Monday, January 28, 2008

Breakdown of the Kipke interview

As the controversy about the Citizens for Better Government continues to grow, it seems clear that many have not gone back and listened to what Delegate Kipke said on the Conservative Refuge Podcast and compared it to the group's recent campaign finance statement.

While I would still urge everyone to go back and listen to the entire 20 plus minute interview in context, let me break it down a bit to show why there has been such a firestorm of criticism on the heels of the group's recent disclosures.

I will give the time in the show and the summary of the statements made. (Again, don't take my word for any of this listen to this interview for yourself and visit the links provided.)

6:30 Delegate Kipke explains the group is changing from a PAC to a Slate so that the Delegates can have "full control over how the money is spent."

7:30 Delegate Kipke acknowledges the change was based upon concerns about Lawrence Scott but personally vouches for the character of the group's members.

8:20 Delegate Kipke repeats that the Delegates wanted to control how the money is spent.

14:45 Delegate Kipke assures donors that they need not be worried that the money spent by the group was going to go to Lawrence Scott or that he would benefit in any way.

16:10 Delegate Kipke says that the group is not a money making scheme for Lawrence Scott.

From the campaign finance report, we know that all of the money that was spent was funnelled through Scott Strategies, Inc. in apparant contradiction to the above statements and personal assurances by Delegate Kipke.

This is the most damning aspect of this whole story. Mr. Scott received the money and directly controlled how it was spent. The group has refused to make any further disclosure of expenses and will not admit or deny whether Mr. Scott received any consulting fees.

8:05 All the organizers have "invested equally."

16:35 All of the organizers have "invested our own money."

According to the group's own finance report, no contribution from Delegate Kipke appears and the contributions from Delegates Schuh and King come from campaign not personal accounts. [Correction - Friends of Nic Kipke did report a donation to the slate before the filing deadline. I apologize for the error.]

Again, despite the public statements that each of the Delegates "invested our own money" nothing in the state's campaign finance database supports that claim. The donations that were made were from campaign accounts, which included the donations of others. Also, no in-kind donations appear negating any claim of that type.

19:25 Delegate Kipke mentions (and I wholeheartedly acknowledge) his reputation for honesty.

The above statements along with Kipke's reputation were intended and, in fact, did quell the criticism of this group as they headed toward their fundraising dinner. The group's only statement filed under penalties of perjury, however, appears to contradict many of these statements.

Why is this important? Let me share with you a portion of an email from a listener named Erran.

"I listen to all of your podcasts. I think you can do an 'I told you so' podcast with a pretty clear conscience. If these three delegates are going to become the face of the local party, the party should demand total honesty from them. They all seem like nice people but I can't say that I trust one of them although I trusted Kipke the most of the bunch until this."

" Kipke seems like a stand-up guy and how he could be manipulated to lie is beyond me. I suspect King and Schuh put him up to it. Someone in the local Republican party should put these guys to the test. Get them to come onto your show to defend the lies they are telling. I don't have access to the masses like you do but the only commodity the party has given its many public struggles in Maryland is honesty. I hope you will take up the cause to flesh this out so that these three start playing team politics."

I think that says it all.

My Endorsement for President

I announced this on the most recent podcast, but it was inadvertently left off the RedMaryland group endorsement.

I think good endorsements begin discussions. My opinion is just that and has no more value than any other but here is some food for thought.

President – Mitt Romney

Like many of my colleagues here, I was a devoted FredHead. Without my first choice, the question comes down to which of the remaining, viable candidates would be the best standard bearer of our party. While imperfect, Mitt Romney at least talks the talk and embraces and seeks to promote the orthodox Reagan conservatism our party needs to espouse.

I see this as a Romney versus McCain race. I despise John McCain. With every fiber of my being, I resent the maverick, independent often anti-conservative that is the persona of Senator McCain. More than his opposition to tax cuts, his championing of amnesty for illegal immigrants (a position he said after South Carolina he has not changed), his assault on free speech, his membership in the Gang of 14, I oppose John McCain because he it the poster child for the arrogant, holier than thou, independent modern view that partisanship is beneath the intelligent and politically minded.

Why would Republicans elect a man as their nominee who has such open disdain for the party he seeks to lead? It is why Tom Delay, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and so many other movement conservatives cannot support him and why I cannot either. Our party is a team working together to accomplish a governance based upon the bedrock principles so eloquently espoused by Ronald Reagan. A maverick who rejects those principles so often and resists being a member of the team should not be our captain.

Mitt Romney would wear that “C” on his uniform with pride. He has an impressive executive record as a businessman, Olympic organizer and Governor. He is a decent, faithful, family man. He would make the Bush tax cuts McCain opposed permanent, vigorously oppose the amnesty for illegals McCain co-sponsored and lead the fight against the radical jihadists who seek to destroy our way of life.

Mitt Romney seeks the nomination of a principled, conservative led Republican party and would lead it to victory.

He deserves that nomination.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Response to the Citizens for Better Government

Below is my response to the objections of Delegate Nic Kipke to the criticisms of the Citizens for Better Government. As you can read, not only do I address the Delegate's concerns, I also point out that his prior e-mail fails to address the substance of the criticisms made by many local Republican activists and donors.

"Nic,

We did speak more than once. I expressed my concerns many times regarding the way the group was organized and how things would be conducted. You came on my show and said everything would be above board, Mr. Scott would not control the money spent, there would be advisory groups and it was not true. I have no doubt you would have a new story for each of these inconsistencies.


I reported nothing until it was reported in the media. I noted that this report, as the media already stated, was in contradiction of your public statements and to the assurances you made to my audience. I linked and read from your publicly filed campaign finance report and told my audience to look at it themselves. Others who have added to the story did the same.
Your email, other than questioning my motives (which I expected to happen), does not answer the substantive questions raised by not just myself but others.

Why is there no transparancy about how the money was spent?


Why was the fee paid to Mr. Reagan not disclosed in the report?

Why does the slate pay its expenses through Scott Strategies, Inc. rather than directly?

Why was the only payment from the slate made to an entity tied so closely to Lawrence Scott?


This played precisely to the concerns raised by many which you addressed by publicly assuring everyone that you Delegates not Mr. Scott would control the money.

Why did the organizers say for months that they had raised over $125,000 when no such amount was collected and then tell the press they raised $200,000 with full knowledge their campaign finance report would show the opposite?

Why did you say (or at least give the clear impression ) that you contributed to the slate when you knew that was untrue?

Questioning my motives or my intent does not address these fundamental questions. Show me where my facts are wrong.

I am sure Ehrlich said what he said. He probably believed you when you said you raised 3-4 times the amount you have. The "pledges" story is wearing a bit thin.

I find your hiding behind the party to cover for your obvious lies disturbing. It is precisely because you wrapped yourselves in the party, acted in the name of Ronald Reagan, took the good name of many Republican elected officials and then inflated your contributions, understated your expenses and created a slush fund for someone who many (you know you spoke to so many who said it) view as shady at best.

As I said, it was hard for me to say but I was not going to let it go despite the potential impact on our friendship.

If you want to end this controversy, let me suggest the following as a start:

1. Publicly detail all of the expenses of the slate to date. Every penny from the slate to the final vendors. Create transparancy to your donors about where the money went.

2. If you want to maintain that there are "pledges" for an additional $130,000 disclose the pledges. As documented, you have been saying since at least October you had 25 pledges of $5,000 each. Now you say that you did not have time to "send invoices" and you are surprised people have doubts? Come on.

You can choose to attack me instead.

Greg"

I will update with any public answers to these questions or any additional disclosure (or more likely additional attacks on yours truly) along with much more in the next podcast.

New Plan - Kill the messenger!

It seems the boys over at Citizens for Better Government were more than a bit miffed at my and Brian Gill's posts about the groups recent public disclosures.

The group's appointed spokesman and confidence man Delegate Nic Kipke wrote me the following:

"Greg,

Your recent blog post disappoints me. I surely thought you were the kind of person to check your facts before spreading mistruths. I am especially concerned that you would not call me before spreading inaccuracies. Your actions make me think you are more concerned about your own self-promotion than the wellness of the republican party, which needs all of our support. If you had bothered to check the facts, you could not help but call the Reagan Tribute an amazing success!

We met each and every goal for this event, including our financial goals. In fact, Gov. Ehrlich called our event "the beginning of the reemergence of the Maryland Republican Party." When we planned our event we chose Michael Reagan because he spreads his father's unifying republican message. However, because of his contract withhis radio station, he is only able to travel on a limited basis. The only day he had available was January 7, which was not great timing for us, considering session began on January 9. However, we decided to go with this date because of the amazing quality of the speaker. As you probably know, Delegates are restricted from collecting contributions during session. Soi nstead of trying to rush to get all of the checks in, we decided to send invoices to our sponsors after session.

It had always been my belief that you had our party's best interests at heart. Lately, I am beginning to question your motivations. You should have called me if you had concerns, instead you wrote without consideration for the whole story (reminds me of the Baltimore Sun). Finally, it is my hope that we can find some common ground to work togetherto build our party. It is important to me, that despite our differences, westand united as it is in our unity that we can defeat the Maryland Democratic monopoly.

Sincerely, Nic Kipke"

That's right, the gang who believes they are single handedly resurrecting the MDGOP believes the guy who just wrote about his desire to destory the Baltimore Sun is in league with it.

My full response is the subject of the next post but a couple of thoughts.

First, it is obvious that Delegate Kipke did not listen to what I said as he fails to address most of the substantive issues raised by myself and others.

Second, the arrogant attitude that the actions of elected officials cannot be questioned without some ulterior motive is on full display in this email. Don't like the message, kill the messenger is the standard strategy of the guy who really runs the Citizens for Better Government, Lawrence Scott. That is why a previous county GOP chair called him a purveyor of "slash and burn politics" and why funding a group that runs its expenditures through his consulting company is a very bad way "to work together to build our party."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Refuge Podcast # 54 - Where did the money go?

With perhaps our most controversial show yet, it is the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

http://theconservativerefuge.libsyn.com/

In our opening segment, I give you an update on our discussions of the Citizens for Better Government. The group's recent campaign finance report puts the lie to many of the public statements by Delegates Nic Kipke, Steve Schuh and James King and confirms many of the suspicions about the group previously discussed on this podcast. You need to listen to the details of the group's report and learn more about this breaking scandal that will have people talking!

We also are joined by special guest, Brandon Wright of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, to discuss the state of the retail gas market. How did we get to $3 a gallon gasoline and what role does the local gas station play? In this informative interview, Brandon Wright illuminates the story not being told in the mainstream media.

In our closing segment, I hope to begin a broader discussion by giving my contribution to the Red Maryland group endorsements for President and for Congressman from Maryland's First Congressional District.

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

This installment of the Conservative Refuge is proudly sponsored by Carpe Diem Consulting, LLC, specializing in forensic accounting, litigation support, business valuations and expert testimony in the areas of white collar criminal defense, contract disputes and other litigation matters. Contact John DeLuca and his associates at 410-305-4487 or via email at jdeluca@carpediemconsult.com

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Refuge Podcast # 53 - Global Warming O'Malley Style

The very latest news, views and insight into conservative, Republican happenings it is the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

http://theconservativerefuge.libsyn.com/

In this installment, we have a special guest interview with Paul Chesser of Climate Strategies Watch who gives the real story about Maryland's Commission on Climate Change. You need to hear how national environmental extremists have imported their radical global warming agenda to Maryland with the enthusiastic support of Governor O'Malley.

Our blogger roundtable, with our regular contributor Brian Griffiths and special guest (and recent newsmaker) James Braswell, convenes to discuss the ongoing Presidential Race. With votes now in Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina, have the nominating contests become any clearer? What will be the decisive factors as the candidates continue to head toward the Maryland primary? Our blogger contributors offer their insight and opinions.

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

This installment of the Conservative Refuge is proudly sponsored by Carpe Diem Consulting, LLC, specializing in forensic accounting, litigation support, business valuations and expert testimony in the areas of white collar criminal defense, contract disputes and other litigation matters. Contact John DeLuca and his associates at 410-305-4252 or via email at jdeluca@carpediemconsult.com

Monday, January 14, 2008

Refuge Podcast #52 - 2008 General Assembly Session Preview

The very latest news, views and insight into conservative, Republican happenings it is the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

http://theconservativerefuge.libsyn.com/

In our opening segment, some news and comment on the call for "collaboration" by Annapolis' liberal leaders. You will want to hear the brazen hypocrisy of venal, partisan elected officials calling for bipartisanship and cooperation.

Our blogger roundtable, with our regular contributors Brian Griffiths and Mark Newgent, convenes to discuss the upcoming session. What will be the hot topics for the session? Will there be more tax increases, an abolition of the death penalty and legalized gay marriage? Our blogger contributors offer their insight and opinions.

In our closing segment, we make another visit to the "Fat Files". I share some good news that the "obesity epidemic" is overblown and convey new scientific findings showing that "you no longer need worry so much about being obese".

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

This installment of the Conservative Refuge is proudly sponsored by Carpe Diem Consulting, LLC, specializing in forensic accounting, litigation support, business valuations and expert testimony in the areas of white collar criminal defense, contract disputes and other litigation matters. Contact John DeLuca and his associates at 410-305-4252 or via email at jdeluca@carpediemconsult.com

Food for Thought for the Blogosphere

If you are like me, you are a fan of HBO's The Wire. The final season of this show holds a mirror up to the media (namely the Baltimore Sun) and shows how it affects all aspects of life in the big city. You may have seen a special promotional piece by David Simon, the creative force behind The Wire, explaining what to expect from the fifth and final season of the show.

As Simon laments the slow death of the city newspaper, he makes some fascinating and intriguing comments on us in the blogosphere. Though unintentionally, he throws down the gauntlet of what role we bloggers will play when the newspaper dinosaur is finally slain or (in his view) is completely emasculated by the diminution of political and social reporting in favor of human interest stories and perfunctory journalism.

Simon's comments present a serious challenge, nay opportunity, to us bloggers as to how the important stories affecting our lives will be told. It is a question we bloggers need to answer.

Make no mistake, Simon is a liberal democrat and we would agree little on solutions. Howver, he candidly acknowledges, as a former Sun reporter, that the way every story is told and the way every editorial decision is made emanates from a subjective point of view and that many journalists want to affect social change by reporting. His lament is that selling newspapers has replaced this "noble calling" and the result is that a closer inspection of politicians, policy and institutions is left by the roadside.

Simon says bloggers do a great job of providing commentary and presenting information from a different point of view but inevitably link to some reporter who has done the hard work of gathering the information and telling a story. This, in his view, is the eternal value of a newspaper and that the industry made a mistake by giving it away for free (by putting it on the Internet).

Simon is not entirely wrong. We bloggers, if we truly want to end the monopolistic influence of the Sun or the Capital or the Gazette, need to be able to tell the stories which are important to people. As long as we simply link to the reporting done by others, they control the agenda and perpetuate their built in advantage of a larger audience.

The blogosphere must concentrate more on telling stories, making news and giving our readers not just opinion but information they cannot get anywhere else. This does not mean that we must become full time reporters but we have an opportunity to wrestle away the mantle of media from the elites who have controlled it for so many decades. Our victory will not be complete until we do that.

Many of my fellow bloggers have done this. Mark Newgent's work examining the Governor's Commission on Climate Change, the in-depth reporting of the the Special Session shenanigans and the lawsuit which brought them to light and even the soap opera that is the Anne Arundel County Central Committee have broken real news and often have driven the local reporting in the newspapers. (Not to mention, the yeoman's work of the O'Malley Watch gang.)

We have contacts in government and the community. We have many of the same resources the overworked newsrooms have (specifically the Internet). We are educated, net savvy and can write well. We also have the passion to tell the important stories.

The opinion page is covered, now let's work on filling the front page.

I say, let's take up this challenge and work for a future where the blogosphere can truly replace newspapers.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Conservative Refuge on the Radio

I will be a guest tonight on the Warren Monks show on WAMD 970AM from 6:30-7:30 (appx).

I will also be joining my friend, fellow RedMaryland contributor and O'Malley Watch radio representative Mark Newgent.

Should be a great segment.

No online feed but here is a map of the broadcast range for the station.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Refuge Podcast # 51 - The Stakes in Iowa

Beginning our second year of podcasting it is the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

http://theconservativerefuge.libsyn.com/

In our opening segment, some news and comment on the lawsuit to overturn the recent special session. I share some information you have not heard elsewhere as well on the very latest news in the case. I also relate portions of an editorial in the Baltimore Sun showing why the left just does not "get it" when it comes to the rule of law.

Our blogger roundtable, with our regular contributor Brian Griffiths and special guest David Kyle, convenes to discuss the Iowa caucus. What would the victory of certain Republican candidates say about the future of our party? Will there still be a Republican nomination fight when Marylanders vote? Our blogger contributors offer their insight and opinions.

In our closing segment, the very latest from Iowa and some thoughts about what is at stake in the Presidential nominating process.

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

This installment of the Conservative Refuge is proudly sponsored by Carpe Diem Consulting, LLC, specializing in forensic accounting, litigation support, business valuations and expert testimony in the areas of white collar criminal defense, contract disputes and other litigation matters. Contact John DeLuca and his associates at 410-305-4252 or via email at jdeluca@carpediemconsult.com