Thursday, March 16, 2006

Breaking: Third Democrat to Challenge John Doolittle

From the candidate's news release:

Tax and Ethics Expert/Former KPMG
Michael Hamersley Announces Candidacy For Congress

ROSEVILLE, CA—Standing before an audience gathered outside the Roseville Civic Center, Michael Hamersley, the tax scam whistleblower who exposed the multi-billion dollar tax shelter fraud and conspiracy that prompted a U.S. Senate investigation announced his candidacy for the seat currently held by John Doolittle (R-Roseville) in California’s fourth congressional district.

Hamersley’s whistleblowing, done at great personal and professional hazard, resulted in the federal indictment of 19 individuals, including 17 partners and executives at the international accounting firm KPMG, in what the U.S. Department of Justice has referred to as “the largest criminal tax case in U.S. history.”

Hamersley’s experience at KPMG was chronicled in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Fortune Magazine, and other major media publications. In 2004, he appeared in the PBS Frontline documentary “Tax Me If You Can.” His travails as a whistleblower later became the subject of a case study in a leading law school ethics textbook and have been used to provide a lesson in ethics at Harvard University.

Hamersley is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. and also holds MBA and BBA degrees. He spent several years working in Washington D.C. as a federal tax expert before moving to California in 2000. He is currently employed with the California Franchise Tax Board as a member of its Abusive Tax Shelter Task Force where he has been a key contributor to California’s effort to further uncover abusive tax shelters and scams, an effort that so far has brought in approximately $6 billion dollars to the state general fund.

As a nationally recognized expert on abusive tax shelters and scams, Hamersley continues to testify before California and other state legislatures regarding the promotion of abusive tax shelters, and is a much sought-after speaker and participant at conferences on corporate and professional ethics.

Hamersley described his reasons for entering this congressional race: “I am absolutely appalled at Representative Doolittle’s conduct and dismayed at his blatant attempts to exploit the genuine faith of his constituents and to manipulate public perception in an effort to avoid admitting his improprieties and save his own hide,” Hamersley said. Referencing a recent interview in which John Doolittle quoted the Bible from the Book of John (Chapter 8, Verse 32, “…the truth shall make you free”), Hamersley remarked: “I know from my recent experience as a whistleblower that the truth will indeed set you free, and I firmly believe that John Doolittle is not being fully truthful with us. It is time for him to come clean. I have had enough of John Doolittle’s brand of ‘pay-to-play politics,’ and I don’t think I am alone in feeling that way.”

Hamersley called for an investigation into Doolittle’s dealings with lobbyists, campaign contributors, political action committees, and federal contractors, beginning with his association with Brent Wilkes, an unindicted co-conspirator in the bribery scandal of former Congressman Duke Cunningham. Earlier this month, Cunningham was sentenced to over 8 years in federal prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes from two defense contractors in exchange for political favors. According to Cunningham, Brent Wilkes gave him more than $500,000 in cash and gifts as kickbacks in exchange for getting government contracts.” John Doolittle sits on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. Duke Cunningham was a member of its defense appropriations subcommittee.

“I find it exceedingly difficult to fathom that no illegal quid pro quo existed when John Doolittle ‘earmarked’ millions of dollars for a Department of Defense contract that was awarded to a man he calls his ‘close friend,’ Brent Wilkes, who contributed $85,000 to Mr. Doolittle’s campaign coffers and political action committee in close temporal proximity to the awarding of this contract. At the very least, this conduct is highly unethical.” Hamersley said.

Hamersley also said he is “equally dismayed that John Doolittle has refused to return any of the estimated $140,000 given to him or his wife by Indian gaming lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whom Mr. Doolittle also calls a ‘good friend,’ even after Mr. Abramoff has admitted to corruption, bribery, and tax evasion.” In an interview earlier this month, Doolittle said he doesn’t really know how much money he got from Abramoff, and that “it doesn’t make much difference anyways . . .All I know is that I try to raise as much money as possible. Because that's my job as a Republican leader.”

Hamersley is of the opinion that these recent “pay-to-play” arrangements are not isolated incidents, but rather are representative of a pattern of behavior that Representative Doolittle has exhibited throughout much of his career.

“Follow the money in John Doolittle’s “earmarking” efforts, fundraising activities, and lobbyist associations.” Hamersley said. “You will find a continuous ‘wheel of fortune’ benefiting his political action committees, his hand-picked lobbyists, his other ‘close friends,’ and John Doolittle himself—all at the expense of citizens of the fourth congressional district and other taxpayers.

Hamersley offered his views regarding the hypocrisy of legislators who seek to avoid the consequences of their actions by ferreting out or creating “loopholes” in the law so that they can engage in conduct indirectly that they know to be functionally and substantively equivalent to the very conduct Congress intended to render illegal. He said “one can hardly serve the public while simultaneously seeking to undermine our legal system to further one’s own self-interest. Failure of our elected leaders to scrupulously honor the law erodes the average citizen’s respect for our justice system. We must hold our public officials to a higher standard than just merely complying with the literal letter of the law while knowingly violating the intent and sprit of the law. Even when legal, such conduct is shameless, highly unethical, inherently inconsistent with the notion of public service, and unbefitting of a public representative.”

“Not only must our legislators do what is legal,” Hamersley said, “But they must also learn to do what is RIGHT.”

“As a member of KPMG’s mergers and acquisitions tax practice, I saw upfront and in depth the culture of big money, corruption, and greed,” Hamersley said. “That culture led to thievery no different from a pick pocket or shoplifter—but this thievery stole billions of dollars, and the ultimate victims were the honest citizens of the United States.”

Hamersley, who lives in El Dorado Hills, California with his wife Sylvia and their son Jared, sees the same influence of big money in politics. It’s high time we put an end to the ‘business as usual’ in politics.”

Hamersley said he believes “we are at a critical juncture in this great Nation’s history. It is a time for truth, or a time for consequences. We must demand ethical conduct from those we choose to lead us.” He said “a nation that does not seek and demand truth from its political leaders is a nation in peril.” Hamersley said ”I offer to the voters of the fourth congressional district my knowledge, my experience, and my unrelenting efforts to blaze this path towards restoring truth, honor, integrity, and accountability to the representation of this congressional district. I offer an era of Truth.”

Hamersley said he “finds it quite telling that Representative Doolittle equates the measure of a man’s credibility with the thickness of his wallet.” He raised the following example. “Last week, John Doolittle, commenting about his primary opponent, Mike Holmes, told the Auburn Journal ‘so far, he's raised $50,000, $20,000 of which is a loan. So you know, that's no credible candidacy.’ During another recent media interview John Doolittle was asked ‘Are you concerned about this perfect storm coming at a time when you're getting a GOP challenge from Mike Holmes?’ His response, ‘Well, all that means is it costs me money.’”

“To John Doolittle, it is all about the money, and never about the people, their ideas, or what they may have to offer. I say ENOUGH OF THIS! ENOUGH OF JOHN DOOLITTLE!” Hamersley said.

Hamersley said “notwithstanding Mr. Doolittle’s deep campaign coffers—much of which have been filled with our hard-earned tax dollars—and his ability to transform campaign bounty into ballot votes through subtle exploitation of our faith and public perception manipulation, the citizens of this fourth congressional district will not allow him to drown out the truth again.” He added, “money may indeed be the mother’s milk of politics, but in the words of Winston Churchill, ‘truth is incontrovertible’.”

He called on voters to send a loud and clear message to John Doolittle that “genuine credibility has nothing to do with money and everything to do with truth, integrity, and accountability” Hamersley said. He continued: “Send an unmistakable message that the voters of this congressional district are not sheep or cattle that can be bought and sold, rather we are real people with real concerns that have too long been ignored as Doolittle tends to the business of enriching himself and his small circle of friends.”

Hamersley concluded by saying: “And so I say, the time has come to turn Mr. Doolittle out of office. The time has come to return truth and dignity to an office that has too long been devoid of your hopes, your aspirations, and your values.”

* * *

"Tax Me If You Can" PBS Interview w/Hamersley

Folks, looks like we've got ourselves a real race here in California's fourth district.

Update: Hamersley for Congress web site

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