Ethics mess for Rep. Gutierrez involves $590,000 taxpayer dollars

Louis Gutierrez

Snip from Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s U.S. House page funded by taxpayers.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is known primarily as a single issue congressman. For him, it’s all about immigration, and he’s been so vocal about it, he echoed major political player the U.S. Chamber of Commerce whose president said that if Republicans don’t pass immigration reform in 2014, the party shouldn’t bother to run a presidential candidate come 2016.

The Chamber, by the way, is normally aligned with the GOP. If the GOP doesn’t meet the Chamber’s mandate, however, it’s hard to see how the interests of commerce could align with current Democrat policy.

Against the backdrop of demands for immigration “reform”—basically a call for amnesty rather than critical reform of the bureaucracy—Gutierrez has dealt with an ethics mess. The mess has been quietly observed by media and Republicans have said little about it. 

The specifics are astounding, however, and more than $500,000 in taxpayer money is involved. National Journal explained Gutierrez’s ethics mess this way:

“Rep. Luis Gutierrez will continue to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee regarding whether he broke House rules by keeping a staffer-turned-lobbyist working and paid by his congressional office—to the tune of more than $590,000 over 10 years, the panel’s top leaders said Monday.”

NJ said the lobbyist is Doug Scofield who officially left Gutierrez’s office in 2002. Scofield then continued to work with the congressman as some sort of adviser.

While Scofield worked in that advisory capacity, The Chicago Tribune reported in 2006 the lobbyist did some work for Midwest Generation (power company) and he was also spokesman for now-imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign.

The paper said Scofield also lobbied for cable television companies, and a registration form with the state of Illinois listed the power company and Christopher House, an organization helping to educate low income youths and adults. Christopher House lists federal agencies as partners.

Among Guttierez’s past political donors are construction companies (employees), SEIU (the union’s PAC), and the customary donor to many politicos, Microsoft. Gutierrez’s top donor PAC is Border Health whose mission is to “support the medical profession along the border of the State of Texas and Mexico.”

The Border Health contribution makes sense in light of Gutierrez’s support for the PPACA/Obamacare and immigration which would more than likely expand taxpayer subsidized health insurance.

The 2010 Census report showed the state of Illinois’ population comprises approximately 13.7 percent immigrants, a total of 1,759,859 people.

Crunching the numbers indicates a phenomenon no politician will speak about. Of that 1,759,859 immigrants, 650,740 arrived before 1990 and would possibly have been eligible for citizenship under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

During the end of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, and the whole of Bill Clinton’s tenure, that number almost doubled, with 536,635 arriving. Reflecting bipartisan liberality, between 2000 and 2010, President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama’s administrations saw the number increase even more than the previous decade, with a total of 572, 494 arriving.

That is how the amnesty magnet works; you should count on a sizable increase if Gutierrez, his fellow Dems, like-minded Republicans, and the Chamber have their way.

Major donors will be pleased with an ever-expanding crop of inexpensive labor. This will disadvantage low and medium wage black, white, and hispanic workers. Those who gain citizenship via amnesty would in time presumably receive federal benefits including health insurance, and donors like Border Health could potentially benefit.

Meanwhile USA Today pointed out that Scofield’s lobbying efforts also included the Greater Chicago Food Depository:

“The investigative panel said there was some evidence that Scofield had reached out to Gutiérrez’s then-chief of staff to discuss federal appropriations for the food depository, but neither Scofield nor the chief of staff — who has since left the office — would cooperate with the investigation, so the panel could not draw any conclusions. While Scofield was working for both the food depository and Gutierrez, the organization announced that the congressman had been instrumental in helping to secure federal funding.”

Gutierrez told media he did know Scofield was a lobbyist, but he didn’t know “details” about the adviser’s work—another of many examples of “Demnesia” afflicting politicos these days.

Gutierrez’s ethics controversy follows a slew of controversies and scandals within the Democrats’ party, including California Sen. Leland Yee, once considered a rising star.

Yee is facing federal charges including conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. His campaign aide faces charges related to weapons and murder-for-hire.

In Texas, Democrat state legislator Ron Reynolds faces charges of allegations revolving around kickbacks.

Gutierrez has received kid gloves treatment from both Republicans and Democrats regarding his own troubles. His congressional website reflects a congressman who accomplishes little other than rhetoric.

You could give Gutierrez credit, however, for coming up with a way to pay a lobbyist with taxpayer dollars.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/May 28, 2014)

About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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