| Last night former House Speaker Dennis Hastert headlined a fundraiser for Jim Gibbons, the candidate in the third Congressional district favored by beltway Republicans. Gibbons raised the most money by far in the fourth quarter of 2009, and Hastert's appearance should help him out-raise his five or six Republican rivals in the current fundraising period too.
By the same token, Hastert's trip to Des Moines will provide fodder for Gibbons' opponents. Tea Party favorite Dave Funk is pushing this message:
As a pilot, I know if you don't chart a clear course and stay ever vigilant, you're going to lose your direction and get lost. I hate to say it, but that happened under Dennis Hastert's watch. The House Republican caucus lost its way with excessive spending and policies that didn't represent the values and ideals of our party or the majority of American voters.
To be honest, Dennis Hastert was the "earmark king" of the Republican Party. And now Jim Gibbons has aligned himself with Dennis Hastert and the very philosophy and actions that resulted in our party losing control of Congress, the Senate and the White House.
How can we in Iowa's Third District expect real leadership from Jim Gibbons, when he is joining forces with the leader who led the House Republicans on the spending spree with taxpayers money that cost conservatives their reputations as fiscally responsible small government leaders?
State Senator Brad Zaun took a subtle swipe at Gibbons in a press release that was mostly about Zaun submitting his nominating papers:
"While some of the candidates in this primary are worried about earning the favor of the powerbrokers on Capitol Hill, I've been focused on serving my constituents and listening to the voters across the 3rd Congressional District. I look forward to ramping up our efforts in April and May after the legislative session adjourns," concluded Zaun.
Former Representative Greg Ganske hosted the Hastert event for Gibbons. He represented Polk County when it was part of Iowa's fourth Congressional district from 1995-2003. Ganske isn't universally popular with the Republican base, though. He nearly lost the 2002 U.S. Senate primary to wingnut extraordinaire Bill Salier, and some Republicans believe (foolishly in my opinion) that being too moderate cost Ganske that year's election against Tom Harkin.
The Iowa Democratic Party released a statement yesterday on Hastert's visit:
More than two years after leaving public office to become a lobbyist, former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert continues to receive nearly $40,000 a month in taxpayer funded perks including an office, cell phone, staff, and an SUV.
"Keeping Former Speaker Dennis Hastert on the taxpayer dime while he works as a lobbyist is hardly what Iowans believe is a good use of their hard earned money," said Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Michael Kiernan. "Republican Jim Gibbons should know he is only as good as the company he keeps, and by choosing to embrace Dennis Hastert his calls for fiscal restraint ring [hollow]."
[...] Former Speaker Hastert maintains an office at taxpayer expense in Yorkville, Illinois. The perks that Speaker Hastert accepted include an office, cell phone, staff, and a leased SUV. All told, Hastert receives nearly $40,000 a month in benefits from the federal government. These taxpayer-funded benefits are entirely legal as long as Hastert does not make use of them in the course of his lobbying work. [Politico, 12/21/09]
To my mind, Hastert's current lobbying is less offensive than the fact that he sold real estate for nearly $2 million in profits after he secured federal earmarks to construct the Prairie Parkway near land he owned. I wonder what Gibbons thinks about that deal.