Monthly Archives: March, 2014

Pondering Late at Night

American-flagI have been unable to sleep tonight, so I figured I would write.  I feel that writing sometimes can clear a lot of the clutter going on in my brain, and release the thoughts keeping me awake.  Consider it an open letter to the American people.

I have been campaigning for nearly a year now.  Reaching out to thousands of voters, not only in Utah, but across a nation.  I have talked to liberals, conservatives, and every party affiliation or lack thereof.  Everyone seems jaded by a politician or their preferred party.  Heaven knows I am in that boat as well.

I used to be a Republican myself.  That was until I saw a lot of what was wrong with the party.  The compromise, the back door deals, the fight for power or political positioning instead of doing what is right for the American people.  Call me old school, or just a dumb jarhead, but I believe in being direct.  I believe in meaning what you say, and saying what you mean.  I am tired of the political games the Democrats and Republicans have been playing, while the people suffer.

I want so badly to be able to serve, it’s something I have wanted since I was a child.  My job choices on growing up were always service oriented, and every job I have held was in a service capacity of one sort or another.  I don’t get why the people currently elected don’t work to serve the people.  It boggles my mind.

I’ve heard all the stories: greed, power, wealth, etc. for why they seem to be in office.  I just don’t get why it is so important for them to have those things.  I consider an office of public trust to be sacred, but I see the people who swore a similar oath to my own, spit upon the principles of that oath.  I guess that’s why I chose to run.  I’m tired of the oath breaking.  I’m tired of watching small business being crippled by stifling regulations.  I’m tired of cronyism.  I’m tired of not knowing if my kids will enjoy the freedoms I had as a child.

Our rights are being trampled on before our eyes, and both parties are stepping on them.  Both want to expand the government’s role, they just think they can do a better job of it.  They love their corporate donors and reward them with tax breaks, subsidies, and positions.  It’s sickening.

Where did honor go? Where is courage to do the right thing? Where is the commitment to the American people?

Is the disease of the nation’s capitol really that bad?  That even some of the best turn bad?  How is it possible that so many, with all the best intentions fail in their duties after a few years?

Call me a dreamer, but I want to see America thrive.  I want to see the dreams of our forefathers truly come to fruition.  We have the ability to do this, but only if we are willing to fight for it. Only if we truly want it.  Only if we get up and go for our dreams.

I may be reaching for the stars with my hopes of making it to the halls of Congress, but when you set a high standard, even if you don’t quite make it, you still land in a better place than you were before.

My experience campaigning has given me greater insight, depth, and understanding I would never have known.  Every person I meet trying to find a way to make a difference has given me hope. Each one carries a little spark of liberty’s dream, and together…they shine a light more magnificent than anything I have ever known.

I love this country so much, and it’s killing me watching the politicians destroy her.  Seeing many of you fighting helps me see hope.  Something I thought was lost long ago.

If we banded together, we would be an unstoppable force.  We must not forget the lessons history has taught us.  We cannot forget the principles of individual liberty.  We must hold self evident truths and spread them to others.  When we plant those seeds or sparks of liberty, and feed them, they will grow.  They will become the most magnificent thing the world has known.

We become free.

Craig Bowden (I), Candidate for 1st Congressional District Seat

006This is taken from Sentinel News, a newspaper serving Northern Utah. We have corrected a couple of small errors in the information which will be bracketed.

by Steve Child

Craig Bowden,an Independent candidate for the 1st Congressional District, held a “Meet the Candidate” meeting at the Brigham City Library on 25 January. During that meeting, he fielded questions from the audience and expressed his views about what was wrong in Washington,D.C.; and how he could contribute to changing the current political climate there.  He explained that he decided to run because he was tired of the bickering in Washington, D.C. between the two main political parties for control of the federal government instead of concentrating on the needs of Americans.

Being a disable [Marine] veteran, he feels gives him a unique understanding on veteran affairs and military concerns, which would enable him to address the needs of our military in and out of service.  He feels that the Veterans Administration needs to be streamlined and that there are better ways to connect the VA with those coming out of service and helping the veterans with disabilities transition into civilian life again.

“I feel that certain injuries, such as brain injuries caused by explosions, that should immediately get a 0% rating,” said the young man, “so veterans when discharged can have immediate access to health care instead of waiting years to have access to the care they need.”  He went on to explain that many veterans’ conditions are deteriorating while waiting for the help they need due to an inefficient bureaucracy. Craig feels his ideas would most likely save the VA money in the long run and help the veterans transition back to civilian life quickly and smoothly.

Term limits is something the veteran wants to address. “I feel five terms (10 years) in the House of Representatives and two terms (12 years) for the Senate is sufficient time,” reasoned Mr. Bowden.  “Knowing this, then, folks would know they would go back into the private sector and have to face the decisions they made and live under the same conditions as everyone else.”

He feels that immigration is a simple issue to solve by enforcing current laws on the books and finish building the wall (that was passed into law in 2006) on the southern border that is just over 20% completed.  “They [immigrants] need to come here legally and the government needs to be accountable that this is being done,” said Mr. Bowden.

His main reason to appeal the Patriot Act ism “it gives the federal government too much power,” he said. “I understand we have to have a secure nation, but it cannot come at the cost of our individual liberties.”

He also feels there needs to be an improved and expanded oversight committee to keep government agencies in check and hold leaders of those agencies accountable for their spending decisions. He feels this will get rid of the current mentality that if there is money left over at the end of the year it has to be spent in order to get the same budget next year.

The Federal Reserve has almost no oversight as well, according to Mr. Bowden. He feels the FR needs to be eliminated and he pointed out that it is not the role of the FR to decide to print money – that it should be in Congress’ hands to decide that.

Mr. Bowden feels a “Fair Tax” needs to be initiated. “I think an end-user tax should be instituted,” he claimed. “If you buy more, then you’ll pay more in taxes.” His idea is that this tax would fluctuate year after year based on the spending habits of Americans causing Congress to run off a working business model that requires spending control in order to meet the expected budget.  With a “Fair Tax,” all other taxes would be eliminated and there would be no need for the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Bowden served nearly eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantryman. He completed two combat tours to Iraq, served advisement missions to Morocco, trained over 2,000 Marines and several hundred multi-national allies. The young man worked three years in the business division of the IRS, giving him insight into what needs to be done to fix the problems with the IRS. He is the author of “Common Sense: How to Restore America” and is a self-employed business owner. Craig is a father of two [sons and a daughter] and engaged to to be married and be a step-father to two boys.  If you would like more information about Mr. Bowden, or contact him, you can go to his web page http://www.Craig4Congress.org.

White House knowledge of Kathleen Sebelius’ fundraising

Emails obtained by the Washington Examiner through a Freedom of Information Act request raise new questions about how much the White House knew about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius‘ fundraising for Obamacare and whether she solicited donations from entities she regulates.

White House officials have said they did not sign off on calls made by Sebelius to solicit donations from private entities for Enroll America, an outside nonprofit with close White House ties that promotes enrollment in the health law’s insurance exchanges. Officials say they were only generally aware Sebelius would be seeking support from outside groups.

In late January, HHS’s Freedom of Information Act office released 257 pages of emails in response to a June request from the Washington Examiner.

The documents are heavily redacted with 12 pages withheld in their entirety and another 179 pages of “responsive records” still “under review for consultation” before a decision is made on their release.

The emails show that White House Office of Public Engagement staffers participated in weekly conference calls with HHS and Enroll America. The emails also show that the agenda of these phone meetings included Sebelius’ calls to outside entities, high-level operational planning and more focused outreach with private partners through senior White House aides.

In one email, dated May 6, 2013, Anton Gunn, then director of external affairs for HHS, said he believed two separate conference calls should be merged — one that involved Enroll America and HHS and another that included the White House. The email was sent to Anne Filipic, the president of Enroll America and former OPE deputy director, and other HHS and Enroll America staff.

“I believe the content of these calls has overlapped on more than one occasion, but I want to make sure HHS and Enroll America are clear that we agree that these calls should be permanently merged in to [sic] ONE call with White House staff and that call should happen Weekly? Or is it every other week?” Gunn asked.

Filipic responded that a weekly call “makes sense” and believed it should combine “WH/HHS/EA.”

Earlier in the email, Gunn said the calls between Enroll America and HHS were “high level” and “focused on operational issues like “data/Legal Issues, KGS calls, Branding, etc.,” while the calls that included Enroll America, HHS and OPE seemed to be “detailed planning calls and more focused on Outreach/Engagement/Partnerships using the WH and WH Principals.”

In other emails provided to the Examiner, “KGS calls” refers to phone calls Sebelius made to private companies and nonprofits discussing Enroll America.

A later email shows that a scheduled separate White House conference call, coordinated by then-deputy director of public engagement Stephanie Valencia, had been canceled so that only one joint phone meeting between HHS, Enroll America and the White House would occur each week.

Two White House staffers from the OPE — Valencia and Ari Matusiak, the White House director of private sector engagement — were included in one series of heavily redacted emails with the subject line “Johnson & Johnson CEO – Meeting Request” — dated April 1, 2013.

An email was sent from Filipic to Anton Gunn, who was then head of HHS’ external affairs, and Mandy Cohen, a senior adviser to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, as well as Valencia and Matusiak.

Neither the White House nor HHS responded to questions about why White House staffers were included on those emails or whether Sebelius asked for financial help during the meeting with Johnson & Johnson.

In later emails, with redacted sections, Filipic writes Gunn saying she is eager to hear how the “call” with Johnson & Johnson went.

The company confirmed the meeting to the Washington Examiner and said no donation had been made. But a Johnson & Johnson spokesman did not respond to questions about whether Sebelius asked for money.

In another set of emails, Sebelius received talking points from Enroll America that were also used by Nancy-Ann DeParle, a former head of the White House Office of Health Reform during the Congressional fight to pass Obamacare, who went on to become the president’s deputy chief of staff for policy.

DeParle left after Obama’s re-election, and served as a guest scholar last year at Brookings and serves on various health care company boards. She spent the last year asking insurers to donate to Enroll America, according to a report from Politico.

DeParle was regularly asking insurance companies to cut checks to promote Obamacare, but it is unclear whether the talking points she shared with Sebelius included a direct request for financial donations, contrary to Sebelius’ claim that she did not specifically request money from entities HHS regulates.

Emails show Sebelius used the talking points for phone calls with Kaiser Permanente’s then-President George Halvorson, as well as with Ascension Health’s then-President Tony Tersigni.

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the country, and Ascension Health, a large Catholic nonprofit that operates a network of health facilities, are both regulated by HHS.

In one email Filipic sent to senior HHS and CMS aides, she provides a “call sheet” ahead of Sebelius’ phone call to Halvorson.

“It is worth reiterating that Nancy-Ann is scheduled to speak to George tomorrow morning,” she writes in an email dated March 21, 2013. “As you can imagine, her call sheet looks very similar!”

“I do think it’s worthwhile for George to hear from a number of folks, but want to be clear about the multiple calls, so that we do not cross wires,” she continues.

Filipic then mentions that she will provide a call sheet for Sebelius’ call to Tersigni the next day and says “Nancy-Ann is NOT currently schedule [sic] to call Tony.”

HHS did not respond to requests for a copy of the call sheet and the FOIA response did not include attachments to any of the emails provided.

Kaiser Permanente donated an unspecified amount to Enroll America. Halvorson also joined its board of directors, along with executives from Blue Shield of California and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, the largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the world. It is not known whether Ascension Health, a member of the group’s Advisory Council, cut a check to Enroll America.

The White House did not respond to questions about what its aides knew about the fundraising or whether any White House staffers were directly involved in soliciting for Enroll America.

HHS has repeatedly declined to answer the Examiner’s questions about the emails and has said all of its fundraising activity on behalf of Enroll America is legal and proper.

HHS spokeswoman Erin Shields acknowledged in a statement that officials “worked collaboratively across the administration to get the word out about enrollment through education and outreach efforts.”

Shields defended the fundraising, pointing to a provision in the Public Health Service Act, which she said allows HHS to work with public and private partners “to advance public health.”

“The Secretary is authorized to support (and encourage others to support) programs and private non-profit entities working in programs related to health information and health promotion, preventive health services, and education in the appropriate use of health care,” she continued.

Shields also cited the George W. Bush administration’s “use of public-private partnerships to launch the Medicare prescription drug program and enroll children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”

The disclosure that Sebelius sought private donations to help launch Obamacare has outraged Republicans. They charge that she is trying to circumvent Congress after lawmakers denied additional funding to promote the Affordable Care Act.

Two House committees launched investigations and Republicans asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, and the HHS inspector general to probe the extent to which Sebelius and her staff are coordinating with Enroll America and other organizations.

Sebelius has defended her actions as legal and proper and said officials made similar efforts under President George W. Bush to roll out Medicare Part D’s prescription drug program.

Sebelius said she only directly solicited two groups, both of which are not regulated by HHS: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block. Sebelius said she called three groups HHS regulates — Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson and Ascension Health — but asked them only for general support and didn’t specifically request money.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit focused on public health, last year said it had contributed $14 million to Enroll America. While Johnson & Johnson has not donated, the foundation owns more than $1 billion worth of company stock. The Food and Drug Administration, an HHS agency, also regulates Johnson & Johnson’s drugs and medical devices.

H&R Block is the largest tax preparation company in the country, and stands to reap a windfall in new business under Obamacare as consumers seek tax subsidies under the law. Last year, theNew York Times reported that H&R Block pledged $500,000 to Enroll America, but a company spokesman says the firm ultimately decided against donating.

Republicans contend that Sebelius’ fundraising is different than what occurred under Bush because Congress specifically defunded additional money from being spent to promote Obamacare enrollment. They point to the Anti-Deficiency Act, which prohibits government agencies from accepting voluntary services or donations.

Watchdogs and ethics attorneys disagree over whether Sebelius’ fundraising violated federal laws, but all say asking private companies to financially support Obamacare’s rollout raises serious ethical questions. They also say the Public Health Service Act does not allow the White House or CMS to engage in such solicitation.

Craig Holman, an ethics expert at Public Citizen, a government watchdog organization, said he believes Sebelius’ fundraising is legal, but full of “ethical landmines.”

“It has the appearance of the administration putting pressure on business that they want something from business — could be support for a change in the Obamacare law or another type of quid pro quo,” he said. “It is certainly worthy of investigating.”

Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center, said any investigation should focus on whether there was intimidation on behalf of HHS.

She said the Obama administration, ahead of the fundraising drive, should have set clear conflict-of-interest rules as they did when doling out $700 billion in taxpayer dollars from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“I’m really puzzled why the White House hasn’t set out clear rules,” she said.

“The way they’ve handled this – maybe because of the bad rollout – seems so ham-handed,” she continued. But she added that it is not too late for the White House to say “we’re going to set some rules.”

(from Washington Examiner)

Utah: House Committee Passes “Shall Certify” Legislation

Last Wednesday, the Utah House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee passed House Bill 373 by a 9-0-2 vote.  Authored by state Representative Ryan Wilcox (R-7), HB 373 would require that certification by a chief law enforcement officer (CLEO), when a signoff is required for the transfer of a firearm or other item regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA), be provided within fifteen days as long as the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the firearm or other item.  The NRA is currently working with the bill sponsor to make a few technical improvements to the language of the bill to ensure its effectiveness.  Representative Wilcox will offer the NRA-suggested amendments when HB 373 in considered on the House floor.

Under current law, a CLEO may refuse to sign off for any reason, including their own personal feelings toward NFA-related items, which has created issues for law-abiding citizens.  As amended, HB 373 will bring the CLEO signoff process in line with the standard that sheriffs in Utah are already using when signing off on a concealed carry permit.  By removing any possibility of personal bias, which may reside behind many CLEO’s refusal to sign off, and creating a statewide standard, HB 373 protects the rights of law-abiding gun owners across the Beehive State.

It is a good thing to hear that representatives are taking steps in the right direction to support our second amendment rights.