The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Neal's Power Play

With Campaign Cash

As usual the local media has been giving entrenched incumbent Congressman Richard Neal a virtual free ride in his re-election bid, with puff pieces like this front page photo showing him pinning a medal on a veteran:

Still, you might think that Congressman Neal would be busy focusing on the first real race he's had since the early 90's, against one of two possible challengers, Dr. Jay Fleitman and Tom Wesley. This is especially true considering that Neal has always run by promoting his incumbency as his main asset. But now Neal faces re-election, as George Will put it, in "a year in which incumbency is considered a character flaw." Yet according to the Boston Globe, instead of focusing on this November, Neal appears to be passing out his campaign cash in hopes of winning another election - for a coveted committee chair in congress. The Globe reports that Neal will be a having a huge fundraiser this weekend, but not in his district:

On a Cape Cod bluff, amid cabanas that overlook the swimming pool and ocean beyond, a group of major campaign contributors this weekend will join US Representative Richard E. Neal at the Chatham Bars Inn, far from his Springfield district.

The price: $5,000.

In return for their money, Neal’s financial supporters will get a “Summer Weekend on Cape Cod’’ with the 11-term Democrat, a key element in Neal’s campaign to raise his relatively low profile and seize one of the most powerful perches in Congress: chairman of the tax-writing Committee on Ways and Means.....

As this weekend’s event at the Cape demonstrates, the effort is being waged through the use of political money, both given and received. Neal, who is expected to be easily reelected to his House seat in November, has been raising large sums, which he in turn has been donating to other members of Congress, to demonstrate his leadership and curry favor.

So far this year, Neal has donated $49,000 to other House candidates, more than the combined amount he gave directly to candidates from 1997 through 2007. He also donated $100,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which separately funds House races.

As Neal has risen in stature, more of his contributions are coming from out of state. Last year, three-fourths of his contributions came from outside Massachusetts, compared with one-fourth in 2004. Steven Ballmer, the chief executive of Microsoft and a frequent political contributor, for example, donated $1,000 to Neal for the first time in December. Ballmer could not be reached for comment.

Despite the recent attention Neal has been getting from moneyed interests around the country, those who have known him for decades say he hasn’t lost the approach of the Springfield city councilor, or the mayor who would speak into a tape recorder while driving through the city, forcing aides to transcribe it and work on fixing the problems he spotted.

“We used to joke when we were in 11th grade, that when he was president we’d all have jobs,’’ said Barry Metayer, a longtime friend.

So even in eleventh grade they were talking about cashing in. Sadly, once again you have to read out of town papers to know what's going on in our own backyard, although I wrote about this topic back in March. Congratulations to the Globe for finally catching up with the blogosphere.

Yesterday I went to Springfield. When passing through Holyoke, I was surprised to see that the bus stop at Veteran's Park has been moved to the corner by Saint Jerome's.

This is the house on Haskins Street in ol Pine Point where my Dad grew up.

This is the flag Saint Michael's put on my Dad's grave.

How odd to see a little beehive forming on the wing of the statue on the grave of Jay Libardi.

Northampton rock-out.


Mick said...

Neal should have been voted out of office years ago!

crusader88 said...

Yes! Though I still don't know enough about either Jay or Tom to choose between them.

Anonymous said... he's got the full support of the Springfield Republican City Committee :)