Monday, August 11, 2008

Vetting Evan Bayh

WISH-TV political reporter Jim Shella reported first that vetters for Sen. Barack Obama had arrived in town last week to search state archive records of Evan Bayh. The USA Today's Ken Dilanian thinks he knows what sort of issues Obama's vetting team will want to know about Bayh:

Bayh's wife, attorney Susan Bayh, has earned $1 million a year in recent years, and nearly $2 million in stock options, through her service on 10 corporate boards, according to The Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., including drug and insurance companies that have been denounced by Obama as overly powerful special interests.

Bayh spokesman Eric Kleiman said Susan Bayh has a right to her own career, and that Bayh and his aides do not allow themselves to be lobbied by representatives of the companies on whose boards his wife serves.

As long as the attention is on Susan and not Evan, the Bayh folks will be happy. The real focus should, however, be on Evan. It is no secret in this town that as Evan prepared to leave the governor's office back in 1996 and prepare his run for the Senate in 1998 he shopped himself around town to the City of Indianapolis' biggest law firms. Bayh wanted $1 million for a less than 2-year stint, even though he would be spending most of his time campaigning for the Senate and helping Democrats raise money around the country. Bayh found his taker in Baker & Daniels. It would be interesting to determine if any billing records exist to prove exactly what Evan Bayh did for Baker & Daniels to earn so much money--more than most of the full-time lawyers working for the firm. Bayh's Senate financial disclosure statement his first year in office should tell us how close he came to reaching his $1 million goal. Oh, did I mention that Baker & Daniels has a D.C. lobbying arm called Sagamore Associates (now called B&D Consulting). A Heritage Foundation report on how earmarks are bought and sold in Washington made this interesting observation about Sagamore Associates:

Sagamore Associates, for example, cites earmark acquisition as one of its chief lines of business. Its Web site notes that "Shepherding appropriations requests through Congress is a high priority for many clients. More than half our firm's work is comprised of this activity, and our track record is strong." Sagamore's 2001 lobbying report to the U.S. Senate lists 81 clients, many of them universities and local communities seeking "appropriations" assistance.

If you check out the clients of Sagamore Associates and Baker & Daniels, you will find a lot of commonality in the businesses which allowed Evan and Susan to go from being a modest young couple fresh out of law school to the multi-millionaires they've become today. In those days, the Bayhs owned a modest downtown condo and a used BMW with out-of-state license plates. Today, they own at least three houses, including a beautiful vacation home on the Delaware shore. I've got to hand it to the guy. Evan sure made the most of those two years on Baker & Daniels' payroll--the only two years he spent on a private payroll the past quarter of a century. The Wall Street Journal will have a field day with Bayh. Remember the questions they raised about Geraldine Ferraro's finances back in 1984? The Mondale campaign spent weeks dealing with that nightmare following her selection. I don't think they'll let Bayh off any easier.

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