As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, February 05, 2007

CA-42: A Non-Denial Denial, Video and the D-Trip Gears Up

The drama surrounding corrupt Republican Gary Miller in CA-42 is growing and growing. On Friday Miller dismissed but did not deny that he was under FBI investigation for shielding the profits of several land deals by claiming they were sold under threat of eminent domain.

Miller said repeatedly that he has always followed legal and ethical guidelines in his real estate deals. He accused both a partisan media and local Democratic officials of impugning his character without regard to fact.

"My reputation is being destroyed," said Miller, 58. "If there is some benefit to me in being a congressman in any of these transactions, please show it to me."

OK, that would be the fact that you sold 165 acres of property in Monrovia and never paid taxes on it. And apparently, there's video of you asking the Monrovia City Council in 2000 to buy the land, when you claimed that the City Council forced you to sell it.

That good enough for ya?

Miller's lawyers have also been busy trying to intimidate local governments:

On Thursday, Miller's attorneys served the city of Monrovia with a letter requesting staff "retract or correct any misstatements made to the media or any governmental agencies" with regard to his 2002 sale of 165 acres of hillside land to the city for nearly $11.8 million.

The letter goes on to say that "if misstatements by the city, its officials or staff members persist, then the consequences could result in damages for which the city could be held acountable."

In other words, "I'm a congressman and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

The Monrovia planning commissioner had this to say.

Glen Owens, a Monrovia planning commissioner, said Tuesday an FBI agent questioned him about the chain of events that led up to Miller's land sale to the city.

Owens served on a advisory committee with Miller in the 1990s that was formed to come up with a plan for hillside development. He said he believes Miller did not intend to build on his property at the time of the sale.

"He soon realized that he could probably make more money by selling the land than by developing it," said Owens.

He added, "Gary just knows how to work the system and he is not afraid to push the envelope and that is what he's done. But I don't think he has broken any laws. He's just used bad judgment."

OK, so it's bad judgment to improperly file a form that saves you from paying taxes on a $10 million sale? No, it's bad judgment to claim that a city government was trying to force you to sell the land when it was in fact the opposite way around.

(Incidentally, Gary Miller was selected by his peers to be the top Republican on the subcommittee tasked with investigating banks. Just thought I'd bring that to your attention.)

And there's even some quid pro quo in this deal:

Miller used the proceeds from the Monrovia sale to buy property in Fontana from Lewis Operating Corp., a development company he had done business with before and that had contributed significantly to Miller's congressional campaigns.

In 2006, Lewis gave $8,500 to Miller, who ran for re-election unopposed. In 2004, the company gave him $10,000, making it the third largest contributor to his campaign.

The unintentional irony award goes to the last two paragraphs of the story:

Miller said he ran for Congress in 1998 because he did not like "what government did to the private sector," particularly with the way it regulates development. Miller, who previously served in the state Assembly and on the Diamond Bar City Council, is a successful real estate developer and businessman.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Miller is the 12th wealthiest member of the House, with a net worth of between $12 million and $51.7 million.

With that kind of resources, clearly Miller is not going down without a fight. And it appears that the local GOP will stick with him unless and until he is indicted. But the DCCC, the campaign committee for the House, has Miller on their radar screen:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- looking to cement the Dems' majority in the House -- is eyeing a bunch of GOP-held House districts where the incumbents look ready to retire or run for other offices, today's Roll Call reports. The Dems' expectation is that retirements -- or dissatisfaction with being in the minority -- could cause a wave of GOP defections that will leave behind districts that could then be ripe for a Dem pickup, the paper says.

Among the more than two dozen GOPers Dems are watching:

* Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.), who "reportedly is under FBI investigation, which has Democrats dreaming about his Inland Empire-based 42nd district, even though it gave Bush 62 percent of the vote in 2004."

Howie Klein reports that the D-Trip is not like it was when Rahm Emanuel was running the show:

The DCCC under Van Hollen is already looking much more Democratic and much more aggressive. Where Emanuel used discredited Inside-the-Beltway hack consultants to focus on a tiny number of races-- many of which turned out to be astronomically expensive races that Republicans won-- the new DCCC is casting a broader-- and smarter-- net. According to today's Roll Call Van Hollen is looking closely at over 2 dozen Republican-held seats that might be open seats by November '08-- open either due to retirements or indictments. "Given the GOP’s new minority status in the House, Democratic strategists think some veteran Republicans will head into retirement while some younger Members will opt to run for other offices. Democrats also believe that ethics scrapes could force a handful of GOP incumbents from office." [...]

UPDATE: Today was Brandon Hall's first day at the DCCC as Western Regional Director. This guy is smart and a real fighter. I called to congratulate him and all he wanted to do was talk about taking on Ken Calvert and Jerry Lewis, Dave Dreier, Buck McKeon, John Doolittle, Elton Galleghy and Gary Miller. What a dynamo! If Van Hollen hires a whole staff of people like Brandon Hall the DCCC will wind up as useful and productive as the grassroots has always dreamed it would be!

Gary Miller WASN'T CHALLENGED at all last year, but now it's been made very clear that he's a target, not just of the FBI but of the DCCC. This is very good news, and Southern California Democrats will have a variety of work to do in their own backyard in this cycle.

Labels: , , ,