While On Panel, Iraq Study Group Members Made Political Donations

While On Panel, Iraq Study Group Members Made Political Donations
December 5th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: While On Panel, Iraq Study Group Members Made Political Donations

While On Panel, Iraq Study Group Members Made Political Donations
The Hill
December 5, 2006
Pg. 1

By Bob Cusack
A few members of the Iraq Study Group have made political contributions since they joined the bipartisan committee, with one panelist giving to a leading House Democrat who has embraced a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The contributions could be fodder for critics who disapprove of the group’s final recommendations, even though the panel consists of five Democrats and five Republicans.
Two months after the Iraq Study Group was launched, Leon Panetta contributed $500 to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the most outspoken House Democrat on the redeployment of troops in Iraq. Panetta is a former Democratic congressman who served as President Clinton’s chief of staff.
Other group members opened their wallets for politicians this fall, but most steered clear of endorsing candidates so publicly.
The bipartisan group, which is scheduled to release its highly anticipated recommendations on the Iraq war tomorrow, is expected to lobby Congress and the Bush administration to implement its proposals in the coming months.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) played a leading role in the formation of the study group. On July 31, one of its members, Vernon Jordan, a former adviser to Clinton, contributed $500 to Wolf’s 2006 opponent, Judy Feder (D). Wolf won, attracting 57 percent of the vote.
Leaked information about the study group’s forthcoming recommendations has triggered criticism from some conservatives, who have mocked the idea of talking to Iran and Syria about resolving the Iraq conflict.
Fred Barnes, executive editor of the right-wing Weekly Standard magazine, has panned the study group for what he sees as a retreat mentality. Barnes and other conservatives believe Democrats and the national media will champion the recommendations.
The bipartisan 9/11 commission also came under fire from conservatives, though the GOP-led Congress did pass many of its recommendations. After commission members complained about the input that Congress ignored, GOP lawmakers returned fire, suggesting the panel leaned to the left.
Democrats have vowed to implement all of the 9/11 panel’s proposals, though they may lack the votes to do so.
Six of the 10 members on the 9/11 commission made campaign contributions after they joined the panel. The 9/11 members agreed that they should not physically participate in partisan activities, but did not put any limitations on political giving.
It is unclear whether the ISG came to a similar agreement. A spokesman for the group did not comment for this article.
Of the 10 commission members, Jordan was the most generous to political war chests in the 2006 cycle, giving more than $36,000 in contributions, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com. He gave to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), among many others.
Yet political giving on the Iraq Study Group is not confined to Democrats. James Baker, co-chairman of the committee and chief of staff to former President George H.W. Bush, contributed $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in April. The study group was launched on March 15.
Federal records indicated that former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), the other co-chairman, did not make any political contributions during the 2006 cycle.
Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), another study group member, gave campaign cash to Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.) and Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), and Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) after joining the group.
At press time, Simpson told The Hill, “I give to people. What’s new?” He added any article on the political giving of the ISG is “b******t” and amounts to “extraneous crap.”
He strongly defended the commission’s work, noting each of the panelists signed on to every sentence in the forthcoming ISG report.
The Iraq Study Group is supported by four expert working groups and a panel of senior retired military officers. Most of the members of these subgroups did not make political contributions since being appointed as SIG analysts.
The study group says that “it will make a forward-looking, independent assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq.”
Baker, Panetta and Jordan did not comment by press time.

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