California. Land of fruit and nuts and

Discussion in 'Politics and Religion' started by justbill_redux, May 15, 2006.

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  1. thezoos


    katherine harris of FLA still wins the "biggest rethuglican sleaze not currently named Bush, Cheney, or Wolfowitz" award... but the CAL crowd are catching up

  2. justbill_redux

    justbill_redux King Missile

    corrupt Rethuglican congressmen. Add another one to the growing dishonor roll.

    WASHINGTON — Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) is an experienced investor in Riverside County's booming real estate market, so he's used to seeing prices change quickly. Last year, he and a partner paid $550,000 for a dusty four-acre parcel just south of March Air Reserve Base. Less than a year later, without even cutting the weeds or carting off old septic tank parts that littered the ground, they sold the land for almost $1 million.

    Even for a speculator like Calvert, it was an unusually good deal.

    During the time he owned the land, Calvert used the legislative process known as earmarking to secure $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles from the property, and an additional $1.5 million to support commercial development of the area around the airfield.

    A map of Calvert's recent real estate holdings and those of his partner shows many of them near the transportation projects he has supported with federal appropriations. And improvements to the transportation infrastructure have contributed to the area's explosive growth, according to development experts.


    To shed more light on the process, the nonpartisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense has worked to identify and analyze earmarks in recent spending bills. During the 2005-06 congressional session, Calvert put 69 earmarks into spending bills, the group reported; Calvert said he was the lead advocate for 53.


    In extreme cases, manipulation of federal spending has been linked to corruption. Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) admitted taking bribes in exchange for such legislative favors. And Rep. Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia recently stepped down as the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee amid allegations that he steered federal money to nonprofit groups in his district — organizations run by business associates who helped make him wealthy.

    Earmarks also figured into the political corruption scandal centered on former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


    Early last summer, another deal developed when Harpole — vice president of Calvert's real estate firm — bought property with a group of investors at 20330 Temescal Canyon Road, a few blocks from the site of the proposed interchange at Cajalco and I-15. The purchase price was $975,000. Within six months, they sold the parcel for $1.45 million.

    Calvert's firm took a commission on the sale.

    Calvert owns other properties that might be affected by his earmarks. For example, he and Harpole own properties close to a bus depot for which the congressman sought funding in Corona. He and Harpole sold one of those parcels in 2005; Calvert said the earmark had no effect on the value of the property