DelBene, TPP, and Microsoft stock: should she recuse herself?

Rep. Suzan DelBene is apparently going to vote in favor of trade promotion authority (“fast track”) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, unlike Reps McDermott, Smith, and Heck.

A friend called DelBene’s office and an aide said she is voting for fast-track.

Last fall I spoke to her and asked her to oppose it. She was very polite but said that progressives aren’t the only people she represents. She is not a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Instead, she is a New Democrat (a centrist Dem).

Furthermore, according to this Seattle Times article from January of this year, President Obama named DelBene to the Export Council. This is an indication that Obama is confident of her support for TPP.

Microsoft would benefit from TPP. DelBene is an ex-Microsoft executive, as is her husband Kurt. Could her support for TPP be related to their ownership of Microsoft stock?

Rep. Suzan DelBene

According to ThinkAdvisor.com, DelBene is the 10th richest member of Congress and is worth $37.8 million. “DelBene’s wealth, which increased $14 million over last year, comes from the sale of Microsoft stock. She and her husband, Kurt, were both executives at the software behemoth. Besides investments, they own a home worth $5 million, which was purchased in the last year.” It doesn’t say whether they still own Microsoft stock.

KUOW reported in 2012: “According to DelBene’s financial disclosure reports (PDF), she and her husband have a net worth of between $23 and $83 million (candidates are not required to report the exact amount of their assets). DelBene’s husband Kurt DelBene is president of Microsoft’s Office division. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show Kurt DelBene owns 635,693 shares of Microsoft stock.” Other than #1 Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.(net worth $357 million) and #2 Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas ($117.5 million), the other eight richest members of Congress are Democrats.

Here is her filing with the SEC.

My question is: do DelBene and her husband still own stock in Microsoft? If so, shouldn’t she recuse herself from voting on the issue, since it is a conflict of interest?

DelBene betrays the Democratic Party, apparently

Which 35 House Democrats Just Joined the GOP to Try to Gut Dodd-Frank?

lists Washington Rep. Suzan DelBene among the turncoats.

Ultimately, the GOP-sponsored bill to roll back reforms failed, when enough Democrats voted against it to prevent the 2/3rds majority needed for it to pass as a suspension of rules.

Last I heard DelBene hasn’t committed to opposing TPP or the fast-tracking thereof, despite the Washington State Democratic Party platform’s opposition to TPP.  This is especially concerning because DelBene and her husband were senior executives at Microsoft, so presumably they still have stock. Shouldn’t they recuse themselves from vote concerning TPP, which would benefit Microsoft?

Question for Rep. Suzan DelBene

I presume Microsoft would benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.  Rep. Suzan Delbene and her husband, Kurt DelBene, both used to work for Microsoft in senior management positions. Both of them have personal ties to the company and presumably own considerable stock in Microsoft. Shouldn’t she recuse herself from votes concerning the TPP? Or were the DelBene’s required to sell their stock?

Last I heard DelBene hasn’t committed to opposing TPP or the fast-tracking thereof, despite the Washington State Democratic Party platform’s opposition to TPP.

The food stamp cuts hit WA State especially hard

*Number of U.S. households with food stamps cut $90/MO under farm bill: 850,000

*Number of those households in WA: 200,000 (23% of national total)

*WA Congressional Democrats supporting cut: 6 of the 8 [all but Adam Smith and Jim McDermott]

*WA Post Editorial: “[T]his legislative grotesquerie gives to the rich and takes from the poor. . . . President Obama can stand up for his declared principles by vetoing it.”

DelBene, Heck, Kilmer, and Larsen vote with Repugs to cut food stamps

Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, and Rick Larsen joined all four Washington Republicans in voting to cut an addition $9 billion from the food stamps program, SNAP.

Kudos to Jim McDermott and Adam Smith for voting against the House farm bill that slashed food stamps while protecting most corporate pork. The Senate is expected to pass the bill, and President Obama is expected to sign it.

According to the Mother Jones article Republicans Just Won the Food Stamp War:

When the final bill came up for a vote in the House, the Congressional Progressive Caucus advised its 76 members to vote against the bill. But not enough Dems voted to block the cuts. One hundred three Democrats voted against the farm bill, but 89 voted in favor. If 43 more Democrats had voted no, the farm bill would have failed. “Dems are…complicit in changing [the] law, when they could just [block the bill] and let that status quo continue,” the Democratic aide says.

“I cannot, in good conscience, vote to give money to big farms while we leave crumbs for our poor, elderly and disabled in the name of austerity. It isn’t moral and it isn’t fiscally responsible. You can read my statement on why I voted against the FARM bill today at the link below.” Congressman Jim McDermott

Meet at DelBene's Bothell office on Jan 8 at 9:30AM to ask her to oppose TPP fast track

Via Vandana Whitney and Linda Newton:

Rep. Susan DelBene (District 1) has not chosen to sign the Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) letter to the President regarding Democrat opposition to Fast Track Authority. We have had two meetings at her Bothell office with staff members but she has not taken a position for or against Fast Track legislation. We’re going to try and persuade her once again.

We will be meeting with staff member, Julien Loh, who is listed as District Director. While it’s certainly desirable to get as many people from the 1st district as possible, a larger delegation works too.

Current plans is to hold the meeting at Susan DelBene’s Bothell office on Wednesday, January 8th at 9:30 am.  But plans may change: contact Vadana Whitnety at wvandana@live.com or phone 425-485-6446.

Bothell Office
Canyon Park Business Center
22121 17th Ave SE Bldg E
Bothell, WA 98021

 

Where are Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, and Adam Smith on TPP?

Why haven’t Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, and Adam Smith joined the 151 House Democrat opposed to fast-tracking of TPP? The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would give away sovereignty to large multinational corporations.

See DeLauro, Miller Lead 151 House Dems Telling President They Will Not Support Outdated Fast Track for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Please phone DelBene, Heck, and Smith and ask them to oppose TPP.

Rep. Suzan DelBene

D.C. Office:
phone: (202) 225-6311
fax: (202) 226-1606
hours: M-F 9-5:30pm
Bothell Office:
phone: (425) 485-0085
fax: (425) 485-0083
hours: M-F 8:30am-5pm
Rep. Suzan DelBene

Rep. Adam Smith

D.C. Office:
Phone (202) 225-8901
Fax (202) 225-5893
Renton Office:
Toll free: 1 (888) SMITH09
Phone (425)793-5180
Fax (425)793-5181
Rep. Adam Smith

Rep. Denny Heck

D.C. Office:
phone: 202-225-9740
fax: 202-225-0129
hours: M-F 9-6:00pm EST
Pierce County Office:
phone: (253) 208-6172
hours: M-F 8:30am-5:00pm PST
Rep. Adam Smith

Suzan DelBene's anti-deficit workshops with the Concord Coalition

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D, WA-01) is inviting constituents to workshops, in Mount Vernon and Bothell, on deficit reduction. The workshops are presented in conjunction with the “bipartisan” Concord Coalition, whose mission is to educate “the public about the causes and consequences of federal budget deficits, the long-term challenges facing America’s unsustainable entitlement programs, and how to build a sound foundation for economic growth.” (source)     That’s not the sort of language a Democrat should be using. 

The homepage of the Concord Coalition has an article in favor of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan that is anathema to progressives.

I’ve copied  the invitation below, from here:

News from Representative Suzan DelBene

Rep. Suzan DelBene invites all constituents to attend her two interactive workshops
where YOU will choose the solutions to America’s fiscal challenges.

These free workshops will feature the Concord Coalition’s Fiscal Solutions Tour
and will give YOU and your fellow attendees the opportunity to share your ideas
on how to solve our country’s fiscal issues, reduce the deficit and grow the
economy by designing your own budget.

The events are free and open to the public, however you must RSVP to reserve
your seat at (425) 485-0085 or RSVP.DelBene@mail.house.gov.
Please specify which event you will be attending.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Skagit Valley College
Cafeteria
2405 East College Way
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Thursday, May 30, 2013
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Northshore Senior Center
Multipurpose Room
10201 E Riverside Drive
Bothell, WA 98011
Washington, D.C. Office
318 Cannon
House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6311
Fax: (202) 226- 1606
Bothell Office
Canyon Park Business Center, 22121
17th Ave SE, Bldg E, Suite 220
Bothell, WA 98021
Phone: (425) 485-0085
Fax: (425) 485-0083

Privacy Policy

 

 

Adam Smith and Suzan DelBene defend their votes on Social Security and the budget

At the King County Democrats’ meeting in Renton Tuesday evening, Rep. Adam Smith spoke and took questions.

I asked him why he didn’t sign onto the Grayson-Takano letter promising not to cut Social Security. He said that the math doesn’t add up: mandatory spending is too high and it has to be cut, in order to protect discretionary spending.  But the progressives’ letter vowed to protect not only Social Security but also Medicare and other social programs — something which he thought was irresponsible. He thinks that we need to extract savings from the health care system.  Math is stubborn.

[The Grayson-Takano letter states: “We will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”     Significantly, the letter goes on to say, “We also know that there are common-sense reforms that would reduce health-care costs and save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars without cutting benefits. If Republicans oppose these reforms, and insist on benefits cuts, that proves they are not concerned about the deficit – but instead are trying to tear the social safety net and cause pain for our constituents who can least absorb it.”  I suppose I should have asked a follow-up question: why not cut drug costs, insurance overheads, and high fees instead of benefits?]

Richard Champion asked a question. As background, he said that only 30% of the voters in the new 9th CD where Smith serves voted for Romney;  the district is very progressive. (Smith’s old district was further south and west and included military bases.) “So why did you vote against the progressive House budget last week?”  Smith said the reason is that the progressive budget didn’t cut mandatory spending a penny. Long term we must cut mandatory spending, he said.   [According to Champion, “One of the reasons he stated was that it didn’t reduce the deficit enough. That is not true. The Progressive Caucus’ Budget has $4.4 trillion in deficit reduction http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/back-to-work-budget/ , while Patty Murray’s only has about $800 billion http://bit.ly/Y7zCUq.”)

But Rep. Smith did say many progressive sounding things about taxation, unions, charter schools, getting out of Afghanistan, and Social Security (it’s insurance, not an entitlement). He voted against the fiscal cliff deal at the very beginning of the year. It made 90% of the Bush tax cuts permanent and bought us only two months, after which the Republicans decided to let the sequestration take effect.  The Dems are making a huge mistake by adopting Republicans anti-tax rhetoric. “We shouldn’t try to out-tax cut the Republicans.”

He pointed out that if we scrap the cap on Social Security, raising the limit of income subject to Social Security tax about $112,000, then that will give ammunition to those who claim that Social Security is an entitlement (redistribution of wealth), not insurance — unless rich people earn more benefits.

Someone asked Smith about fixing the domestic detention conditions of the NDAA, which Smith sponsored. Recently he has worked to remove domestic detention.

Smith said that he debated John Carlsson about taxation. Carlsson said that the richest 1% are already paying more in taxes than ever. Smith replied, yes, it’s true, but that’s because they have accumulated ever larger percentages of the money.

Newly elected Rep. Suzan DelBene also spoke and took some questions.  She said that her seat is on a “targeted” list of seats that the GOP will work to take back.  There are Republican “trackers” following her around, looking for gaffes, etc. She said she’s already started her re-election campaign.

Someone asked her why she voted against the progressive budget and why she voted with the Republicans on some other issues. (The questioner didn’t say which ones.)  DelBene also refused to sign the Grayson-Takano letter.  Here’s her explanation about the budget vote:

Both Smith and DelBene are members of the New Democrats, not of the Progressive Caucus.  But several times Smith called himself a “progressive.”

According to GovTrack.US,  Smith is center-left. (See this graph.)  DelBene is centrist. (See this graph.)

Before the start of the event, I stood outside holding the sign below (printed to fit on a large poster board). As Rep. Smith walked in, I said that the sign was for him, because he’s the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.  I mentioned to Smith that the New Yorker article discussed here accused him of not contesting Republicans when they argued for zero military cuts.  Smith was testy. He said the New Yorker article misrepresented his position. Smith said that for the prior six months he worked on lowering military spending. I asked him why he didn’t write a letter to the New Yorker. He dismissed the idea.

The US Military

Rep. Smith is having a town hall meeting this Thursday [See report on the Town Hall]:

28 March, Thursday, 7pm-8:30pm – Congressman Adam Smith Town Hall in Newcastle, at Hazelwood Elementary School, 7100 116th Ave SE, Newcastle,  98056. Space is limited so please RSVP by calling 425-793-5180 or Toll Free at 888-SMITH09.  You can also email rsvpsmith@mail.house.gov