NB Politicus

Junket Update: Rep. Johnson Tops CT Delegation

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on July 10, 2006

A Center for Public Integrity report on all-expense-paid trips by members of Congress shows that Cong. Nancy Johnson (R-5) topped Connecticut’s Congressional delegation in taking trips paid for by special interest groups.

The Danbury News-Times’ Fred Lucas reported that Connecticut members of Congress took advantage of $600,000 for 300 trips between 2000 and 2005.

Rep. Johnson accounted for one-third of interest group expenditures or $200,000 for 51 trips “on someone else’s dime.” The runner up was incumbent U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman whose office received $119,000 for Lieberman and his staff in the five year period.

Johnson’s journeys came to light in 2005 with the news that The Nature Conservancy (TNC) paid $17,900 for Johnson and her husband to visit Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands . The trip was made, according to its backers and Rep. Johnson, to learn about the nature conservancy’s natural resource and biodiversity conservation work in Ecuador and “to discuss with Ecuador’s government officials the effects of illegal immigration in Connecticut.”

Backers of free trips for Johnson included insurance and pharmaceutical industry groups which underwrote trips to conferences for Johnson and her staff to Orlando, Boca Raton, Tampa and Las Vegas. A spokesman for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan research and watchdog group, said that the business trips of members of Congress tend to be to vacation spots and rarely to “undesirable locations.”

Johnson is an architect of the controversial Medicare prescription drug program that provides millions in subsidies to pharmaceutical and insurance interests. Critics of the Medicare drug plan, who cite arbitrary and insufficient coverage for many seniors, believe Rep. Johnson has a conflict in accepting travel perks from some of the interest groups in her position as Chair of a Congressional sub-committee on health care that developed the prescription drug law.

Democratic Congressional Nominee Chris Murphy (D-Cheshire) told the News-Times that he supports a ban on the subsidized trips for members of Congress and their spouses, stating that acceptance of such gifts from special interests are an example of “what is wrong with Washington.” House Democrats are seeking support for stricter bans on perks and gifts from lobbyists and special interest groups.

More information is available at www.publicintegrity.org

Salvos From Salvio: Republican Attacks Leaders, Town Committee Members

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on July 7, 2006

Republican Ald. Louis Salvio takes on “party bosses” in opposing a recent Democratic Town Committee recommendation to fill a vacancy for the aldermanic seat in Ward One.

His letter to the editor, appearing in the Hartford Courant and New Britain Herald last week, was a rambling diatribe against Democratic leaders — the “bosses” who “would have Democrats believe that their votes in general elections count for nothing.” Apparently, he can’t find any bosses in the Republican party to take on at the moment.

Salvio is an increasingly bitter and angry public official who, in carrying the water for Mayor Stewart at the Council, regularly engages in name calling at meetings, in print and via dictatorial e-mails to Common Council members.

In vitriolic opposition to former Ald. Rick Lopes, Salvio and others have attacked the Town Committee and its members. They say an advisory recommendation made by individuals who represent Ward One on the Town Committee puts the “party” over what’s “best for the city.”

What Salvio and his followers are showing is disrespect for the democratic process and the method by which both parties endorse and nominate all candidates for municipal office every two years. They are also showing contempt for voters who include the individuals who are elected and serve on the Town Committee in Ward One.

The Common Council leadership is being inclusive by asking the Town Committee for advice on who should represent the people of Ward One between elections. Asking the endorsing body whose members will pick candidates to run in 2007 demonstrates more respect for the voters of Ward One than Mr. Salvio does by always dictating to his constituents and anyone else within earshot what is in their best interest.

The vacancy has also led Salvio and Lopes’ opponents to disqualify Lopes because he lost the 2005 election. Ald. Salvio has a selective memory. He lost the 2003 election to Mr. Lopes, but no one questioned his right to run and serve again.

Lost in the overblown rhetoric of Salvio and company is the impressive work of Mr. Lopes when he served on the Council. His legislation curbing mini, motorized bikes in neighborhoods became a model for the state, ending a nuisance and public safety hazard on the streets. His diligence in handling constituent issues at City Hall earned him praise from the same voters who Salvio claims to speak for.

It may be impractical given the fact that city elections occur every other year, but the best solution would be to have a special election so that voters decide, not Common Council members with vendettas against a particular candidate.