Prosecute the torture.

January 26, 2006

Santorum Denies the K Street Project (more lies from the GOP)

Maeve Reston in today's P-G:
With Democrats comparing his ties to lobbyists with "organized crime," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., yesterday swung back, saying the Democratic criticism amounted to libel and unequivocally denying that he helped shape the GOP's controversial "K Street Project."
Helped shape? I wonder if that was the question asked. At least from this snippet, it looks like when challenenged about his connection to the K Street Project, Lil Ricky "swings back" by saying he didn'thelp shape the project. Those are two different issues, if you ask me. It looks like our lil Ricky avoided one question by changing the subject to another.

Reston also points out:
Since he became the Senate's third-ranking Republican in 2001, Mr. Santorum has held weekly meetings with top Republican lobbyists at which he discusses, among other matters, job openings at Washington lobbying firms.

But, in interviews with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he has said those discussions -- which he previously referred to as "the K Street meetings" -- are merely to ensure Republicans are putting forward good candidates for the jobs.

Mr. Santorum flatly denied yesterday that the meetings were an integral part of the "K Street Project."
Wait a minute. Santorum referred to them as "K Street meetings" and now he's trying to distance himself by saying they're not? No wait - look closely. He didn't say they weren't "K Street meetings," he said they weren't "an integral part" of the K Street Project. Ok, fine. They weren't "integral." So how important were they, Senator?

But what is this "K Street Project" anyway? This is how the Washington Monthly characterized it way back in July/August 2003:
When presidents pick someone to fill a job in the government, it's typically a very public affair. The White House circulates press releases and background materials. Congress holds a hearing, where some members will pepper the nominee with questions and others will shower him or her with praise. If the person in question is controversial or up for an important position, they'll rate a profile or two in the papers. But there's one confirmation hearing you won't hear much about. It's convened every Tuesday morning by Rick Santorum, the junior senator from Pennsylvania, in the privacy of a Capitol Hill conference room, for a handpicked group of two dozen or so Republican lobbyists. Occasionally, one or two other senators or a representative from the White House will attend. Democrats are not invited, and neither is the press.

The chief purpose of these gatherings is to discuss jobs--specifically, the top one or two positions at the biggest and most important industry trade associations and corporate offices centered around Washington's K Street, a canyon of nondescript office buildings a few blocks north of the White House that is to influence-peddling what Wall Street is to finance. In the past, those people were about as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, a practice that ensured K Street firms would have clout no matter which party was in power. But beginning with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and accelerating in 2001, when George W. Bush became president, the GOP has made a determined effort to undermine the bipartisan complexion of K Street. And Santorum's Tuesday meetings are a crucial part of that effort. Every week, the lobbyists present pass around a list of the jobs available and discuss whom to support. Santorum's responsibility is to make sure each one is filled by a loyal Republican--a senator's chief of staff, for instance, or a top White House aide, or another lobbyist whose reliability has been demonstrated. After Santorum settles on a candidate, the lobbyists present make sure it is known whom the Republican leadership favors. "The underlying theme was [to] place Republicans in key positions on K Street. Everybody taking part was a Republican and understood that that was the purpose of what we were doing," says Rod Chandler, a retired congressman and lobbyist who has participated in the Santorum meetings. "It's been a very successful effort."
Then later:
It took the 2000 elections, which gave Republicans the White House and Congress, to completely change the climate. In the months after, Santorum became the Senate's point man on K Street and launched his Tuesday meetings.
And so the question, if this information has been out there for 2 and a half years or so, why is Lil Ricky only distancing himself from it now? Could it be because of the upcoming election?

Naaah!

Back to the P-G:
Though publications such as The Washington Post, Roll Call and Washington Monthly have all reported that Mr. Santorum's meetings were a central part of Mr. Norquist's "K Street Project" strategy, Mr. Santorum said yesterday that his meetings were a separate initiative.

"I had absolutely nothing to do -- never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project," Mr. Santorum said.

"[Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid made a statement that I meet with Grover Norquist every Wednesday," Mr. Santorum added. "I don't meet with him every Wednesday. I have nothing to do with this project and for [Mr. Reid] to make that statement is libelous. It's absolutely false."
Of course they were separate. Santorum himself called them "K Street meetings." They've been characterized as central to the K Street Project for more than two years and they did the same thing that the K Street Project was looking to do (find lobbying jobs for Republicans). So of course Rick Santorum is being absolutely truthful when he asserts that the two are "separate initiatives."

But I wondered, did Senator Reid actually say that Santorum met with Norquist "every Wednesday?" It seems like splitting hairs but here's what Senator Reid said recently to Jim Lehrer:
SEN. HARRY REID: Having Sen. Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime. He’s one of the problems. So –

JIM LEHRER: Why is he one of the problems?

SEN. HARRY REID: Because he was the liaison to K Street, he has gone down to the meetings, they meet every Wednesday in Grover Norquist’s office
And Senator Man-on-Dog said:
Harry Reid made a statement that I meet with Grover Norquist every Wednesday," Mr. Santorum added. "I don't meet with him every Wednesday."
It's possible that Senator Reid was referring to the meetings as occurring on Wednesdays, and that Santorum's been to at least one. But that seems like splitting hairs. So let's let it go.

So fine. Santorum says he doesn't meet with Norquist every Wednesday, but he didn't deny meeting him on any Wednesday either. He's also using the present tense. Are Norquist's Wednesday meetings still taking place? If they ended some time ago and even if Rick went to every one of them, he'd still be correct if he were to say he doesn't meet with Norquist now.

Nor did he deny Reid's charge about being the "liason to K Street." So how many times did Senator Santorum meet with Grover Norquist on those Wednesday meetings? Norquist admitted to going to at least one of Santorum's Tuesday meetings. And how many Wednesday meetings did Senator Santorum attend (with our without Norquist being there)?

Rick Santorum can't even lie clearly.

IMPEACH

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