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Andrew Breitbart Website Alleges 'Shocking' Audio of Eleanor Holmes Norton

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A sub-theme of the GOP's 2010 midterm election strategy is that Democrats have become corrupt -- that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plans to "drain the swamp" were just talk.

The ethics woes of Reps. Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel have strengthened the argument, and it's possible another name may be added to the list.

BigGovernment.com -- a site run by conservative Andrew Breitbart, who created a firestorm this summer with his release of a video of Shirley Sherrod that had been edited to make her appear racist -- has obtained audio ostensibly of D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton shaking down an unnamed lobbyist.

eleanor holmes nortonWhile most citizens would probably be shocked to hear even the most ethical political leader asking for money, BigGovernment argues Norton -- Washington's non-voting House member -- may have crossed the line for a variety of reasons, including:
"her frequent mention of her seniority and her Chairmanship of a subcommittee. She is attempting to solicit funds based on her past actions taken in her official capacity in Congress. She is implying to the lobbyist that, should he decline to donate, he will be turning down a senior member of Congress who Chairs a subcommittee highly relevant to his "sector".

. . . Worse than that, she details her role overseeing a large economic development project in the District, funded by 'stimulus' funds. It would appear that either the lobbyist has an interest in this project, or the Congresswoman thinks he does, as she states she is 'frankly surprised' the lobbyist hasn't given to her.
Big Government goes on to note: "Then there are the House Ethics rules, according to House Ethics Manual (2008 Edition)":

p. 147: "[N]o solicitation of a campaign or political contribution may be linked to an action taken or to be taken by a Member ... in his or her official capacity. ... The Standards Committee has long advised Members . . . that they should always exercise caution to avoid even the appearance that solicitations of campaign contributions are connected in any way with an action taken or to be taken in their official capacity. ... [A] Member should not sponsor or participate in any solicitation that offers donors any special access to the Member in the Member's official capacity."

p. 150: "[A] Member may not accept any contribution that is linked with an action that the Member has taken or is being asked to take. A corollary of these rules is that Members . . . are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals. . . . Members . . . are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations."

House ethics rules state that "A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House." Also, according to the House Ethics Manual: "A solicitation shall not be linked to an action taken or to be taken by a Member." Since the rule on solicitation only bans quid pro quos for a specific "action taken," Norton's remarks that she's a senior member of a committee would appear not to constitute a "specific action," and may not be considered unethical.

It's also fair to note that nearly all contributions that come from lobbyists go to members who sit on committees of jurisdiction for their clients.

If Delegate Holmes Norton made the call from a House building, or with a House cell phone, then she would have violated House rules, which ban any federal property from being used in making solicitations.

Note: I have left messages on the voice-mail and cellphones of Norton's press representative, and will update if and when I hear back.

Some may scoff at the audio, based on the fact that it came from a site run by Andrew Breitbart. As was noted, he became embroiled in controversy this summer when an edited clip he ran of Sherrod caused her to be fired from her job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Upon viewing the full tape in context, it became clear that the clip misrepresented Sherrod's statements.

Here's the full transcript of the Norton call:

This is, uh, Eleanor Norton, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. Uh, I noticed that you have given to, uh, other colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I am a, um, senior member, a 20-year veteran and am chair of the Sub-committee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management. I'm handling the largest economic development project in the United States now, the Homeland Security compound of three buildings being built on the, uh, old St. Elizabeth's hospital site in the District of Columbia along with, uh, 15 other, uh, sites here for, that are part of the stimulus.


I was, frankly, uh, uh, surprised to see that we don't have a record, so far as I can tell, of your having given to me despite my, uh, long and deep, uh, work. In fact, it's been my major work, uh, on the committee and sub-committee. It's been essentially in your sector.


I am, I'm simply candidly calling to ask for a contribution. As the senior member of the, um, committee and a sub-committee chair, we have [chuckles] obligations to raise, uh, funds. And, I think it must have been me who hasn't, frankly, uh, done my homework to ask for a contribution earlier. So I'm trying to make up for it by asking for one now, when we particularly, uh, need, uh, contributions, particularly those of us who have the seniority and chairmanships and are in a position to raise the funds.


I'm asking you to give to Citizens for Eleanor Holmes Norton, PO Box 70626, DC, 20024. I'll send you a follow-up note with appreciation for having heard me out. Thanks again.

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69 Comments

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cdfiii

Clearly against the rules. Clearly extorsion. Clearly she should stand down on her own

September 17 2010 at 11:09 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
oldengineera2

Isn't it curious how many arrive in Congress well-to-do and leave truly wealthy?

September 17 2010 at 11:00 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
dvdsn61

Just once I would like to see republicans condemn republicans when they do wrong, And democrats condemn their own when they do wrong. Everybody hold those of their party to the same standard that you would the opposing party. If we did this, there would be no swamp in washington.

September 17 2010 at 6:01 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dvdsn61's comment
Joseph

Agreed, but many of the republicans did so. Gingrich stepped down. Trent Lott stepped down. They were the last two Republican speakers at the prime of their career. Both stepped down for much less of a reason than Rangle, Dodd, Waters, Frank, and the list goes on. There is surely corruption and entitlement on both sides, but the Democrats never face the music. Our treausry secretary did,nt pay taxes. You are correct, but I think the Republicans have a far better track record of facing the music and that is probably thanks to the left leaning news media. Just compare the party reactions to Nixon and 25 years later Clinton basically getting caught lying about a transgression. Democrats made it about what the lie was about and that sex is personal. every reublican voted to impeach nixon.

September 17 2010 at 8:48 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
sophie9910

Please address elected and appointed members of the House of Representatives as "Representative" not Congresswoman or Congressman. The title: "Representative" is neuter gender and implies action since the term "to represent" is a verb which means action. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton is much more meaning full to me.

September 17 2010 at 5:50 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
wbischo

I am a Democrat, and very proud of that fact. I am not proud, however, that we have a Democratic Congresswoman who feels it is proper to use her position of influence on a "group" of projects in DC, to try to coerce anyone into giving her a donation. This is blatantly wrong, and would be wrong no matter who did it. Just because the projects include more than "one" specific action she could take, or presumably not take, doesn't mean that it should be deemed "ethical". If the source of the tape is found to have faked yet another tape, however, that person should be prosecuted for his actions.

September 17 2010 at 5:43 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
dreambilder57

I wonder if she is an American citizen . I can't believe how stupid (if this is true)unintelligent and disgusting our elected officials are! The news media caters tothe grand and expose individuals . Nothing should be taken out of context and printed as the truth. By the way does anyone know what happened tothe officer who shotup Ft Hood or is he just passe.

September 17 2010 at 5:31 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Live Free or Die

This should surprise no one and neither should the Major media outlets ignoring it since Norton is a Liberal. Look at what Democrats have gotten away with the last few years....if it would have been Republicans linked to the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fiasco do you think you would have heard or read anything else until they were all frog marched out of Washington?? So the fact that Ms. Norton has been shown to be nothing more than a cheap shake down artist isn't surprising and the sad part is she will get away with it like nothing ever happened!

September 17 2010 at 5:05 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
page1144

What's new.Politicians swim in a muddy pond.Why do you think there's tea paties which are growing larger each day.I am not one but I understand the concern of citizens.When you hear President of Import and Export Fred Hochburg say everything is rosey in America there is something wrong and who's paying him off to make that speech.Somebody should pop the golden bubble he lives in and tell him millions of Americans are out of work while China and countries like it have "Help Wanted" signs up.Cranes are buiding factories in the major cities of China while USA cranes have demolition balls on theirs. I wonder how he would feel if some chinaman took his job away which may happen in the near future. There's an old saying in a John Wayne,Kirk Douglas naval movie ::"There once was a Lady from Niger (USA) that went for a ride on a Tiger(China) they returned from the ride with the Lady(USA) inside and a smile on the face of the Tiger(China)." Man if ever there was a statement more prophetic. Good luck USA.

September 17 2010 at 3:51 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Greg

Since the writer of this article sees fit to mention the Sherrod controversy multiple times in an effort to discredit Andrew Breitbart, allow me to address this side-issue. Don't accept the popular fiction that the version of the Sherrod recording that Breitbart received and publicized mis-characterized her remarks or actions. Listen yourself to all the versions available. Her plain statement that she deliberately shirked her responsibilities with regard to a client because of his race was and still is exactly what it sounds like. Her extended remarks merely make apologies for the act. The fact that the Obama administration and their media over-reacted before they had all the facts was not the fault of Breitbart's reporting.

September 17 2010 at 2:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cla1712

Hey Matt, have you done any articles on the New Black Panthers harrasing people at the poll? We would like this. This would be journalism. How about Chris Dodd? How about Charlie Rangle? How about Maxine Waters? How about Ted Kennedy? How about Barney Frank? Your job would be so easier if every one and now you went after a Democrat. Both parties have members that should'nt be in office and they should all be exposed. BE FAIR AND UNBIASED!! I'll bet you can't!!!!

September 17 2010 at 1:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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