soviet squad, is something of a touchstone for the Hoffman campaign. Speaking Thursday to supporters in Waterstown, the candidate echoed ABC sportscaster Al Michaels' famous words -- "Do you believe in miracles?" -- when he said, "We're going to create a miracle on Nov. 3… That miracle starts today."

The surprise endorsement by Palin? The stupendous outpouring of online donations? A nice start, by any measure, but with Election Day now barely a week away, Team Hoffman knows they'll need hard work to defeat both the GOP candidate Scozzafava and the Democrat, Bill Owens.

More than anything, one source with the Hoffman campaign said, they're concerned about the army of election operatives that labor unions and the ACORN-connected Working Families Party -- which has ties to both Scozzafava and Owens -- will bring into action in the final week of the campaign. To counter that threat, the source said, they're sending out a nationwide call for grassroots volunteers to come to the 23rd District and provide "boots on the ground" for Hoffman.

In his Post column, Hoffman declared himself one of those "mad as hell" ordinary citizens who have protested at Tea Party rallies and town-hall meetings, and concluded by saying that this election in upstate New York is far more important than mere partisan politics: "This is a fight for our children's future. It's a fight for America."


LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer Larry Margasak, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Internal investigations into the conduct of over two dozen House members were exposed in an extraordinary, Internet-era breach involving the secretive process by which Congress polices lawmaker ethics.

Revelations of the mostly preliminary inquiries by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — also known as the Ethics committee — and a panel that refers cases to it shook the chamber as lawmakers were immersed in a series of scheduled votes Thursday.

The panel announced that it was investigating two California Democrats — Reps. Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson — even as its embarrassed leaders took pains to explain that several other lawmakers' names should not have been revealed and they may have done nothing wrong.

The committee said it was investigating whether Waters used her influence to help a bank in which her husband owned stock, and whether the couple benefited as a result. Separately, the panel is looking into whether Richardson failed to disclose required information on her financial disclosure forms and received special treatment from a lender.

Ethics chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., went to the House floor to announce that a confidential weekly report of the committee from July had leaked out in a case of "cyber-hacking."

A committee statement said that its security was breached through "peer to peer file sharing software" used by a junior employee who was working from home. The employee was fired.

The fired employee was allowed to work on the document at home but was responsible for keeping it secure, said a House staff member with knowledge of the events, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss it.

The employee didn't realize that the file saved on a hard drive could be downloaded to another computer using the same file sharing software, according to the staffer. He said there is no indication that the individual accessing the document was looking for ethics committee material.

The July report contains a summary of the committee's work at the time, but Lofgren said no inferences should be made about anyone whose name is mentioned.

The committee typically makes a public announcement about its activities only when it begins an investigation of potential rule-breaking, which is conducted by an investigative subcommittee whose members also are made public.

However, the weekly reports include a summary of the committee's work at an earlier stage, when its members and staff scrutinize lawmakers to see whether an investigation is warranted.

The Washington Post reported in its online edition Thursday that the document was disclosed on a publicly accessible computer network and made available to the newspaper by a source familiar with such networks.

The Post reported that more than 30 lawmakers and a few staff members were under scrutiny, including nearly half the members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

The previously disclosed inquiry involves lawmakers who steered appropriations to clients of a now-defunct lobbying firm and received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients.

The names included three lawmakers previously identified in the inquiry: the chairman of the defense subcommittee, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.; and Reps. Peter Visclosky, D-Ind., and James Moran, D-Va.

The Post said others whose names were in the report included Reps. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., and Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan.

The committee, however, has not announced an investigation of any of these lawmakers.

Waters is the No. 3 Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee and chairwoman of its subcommittee on housing. She has been an influential voice in the committee's work to overhaul financial regulations.

Waters came under scrutiny after former Treasury Department officials said she helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at OneUnited Bank last year without mentioning her husband's financial ties to the institution.

Her husband, Sidney Williams, holds at least $250,000 in the bank's stock and previously had served on its board. Waters' spokesman, Michael Levin, said Williams was no longer on the board when the meeting was arranged.

Waters has said the National Bankers Association, a trade group, requested the meeting. She defended her role in assisting minority-owned banks in the midst of the nation's financial meltdown and dismissed suggestions she used her influence to steer government aid to the bank.

"I am confident that as the investigation moves forward the panel will discover that there are no facts to support allegations that I have acted improperly," Waters said in a statement.

The committee unanimously voted to establish an investigative subcommittee to gather evidence and determine whether Waters violated standards of conduct.

The committee said it would investigate "alleged communications and activities with, or on behalf of, the National Bankers Association or OneUnited Bank" and "the benefit, if any, Rep. Waters or her husband received as a result."

The committee also voted unanimously to investigate whether Richardson violated House rules, its Code of Conduct or the Ethics in Government Act by failing to disclose property, income and liabilities on her financial disclosure forms.

The investigation also will determine whether Richardson received an impermissible gift or preferential treatment from a lender, "relating to the foreclosure, recission of the foreclosure sale or loan modification agreement" for her Sacramento, Calif., property.

Richardson said she has been subjected to "premature judgments, speculation and baseless distractions that will finally be addressed in a fair, unbiased, bipartisan evaluation of the facts."

"Like 4.3 million Americans in the last year who faced financial problems because of a personal crisis like a divorce, death in the family, unexpected job and living changes and an erroneous property sale, all of which I have experienced in the span of slightly over a year, I have worked to resolve a personal financial situation," she said in a statement.

The committee ended an investigation of Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., and released a report finding no ethical violations. It investigated whether Graves used his position on the House Small Business Committee to invite a longtime friend and business partner of his wife to testify at a committee hearing



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