A Grand Old Parody of Incompetence and Malfeasance
Carla Marinucci of the SF Chronicle has been having quite the month of June.
She started with a little story two weeks ago on the hiring by the California Republican Party of one Chris Matthews (no, not Tweety, a different guy altogether) to be their new state deputy political director: State GOP goes outside US to hire top aide. Hmmm . . . that’s odd. What’s his deal, and where did they find him? He must have lots of credentials, lots of experience . . . or perhaps not:
Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who was hired this year as the state GOP’s chief operations officer. But neither new official has experience in managing a political campaign in the nation’s most populous state — and as foreign citizens, neither is eligible to vote.
Kamburowski, a former real estate agent who sold property in the Dominican Republic, is a permanent U.S. resident in the process of obtaining American citizenship and does not require a specialized work visa, state GOP officials said.
As you can imagine, that went over well, especially with the “build a wall” crowd in Southern California that was already foaming at the mouth over the immigration fight in DC. It also ticked off the Silicon Valley folks, as the state GOP apparently wangled one of the limited (and thus coveted) H-1B visas reserved for specialized workers. Finally, it really ticked off CA GOP insiders, as it seemed to say “gosh, we just couldn’t find any qualified folks within the state.”
How could things get worse? Let’s just look at the SF Chronicle this week and find out. You see, Marinucci and her colleague, Lance Williams, have really been on a roll, with their own four day, page one series:
- Sunday: Aussie hired by state GOP embroiled in immigration lawsuit — “Michael Kamburowski, the Australian immigrant hired as a top official in the California Republican Party, was ordered deported in 2001, jailed three years later for visa violations — and has filed a $5 million wrongful arrest lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to U.S. District Court documents.”
- Monday: State GOP finance chief resigns/top Republicans shocked by Aussie’s immigration troubles
- Tuesday: State GOP chief flayed over scandal/Critics see cronyism in hiring of finance exec who quit suddenly
- Wednesday: Feds suggest state GOP broke law in hiring immigrant to key post
Add to that a Tuesday op-ed by Tim Morgan, the only member of the state GOP board that voted against hiring Kamburowski and who serves as the Treasurer of the RNC. He opened with “It’s a sad day for the California Republican Party.” Tim, try “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day” — it’d be closer to the truth. Conservative columnist Deborah Saunders writes today “THE GOP has a guy problem. Even after Veep Dick Cheney shot a friend in a hunting accident, he still hunts. In California, GOP biggies injure their comrades in a less ballistic manner. . . .”
So what do we have? Norquistian welfare recipients; the “Cronies, Not Credentials” GOP hiring model (see almost-DHS head Bernard Kerik, former FEMA head Michael Brown, and almost-Justice Harriet Miers, just to name three); not one but two marriages just as visa problems crop up (that never raises any red flags at ICE, does it?); a failed Carribean real estate dealer; a state party chief operating officer suing his own party’s administration for $5 million; and now ICE is asking questions about state GOP hiring practices.
But this isn’t just a little in-house California story. Even DC is worried:
Former White House adviser Steve Schmidt, who ran the re-election campaign for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, angrily described the appointment of Kamburowski as “almost a parody of incompetence and malfeasance.”
“Somebody who has been imprisoned, faced deportation, has never worked on a state political campaign … and who is suing the government for harm inflicted by his deportation order defies description,” Schmidt said. “The bylaws of the Republican Party invest enormous authority in the position of chief operating officer — and it’s clear that this person brings no experience and qualifications to run a state party of the size of California, not to mention the assorted legal issues involved.”
The harsh words from Schmidt — who ran the Bush 2004 presidential campaign war room, advised Vice President Dick Cheney and was a member of White House adviser Karl Rove’s inner circle — underscored the concern in the California GOP.
Calitics, a progressive CA blog, is having fun watching this all come down. On the other side of things . . . *crickets*. Nothing about Kamburowski’s departure at the California GOP website, nor the flap with Matthews’ hiring. They do have a press release, though, welcoming Kamburowski’s interim replacement. FlashReport, a state GOP blog and website, is similarly trying to ignore reality, though Jon Fleischmann, a member of the GOP board that hired Kamburowski in the first place, put up a short little post entitled “Get over it.”
That’s right, Jon. There’s nothing to see here, folks. Move along, move along . . . Oh, but you better tell Saunders to get with the program, because she thinks this has legs:
When I ran into [state party chair Ron] Nehring in Sacramento Tuesday [who brought Kamburowski on board], he couldn’t even argue that Kamburowski had the requisite experience. You can’t help but believe Nehring picked a guy who is good to pal around with. Some GOPers seem more interested in working within their comfort zone than in winning elections.
Now the party will pay a price. Money will dry up. Big donors don’t want to hand over money to losers. And they don’t want to bankroll bad headlines.
(I suppose we could ask Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins about the “donors not wanting to hand over money to losers” part.)
It’s just a parody of incompetence and malfeasance, the Grand Old Parody indeed.