Sunday, April 26, 2015

Jim Rubens to Texas legislative committee


Testimony of Jim Rubens for HJR-146
Before the Texas Select Committee on State & Federal Power and Responsibility

Good evening Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.

While I’ve travelled here from my New Hampshire home, I’ve got some wonderful roots here in Texas. My dad bailed out as a Madison Avenue Mad Man and came here to found UT Austin’s advertising program, which became the top undergrad program in the country.

I have served as a former Republican state senator from New Hampshire; New Hampshire GOP Platform Committee Chair; senior policy advisor and spokesman for former US Senator Gordon Humphrey for Governor; activist and advisor in many GOP campaigns; and Republican candidate for US Senate 2014. I am a serial small-business entrepreneur and investor in New England-based high-tech start-ups.

I’m here in Texas today as a volunteer to disabuse Republicans of any notion that Washington’s corrupt political money system gives us any advantage in advancing conservative principles. Fixing Washington’s corrupt political money system is not just an issue for Democrats.

This system protects business as usual politics and enriches crony capitalists with obscure tax code distortion, pork barrel spending, and regulatory and diplomatic favors.

I can report from direct experience in 2014 that this corrupt money system imposes a money primary in elections before voters even get to make their choice. Candidates and incumbents perceived or proven willing to trade favors with a small number (in the hundreds) of entrenched, big-dollar interests lock up most of the campaign money. This money primary suppresses voter choice among candidates, narrows the range of issues debated, and thereby stifles resolution of major political challenges, harming our nation and souring the public on our beloved Republic.
  • For three decades now, Washington politicians -- in both parties and in every election –- have promised us fiscal responsibility. Instead, they’ve loaded our kids and grandkids with a millstone of debt. They’ve robbed prosperity from our future and weakened our capacity to pay for our nation’s security in a dangerous world. Most of this spending and unfunded promises is payback to campaign contributors.
  • Our tortured, convoluted tax code is a direct result of this system of corruption. Tax breaks are carved out for big money campaign contributors, paid for with higher rates on ordinary Americans.
  • This system puts corn ethanol in our gas tanks, driving up food prices, depressing gas mileage, and harming the environment.
  • Congress is unrelenting in its defense of the Export-Import Bank, where in 2012, 80% of taxpayer-guaranteed loans were provided to one highly profitable company, Boeing Aircraft.
  • Last December’s bi-partisan CRomnibus spending bill, once again does nothing to tackle spending or deficits, but does stick ordinary Americans with the downside risk of derivatives trading by five Wall Street megabanks.
  • While the US government is the world’s largest buyer of pharmaceutical products, over $100 billion per year, Congress continues to forbid Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices – which for Americans are highest in the world. The simple explanation for this rip-off is the drug industry’s $435 million in spending over the past two years on campaign contributions and its 1,400 Washington lobbyists. Mark me: I’m not against the drug industry, I make a part of my living investing in pharma startups. It’s that I back the free-market where the government does not distort capitalism by picking winners and losers.
  • Most dangerous to our Republic is the tens of millions of dollars (likely much more that we don’t know about) given indirectly by foreign governments and foreign nationals to potential candidates, their close relatives, and to their affiliated organizations. While direct contributions from foreign sources are illegal, foreign governments wanting to bend American policy -– sometimes adversely to US national security interests -- are now exploiting this gargantuan campaign money loophole. The New York Times reported this week about speaking fees given to Bill Clinton and contributions made to the Clinton Foundation by individuals and companies associated with Uranium One who were simultaneously and successfully advocating that US and other uranium assets be sold to Rosatom (a Russian firm controlled by the Russian government) during the time Mrs. Clinton served as Secretary of State, had authority to approve or deny the transaction, and was well known to be a likely candidate for President. I note this news highlighting clearly perceivable political money corruption, not because it involves Democrats, but only because it is the most recent and blatant.
These seven examples of special interest privilege and crony capitalism and are not cherry picked anomalies. A ground-breaking 2014 study tested the political outcomes in 1,800 contested issues over a 20-years period and found this:  little surprise that economic elites and organized business interests had substantial impact on policy. The stunner, average members of public have essentially zero influence over what Washington does.

Whatever your issue or ideology, we must confront Washington’s corrupted, immobilized political system, accountable to a tiny number of favor-seeking big money donors rather than, as things should be, to the American people.

Our Constitution’s framers anticipated a Congress that could become corrupt and unaccountable, unable and unwilling to reform itself. For that reason, the framers included the state-led method of proposing amendments to Constitution in Article V.

HJR-146 does not tell us how we will change Washington’s system of political money corruption. It asks that the states engage in debate about the varied approaches because Congress will not.

Personally, I do not see a need to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. My suggested approach is to remove all limits on direct candidate contributions and combine that with instant online disclosure and the establishment of a $50 per voter tax-credit voucher system for campaign contributions to broaden the base of potential contributors.

Because Congress refuses to address the corrupt political money system, it’s up to the states. Please vote for HJR-146 and add Texas to the Missouri Senate, the New Hampshire House, and the growing number of states already on board and ready to work together to find a solution.

Thanks for listening,

Jim Rubens


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rep. Palmer: Why you will fail us

Dear Congressman Palmer,

Would you kindly obtain a copy of Steven Brill's 2015 book America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, and read it.

The book should be instructive to you about why you will fail us in Congress.

Please pay particular attention to Chapter 8 "Deal Time" and Chapter 9 "Behind Closed Doors: White House Turf Wars, Industry Deals, and Senate Wrangling."

If it will help in your study, here is a search link for reviews of the book:

If Brill's book opens your eyes, I hope you will let your 6th Congressional district constituents know about that.

Thank you.

Rob Shattuck

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Who in AL wants to defeat the Washington machine?

A poster from the Rand Paul for President campaign.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The War for the Presidency

How do you feel about the War for the 2016 Presidency?

The War that is going to be, say, of $1.5 billion against $1.5 billion.

Do you feel it is going to make much of a difference to you how that War turns out?

Just who are these people who will be pouring $3 billion into the War? Do you think they are expecting something depending on how the War turns out?

Of course they are. We just don't know exactly what it is, and we will be very in the dark about what they get and the ways in which they get it.

What about our Congress? How is it going to do for the American people while the War is being fought for the next 20 months?

What about AL06 Rep. Gary Palmer? Do you think he makes any difference with the War going on?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Scrutinizing Alabama's legislative delegation

Mayday v2 began on Saturday. Here is what is posted on the MAYDAY.US website:
In 2014, we rallied more than 50,000 Americans to support a fight for fundamental reform in the way campaigns are funded — to reduce the influence of money in politics, by increasing the influence of people in politics.
But in the campaigns, we didn’t move the ball far enough.
So in 2015, we’re doing something different. To prove that reform is possible, we need to close the gap on a majority in Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — committed to reforming the system of corruption in Washington, D.C., by changing the way campaigns are funded.
Help us find allies in Congress.
We’re looking for leaders who understand that the way campaigns are funded is broken. You can see which Members have already committed to reform here.
Tell us who you think we could persuade to join us next, and why.

Using the website tool for seeing where Members stand on reform, I found the below shown for Senators Sessions and Shelby and for Alabama's seven Representatives in Washington.

Jefferson Sessions is Against US
By not backing reform, Sessions supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy.

Richard Shelby is Against US
By not backing reform, Shelby supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy. 

Bradley Byrne is Against US
By not backing reform, Byrne supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy. 

Martha Roby is Against US
By not backing reform, Roby supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy 

Michael Rogers is Against US
By not backing reform, Rogers supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy.

Robert Aderholt is Against US
By not backing reform, Aderholt supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy.

Morris Brooks is Against US
By not backing reform, Brooks supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy.

Gary Palmer is Against US
By not backing reform, Palmer supports systemic corruption and is undermining democracy.

Terri Sewell is With US
Sewell supports fundamental reform to fix systemic corruption and restore democracy.

Friday, March 6, 2015

NH GOP and Dems unite against corruption


“Strange Bedfellows” House Vote Backs Article V Convention
To Propose Amendment on Political Money Corruption


By a vote of 181-134, the New Hampshire House yesterday passed HCR2 which, if passed by the Senate, would make our state #5 of the needed 34 to apply for an Article V convention to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution addressing rampant political money corruption.

Per Article V, if delegates at this first-ever amending convention were to agree on specific language, 38 states would then be required to ratify, one of many safeguards protecting against damage to our constitutional liberties.

84 Republicans and 96 Democrats (and one independent) voted for HCR2, a highly unusual “strange bedfellows” coalition for as controversial a piece of legislation as this.  There is an emerging cross-partisan agreement that Congress has become captive of big-dollar special interests and is no longer accountable to the American people. Here is a YouTube video of me and several other Republican legislators speaking for constitutional reform to address political money corruption.

HCR3, which calls for an Article V amending convention to address fiscal restraint, term limits, and strengthened federalism, was tabled late in yesterday’s session when opponents threatened a two-hour debate. HCR3 was recommended unanimously for passage by the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.

I urge you to call your Rep, asking that HCR3 be taken off the table and passed.

Here’s where I’ll be speaking on these issues:

March 16, 7:00 pm
Carroll County GOP
Lobster Trap Restaurant, North Conway

April 1, 7:00 am
Plymouth Rotary
Common Main Restaurant, Plymouth

Many Presidential candidates will be here

Take advantage of our privileged status as New Hampshire primary voters and ask them to get specific about these and other issues!


Jim Rubens

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Money, money, money

Hillary’s Corporate Cronyism:
State Department for Sale, Perfectly Legal

Hillary Clinton, as former Secretary of State, near-certain Presidential candidate, and through her family’s Clinton Foundation, has perfected to a fine art the legalized bribery and pay-to-play corporate cronyism that powers Washington politics.

The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that corporate giants, such as General Electric, Boeing, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft, have been able to enlist the State Department as their private marketing department and Mrs. Clinton has been able to shake down these companies for millions in cash to boost her personal standing.

The Journal found that of 425 corporate donors to the Clinton Foundation, the 60 who lobbied the State Department during her four years as Secretary contributed $26 million.

Before every overseas diplomatic trip, Undersecretary of State and former Goldman Sachs investment banker Robert Hormats prepared a list of corporate interests for Mrs. Clinton to shill.

In one instance in 2009, Mrs. Clinton flew to Russia to pump sales for Boeing. Seven months later, Russia purchased $3.7 billion worth of the company’s jets. Two months later, Boeing made its first contribution to the Clinton Foundation, $900,000.

In 2012, Mrs. Clinton flew to Bulgaria, specifically to lobby its Parliament on behalf of Chevron to reverse a ban on natural gas fracking.  While Bulgaria did not reverse its policy, in 2013, Chevron gave $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

In another instance reported by the Journal, in 2012, Mrs. Clinton went to bat for GE to persuade Algeria (successfully) to purchase its power plants.  One month later, GE made its first contribution to the Clinton Foundation.

While campaign finance regulations prohibit foreign governments from giving money to candidates, both before and after Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, 28 foreign governments have given a combined $51 million to the Clinton Foundation, knowing full well that she is the likely Democratic nominee for President.  Saudi Arabia has given at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

It’s time to fix Washington’s corrupt political money system. Both national and international policy is for sale to the highest bidder and politicians like Hillary Clinton can get very, very rich and maintain a lifetime career in politics by extorting those with an interest in those policies. All of this is legal and this system of corruption involves both parties.

Here in New Hampshire, many on the left and right support passage of HCR2 which, if passed in 34 states, would launch an Article V convention of the states tasked with crafting an amendment to the Constitution to address rampant legalized political bribery and extortion.  Any amendment proposed by a convention must then be ratified by at least 38 states, a high bar designed by the framers to weed out any constitutional changes not supported by a broad supermajority of Americans.

I urge you to call your Rep, respectfully and briefly asking them to support the House State-Federal Relations Committee recommendation to pass both HCR2 and HCR3 (which would launch a convention to propose amendments relative to fiscal restraint, term limits, and enhanced federalism).

Thanks for listening,

Jim Rubens


Feb. 19, 2015 10:30 p.m. ET

Among recent secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton was one of the most aggressive global cheerleaders for American companies, pushing governments to sign deals and change policies to the advantage of corporate giants such as General Electric Co. , Exxon MobilCorp. , Microsoft Corp. and Boeing Co.
At the same time, those companies were among the many that gave to the Clinton family’s global foundation set up by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. At least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during her tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public and foundation disclosures.
As Mrs. Clinton prepares to embark on a race for the presidency, she has a web of connections to big corporations unique in American politics—ties forged both as secretary of state and by her family’s charitable interests. Those relationships are emerging as an issue for Mrs. Clinton’s expected presidential campaign as income disparity and other populist themes gain early attention.
Indeed, Clinton Foundation money-raising already is drawing attention. “To a lot of progressive Democrats, Clinton’s ties to corporate America are disturbing,” says Jack Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College who once worked for congressional Republicans. Mrs. Clinton’s connections to companies, he says, “are a bonanza for opposition researchers because they enable her critics to suggest the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
The Wall Street Journal identified the companies involved with both Clinton-family charitable endeavors and with Mrs. Clinton’s State Department by examining large corporate donations to the Clinton Foundation, then reviewing lobbying-disclosure reports filed by those companies. At least 44 of those 60 companies also participated in philanthropic projects valued at $3.2 billion that were set up though a wing of the foundation called the Clinton Global Initiative, which coordinates the projects but receives no cash for them.
Mrs. Clinton’s connections to the companies don’t end there. As secretary of state, she created 15 public-private partnerships coordinated by the State Department, and at least 25 companies contributed to those partnerships. She also sought corporate donations for another charity she co-founded, a nonprofit women’s group called Vital Voices.
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, says: “She did the job that every secretary of state is supposed to do and what the American people expect of them—especially during difficult economic times. She proudly and loudly advocated on behalf of American business and took every opportunity she could to promote U.S. commercial interests abroad.”
Corporate donations to politically connected charities aren’t illegal so long as they aren’t in exchange for favors. There is no evidence of that with the Clinton Foundation.
In some cases, donations came after Mrs. Clinton took action that helped a company. In other cases, the donation came first. In some instances, donations came both before and after. All of the companies mentioned in this article said their charitable donations had nothing to do with their lobbying agendas with Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.
Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, visited a Boeing design center in Moscow in 2009.ENLARGE
Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, visited a Boeing design center in Moscow in 2009.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Barack Obama ’s transition team worried enough about potential problems stemming from Clinton-organization fundraising while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state that it asked Mr. Clinton to quit raising money from foreign governments for the Clinton Global Initiative and to seek approval for paid speaking engagements, which he did. The transition team didn’t put limits on corporate fundraising.
The foundation resumed soliciting foreign governments after Mrs. Clinton left the State Department. The official name of the foundation was changed to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Mrs. Clinton became a director. All told, the Clinton Foundation and its affiliates have collected donations and pledges from all sources of more than $1.6 billion, according to their tax returns. On Thursday, the foundation said that if Mrs. Clinton runs for president, it would consider whether to continue accepting foreign-government contributions as part of an internal policy review.
“The Clinton Foundation has raised hundreds of millions that it claims is for charitable causes, but clearly overlaps with Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions,” said Tim Miller, director of America Rising PAC, a conservative group that has targeted Mrs. Clinton.

Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian says the group’s work helps millions around the world and its donors have a history of supporting such work. “So when companies get involved with the Clinton Foundation it’s for only one reason, because they know our work matters,” he says.
In her book, “Hard Choices,” Mrs. Clinton said one of her goals at the State Department was “placing economics at the heart of our foreign policy.” She wrote: “It was clearer than ever that America’s economic strength and our global leadership were a package deal.”
Matthew Goodman, a former Clinton State Department official who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, says Mrs. Clinton is the first secretary of state to make economics such a focus since George C. Marshall, who helped rebuild postwar Europe.
Economic Statecraft
That approach, which Mrs. Clinton called “economic statecraft,” emerged in discussions with Robert Hormats, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investment banker who has worked in Democratic and Republican administrations and became an undersecretary of state. “One of the very first items was, how do we strengthen the role of the State Department in economic policy?” he says.
The focus positioned Mrs. Clinton to pursue not just foreign-policy results, but domestic economic ones.
Early in Mrs. Clinton’s tenure, according to Mr. Hormats, Microsoft’s then Chief Research Officer Craig Mundie asked the State Department to send a ranking official to a fourth annual meeting of U.S. software executives and Chinese government officials about piracy and Internet freedom. Mr. Hormats joined the December 2009 meeting in Beijing.
Since 2005, Microsoft has given the Clinton Global Initiative $1.3 million, in addition to free software, according to the foundation.
In 2011, Microsoft launched a three-year initiative coordinated by the Clinton Global Initiative to provide free or discounted software and other resources to students and teachers—a commitment Microsoft estimated to be worth $130 million.
Mr. Hormats says there was no relation between Microsoft’s donations and the State Department’s participation in the China conference.
In 2012, the Clinton Foundation approached GE about working together to expand a health-access initiative the company had launched four years earlier, says a GE spokeswoman.
That same year, Mrs. Clinton lobbied for GE to be selected by the Algerian government to build power plants in that country. She went to Algiers that October and met with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. “I saw an opportunity for advancing prosperity in Algeria and seizing an opportunity for American business,” she explained in her book.
A month after Mrs. Clinton’s trip, the Clinton Foundation announced the health-initiative partnership with GE, the company’s first involvement with the foundation. GE eventually contributed between $500,000 and $1 million to the partnership.
The following September, GE won the contracts with the Algerian government, saying they marked “some of its largest power agreements in company history.”
Mrs. Clinton championed U.S. energy companies and launched an office to promote overseas projects. Many of those efforts were focused in Eastern and Central Europe, where she saw energy development as a hedge against Russia’s dominance in oil and gas. Companies that had interests in those areas included Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp.
One effort, the Global Shale Gas Initiative, promoted hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique perfected by U.S. companies. In 2010, Mrs. Clinton flew to Krakow to announce a Polish-American cooperation on a global shale-gas initiative, according to her book. At the time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted abundant deposits of shale gas in Poland.
After pursuing shale-gas projects in Poland, Exxon Mobil gave up a few years later, and Chevron said late last month it would abandon its Poland project.
In 2012, Mrs. Clinton flew to Sofia, Bulgaria, and urged the Bulgarian Parliament to reconsider its moratorium on fracking and its withdrawal of Chevron’s five-year exploration license. A few months later, the government allowed conventional gas exploration, but not fracking. Chevron left Bulgaria in 2012.
Ben Schreiber of the environmental group Friends of the Earth says: “We’ve long been concerned about the ties that Hillary Clinton has to the oil-and-gas industry.”
Both Exxon and Chevron are supporters of the Clinton Foundation. Chevron donated $250,000 in 2013. A Chevron spokesman said the Clinton charity “is one of many programs and partnerships that the company has had or maintains across a number of issue areas and topics pertinent to our business.”
Exxon Mobil has given about $2 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, starting in 2009. Since 2007, Exxon Mobil also has given $16.8 million to Vital Voices, the nonprofit women’s group co-founded by Mrs. Clinton, according to the group’s spokeswoman.
An Exxon Mobil spokesman said the donations were made to support work on issues Exxon Mobil has long championed, such as programs to fight malaria and empower women. “That is the sole motivation for our support of charitable programs associated with the Clintons,” he said. “We did not seek or receive any special consideration on the Shale Gas Initiative.”
In October 2009, Mrs. Clinton went to bat for aerospace giant Boeing, which was seeking to sell jets to Russia, by flying to Moscow to visit the Boeing Design Center. “I made the case that Boeing’s jets set the global gold standard, and, after I left, our embassy kept at it,” she wrote in her book.
About seven months later, in June 2010, Russia agreed to purchase 50 Boeing 737s for $3.7 billion, choosing Boeing over Europe’s Airbus Group NV.
Two months later, Boeing made its first donation to the Clinton Foundation—$900,000 to help rebuild Haiti’s public-education system. Overall, Boeing has contributed around $1.1 million to the Clinton Foundation since 2010.
A Boeing spokeswoman said it is routine for U.S. officials to advocate on behalf of businesses such as Boeing. “U.S. businesses face fierce global competition, and oftentimes an unlevel playing field in the global marketplace,” she said in a written statement. “Secretary Clinton did nothing for Boeing that former U.S. presidents and cabinet secretaries haven’t done for decades, or that their foreign counterparts haven’t done on behalf of companies like Airbus.”
Before every overseas trip, says Mr. Hormats, the former undersecretary of state, he helped prepare a list of U.S. corporate interests for Mrs. Clinton to advocate while abroad.
During Mrs. Clinton’s three trips to India, she urged the government to kill a ban on stores that sell multiple brands, a law aimed at department stores or big-box retailers such asWal-Mart Stores Inc.
“It wasn’t just Wal-Mart,” Mr. Hormats says. “It was the whole point of multibrand retail. Wal-Mart was, of course, the biggest.”
Mrs. Clinton served on the board of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer between 1986 and 1992, when her husband was governor of that state, and the law firm she worked for at the time represented the company. Wal-Mart has donated nearly $1.2 million to the Clinton Foundation for a program that issues grants to student-run charitable projects. The company also has paid more than $370,000 in membership fees to the foundation since 2008, according to a Wal-Mart spokesman.
Trip to India
Before Mrs. Clinton’s official trip to India in 2012, Wal-Mart Chief Executive Mike Duke joined her at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, to pledge $12 million to help women in Latin America. The donation included $1.5 million in grants to 55,000 women entrepreneurs through the International Fund for Women and Girls, one of the 15 public-private partnerships Mrs. Clinton created at the State Department, and $500,000 for Vital Voices, the charity she co-founded.
“We committed to helping women around the world live better,” Mr. Duke said at the time. “By working with leaders like Secretary Clinton, we’re bringing that mission to life.”
One month later, Mrs. Clinton traveled to India to make the case against the ban on retail stores such as Wal-Mart. Then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had proposed allowing companies such as Wal-Mart to invest up to 51% directly in local multibrand retailers, but one of his allies, Mamata Banerjee, a regional governor, opposed the idea. Ms. Banerjee’s support was key to Mr. Singh’s majority in Parliament.
Mrs. Clinton met with Ms. Banerjee to press the matter. She also said in a speech in West Bengal that U.S. retailers could bring an “enormous amount of expertise” to India in areas ranging from supply-chain management to working with small producers and farmers. Her lobbying was unsuccessful.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said the retailer had lobbied the State Department on the issue, which he said was one of dozens of topics important to the business.
After Mrs. Clinton’s India trip, her husband asked Mr. Duke, Walmart’s CEO, to change his schedule to appear at the opening panel of the Clinton Global Initiative. Mr. Duke agreed.
Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at