Should John Brennan expect the Spanish Inquisition? At the Senate hearing scheduled for Thursday, February 7, Mark Udall (D-Colorado) can be expected to grill the nominee about his past support for torture, as Brennan seeks to be confirmed as Director of the CIA. A preliminary meeting between the two men did not go well, writes Denver reporter Eli Stokols:
“I was deeply disappointed today during my meeting with John Brennan,” Udall said. “A few weeks ago, I had asked that he be prepared to discuss at today’s meeting the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s comprehensive study on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program.
“Not only was he not prepared to discuss the important findings, but he hadn’t reviewed the report at all,” Udall continued.
“Brennan promised today to review the findings before the Intelligence Committee’s confirmation hearing next Thursday. I intend to hold him to that promise, and I hope Mr. Brennan will be more forthcoming in his testimony next week.
Yesterday I looked at the list of top contributors to Carl Levin, who was also at that meeting; today I’ll look at fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member Mark Udall.
The legal industry gives more to Udall than any other group. A few individual firms placed among his top twenty contributors, such as his biggest donor, Denver’s real estate lawyers Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which gave the Senator just over $100,000 since 1998. DC-based legal/lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs, which has an office in Denver, ranked fifth, and Denver’s corporate lawyers Holland & Hart came in sixth. Trial lawyer lobbying group the American Association for Justice ranked eighth.
Numerous unions give generously to the Democratic Senator, making up almost half his top twenty. The Teamsters, one of the largest unions in the world, have donated $64,000 to Udall making them his seventh biggest contributor. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ranked ninth; the United Food and Commercial Workers Union tenth; the Service Employees International Union eleventh; AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 13th; the United Auto Workers 14th; the Communication Workers of America 18th; and the Air Line Pilots Association, the Carpenters and Joiners Union, and the United Steelworkers all tied for 20th, pitching in $45,000 apiece.
Other top donors to the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks include environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, Udall’s second largest contributor with just under $100,000, and the Sierra Club (12th), with half that amount; internet service provider Level 3 Communications (third) of Broomfield, Colorado; the University of Colorado (fourth); employee-owned engineering and construction firm CH2M Hill (15th) and satellite TV corporation Dish Network (16th), both of Meridian. The Credit Union National Association (17th) and multinational media conglomerate Time Warner (19th) round out Udall’s list.
Udall’s refusal to “look forward, not backward” on torture is commendable, particularly given his colleagues’ acquiescence in the cover-up. On budget matters, however, he becomes a typical DC Democrat, advocating a bipartisan budget plan like Bowles-Simspon:
There should be no higher priority for this Congress than crafting a balanced, comprehensive and bipartisan deficit-reduction plan along the lines of Simpson-Bowles. To do anything short of a longterm grand bargain is unacceptable and only sets us back into the old ruts of impasse that created the problem in the first place. Coloradans deserve better.
To be sure, we will have our disagreements along the way. Both sides will have to make hard choices about seemingly sacred programs or uncompromising pledges. But true sacrifice and compromise are the only ways we, the Congress, and we, the people, can confront our budget challenges and turn this heavy yoke into an opportunity.
Only a politician who looks on voters as cattle would see a yoke as an opportunity — at least for the drivers.