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An Impeachment-Fed Ham

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Democratic leaders worried about the impeachment obsession of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) ain't seen nothing yet.

Kucinich tells us he's giving the House Judiciary Committee 30 days to act on his resolution proposing 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush before he raises even more hell on the House floor. This time, he says, he'll go back with perhaps 60 articles of impeachment.

"The minute the leadership said, 'This is dead on arrival,' I said that I hope they believe in life after death, because I'm coming back with it," Kucinich vowed in an interview. "It's not going to die."

Kucinich used a parliamentary maneuver last week to introduce the articles of impeachment against Bush. He insisted on spending nearly five hours reading the resolution into the Congressional Record.

The former presidential candidate says he'll meet with House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) this week to try to persuade him to consider just one little article of impeachment against Bush for waging war in Iraq "based on lies." Pick one, any one, Chairman Conyers!

"It only takes one of the 35 articles to establish an impeachable offense," Kucinich said.

Democratic leaders view the notion of impeaching Bush as an act of political suicide for the party. Kucinich says that "there are some things that yield to reason, and there are other things that yield to politics." He added that "I cannot understand what the political reason would be to not" impeach Bush.

Kucinich is thinking even bigger. His ultimate impeachment fantasy: "What I would hope for is that if articles of impeachment are forwarded to the Senate against the president, that the vice president would understand that he will come under scrutiny, too, and that he would resign so that the president could appoint someone who could take his office if he were forced to leave."

Sure, as soon as the Nationals win the pennant.

A Partisan Sense of Place

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has been stewing over a reception that the Interior Department threw two months ago to celebrate America's national parks. Rahall, a big proponent of the park system, wouldn't set foot in the door.

The chairman was irate -- and continues to be -- about the venue: the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill. Pure blasphemy, from his humble Democratic point of view.

"Hosting an event honoring our National Parks, which belong to all Americans, at 'the national social club for Republicans' as it is described on the Club website, infuses the proceedings with inappropriate and unfortunate political overtones," Rahall wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. "The National Republican Club is not simply a nice room in which to hold this function; it is an arm of a partisan, political organization."

The chairman's letter to Kempthorne was dated April 21. The response did not come for more than a month, and it didn't even come from Kempthorne, further irritating Rahall. The letter came May 30, after the event had been held, from a Kempthorne subordinate, National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar.

Bomar defended the choice of venue and her nonpartisan record celebrating the parks. But she blamed the National Park Foundation and its financial supporter, Unilever, maker of products including cold cream, dishwashing detergent and salad dressing, for choosing the GOP club. (As it happens, Unilever executives gave far more generously to Democratic candidates and organizations than they did to Republicans in the past two cycles, according to federal election records.)

Rahall says he's looking on the bright side: Maybe his GOP colleagues are going green. "I think to have the Republican Club in league with the National Park Service appears to be showing a movement of the Republicans to the middle ground of wanting to protect our parks," he said.

The Countrywide Club Grows

Members of the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, took out loans and made investments in Countrywide Financial, the nation's largest mortgage lender in recent years, according to their financial disclosure statements.

After a report was last week published in Condé Nast Portfolio magazine, Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) acknowledged receiving VIP treatment in loan programs, reducing their fees by thousands of dollars, apparently as part of chief executive Angelo Mozilo's "Friends of Angelo" program.

But plenty of other lawmakers have financial connections to Countrywide, as either borrowers or investors.

At least four members of the 70-person House Financial Services Committee, which has oversight of the mortgage industry, have investments in the troubled company, according to the reports, and two others have borrowed money from it. More than 10 other committee members received extensions of the filing deadline.

Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.), who has been under attack for his own real estate dealings back home in Orange County, took the biggest hit of the lawmaker-investors. Miller plunked down between $250,000 and $500,000 to buy stock in Countrywide on Dec. 14. At the time the company's stock was crashing, down from its 52-week high of $39.45 to less than $10, according to MarketWatch.com.

A few weeks later, Bank of America announced plans to purchase Countrywide, sending the price back up, briefly, before it settled into the doldrums again. It was selling at $4.71 a share yesterday, and Miller is the first to admit his bet didn't pay off.

"The stock was a roller coaster when I purchased it, it was up and down. After I bought the stock, the value went down and my next financial disclosure will show that I sold the stock at a loss," Miller said in a statement to On the Hill.

A couple other brave souls on the committee have gambled on Countrywide stock, though not nearly as much. Rep. Mike Castle (Del.), third in seniority among Republicans on the panel, holds between $1,000 and $15,000 worth, and Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) holds the same amount, after selling between $1,000 and $15,000 last year.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) has a CD worth between $15,000 and $50,000 with Countrywide and a money-market account valued in the same range.

GOP Spinmeister's New Gig

The Glover Park Group, the crisis communications and lobbying firm heretofore made up entirely of Democrats, has hired its first Republican: Kevin Madden, a veteran congressional and Justice Department spinmeister.

Most recently, Madden worked as a senior communications strategist for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. Madden, 36, joins Glover Park Group's public affairs division as a senior vice president.

Fossella's Court Date Moved

Washington is likely to be pretty empty when Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) goes to court on drunken-driving charges.

Fossella's court date was originally scheduled for June 27 but has been postponed until July or August, according to his attorney, Barry Pollack. Pollack cites a number of reasons for the delay, including a typo in his subpoena to the manufacturer of the breath-testing device that recorded the congressman's blood alcohol level at twice Virginia's legal limit.

Fossella, who is retiring after the arrest led to revelations that he had a secret mistress and child, has hired two private investigators who worked for O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst and John Gotti. Fossella faces five days in jail if he is convicted.

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this column.

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