Friday, October 17, 2008

ZOMG! ONOZ! Garrett freaks out over "boogyman"!!

In another sign of Scott Garrett?s priorities, he has now decided to not only go after an organization whose main purpose is to make sure that people who are eligible to vote are registered, but also to go after his opponent?s campaign manager for having the audacity to work for another organization that ?was aligned with? the organization that registers voters.

Got that?

In a time where our nation is facing a financial crisis unlike one we have seen in decades (not to mention Garrett?s own ties to players that caused this crisis), the burning issue of utmost importance is that Shulman?s campaign is being run by someone who ?has ties? to an activist organization that ?has ties? to ACORN, an organization that has followed the law and is guilty of?.wait for it?.trying to help people vote.


I guess the fact that he is even more extreme than Bush (voting close to 90% with him but on the other 10%, Bush was the one who was reasonable), has personal ties to convicted republican felon Jack Abramoff, was not only one of 34 to vote against the stimulus bill but put forth his own stimulus bill that consisted solely of corporate tax breaks and is out of step and out of touch with this district?s voters put him in this predicament.

To see him spend time, his supporters? and donor?s money, and waste the time of his constituents in order to play some twisted (and highly lame) game of guilt by sort of association by sort of association not only had me wondering if we are to find out that Kevin Bacon also ?had ties to? ACORN and the Shulman campaign, but also for doing exactly what McCain is doing in his desperate and losing campaign--

Making up phony strawmen and boogymen to scare voters into forgetting the major problems that we are facing domestically, financially, militarily and on an overall global basis in the name of distraction and desperation.

I don?t know if it is more disingenuous or pathetic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

DCCC gets behind Shulman (finally)

In what is looking like the latest signs that ultra right wing Congressman Scott Garrett, we have a few pieces of news today.

For starters, the DCCC has updated its Red to Blue list to include NJ-5's Dennis Shulman.

This means that there will likely be a late in the contest influx of funds and exposure for Dennis as he continues his campaign against one of Congress' most odious of Representatives. Hopefully, this isn't a "too little too late" play, and hopefully if when Dennis wins the seat, the DCCC won't be coming in to take credit for what has been a very solid overall campaign against an incumbent who is even more out of the mainstream than Bush.

But we here in NJ-5 will take whatever we can get if it gives a better shot of sending Garrett back to the district for good.

Also, in a sign that Garrett may be hearing the footsteps, he has agreed to three debates over the next 2 weeks. Dates and times are below:

Sunday, October 19th at 7PM: Temple Emanuel of Pascack Valley, 87 Overlook Drive, Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Wednesday, October 22nd at 8PM: Sussex Community College Performing Arts Center, One College Hill Road, Newton, NJ

Friday, October 24th at 11AM: WRNJ Radio, 100 Route 46 West, Hackettstown, NJ (or listen at

Things are looking up here in NJ-5 for the first time in decades - don't miss being a part of this historic opportunity. Donate here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Scott Garrett: on the wrong side of the financial crisis.

Back in April, Scott Garrett lamented the end of deregulation:
“It’s disconcerting to see the end of deregulation, more so because it’s coming from our own administration,” said Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a member of the Republican Study Committee, a panel of about 100 House conservatives. “As conservatives, we need to get our Republican, conservative brand back. … I can tell you we’re not going to get that brand back by embracing Democratic economic regulations.”

Not only is this in line with Garrett’s so-called “free market” approach which has resulted in predatory lending practices and the massive tax breaks for corporate America at the expense of the middle class, but is also in line with his campaign pledge in 2002 when he talked about deregulation being the answer to help businesses.

Make no mistake – Scott Garrett’s views on business are not taxpayer friendly (as evidenced by his very own stimulus plan that was entirely business tax breaks and his earlier votes on a bill regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

But let’s look a bit deeper into Garrett’s actions when they directly related to companies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide Insurance and Washington Mutual.

Garrett is on the House Financial Services Committee, and is therefore in a direct position to help taxpayers when it comes to the financial crisis. Yet, his votes have been on the side of the same corporate entities that have donated over $800,000 to Garrett over the years, including Countrywide and AIG.

His Chief of Staff, Amy Smith has longstanding ties to lobbying for the financial industry, including almost $400,000 in lobbying fees paid to her firm by disgraced mortgage giant Countrywide Financial over a 2 year period

A new ad was released by Dennis Shulman’s campaign that hits Garrett hard on his conflict of interest and cluelessness when it comes to the problems in the financial services industry. In a press release earlier today, Shulman said the following:

"Scott Garrett has been one of Washington's greatest advocates for deregulation while scooping up enormous amounts of campaign cash from predatory lenders seeking to avoid reasonable regulation," said Dennis Shulman, the Democratic nominee in New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District. "Scott Garrett has literally entrusted his taxpayer-funded office to a former lobbyist for one of his major donors, Countrywide Financial, while arguing that it is `disconcerting to see the end of deregulation.' I believe it is disconcerting to see a member of Congress continue to embrace the agenda of the corrupt predatory lenders who created the financial crisis that has destabilized the entire economy."

"Garrett consistently plays the corrupt Washington DC special interest game, building his campaign war chest by courting the special interests that he is supposed to be regulating. I have made a solemn pledge to refuse campaign contributions from any corporation I would oversee in Congress."

Let’s help Dennis send Scott back to NJ-5 for good. Here is where you can donate.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The heat is on Garrett after 2 scandals are uncovered

After word got out about Scott Garrett's $41,000 tax break for his farm that had $600 in income, as well as his ties to failed financial services giant Countrywide Financial, the press is starting to shine a light on the problems and conflicts of interest that Garrett has.

To recap the 2 scandals, they are as follows:

  • Garrett has taken thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Countrywide Financial and has hired its former lobbyist as his Chief of Staff. Despite his seat on the House Financial Services Committee, he has sat idly by while our economy spiraled into crisis.

  • Garrett has taken a $41,000 tax break, intended for real farmers, on his multi-acre estate by claiming his brother sells $700 worth of "shrubs." He does not disclose the complete value of the adjoining land or the income from this so-called shrub farm as required by federal law. Learn more and view Shulman's new ad at

Here are some of the things that are being said in the press about the 2 scandals:

The Star-Ledger highlighted Garrett's extensive ties to the financial services industry: "Garrett has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from financial-service firms and in March hired as his chief of staff a former lobbyist for Countrywide Financial, the nation's former largest mortgage lender that earlier this year became synonymous with the financial-services meltdown." - Jim Lockwood, 9/25/08

The Record highlighted Garrett's tax problems in "Fake farmer TV ad could hurt Garrett": "Garrett's campaign says he's done nothing wrong taking advantage of the state's farmland assessment program.... But a similar attack of being a fake farmer cost Ellen Karcher, a Democratic state senator from Monmouth County, her seat in 2007." - Herb Jackson, 9/25/08

More coverage of the Shulman campaign's new tv ad:

"Gasperino [Garrett's campaign manager] did not respond to follow-up questions to identify which statements she deems untrue." - The Express-Times, 9/24/2008

"They say there are about two or three enduring storylines in world literature, and over the last year there have proved to be two or three storylines in New Jersey politics.... [T]he Shulman campaign argues that it's the Ellen Karcher story all over again, with Garrett receiving a $41,000 tax break on a piece of land that yields approximately $700 per year in income." - PolitickerNJ, 9/24/2008

More coverage of Garrett's ties to our economic crisis:

"[Garrett's] chief of staff, Amy Smith, used to be employed by a lobbying firm that listed Countrywide Financial as a client. Countrywide has borne part of the blame for the subprime mortgage situation that led to current financial distress." - New Jersey Herald, 9/21/2008

"When I'm in Congress, I will never put Countrywide Financial and Big Oil above the citizens I represent. That is why I have pledged to never take campaign contributions from an industry I'm supposed to oversee." - The Hill, Congress Blog by Dennis Shulman, 9/17/2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Farmer Scott and his creative accounting

Over at Blue Jersey, there is a real interesting story about Garrett and some very shady tax related matters for his "farm". Since Jason Springer says it best, I'll just paste it below:
Maybe he means fiscally conservative in the sense of tightfisted with his own finances? Or possibly we should start calling him Farmer Scott? The Shulman campaign comes out today with a new website - - and goes on the air with an ad hitting Congressman Garrett on a farming tax exemption he avails himself of but fails to report as required:

According to the Shulman campaign's research, Garrett claims nine acres of his estate as a farm because his brother sells $700 worth of shrubs, then takes up to $41,000 in tax breaks meant to lighten the load of real New Jersey farmers.

The ad will run on cable throughout the 5th district. You can find their evidence on the Garrett Shrubs site along with the potential implications of such dishonesty. It appears Garrett actually reported the farm up until 2002. And here's what appears to be the website of the business in question. I wonder if Farmer Scott is a member of the NJ Christmas Tree Growers Association?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New poll shows Garrett under 50%

Good news from a new Research 2000 poll in the district - besides Garrett polling under 50%, it looks like the Democratic sample may be underrepresented, and there is a lot of room for Democratic candidate (and "Orange to Blue" candidate) Dennis Shulman to pick up ground. The poll shows Garrett with 49%, and Shulman with 34%.

Here are some snippets from the poll, which is reported here:
On the positive side, Garrett is below the fifty percent mark, which is always troubling for an incumbent. At the same time, his favorables stand at a weak 44-38 - almost as many people dislike him as like him. On the flipside, Rabbi Shulman's favorables stand at 36-26, which means that nearly 40% of likely voters don't yet know who he is. In other words, he has room to grow.

It's exactly that growing room which gives Shulman the chance to make up the fifteen-point gap that R2K says he faces. Shulman's doing pretty well among Dems, winning them at a 72-11 rate, while Garrett is doing ten points better among members of his own party, taking Republicans by 77-6. The real issue, though, is independents. Garrett cleans up here 48-35. The good news for Shulman is that this group is the least familiar with him: fully 45% of indies say they have no opinion of the Democrat - an opportunity, if Shulman can get his name out there.

Those independents are the real X-factor in this poll. They make up a huge 54% of the sample, while Republicans clock in at 27% and Dems at 19%. This is actually pretty close to where registration stood in the district before Super Tuesday. However, Dem registration has shot up since then; I'm told that more recent figures indicate the district's makeup is more like 44I-32R-24D today. But knowing registration numbers is one thing - figuring out who will show up on election day is quite another.

And in that regard, NJ-05 is a bit of an electoral engima. The district voted for Bush in 2004 by what looks like a daunting 57-43 margin. In 2000, however, the margin was half as wide, just 52-45. Why the seven-point shift, when Bush only gained about three nationwide? Most analysts I've discussed this with believe there was something of a "9/11 effect" here, just as there was in many parts of the tri-state area.

If this assessment is accurate, then this right-ward shift may have been temporary. One possible piece of support for this thesis is the presidential head-to-head, which shows McCain leading Obama 52-37. Obama trails past Dem performance quite significantly, but McCain is at Bush 2000 - and not Bush '04 - levels, for the moment. In a red district, though, undecideds are more likely to drift Republican, so McCain's current 52% may not be his ceiling.

If you want to see a breakdown of the participants and other metrics, chck out the link above.

But this is great news for a district whose representative is so far out of touch with his constituents, the other members of the republican NJ delegation, as well as nearly every member of Congress.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Garrett's Responsibility for the Failure of Fannie and Freddie

According to an article in today's Financial Times, Mike Oxley, the former Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is blaming Alan Greenspan and the Bush White House for killing a bill that "could well have prevented the current crisis."

The House bill, the 2005 Federal Housing Finance Reform Act, would have created a stronger regulator with new powers to increase capital at Fannie and Freddie, to limit their portfolios and to deal with the possibility of receivership.

Mr Oxley reached out to Barney Frank, then the ranking Democrat on the committee and now its chairman, to secure support on the other side of the aisle. But after winning bipartisan support in the House, where the bill passed by 331 to 90 votes, the legislation lacked a champion in the Senate and faced hostility from the Bush administration.

Adamant that the only solution to the problems posed by Fannie and Freddie was their privatization, the White House attacked the bill. Mr Greenspan also weighed in, saying that the House legislation was worse than no bill at all.

We missed a golden opportunity that would have avoided a lot of the problems we’re facing now, if we hadn’t had such a firm ideological position at the White House and the Treasury and the Fed,” Mr Oxley says.

While Oxley lays the responsibility for this at the feet of Greenspan and Bush, it is worth noting that even though the House passed the bill, Scott Garrett was one of 90 congressmen to vote nay. Keep that in mind the next time Scott Garrett tries to claim he saw this crisis coming and tried to stop it. Or has a plan to fix it.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Maybe This Is Why He Is A "Taxpayer Hero"

The latest debacle in the financial services industry has the federal government planning to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two government sponsored enterprises that make and guarantee mortgage loans.

The total potential liability for the federal government: tens of billions of dollars.

The Congressional committee with oversight over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: the House Committee on Financial Services ("HCFS") and the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity ("HCO")

Longtime member of HCFS and HCO: you guessed it, Scott Garrett

Ironic Award of the Day

Scott Garrett, who has spent virtually his entire career collecting a paycheck funded by the taxpayers of the United States, has been named a "Taxpayer Hero" by Citizens Against Government Waste.

For those of you who don't know, Citizens Against Government Waste ("CAGW") is a non-profit organization dedicated "to eliminate waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the federal government." You know, wasteful programs like childrens' health insurance.

In 2006, the Senate Finance Committee found that CAGW "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers" and probably violated their tax-exempt status "by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. [Jack] Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients."

Jack Abramoff was sentenced the other day to four years in prison for conspiracy, honest services fraud and tax evasion charges, to be served after his sentence in Florida for fraud in connection with a casino deal.

Hey, I've got an idea to help eliminate "eliminate waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the federal government." Get rid of Scott Garrett.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Garrett smacks families in the face on stimulus package. Twice.

If it wasn’t enough that Scott Garrett wanted to screw over American taxpayers and families by being one of only 34 Reps. to vote against the Economic Stimulus Package that Bush signed last week, you can look at the stimulus package that he introduced himself as an alternative to see exactly where the fifth district’s Congressman’s priorities really lie.

Granted, the economic stimulus package that overwhelmingly passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by Bush was far from perfect. I made no bones about my feelings regarding the tax rebates being a farce as they didn’t help families in the long or medium term, barely helped them in the short term, don’t address the needs of families or the root of this country’s economic woes (hint and note to Mr. Garrett - it isn’t that corporations need more tax cuts) and will likely go right back to the credit card companies, the oil companies, the banks, or the utility companies, therefore mainly helping those who are creating the economic problems in the first place.

And actually, on a part of that point, I agree with what Garrett said:

"An increased one-time payment does not bring about real economic growth or security to American families,”

The problem here is that real economic growth - real meaningful economic growth that would help American families, and families of this district who struggle with the higher gas prices (especially in counties other than Bergen), higher heating bills, and higher prices for other basic necessities would focus on helping those families in this time of need, as well as help them in the longer term. Things like extending unemployment benefits. Things like giving rebates to all people who are below a certain income level, recognizing that the lowest income earners need the most help. Things like addressing the AMT in a responsible manner - something that increasingly is hitting middle class and upper middle class in the district.

But no. Garrett can’t even have a thought or a plan that looks out for his constituents. Unless, his constituents are corporations.

One of the main reasons that he voted against the stimulus bill is that it would help the lowest of income earners. The ones who need all of the help they can get to help pay for rising gas costs. For higher food prices. For medication that is necessary. For heat. I guess because these individuals’ primary source of income is social security benefits (meaning the elderly and lowest income earners), which allows them to not have any income tax liability, they shouldn’t receive a rebate.

And to Garrett, if these people would get a rebate, that is not fair, so then he feels that nobody should get a rebate. Garrett didn’t vote against the stimulus package because it didn’t go far enough. He voted against it because he felt it would help TOO MANY people - and damn those lowest of income earners who clearly don’t need the measly rebate that they will be getting in the first place.

So what does Garrett think would be a good way to stimulate the economy and help American families - families in his district? Well, we know exactly what he thinks, as he sponsored his own economic stimulus package. A stimulus package, that if Garrett got to design it himself, would be precisely the kind that would help those who Garrett personally thought would (1) need it the most and (2) be able to help his constituents the most.

Or at least you would think so.

Garrett’s idea of a “real” stimulus package would not include rebates to American families. And on that, I may actually agree to an extent. But that is the only thing that I can say I even remotely agree with Garrett on.

While I would think that some stimulus package that would help American families would include an extension of unemployment benefits, possibly tax credits or a rate reduction for many families, extension of food stamps in certain instances, reduced costs for heat for certain income levels, possibly incentives for certain businesses to increase wages or hiring - you know, things that help families now and also help them in the future, as well as helping certain business grow and keep people employed.

Garrett’s ideas? ALL CORPORATE TAX BREAKS. For American families and families in his district? Zero. For low income earners? Nothing. For those out of work? Zip.

What Garrett thinks is good for the families in his district are none of the above. His “hand picked” selections on how to help families includes the following:

  • Reducing corporate tax rates from 35% to 15% on CORPORATE capital gains;

  • Capping the amount of AMT that corporations can pay;

  • Reducing overall corporate tax rates from 35% to 25%

  • Repealing certain limits on taking bigger immediate deductions on most business equipment, thereby allowing corporations bigger and quicker deductions and reductions to their income; and

  • Changing the rules on certain corporate assets for calculating gains and losses (no doubt this will substantially help corporations reduce their income tax burden.

Actually, that’s the extent of Garrett’s proposal. More corporate giveaways. More tax breaks for corporate entities. Nothing to do with hiring, increasing wages. Nothing for low income families. Nothing for families at all.

If you didn’t know how little Garrett cared about the people of his district and their needs, you can look at his vote on the economic stimulus package. Or you can look at why he voted against giving thousands of families in his district a little extra cash, even though the bill has some major flaws. Or, if you still aren’t convinced, you can look at how Garrett REALLY thinks his district and this country can be helped in these tough economic times.

You’ll be stunned. But not because this is out of character for Garrett. More so because even for an extremist like Garrett, it shows utter contempt for the people he was elected to represent.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Scott Garrett - no friend of the education community

Back in 2002 then-candidate Scott Garrett gave us a taste of his feelings on education when he said that “we could do without the Department of Education”.

His overall voting record on educational matters is just as abhorrent as his comment above. While his choice to home school his kids isn’t necessarily something to hold against him in and of itself, it does offer insight into how out of touch he is on matters concerning education. On numerous occasions, Garrett has been the only Congressional member from NJ - Republican OR Democratic to vote in a certain manner.

In fact, Garrett voted “no” on each and every one of the last 10 education bills in Congress. Some of his “highlights” are noted below:

Garrett voted not once, not twice but three times against the Appropriations bill for the Department of Education - the last time casting the deciding vote that kept the House from overriding Bush’s veto of this bill.

Garrett voted against helping college students pay for college - reducing interest rates on student loans, increasing Pell Grants. He was one of two NJ Representatives to vote against this bill. This was also the second time during 2007 that Garrett voted against a bill whose main thrust was to help college students.

Just last year - Garrett was one of only 36 Representatives to vote against Project Head Start, in a bill that passed the House by a vote of 381-36 and the Senate by a vote of 95-0. This made Garrett one of only 36 out of 435 people in Congress that voted against this bill. Head Start was recognized by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02), who sits as a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor had favorable comments on the Program:

”Head Start is an important program that has the potential to help raise the level of early education for thousands of American children”

Even President Bush recognized the positive role of Head Start when he said the following upon signing this legislation:
Over the past 40 years, Head Start has provided comprehensive child-development services to more than 20 million low-income children and their families to promote school readiness.

And of course, back in 2005, Garrett urged New Jersey schools to teach "intelligent design" in addition to evolution, when he made the following statement:

"Evolution is the predominant theory right now," said Garrett, R-Wantage. "[But] intelligent design is one that is apparently growing in some scientific communities, in academia. ... It seems that a school board should at least consider being tolerant and open to discussing both theories."

Lastly, who can forget his comment from March 2007 that plainly laid out his stance on education, despite the fact that Article VIII, Section IV of the New Jersey Constitution indicates that “The Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years”:
Contrary to common modern misconceptions, there is no constitutional right guaranteeing each citizen an education.

On education - whether it be our children’s education, funding for public schools, the Department of Education itself, assistance for college students or advocating for introducing out-of-the-mainstream religious teaching in our public schools, Scott Garrett stands alone when it comes to extremist views on this District’s education policies. It is clear that Garrett is not looking out for the people of this District when it comes to educating our children.