Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
On October 20, 2005 Time magazine reported that when confronted with the prospect of an FBI investigation into whether she improperly enlisted the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) left a voicemail stating that any investigation of her would be "irresponsible, laughable and scurrilous."
Yet, as reported by Jeff Stein of CQ Politics on April 19, 2009, Harman “was overheard on a 2005 National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former [AIPAC] officials. “In return, the Israeli agent pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee,” Stein reported.
According to Tim Rutten in the LA Times on April 22, 2009, however, "Harman denies any inappropriate actions, let alone a quid pro quo, and Tuesday sent an angry letter to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. demanding that the full transcripts be released." Rutten, who described it as a "faux scandal," points out that Harman neither "intervened on behalf of the lobbyists" nor became chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Recently, Marcy Winograd, President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles (PDLA), whose 2006 campaign was covered by The BRAD BLOG, announced her intentions to challenge Harman again in the 2010 Democratic primary election. In an email response to our query asking about her intention to run again against Harman, against whom she lost in '06, and about some specific issues of interest to our readers, Winograd noted that she has been a champion of election integrity issues, taking on a Republican CA Secretary of State for his direct work with Diebold lobbyists, as well as challenging U.S. Rep Rush Holt (D-NJ) for his 2007 election reform bill because of "its institutionalization of electronic voting systems."
She also said she intends to hold President Obama "accountable, whether it be closing Guantanamo or ending military tribunals or promoting diplomacy over war," even as she notes that she was "alarmed" by the "recent news reports of Harman's quid pro quo with AIPAC," and writes: "I feel it is my responsibility to run [against Harman], to offer constituents a choice, a real choice."
Her email response follows in full below...
President Obama promised change --- and we need to hold him accountable, whether it be closing Guantanamo or ending military tribunals or promoting diplomacy over war.
I ran against Jane Harman in 2006, receiving almost 40% of the vote in only three months of campaigning. My platform called for bringing our troops home and protecting constitutional rights, among other planks. As a long-time election protection advocate, I focused attention on Voter ID laws, pointing out that they disproportionately disenfranchise poor people who are more transient and less likely to have an address that matches a driver’s license.
Prior to the campaign, I flew to Sacramento to testify against Bruce McPherson's confirmation as CA Secretary of State, warning state legislators that allowing McPherson to enter office with Diebold lobbyists on his transition team was tantamount to a corporate raid on a public office. Following my campaign, I continued my work in election protection, circulating petitions to defend our brave Secretary of State Debra Bowen in her move to ban more touch screen voting machines. As an organizer with the Los Angeles chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, I took a stand against the Holt bill because of its institutionalization of electronic voting systems.
Recent news reports of Harman's quid pro quo with AIPAC, reportedly offering to use her influence as the then-ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee to get charges dropped against AIPAC analysts accused of spying for Israel, alarmed me and my constituents. Many called and wrote me, imploring me to challenge her again. No one with name recognition in elected office would step forward out of fear for their future in Washington or in Sacramento. I feel it is my responsibility to run, to offer constituents a choice, a real choice…
Those interested in learning more about the Winograd campaign can link right here.
A call to Harman's Washington D.C. office, seeking a response to Winograd's announcement, did not receive a reply.
Full Disclosure: Ernest A. Canning is a member of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).
UPDATE 6/26/09: Although it is perhaps just as pertinent to Single-Payer and the "Democracy Deficit", Paul Kane's June 13, 2009 Washington Post piece, "Lawmakers Reveal Healthcare Investments," which reflects that 30 lawmakers involved in drafting health care legislation have a $15 million stake in the health care industry, is especially relevant here. Kane reports that the "family of Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee drafting that chamber's legislation, held at least $3.2 million in more than 20 health-care companies at the end of last year....Harman, whose husband, Sidney, is the founder of electronics-maker Harman International Industries, is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a minimum net worth of almost $120 million."