Monday, August 10, 2009

Rep. Mike Conaway Returns to Angelo State for Health Care Open House

The last time Mike Conaway held an open house at ASU, the Congressman pleaded for some West Texas hospitality. He heard from upset U.S. Veterans with serious concerns about VA health care. Fellow Republicans were unhappy with the direction of the party under Mike's good friend, President George W. Bush. He returns to the site of his excoriation, with health care reform as the topic.

How might Rep. Conaway weigh in on health reform? His lifetime PAC contributions are 90% from businesses. Businesses can give to Mike in multiple ways. They donate directly to his campaign or to Mike's political action committee, CONA PAC. A number of DC lobbying firms, Dutko Worldwide and Olgivy Government Relations, gave to Conaway's PAC in 2008.

CONA PAC launders money to other Republican candidates. His fundraising went from $36,000 in 2006 to $125,000 in 2008. That pales relative to Conaway's campaign contributions, over $4 million in his relative short, frequently unopposed career.

How have health care firm's supported Rep. Conaway? Mike's health insurance supporters include WellPoint and Humana. Private equity owned U.S. Oncology gave big money to his campaign. If money determines the stance, Conaway will be a for-profit health care supporter.

As for the appearance of impropriety, the Albertine brothers and Albertine Enterprises appear frequently on Conaway's donor list.

$15,000 for Campaign Committee 2006
$ 7,300 for Campaign Committee 2008
$ 7,500 for CONA PAC 2008

That totals of $29,800. John and James Albertine are lobbyists, with side businesses that contract with the government. Representative Conaway sponsored earmarks, netting the Albertine brothers' Global Delta $1.6 million in federal contracts.

John (aka Jack) Albertine lives in Fredericksburg, but not the Texas version. His home is in Virginia. Jack recently made the business news as Chairman of Integral Systems. The firm's CEO resigned after a quarterly loss, but the bigger news was an SEC violation. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Integral leaders with fraudulently concealing for more than seven years the identity and involvement of a convicted securities fraud felon in the company's top management. The complaint names Steven R. Chamberlain, former CEO; Elaine M. Brown, former CFO; and Gary A. Prince, the undisclosed felon, according to the SEC.

Integral Systems could've used Mike Conaway's CPA skills. It announced Dec. 10 that its unaudited financial statements could no longer be relied on due to accounting errors. Integral said about $10 million in revenues would have to be deferred as a result of the company's audit.

Representative Conaway runs with a dirty crowd. We knew that from the National Republican Congressional Committee's six year embezzlement of nearly $1 million in donor funds. It took Mike a full year as head of the Audit Committee to catch on to Chris Ward's looting. The story changed so many times, but isn't that political spin? Likely what the public will hear this Tuesday from 4:30 to 5:30 pm at Angelo State on health care.

Mike's word is as good as his record, which seems rather spotty. On health care Conaway's been AWOL for a district with low unemployment and a higher than Texas average of uninsureds. Texas happens to be the worst in the country on that measure.

How will Conaway be received in his second ASU open house? Will it be excoriation redux? If people paying attention show up, Mike will need more than his usual goose poop slickness.

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