In 1994, Trent Lott Conspired with Richard Shelby in the Backrooms to Launch a 'Coup of One'|
In 1986, Richard Shelby was elected to the Senate as a Democrat, unseating first-term Republican Jeremiah Denton.
Shelby first beat Alabama State Board of Education member Jim Allen, Jr. in the Democratic primary, by smearing him with ads that called him "an admitted drunken driver." (6/2/86 Associated Press) Allen had been sober more than 20 years at the time.
Shelby then went on to beat Denton by a razor-thin margin, by a mere 6,823 votes out of 1.2 million cast. Denton declined to contest the result, despite the fact that there were voting irregularities that would have supported a contest. (6/2/86 Associated Press)
After Shelby's November 1992 re-election he withdrew $3,149 in travel reimbursements in February, $10,163 in March and $2,050 in May of 1993 to reimburse himself for political travel, according to campaign finance records. (8/3/93 Associated Press Pol. Serv.)
He refused to provide any details to justify more than $15,000 he received from his campaign committee so far that year to cover travels around the country. "Travel reimbursements are a matter between the Federal Election Commission and the Shelby for Senate Campaign," Stacy Smith, a spokeswoman for the senator, said. "The campaign has met all FEC requirements and the campaign has satisfied its reporting obligation to the FEC in a timely and accurate manner," she said. (8/11/93 Associated Press Pol. Serv.)
During the first half of 1993, while traveling on his political warchest, Shelby raised more than $11,750 from PACs including health care and energy concerns. In contrast, Senator Howard Helfin (D-AL) received only one PAC contribution, $4000 from the American Electric Power Fuel Supply PAC during that period of time, and collected just $2,245 from his campaign committee for political travel during the first half of the 1993. (8/3/93 Associated Press Pol. Serv.)
Shelby plotted with the GOP and promised them, in May of 1994 (six MONTHS before the elections), that "if the GOP falls one vote shy" of capturing the Senate in the 1994 mid-term elections, he would switch to the Republican party to force the transition. (5/2/94 Portland Oregonian)
And then, just two days after the 1994 elections gave the Senate to the Republicans, Shelby jumped on the bandwagon anyway and declared that he was now a Republican. In doing so, he became the first sitting Senator to change from one major party to the other since Strom Thurmond made the switch in 1964, and benefitted from the same promise of continuation of seniority that had been promised Thurmond to entice him before he made the switch. (11/10/94 Ariz. Republic/Phoenix Gazette)
Shelby then felt free to play coy about his half-year-long plot with the Republicans to throw control to them by switching parties if they were short, saying "I might have [switched]. I might not have. That's a moot question." (11/10/94 Ariz. Republic/Phoenix Gazette)
Lott's hypocrital calls for action "to restore by the democratic process what was changed in the shadows of the back rooms in Washington" must be viewed in the light of the political manipulations of Senator Richard Shelby (currently a Republican) to throw the Senate to the Republicans in the 1994 elections by switching, knowing that by doing so he would be maintaining his seniority and staying with the majority.
Back room shadows and PAC-driven political favoritism would seem to be what Senator Shelby was all about when he jumped on the GOP-bandwagon once they were in the majority.
Back room shadows are all about Lott's removing, in committee, education funding Senator Jeffords had fought for on the floor.
Back room shadows are all about Tom Delay and Trent Lott blackmail in refusing to appoint conference committees.
Richard Shelby, Tom Delay, and Trent Lott are all where they belong - in the special-interest and right-wing extremist controlled Republican party.
But before we make sweeping pronouncements on who's destroying the democratic process we should all take a long hard look at just who's twisting arms in the back rooms, who's more beholden to special interests, and who's all about manipulating power and switching sides just to make sure they're playing on the "winning" team.
And let's take a super hard look at which team has shown that it will "win" at any cost, no matter how dirty.
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