The Santorum Sleaze Factor


While the Republican Party, prodded by Tea Party activists, has begun to turn away from the lobbyist-infested dealmaking tax-and-spend approach to politics which had much to do with the loss of Congress and the White House, it seems that Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is proof that mindset is alive and well and working to reassert itself within the GOP.

Questions have been raised about his association with Jim Hirni, a former Jack Abramoff-associated lobbyist who is playing an active role in Santorum's campaign. Hirni, who was convicted in 2008 for buying favors with Senate staff members, didn't even take time out of politics after his conviction, setting up shop in South Carolina and working for Santorum while serving as an informant for the feds until he was sentenced last November:

It took three years for the court to sentence Hirni after his guilty plea in 2008. Part of Hirni's plea deal required his full cooperation with federal investigators; including acting as an informant for the feds "...working in an undercover role to contact and negotiate with others suspected and believed to be involved in criminal misconduct...," according to court records.

But the Hirni association is just the tip of the iceberg as many other sources have connected Santorum to Washington's pay-to-play insider culture, both during and after his time as a Senator. Reports which are beginning to surface about Santorum's involvement in the shadowy world of Washington insider deal-making, special favors and corruption should prompt GOP activists should bring into question the validity of Santorum's claims to be conserative Presidential candidate.

As a Senator, Santorum was identified as being at the center of an effort to force lobbying firms into a close partnership with the Republican Party in a story by Nicholas Confessore in "Welcome to the Machine", which was published in the July/August 2003 edition of the Washington Monthly:

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."

The Washington Post reported that as his 2006 re-election bid was heating up, Santorum suspended the meetings for several weeks, only to resume the meetings with lobbyists elsewhere in Washington:

One lobbyist called the attendees "the usual suspects," and said they were among the city's best-known lobbyists whose firms represent financial services, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, oil production and tobacco companies. The lobbyist added: "There were two or three people from his [Santorum's] campaign who didn't go to meetings at the Capitol. I don't think beyond that that I recognized anybody new."

Not surprisingly, Santorum has denied the K Street connections, prompting Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, to challenge Santorum's denials, presenting considerable evidence of his ongoing dealings with lobbyists.

While still in the Senate, Santorum was accused of receiving a $500,000 home loan on favorable terms from Philadelphia Trust Company, a private bank whose officers contributed $24,000 to Santorum's political action committees and re-election campaign:

In advertising, the lender said it only offered its preferred rates to well-heeled borrowers who also used their investment services. But Santorum's public disclosure forms showed he did not have the required minimum $250,000 in liquid assets and was not an investor with Philadelphia Trust.
After being thrown out of his Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat, Santorum didn't mind cashing in on his connections. NBC documented a number of instances where Santorum pulled in lucrative consulting gigs very similar to lobbying:

A review of the financial disclosure form for Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, shows he made $65,000 for “legislative policy consulting services" from American Continental Group, a government affairs and consulting firm -- a.k.a. a lobbying firm -- in Washington in 2010 up until Aug. 2 of this year when he filed his form.
An ABC News story provided additional details about Santorum's business dealings as a Washington influence-peddler, pointing out that "Santorum has worked for at least seven different employers simultaneously, with several paying him a six-figure fee":

"He has been, essentially, a stealth lobbyist," said Bill Allison, editorial director for the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group. "He has been hired to try to influence policy on behalf of his clients without crossing the thresholds that would require him to report what he's doing."

Where there's smoke, there's often fire. As the GOP attempts to purge itself of influence-peddling insiders who compromised the Republican Party's adherence to conservative principles, it might be wise for Republicans to ask if Rick Santorum is part of the solution or simply just another part of the business-as-usual problem.

8 Response to "The Santorum Sleaze Factor"

  1. Anonymous 5/1/12 21:53
    So how much did you get paid to write this bullshit? I know you won't post this, but I'm going to run you out of your breakfast club for this. We won't stand for your lies. Asshole.
  2. Anonymous 5/1/12 22:43
    Good work. Santorum's people can get mad all the want, but the truth is you've taken shots at other candidates plenty over the years, including others running for President. Tell it like you see it!
  3. Anonymous 5/1/12 22:46
    how you get your information (if it's accurate) is beyound me.
  4. Anonymous 5/1/12 22:52
    Where does he get this stuff? He does his homework and finds out what is out there.
  5. Anonymous 5/1/12 22:57
    Let's see. You talked smack about Gingrich, Bachman, Romney and Santorum. You don't seem like a Ron Paul guy. You're too smart to sell out to a loser, so tell me how much Perry's people are paying you to be their silent hit man?
  6. The Conservativist 5/1/12 23:02
    I haven't followed all of the links yet, but to call Earl a liar is pretty strong words for someone who is citing legitimate news sources.
  7. Jeff Betsch 6/1/12 10:46
    Earl can write and report, and it is up to you the reader to verify and make up your mind if this is an issue that will sway you from voting for the candidate or you can choose to decide that the candidates good out weighs the bad.

    It does not serve any good to call people names for writing / reporting information unless he has been proven that the facts are not true or being altered.

    Either way.. It is up to you the reader to do the due diligence and research or you can choose to not believe. I will support Earls right to say what he wants.. hehe.. Not like it matters.. He will any how :)

    This is coming from a Santorum Supporter and I will remain just that.
  8. earlcapps 10/1/12 09:05
    Ok everyone, no making fun of the former Senator's name. Any comments discussing that subject are not germane, hence won't be approved.

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