Friday, March 28, 2008

14th CD Cong. Foster replies to Pres. Bush tomorrow and talks w/Berkowitz today about telecom immunity, secret courts and Republican blogs

Revised and links added at 4:40 pm on Friday

Cong. Foster gives Democratic Party response to President Bush

Not quite three weeks after he was elected to Congress in a Special Election to fill the remainder of former Speaker Denny Hastert’s term, 14th CD congressman Bill Foster (D-Geneva) taped, this morning, the Democratic response to President Bush’s weekly radio address, both of which will air nationally tomorrow morning. The taping occurred in the Chicago Loop offices of WBBM-AM Radio, the Chicago CBS affiliate.

Foster’s Democratic response to Bush covers a broad range of topics from the rising cost of college tuition, to the federal economic stimulus program, to energy independence, to home-mortgage issues, to the War in Iraq, to tax cuts to much, much more. It will be broadcast on major radio networks, across the country, including of course, CBS's WBBM- 780 AM-Radio in Chicago, at 10:06 am (CST) tomorrow, following the President’s remarks, by about a half hour.

Democrat Foster, touted in a TV ad by Senator Obama during the last four days of the campaign, upset the Republican standard bearer Jim Oberweis by about five thousand votes for a six point margin of victory in a Special Election held on March 8, 2008. The seat had been held for twenty-one years by Cong. J. Dennis Hastert, whose eight year Speakership was the longest for a Republican in the history of the Country.

Putting Foster “out there,” so soon after his election suggests the Democrats are leaving nothing to chance in business owner/physicist, Dr. Foster’s scheduled re-match in the Fall, 2008 general election against Jim Oberweis. The Oberweis special election efforts (supported by Senator McCain in a fundraiser after the Republican Primary, but not with a TV ad) and regular election efforts by Oberweis constitute, essentially, a combined fourth attempt for elected office in Illinois by Oberweis in the last seven years, after a long and successful career in business in running or overseeing, at various times, both Oberweis Dairy and Oberweis Asset Management, an investment management and brokerage firm.[Watch Oberweis here].

Is Jim Oberweis “Fired up and ready to go,” for Round 2?

Oberweis is rumored to be taking a long vacation after a tough and bitter (but strong) primary win over State Senator Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), followed by Oberweis' general election loss a month later to Foster. Lauzen declined to endorse Oberweis after the Primary and that was viewed by most as a significant, albeit not the only significant, factor in Oberweis’ loss. [See here.]

Rumors (including a report by Bob Novak) ran rampant shortly after the March 8, 2008 general election that Oberweis was being pressured by Illinois Republican Party Leaders (if there are such) to withdraw from the Fall race, in favor of someone who has a track record of winning, e.g., Republican Minority Leader in the Illinois statehouse, Tom Cross, or perhaps simply someone who has had fewer political battles with the Illinois Republican Party establishment, or as John Kass might say--the Republican half of the Illinois Combine. [For more about the Illinois Combine, discovered and articulated by the Chicago Tribune's John Kass, go here and to the links and videos cited therein].

However, State Rep. Cross (R-Oswego), who is said to be planning a run for Governor in 2010, has shown little, if any, interest in giving up his statehouse seat to make the run in the 14th CD. Further, Bill Pascoe, General/ Media consultant to the Oberweis Campaign, when he was last available to this reporter (last week), stated, “Novak has it wrong. NO ONE has called Jim, or spoken to Jim, to ask him to get off the ballot.” [For more on this topic, go here]. Notwithstanding Pascoe's comments, retiring downstate Republican congressman, Ray LaHood (R-Peoria, 18th) told this reporter two weeks ago that he thought Republican minority leader Tom Cross would have been the best Republican candidate to run in the 14th Cong. Dist.

Both Foster and Oberweis are men of substantial net worth who invested heavily in their campaign and received substantial financial assistance from their respective parties. Foster, as the incumbent, can expect substantial financial support from his party in the Fall. Oberweis, as the challenger, can expect his Party to be much less forthcoming this time around.

Cong. Foster discusses telecom immunity, the Republican Blogs, secret courts and terrorist surveillance with Berkowitz

After this morning’s taping, Cong. Foster made himself available to questioning from the media and the below is a partial transcript of same.

Jeff Berkowitz: Congressman, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has accused you, in one of your first votes, I think it is House Roll Call No. 116, of voting against the Senate compromise bill, which passed the U. S. Senate, on the terrorist surveillance issue…[the Senate bill] I believe would immunize the telecommunications companies for acting at the government’s request, post September 11 [2001], to take certain actions regarding surveillance. Do you see that vote that way on House Roll Call No. 116 and where do you stand on that issue of immunizing telecommunication companies [from civil lawsuits] for actions they took at the request of their government. [For an overview of this issue and the differences between the House and Senate bills, see here].

Cong. Bill Foster (D-Geneva, 14th CD): Well, I guess, first off, one of the real joys of having the campaign over and being in the business of government is that you don’t have to pay any attention to the Republican blogs anymore. And, so, that’s been very nice and so I actually didn’t see whatever the NRCC might or might not have said about this but, you know, this was an important vote. And, I do not believe in blanket immunity for telecom companies or anyone else that may or may not have violated basic privacy understandings. I believe there is a huge difference between a scenario in which data was turned over in the immediate aftermath of September 11, with a clear understanding that people in the Administration thought that this was truly legal and data that may have been turned over under other circumstances. And, I think the compromise that came out of the House Bill, which essentially established a secret court that allowed the telecoms to defend themselves, using the letters that they may or may not have received from the Administration, provides a very good intermediate compromise for the purposes of determining the civil immunity or non-immunity of these telecoms. So, I am a bigger fan of the compromise that came out of the House than the compromise that came out of the Senate and I voted that way.

Jeff Berkowitz: You said a “secret court,” coming out of the House Bill. Is that separate from the FISA courts.

Cong. Bill Foster: Yes, yes. As I understand, there was a mechanism to provide—to allow the telecoms—the ability to present letters that they may or may not have gotten from the administration , encouraging them to turn over data. These are letters that, if they exist, would be protected under state secrets provisions by the Administration and the Administration currently would prevent [the telecoms] from presenting in open court. And, so, they are in a situation where the law says very clearly that, you know, you are immune if you got a letter saying certain things with certain assurances from the Administration. But, since [the telecoms] can’t present those letters in open court, then, for civil purposes, they can’t actually defend themselves and so the House Compromise provides a mechanism for them to present those letters, not in open court, but in a secret proceeding.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search,
can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Obama and McCain, former Presidential candidate Richardson-- and many other pols, including this week's show with Rep. Lang and last night's show in the City of Chicago and Aurora with WGN Political Pundit and Professor Paul Green at
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs Youtube page include this week's show with Rep. Lang , last night's show in Chicago and Aurora with WGN Radio political pundit Paul Green, last week's show with Senator and likely 2010 Illinois Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady,our show with former Sen. Rauschenberger, assessing Barack Obama, our prior show with Republican U.S. Senate Republican nominee Dr. Steve Sauerberg, discussing his Democratic opponent--Senator Durbin-- and domestic, cultural and foreign policy issues, our prior show featuring State Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston,IL), discussing Barack Obama, as well as various Illinois Budget issues (spending, mass transit, capital budget, education, gaming and taxes) and possible 2010 Illinois gubernatorial candidates and 2010 U. S. Senate candidates (assuming Obama moves up to President in 2008) , a discussion with State's Attorney for Cook County Republican nominee Tony Peraica; and Anita Alvarez, Chief Deputy to current State's Attorney for Cook County Dick Devine and now the Democratic nominee for State's Attorney of Cook County.