Writings and observations

We’re unfamiliar with the basic source (an Idaho blogger named Byron Yankey) but it was related as a first-person account. If it needs to be rebutted, contact here and we’ll take note. But this from what Yankey described as a converation with Idaho Representative Bill Sali, if accurate, merits note:

Congressman Sali informed us that a solution to the high price of gasoline was to make petroleum from “all those trees in our forests.” Stunned by the comment, I suffered a momentary regret for not taking that high school chemistry class those many years ago. He continued by saying there ‘”could be up to 40 barrels of oil ” in a single tree.

UPDATE (reedited): From Sali spokesman Wayne Hoffman, came after the Spokane Spokesman-Review Huckleberries blog also posted the Yankey quote; Hoffman responded a little differently to it but also passed that along here: “I wasn’t in the meeting. But I have heard Bill talk about using wood sources for cellulosic ethanol. He has discussed and promoted using Idaho forest products as part of that effort.”

FOLLOWUP: The blog Unequivocal Notion points out that Sali made reference to oil/trees in the 2006 campaign. From an October 8, 2006 report in the Spokesman-Review by Betsy Russell (whose track record for accuracy is solid): “Sali said, ‘The answer clearly is that we’ve got to get the value off of the land if we’re going to have a sustainable system, and what that means, most people would say that means we’ve got to engage in logging. I don’t think it necessarily stops there.’ Sali favors tapping into forest timber for biofuel. ‘Forty percent of the mass of every tree in the forest is crude oil,’ he said. Going after that, he said, ‘could put Idaho in the oil business for the first time’.”

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Idaho

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

The implosion of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, now facing seven felony indictments (and increasingly long odds against being sworn into the next Congress) has thrown shrapnel in al manner of directions, including those congressional candidates (mainly incumbents) Stevens supported financially. At least five Republican senators – John Sununu of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Oregon’s Gordon Smith – all facing serious election challenges this year, have quickly divested themselves of Stevens-derived money.

More interesting, though, are the contributions from senators to Stevens. Here, the site PolitickerOr.com has found something interesting: A $10,000 contribution (in two equal parts) to Stevens from the political action committee, Impact America, associated with Smith. More of interest: The donation came just three weeks after Stevens publicly acknowledged (in the Washington Post no less) that the FBI was investigating him, for just the sort of activities for which he was later indicted.

Sort of throws into question how appalled Smith is at the Stevens indictments, when his PAC delivered a big donation to him just after his legal issue went irrefutably public.

The whole Stevens issue aside, a scan through the Impact America paperwork and filings is worth a look too, throwing as it does some light on some otherwise obscure corners.

There is, for example, a long list of Impact America donation recipients; Stevens is just one among many. Most of the recent Republican members of the Senate have been recipients, and so has President George W. Bush, July 2003 for the 2004 campaign, in case anyone was looking for a formal, official expression of personal support. There’s also a $5,000 contribution to Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. And $10,000 (in March 2007) to John McCain’s presidential campaign. There’s $105,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and $20,000 to the Oregon Republican Party. Impact contributed to Republicans across all ohilosophical lines, from former member Lincoln Chaffee to former member Rick Santorum.

Its 188 contributors make a fascinating list too. It is a very national list, dominated by D.C.-area names (with a number from New York and Los Angeles), and relatively few from Oregon (there are 30, but a lot of them are family relations, so the real number is less than you might think; there are five Pamplin family listings, for example, each contributing $5,000).

A look at the Impact America filings gives some idea of just how wired into national politics Gordon Smith is. And there’s at least one more way to look at it.

Smith’s name doesn’t appear on the main filing documents; its treasurer, and the most visible name, is Lisa Lisker. She is a partner in Huckaby Davis Lisker, a Virginia firm which specializes in accounting for political organizations, basically Republican. It has done extensive work for the national Republican Party, even contracting for large work with the party’s national conventions. Fellow partner Keith Davis has been treasurer for McCain’s presidential campaign, and for former Republican Senate candidate Katherine Harris, among many others. Lisker has been custodian of records for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s House campaign committee, and worked with a number of other PACs as well, including Purdue Pharma Inc PAC.

The ties and connections run almost astoundingly deep. Punch another link, and a whole new world opens up.

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Oregon

Check out this neat little device, made available by way of Maplight.org – updated stats on campaign fundraising by candidates for Congress. (Sorry, Washington’s governor’s race would be good to add in, but isn’t included.)

Here’s a quick rundown, with the area’s two Senate contests and three major House races included. We may try for a permanent posting if we can figure out how to fit them into our space limitations . . .

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