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Eleanor Holmes Norton and the Questionable Audio Recording

4 years ago
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Yes, the voice appears to be that of Eleanor Holmes Norton, though we don't know the person on the other end.
On the latest expose audio tape supplied by BigGovernment.com, someone is heard -- with reticence, slight embarrassment and unmistakable resolve – mentioning her position and seniority on a congressional committee and subcommittee while soliciting money from someone who is alleged to be a lobbyist.
This is the site run by conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, who earlier this summer got into trouble for circulating a heavily edited and misleading videotape of Shirley Sherrod. In response to being the latest woman under scrutiny, Norton, the nonvoting House member from the District of Columbia who overwhelmingly won her Tuesday primary, told Politico that requesting campaign contributions from lobbyists is completely above board and "standard." Her campaign said Breitbart is "best known for his misinformation concerning Shirley Sherrod" and is "trying to mislead again."
Though it may be a mix-up or a misunderstanding, it doesn't look good. On the tape, Norton notes that colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have already received donations. "I'm handling the largest economic development project in the United States now," she says. "I'm simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution." She then helpfully supplies an address.
The call could be examined to see if it breaks House ethics rules, and could not come at a worse time for Democrats trying to maintain their majority in the House and Senate in November midterm elections. Ethics violations by Republicans helped get Democrats elected in the last two election cycles when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to "drain the swamp."
Since then, Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California – like Norton, members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- have been the targets of ethics investigations. But those who see some sort of conspiracy against Democrats or CBC members forget that Nancy Pelosi backed the formation of the Office of Congressional Ethics in 2008, which has drawn fire from the unlikely pair of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). Reps. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) and Mark Souder (R-Ind.) – hardly CBC members -- resigned this year after ethical troubles. And, of course, the problems of Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) are still being untangled.
Just as ethics violations have hit both parties, outreach to lobbyist cash is obviously not limited to party or race. Politico today reported: "Top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are preparing for a GOP takeover -- by meeting with dozens of energy and telecom lobbyists." The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative site, gives a rundown of the interests and industries contributing to Republican and Democratic leaders.
The problem may be a system where campaign costs run into tens of millions of dollars, and the latest electoral darlings are multimillionaires with unlimited personal resources. (For gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman of California, it's $119 million and counting.)
But when I read a quote like this one, last month on Politico, from a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that when it comes to investigations, there's a "dual standard -- one for most members and one for African-Americans," I think, even if it's true, so what?
Why supply ammunition if you think someone's out to get you? If there's one thing that years ensconced in Washington's political culture will no longer obscure, it's that politics as usual won't work in 2010. People are mad and they want accountability, a politician's every word and action will be dissected under a microscope, and an over-the-transom tape will eventually find its way to a cable channel, radio station or partisan political Web site near you.
Some things you can see coming.

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10 Comments

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jofother

The story says this tape is from Breitbart. You have to be skeptical about any "tapes" comming from that proven huckster.

September 18 2010 at 1:47 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
Bobby

I have yet to see one member of congress,leave office poorer then when they went in.

September 17 2010 at 4:48 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
billseef4

Has anyone asked the lady if the tape presented by Breitbart is accurate?

September 17 2010 at 11:17 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
thomahunk

"Nonvoting" is the issue here. Holmes Norton has for too long been an egomaniac out of control and an embarassment to DC. It is always about Eleanor and her perception of herself. She probably didn't even need the money, she has her base so bamboozled she only gets token opposition, its just that "the real members got it". She is an obstructionist to the hilt always taking credit for the efforts of others. So long as Hoilmes Norton is reeelcted we will neve have a voting member of Conress. The other members, black, white, yellow, green or indifferent can't stand her!

September 17 2010 at 9:30 AM Report abuse +20 rate up rate down Reply
hopkinsuniv

Corruption by our elected politicians is certainly not a new phenomena. However, the comment attributed to Rep. Norton, "I'm simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution." is not, in my view, inappropriate. It would not, for example, be considered corruption if Norton's opposition spoke to a lobbyist and solicited a contribution to remove her from the Committee handling the 'largest economic development project.' The CBC member quoted as saying, there is a '"dual standard -- one for most members and one for African-Americans,"' should be ashamed. Racism exist to be sure; however, for one to assert it where it is not, is irresponsible. The record is very clear -- corruption crosses the color boundary...

September 17 2010 at 8:21 AM Report abuse -18 rate up rate down Reply
ehmdkg

i think this is fair, but part of me is holding out this unlikely possiblity in reserve: that those Dems who want to hold on to any power of their own..of their offices in the Senate or House, will be shoved aside by hook or by crook as this Executive bunch increases their power....this latest incident with the ConsumerFuhrer undemocratic two-step appointment is very very evil and worrisome.

September 17 2010 at 8:10 AM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply
stannsac2

It is a joke how the system (that THEY created) protects these corrupt officials. The world would be so much more just if penalties for elected officials,judges and cops were so severe only a fool would risk it. Of course there will always be those who will but after being stripped of all assets and tossed in prison for 20 or 30 years...maybe THEN they would get the picture.

September 17 2010 at 1:26 AM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply
shutiny

Good reporting Ms. Curtis. By the way, did Holmes supported Hillary in the 2008 presidential primary? Both Rangle and Waters were Hillary supporters. So many corrupt politicians, why two female representatives are in trouble at this point? How many black female rep in house and senate? More investigative report is needed?

September 16 2010 at 11:34 PM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply
legshivers

Pelosi's swamp sure is getting polluted with Dems again. As fast as she claims to be draining it apparently.

September 16 2010 at 11:24 PM Report abuse +40 rate up rate down Reply
lhoward914

Did she say that it was her on the tape? Did anyone ask her, or did she get a pass? The black caucus is starting to smell like alligator poop. C'mon nancy....drain the swamp!! Or is that to hard to do from the inside?

September 16 2010 at 10:23 PM Report abuse +37 rate up rate down Reply

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