“Library” Rhymes with “Bribery,” Ted Stevens Edition

The story of Stephen Payne–who just got canned from his DHS Advisory Committee position because he was selling access in exchange for donations to the Bush Library–makes it clear what a cesspool of political corruption secret and unlimited donations to Presidential libraries can be.

Which is why it is utterly unsurprising that Ted Stevens, a standout in corruption even in Alaska, has placed a hold on a bill designed to make the donations to Presidential libraries transparent.

The argument for keeping the names of donors secret is that some admirers might not want their generosity on public display. But a presidential library is no ordinary charity. It is built with private money and turned over to the National Archives to operate. If requiring disclosure might deter a generous patron with a penchant for anonymity from giving, so be it.

There ought to be a law. Actually, there would be one if it weren’t for Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. A measure requiring disclosure of library donations — during a presidency and for four years afterward — has twice passed the House. But Stevens blocked the measure in March, arguing that it was unfair to "change the rules" on Bush — even as library officials claim they haven’t really started fundraising.

I mean, I can totally understand how, to a guy like Ted Stevens, asking the President to refrain from selling our foreign policy to the highest bidder would seem like "changing the rules."

Which is why I’m glad the Blue America-endorsed Mark Begich, the guy running to replace Stevens, is making it a campaign issue.

The American people deserve to know who is giving money to politicians at all levels of government, but especially the presidency. It’s time for Senator Stevens to stop blocking legislation that would require fundraising for presidential libraries be done out in the open. This move – on legislation that has already passed the House – is yet another instance where Stevens is choosing secrecy over transparency. He should lift his hold and let the light of day into back into Washington.

It’s hard to embarrass a guy like Ted Stevens. But I’m all in favor of piling on the charges of corruption against Mr. Toobz.

  1. DeadLast says:

    …and a few days after leaving the White House, Ronald Reagan was given a house in the exclusive Bel Aire nighbrohood of Los Angeles by several of his friends. Not for anything he did in office that may have benefited these wealthy individuals, but because the Reagans would have been virtually homeless without it…

  2. Leen says:

    Ew when folks say “pile” on I just can not get the images of prisoners at Abu Gharib forced to “pile” on .

    Will these photos be up in one of the Bush Bribery rooms?
    Photos of Abu Gharib

    Which donor will want their names on this room?

    Naming the rooms in Bush’s library will not be a challenge.

    The WMD spin room.

    The Iraqi refugee room

    The Outing of Plame/Wilson room

    The Illegal Wiretapping room. etc etc

      • Leen says:

        That room will have a small closet off to the the side called the “enhanced interrogation techniques” room. Maybe Feith Addington and Yoo will donate to that one.

    • MarieRoget says:

      Don’t forget two important rooms off the library main foyer- Comic Book Room & Bazooka Joe Gum Wrappers Room.
      Watched his presser yesterday (glutton for punishment, but I stuck it out through the whole thing)- especially re: our economic outlook, hard to believe GWB made it through an MBA program @ Harvard w/out absorbing a single effing clue about how econ works. But obviously from yesterday’s spiel, he managed it.

    • klynn says:

      Those are the rooms in the Ex Priv wing right? Which is across from the EO wing (EW likes to affectionately call this wing the Pixie Dust Wing).

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sen. Stevens, as usual, has it backwards. Presidential Libraries house public records, the history of a presidency. Even the badly tattered record that will have escaped Cheney’s shredders and hard drive and PDA destroyers will be important to the public, scholars and later politicians. If nothing else, the many gaps in it will be a testament to the administration’s arrogance – its belief that it was above the law, and its willingness to manufacture false crises and incompetently manage real ones so as to allow that belief to take hold. As such, they are not “charities” except insofar as they are immune from paying tax. Like the White House, they serve the public trust.

    They are places that aggrandize the President’s image and that will hide or illuminate his record for generations. Scholars are still seeking access to private papers of JFK that won’t be available until after his daughter is a memory. Libraries cost hundreds of millions or more to build and operate.

    Donating large sums to that cause, especially at the end of a presidency, when most encumbents and their caretakers care more about their past than their future — control of which is their future — can buy a lot of favors today, both from the man about to leave the Oval Office and from his party and supporters. A lot of favors.

    That’s why all donations should be treated like political donations, which is what they are. Donations above a nominal figure, whether from or packaged by a single source, should be public information. The public, owners of the libraries contents, have a right to know who is keeping their records and why they might be doing it, which may

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The last lines should read:

      The public, owners of the libraries’ contents, have a right to know who is keeping their records and why they might be doing it, which may give them information they need to assess claims about how complete or accurate those records are. The information in the Oil & Gas Company Wing on Climate Change Science, or the KBR/Blackwater Wing on Responsible Outsourcing, might reasonable be viewed with more skepticism than say, the EFF/ACLU Wing on Government Surveillance.

  4. i4u2bi says:

    So, who would like to be exposed for having been blackmailed into adding to a slush fund for a criminal named Bush? Kind of defeats the purpose of paying money to Bush for Bush to keep his mouth shut. You have to admire the Republicans…the same way you admire the Mafia.

  5. yellowdogD says:

    Let’s assume that transparency is a good thing in regards to fundraising for presidential libraries. Stevens must assume that, for he doesn’t argue against it on those grounds.
    I would ask him then, when exactly would changing the law NOT be changing the rules on SOMEBODY?

  6. HelplessDancer says:

    Let’s not forget the interactive NSA room where you can listen to the communication of anyone you want to.

    • Leen says:

      John Bolton will donate to that room. He just could not get enough of listening to Colin Powell and UN officials. Who knows who else (NSA) they listened to.

  7. mui1 says:

    Somehow I feel deja vu here. How many ethics type bills has Senator Toobz put a hold on? Or should he be called Senator Tool? Maybe someone just taps him (or another likely suspect) on the shoulder, and he complies by putting a hold on another transparency bill.

  8. DoubleD says:

    Ode to an Alaskan Ted
    You’re a crook and a liar
    A real internet dunce
    All your actions inspire
    The revulsion that once
    Was reserv’d for things slimy
    That live under the rocks
    Here’s a hearty “Cor blimey!”
    On your house a huge pox.

  9. punaise says:

    I don’t think Peter Gabriel was presciently considering Ted Stevens’ holds when penning this, but:

    6×6 – from wall to wall
    Shutters on the windows, no light at all
    Damp on the floor you got damp on the bed
    They’re trying to get you crazy – get you out of your head
    They feed you scraps and they feed you lies
    To lower your defences, no compromise
    Nothing you can do, they day can be long
    You mind is working overtime, you body’s not too strong

    Hold on, hold on
    They put you in a box so you can’t get heard
    Let your spirit stay unbroken, may you not be deterred

  10. jayt says:

    OT – Breaking News from MSNBC…

    Bush asserting Executive Privilege in order to block the testimony of Michael Mukasey in the CIA Leak case.

    Fuck – there’s no end to this guy’s arrogance and criminality. Let’s refer this matter immediately to DOJ for….


    • HelplessDancer says:

      I keep hoping for a road to Damacus moment,but the general populous seems to be focused on American Idol not on how our government is being destroyed.

  11. rwcole says:

    McBush now claiming that he knows how to win wars. That’s funny- when did he learn? He’s been in one war and he lost it. He’s 0 for one!

  12. tballou says:

    I just loved the part where one single Senator can put a “hold” on a bill. Too bad one single Senator couldn’t do that with the FISA amendments.

  13. rwcole says:

    McBush also says that he’ll find Osama—Well give him a backpack and a magnifying glass and send him on his way!

  14. rwcole says:

    Hey McBush- Go find Osama and THEN ask us ta vote for you…We didn’t just fall off the turnip truck ya know!

  15. rwcole says:

    WaPo on new poll says that Obama has lead but questions about his ability to fight wars keeps the race competitive….

    Uh- sorry- but eight points is NOT competitive.

    Of course these early polls don’t matter, but it’s amazing how far these newspapers will go to make it seem that the race is a tie.

  16. rwcole says:

    McBush wants to be the Bobby Knight of war—”best major college record in all of war- sure I’m tough on my guys- but they respond to it”!

  17. dmac says:

    below is from the ew payne thread other day–i am perplexed by this, –i still can only find one thing on phoenix systems international inc. who supposedly developed the technology with nasa…and i can’t ’read’ it-says i need the new flash player, but just did that the other day–can someone pull it up for me and tell me what it says?


    …only other mention of the company is on the patent release from nasa…….and on the site of the advanced clean air technologies company where stephen payne is president, the company with exclusive rights to market the patent…..

    i think it’s very strange that a company who holds and ’co-developed’ a nasa patent isn’t anywhere to be found…….if you ’co-developed’ a clean coal technology, seems you’d have to have a lab/building somewhere, or at the very least, funding if that’s how you ’co-developed’……

    nothing anywhere, this is strange.


    and in the same thread, william ockham posted at 61 that world wide strategies-payne’s lobbying outfit had a date with the court for backruptcy.

    guess ol’ stephen’s havin’ a bad month.
    i wish i could find something on phoenix systems international inc..is buggin’ me…until i do, it smells to high heaven……

    ============= mine from above link

    found some more interesting things about stephen payne—
    from info on his dhs advisory committee page–somehow they got a nasa patent for private use.
    He currently serves as President of Advanced Clean Air Technologies which holds an exclusive patent license from NASA for one-of-a-kind breakthrough technology that removes NO2, SO2, and Mercury from coal powerplants.

    almost same photo as the one on world wide strategies website–handshake…..
    Advanced Clean Air Technologies (ACAT) has the exclusive rights to market the Phoenix-NASA ”Mercury Emission Control System”, a multi-pollutant emission control technology.

    This low temperature oxidation process developed jointly by NASA at Kennedy Space Center and Phoenix Systems International, Inc. (PSII) meets and even surpasses regulations of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

  18. dmac says:

    my first link at 41—got it, is just the same notification of patent use/license that i got from the nasa release.

    thought it did say that phoenix systems international is in pine brooke, nj…….but it doesn’t exist anywhere else.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Wow. No clue… but they’d have to file with IRS wouldn’t they?
      Patents are generally kept in Engineering Libraries (or collections), at least in my experience. There are a few around the country.
      You can also research online at the federal patent website.

      If you want more help tracking down the company, you might want to contact a research librarian at an academic Business library — assuming they take questions from the public.

  19. Sara says:

    I really want to push people back to read what earlofhuntingdon @ 11 has to say about Presidential Libraries. We are really in grave need of a comprehensive legislative approach to this — and yes, in order to have a realistic chance of passage, perhaps it is wise to wait for the next administration — note that they didn’t get too far trying to give the Presidential Records people at the Archives any role in determining whether electronic systems in the WH were properly archiving E-mail and documents… But all of this needs to be of a piece.

    Taxpayers always pay for the Archives part of a Presidential Library. That’s where they store everything in secure, climate controlled conditions, and where reading rooms are provided for Historians, scholars and the like. Legislation is needed to make clear exactly what these basics are that have public support, and we also need legislative clarification of ownership aspects of the Presidential Records Act — passed after Nixon tried to take his tapes home with him to California — and put it beyond executive orders when papers are opened, and how the powers of declassification actually are to work. Clinton made it 12 years which is very reasonable, But Bush came along and has tried to give presidential families near century long control — in a sense revising everything that was litigated with regard to Nixon’s papers, and which he lost at all stages. It is simply time for Congress to adopt and put into statutes clear rules that cannot be changed administration to administration, and I would add — a statute that is Historian Friendly.

    What President’s raise money for is not really their library — it is their museum. Taxpayers don’t support these. Likewise, Taxpayers normally don’t support other things that are done in the Museum — some are very valuable, as for instance, the Kennedy Library is attached to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, a certain number of Fellows and Faculty are supported by an endowment, and the School does Conferences, publications, supports research and the like. Example, something like the three way conference series about the Cuban Missle Crisis that the Kennedy center organized — first in Cuba with their archives and surviving players, then in Moscow with again archives, surviving players, and an audience of International Historians, and finally in Cambridge, with a major release from the National Archives and again a gaggle of Historians, some surviving players (not many left now), and about a week of scholarly debate directed toward synthesis of all the materials, resulting in at least a dozen major publications. Since Cuban Missle Crisis was about as close as we got to Armageddon in the Cold War — this about six or seven year process was profoundly valuable, and it is hardly just “all about Kennedy.” It is, in my mind, what the programatic/museum side of a Presidential Library ought to be about. What Congress needs to deal with is creating rules for these associated museums (which they can do as they share some administrative services, space, and above all, donations are to a non-profit foundation that serves as an endowment for the museum.) Congress needs to draw a line between a “Shrine” and a Museum with a public historical program tied to events and themes in a particular presidency. I suspect if they put their minds to it Congress could write such a statute — and that would be respectful of both Citizens who want to comprehend a presidency and its era, and Scholars and Historians who want to research a presidency and its era.

    So please call attention to this NEED, and at the same time argue that the corruptions of recent years need to be ripped out of this collection of institutions.