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Tag: gop governors

Nevada GOP Governor Nominee Greased Donors With Millions In Contracts

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the Republican nominee for governor in Nevada, has given out tens of millions of dollars' worth of contracts from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to companies that donated to his political campaigns, according to records reviewed by the American Independent Foundation.

Since 2014, when Lombardo first ran for sheriff, at least eight donors to his campaigns have received at least $18.7 million in contracts from the LVMPD, which Lombardo oversees.

Some of the contracts have a concrete dollar amount, ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to $17 million. Other contracts are harder to quantify because they encompass ongoing work.

Among the quantifiable contracts is a pair of agreements with Motorola that amount to nearly $17.5 million over 10 years to support the LVMPD's radio systems. Motorola, which has been reported to have a pattern of lobbying law enforcement, has donated $20,000 to Lombardo since 2013, according to filings with the Nevada secretary of state's office.

Another is a 2018 contract Lombardo petitioned for that gave $606,312 to TASER International (now known as Axon), a company that makes tasers and other weapons used by law enforcement. The CEO of the company, Patrick Smith, later donated $2,500 to Lombardo's gubernatorial bid.

In December 2017, Lombardo requested a $394,000 contract for Capriati Construction for a gun range. That contract was increased in February 2018 to $473,000 due to "safety issues." The company has given $5,000 to Lombardo's campaigns.

And in 2015, the Institute For Executive Development received a $102,000 contract for consulting work. The company, which claims to provide "executive coaching, leadership development, and strategic planning" to its clients, was founded by Rick Culley, who gave $1,200 to Lombardo in late 2014.

The other contracts appear to be lucrative as well.

On May 23, 2016, Lombardo successfully sought a five-year contract for the law firm Carbajal & McNutt LLP to represent the LVMPD in "defense of liability claims and causes of action resulting in potential liability; in contract disputes; in employment actions; in bankruptcy proceedings as the Attorney's expertise and experience may allow."

The same day the contract with the law firm was approved, Lombardo received a $3,000 donation from the firm, according to filings with the Nevada secretary of state's office. To date, the law firm and its founder, Dan McNutt, have given $6,500 to Lombardo’s political campaigns.

While it's unclear how much Carbajal & McNutt has received from the LVMPD, according to the contract, the firm receives $190 per hour for work done by partners, $160 per hour for work by associates at the firm, and $90 per hour for work done by paralegals.

Another law firm, Marquis Aurbach, donated more than $12,000 to Lombardo's campaigns. The firm, which handles "open litigation" for LVMPD, had its contract renewed for three more years at Lombardo's request in 2016.

Lombardo's campaign did not comment on the contracts and political donations to Lombardo's campaigns.

Instead, campaign spokesperson Elizabeth Ray responded to a request for comment by accusing Lombardo's opponent, incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, of being "the least ethical governor in Nevada history." Ray cited a Department of Health and Human Services investigation into a COVID-19 testing company that received millions of dollars in contracts funded by Nevada taxpayers but provided faulty test results.Sisolak has not been implicated in any wrongdoing.

Lombardo won the Republican gubernatorial primary in June, defeating a large field of candidates that included Joey Gilbert, a former boxer turned trial attorney who attended the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol; and former Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican who was cold to former President Donald Trump before deciding he was a "great leader" and losing reelection in 2018 to Democrat Jacky Rosen.

Sisolak was first elected governor in 2018, defeating Republican Adam Laxalt by four points in what was then a strong year for Democrats up and down the ballot.

In 2022, however, Democrats are expected to face headwinds: Historical trends show the party in power often experiences a backlash from voters in the first midterm election year after its candidate takes the White House.

There have been few public polls of the race, but Sisolak leads Lombardo by just 1.9 points in the FiveThirtyEight average.

Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race Tilts Democratic.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

The Odd Virus Attacking Republican Governors

WARNING: A mutant coronavirus named Gubernatorious Imbecilious is spreading across the country, threatening to become pandemic.

Originating earlier this year in the Texas governor's office — infamously known as the "Laboratory of Bad Government" — the brain-eating virus escaped, is now drifting unchecked on the political winds and has already infected governors in Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

An early indicator that your governor, too, might be coming down with Gubernatorious Imbecilious is if he or she begins ranting paranoiacally that the mighty U.S. of A is being "invaded." Yes, invaded by masses of migrants from Mexico, Central America, and hell itself — all intent on rape, murder, drug peddling, mayhem, and ultimately the usurpation of our nation.

Having such a delusional governor is embarrassing, but the disease turns downright scary when infected governors try acting on their paranoia. Gov. Greg Abbott, for example, the GOP governor of Texas, is the one who conjured up this current invasion fantasy and is causing it to go viral in Republican statehouses. Abbott is a frantic Chicken Little, squawking that "a tidal wave" of amnesty seekers crossing our southern border are "causing farmers to lose their crops ... homes are being invaded ... neighborhoods are dangerous ... people are being threatened."

So, by gollies, Greg is taking action! On our dime, of course. His big plan? Build a wall! Yes, obviously demented by an advanced case of Gubernatorious Imbecilious , the extent of Abbott's creativity is an insane repeat of Donnie Trump's failed boondoggle of a border wall. To fund his goofy political gambit, the governor has expropriated $250 million from the state's meager budget to "secure our border." Apparently, no one has told the governor that $250 million would build less than 10 miles of wall on our 1,200-mile border with Mexico ... and won't keep anyone from crossing.

But failure seems to be built into Abbott's DNA. He oversees a state power grid so feeble that it failed in February, killing more than 150 Texans; he has left five million of our people without health coverage, more than any other state; and he presides over a crumbling state infrastructure network that can't score better than a D grade.

Did I mention that Abbott wants to run for president? Not of the Insane Governors Club, but of America! Seriously.

It's one thing to strive for herd immunity to defeat a coronavirus, but in politics, the herd instinct can send a whole species over a cliff.

That seems to be happening among the frenzied herd of Republican governors now stampeding behind the scaremongering scheme of Abbott to use the personal suffering of Latin American migrants and asylum seekers as a political pawn. Rather than helping find a humane solution, the GOP hierarchy is exploiting the very real plight of desperate Latin American people to pose as strong defenders of U.S. communities that are in absolutely no danger from the migration.

Yes, various governors are following Abbott's knee-jerk vindictiveness, confronting the migrating families with "Keep Out" military-style force. First came Florida's ruthlessly ambitious governor, Ron DeSantis, strutting around in a mucho macho photo-op, pledging to send a small hodgepodge of deputies, highway patrol, and even wildlife officials (!) to Texas for a few days to help Abbott keep out immigrants. What will these armed officials do? Who will direct them? Who would pay? Uh ... DeSantis didn't know.

Then came Cornhusker State Gov. Pete Ricketts, proclaiming that "Nebraska is stepping up to help Texas respond to the ongoing crisis on their border." But local public officials who are actually on the Texas border say there is a problem, not a crisis — and helter-skelter squads of clueless gendarmes from afar won't help. Still, the hyper-partisan governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, said she was sending a few state troopers to the distant border to defend "the health and safety of Iowans." Interestingly, she had refused a request this spring by the Biden administration to help house migrant children crossing our border to seek asylum, coldly declaring, "This is not our problem."

South Dakota's Kristi Noem also piled on, dispatching some of her state's National Guard troops to Texas. Oddly, though, Noem's troops were not sent as true agents of the state, but as 25 political mercenaries, paid an undisclosed amount by an out-of-state right-wing billionaire to join in the GOP governors' border stunt.

Note that (1) all of these political posers committed so few border defenders for such a short time that their presence would have zero impact on our border crossings; and (2) none of the governors offered any insight, solution, or concern about the root causes of the migration.

To monitor the posturing of these shameful frauds, go to NoBorderWallCoalition.com.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

To Balance Budgets, Governors Seek Higher Education Cuts

By Elaine S. Povich, Stateline.org (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Governors in nearly a half-dozen states want to cut state spending on colleges and universities to help close budget shortfalls, often sparking vehement opposition among state lawmakers of both parties.

Republican governors in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, and Wisconsin, and Connecticut’s Democratic governor have proposed higher education cuts for the coming fiscal year. Higher education spending traditionally is a juicy target for budget cutters because schools can make up the lost revenue by raising tuition.

But students and their families already are being squeezed by steadily rising college costs. In fiscal year 2013, schools got about 47 percent of their revenue from tuition, up from about 24 percent in fiscal year 1988, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut has suggested a tuition hike to compensate for the cuts, but the Republican governors are urging the schools in their states to find the necessary savings by trimming bureaucracy and consolidating campuses.

University officials argue that past budget cuts have pushed them to the breaking point, forcing them, for example, to rely heavily on adjunct professors and teaching assistants instead of full professors. During the recession, 48 states cut higher education spending. Alaska and North Dakota didn’t. They are the only two states spending as much or more on higher education than they did before the recession, when the numbers are adjusted for inflation, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a Washington, D.C.-based research group.

Some critics have urged the Republican governors to roll back recent tax cuts to spare the colleges and universities. But so far the governors have balked, arguing that lower taxes have helped working families and attracted businesses.

Nowhere is the controversy greater than in Louisiana, which has a complicated higher education system and a Republican governor who is considering running for president.

Governor Bobby Jindal proposed a budget that would reduce higher education spending by $141 million in fiscal 2016. In recent weeks, he has proposed offsetting some of the cuts by getting rid of some refundable business tax credits, which have a total value of $526 million. But the business community is strongly opposing that idea. That leaves the Republican-dominated legislature in a bind, forcing members to choose between education and low taxes, two priorities they generally support.

State Senator Conrad Appel, a Republican, said in an interview that if the higher education cuts Jindal proposed all go into effect “it would be really serious” and a big blow to colleges and universities. He said he wants to scale back the proposed cuts, but wasn’t prepared to say exactly how.

“If we vote to replenish, some of the cuts will be mitigated to some extent,” he said. But, he noted that the Louisiana public university system has “structural inefficiencies” that will mean more budget cuts in the future. He said he told college administrators last week that they should take steps to cut their budgets, whether that means consolidation of campuses or other methods.

“What I don’t recommend is for higher education to ignore the opportunity to fix the problem,” he said. “Either they are going to fix it or we are going to fix it for them and they won’t like it.”

Robert Scott, president of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, said that since Jindal became governor in 2008, the number of full-time employees at state colleges and universities has decreased 23 percent due to budget cuts, and that schools have been raising tuition along the way. But now, he said, “they are about to price themselves out of the market.” He said the flagship school, Louisiana State University, “still has some headroom” to continue tuition increases, but most of the small schools in the state system don’t have that luxury.

John Griswold, a fine arts professor at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, said his state is a test case for cuts to higher education.

“The conditions in Louisiana were perfect for testing an assault on state-funded higher education,” Griswold said. He noted the state has a conservative governor, legislative rules that preclude cuts in most spending except for higher education and health care, and an economic downturn prompted by the drop in oil prices.

“Similar conditions exist in other states, so conservative politicians elsewhere can also demand deep cuts to higher ed, based on populist appeals to ‘good business’ and an end to ‘welfare mentality,'” he said.

Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential presidential candidate who has cut state income and property taxes by $541 million during his tenure, has proposed cutting $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system.

According to Walker, that amounts to a 2.5 percent cut, but other analysts have put the figure as high as 13 percent. The fact-checking service PolitiFact split the difference, assessing the reduction at about 6 percent. The cut would be exacerbated by the fact that there is a tuition freeze in place.

“Through flexibility and empowering current leaders from across the system, (University of Wisconsin) System and campus leadership will have the tools necessary to deliver a high quality education in a strategic manner while saving taxpayers $150 million a year,” Walker’s spokeswoman, Laurel Patrick, said.

Meanwhile, two Republican state lawmakers have called for changes in the governor’s budget that would lessen the cut, including raising out-of-state tuition and requiring the university to spend down reserve funds.

“We will work toward a smaller, more manageable cut instead of the $300 million cut proposed in the governor’s budget,” the two, Reps. Dean Knudson and John Nygren, said in a press release last week.

In Illinois, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner recommended a reduction of nearly 6 percent in direct spending on state colleges and universities. Despite the cut, Rauner argues that “this budget proposal continues to offer state support to our public universities” through contributions to the universities’ retirement system and insurance benefits for university employees.

But Rauner faces strong opposition from the Democratic-controlled legislature and from the state’s universities.

Senate President John Cullerton said on his Facebook page that the governor’s budget cuts will “undermine access to health services, child care, affordable college and retirement security for working- and middle-class families” and vowed that the legislature will amend it. While Rauner has proposed cuts in a range of areas, the education chunk is drawing the most attention.

In Arizona, the Republican-led legislature went further than Republican Governor Doug Ducey in cutting higher education, agreeing to a $99 million cut, down from an earlier legislative proposal of $104 million. Ducey had proposed a $75 million reduction as a way to pay for business tax cuts. Universities and proponents of higher education fought the governor’s cuts so doggedly that they prompted a backlash in the legislature, which upped them.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow called the action a “drastic remedy to the state’s budget troubles” and one that will come back to haunt the state when it has fewer college graduates contributing to the state’s economy.

In Connecticut, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy proposed cutting $10.6 million from the University of Connecticut system and an additional $20.6 million from the state’s regional universities. Malloy has expressed support for tuition hikes, after several years of urging that tuition merely keep pace with inflation.

In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback since 2011 has pushed through a 25 percent reduction in the state’s top income tax rate, lowered sales taxes and eliminated a tax on small-business income. As a result, state revenue has declined by $685 million. Brownback now is looking to make cuts in education and elsewhere in an effort to balance the books.

Walter McMahon, professor emeritus of economics and education at the University of Illinois said cutting higher education to close budget gaps is “very, very shortsighted.”

“Spending on education is really an investment,” McMahon said. “As money is invested in human capital formation, each graduate is in the labor force for over 45 years and contributes increased earnings and tax revenue to state coffers.”

He added that statistics show that more educated people live longer, healthier lives and commit fewer crimes, allowing states to spend less on health care and prison costs.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Governors May Not Have Edge In 2016 Presidential Race

By Jonathan Zimmerman, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

In 1947, U.S. historian Wilfred E. Binkley took stock of the 13 men who had been president since the end of the Civil War and reached a stark conclusion: Governorship was “a training school for successful presidents.” The seven ex-governors on the list — including both Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin — were far more effective chief executives than the six others.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said pretty much the same thing during the Republican Governors Association meeting last month. “We’re better at it,” Christie told his fellow state leaders. “The American people are done with the experiment of having somebody (as president) who’s never run anything before.” He was preaching to the choir. The list of potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates is dominated by governors. Alongside Christie, there’s John Kasich (Ohio), Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Mike Pence (Indiana) and Rick Scott (Florida). And don’t forget Florida’s former Gov. Jeb Bush and Arkansas ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, who are considering presidential runs as well.

But if you look across our nation’s whole history, it’s hardly clear that former governors make the best presidents. The ranks of governor-turned-presidents include not just the Roosevelts, after all, but also Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge and Jimmy Carter.

Governors’ fate during presidential elections has ebbed and flowed, reflecting shifts in how Americans think about government itself. Before the American Revolution, colonial governors were appointed by the British crown. Americans in the early republic continued to view them with suspicion: In seven of the original 13 states, governors were elected for just one-year terms.

The job was certainly no steppingstone toward the White House. After George Washington, the next five presidents were vice presidents or secretaries of State when they ran. When Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in the 1830s to study its nascent democracy, one politician told him, “The governor counts for absolutely nothing and is only paid $1,200!”

After the Civil War, governors started to come into popular favor. In 1876, both parties nominated a governor for president. Although New York Gov. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, Ohio Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes received the majority in the Electoral College. (It was the Bush v. Gore election of its day.) For 52 of the next 68 years, the Oval Office was occupied by former governors. State governments in the early 1900s became “laboratories of democracy,” as future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called them, experimenting with workplace safety regulation and a host of other reforms. That made state governors like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson into much more prominent figures, who moved easily onto the national stage.

But after World War II, experience in Washington came into vogue. All of our chief executives from Truman to Ford were former members of Congress, with the notable exception of ex-Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Amid the national security concerns of the Cold War, voters wanted their commander in chief to be someone who knew their way around the federal government.

Writing in 1959, pollster Louis Harris wondered whether an ex-governor could ever win the presidency again. “In a cosmic, atomic, mass-media age, governors have shrunk to … local figures,” Harris wrote.

But the tide would turn again in the 1970s, when the Watergate scandal soured Americans on Washington pols. At the same time the rise of modern conservatism devolved many powers to the states and made “Washington, D.C.” a term of derision and scorn. Starting with Carter in 1976, four of the next five presidents were former governors.

Then came a U.S. senator, Barack Obama, who beat the trend. He defeated a fellow senator (John McCain) the first time around and an ex-governor (Mitt Romney) the next. His party appears likely to select another ex-senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to run in 2016.

So despite all the GOP governors lining up to be the presidential nominee, don’t be surprised if Republicans choose a senator with a national profile — say, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or Rand Paul.

The scope of the federal government has greatly expanded during the Obama years, including health care, the National Security Agency and the presidential order on immigration. And the more influence that the federal government exerts on voters, the more they see the advantages of a candidate from inside the Beltway. Like it or not, that makes Congress — not the statehouse — the more likely training school for our next president.

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education, which will be published in March 2015 by Princeton University Press.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr