The Real Dirt on Slick Rick Santorum

Texas Congressman Ron Paul has just released a hard-hitting ad against former Senator Rick Santorum.  The ad, entitled “Betrayal”, exposes Santorum’s record of hypocrisy, duplicity and corruption.  But is the ad fair? 

Rick Santorum did well in Iowa and may do well in South Carolina because he is perceived to be deeply committed to family and social values.  He is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and abortion.  He wears his religious beliefs on his sleeves. 

Many fall for his pious act – but remember, Santorum is a sly lawyer-turned-politician-turned-lobbyist.  Don’t let the sweater vests fool you.  Santorum played the people of Iowa like a harp, and he’s hoping to do the same thing to social conservatives in South Carolina.

If Santorum is going to claim to be a champion of values, we need to look not only at what he says, but what he has done.  And fortunately, Rick Santorum has left us with a voluminous record of big-government hypocrisy and outright corruption to sift through.  Before making your decision about Rick Santorum, take a minute to learn the facts. There’s more to being a “values” candidate than simply bashing gays all the time.  Personal ethics matter.  And in that department, Santorum comes up short.

Who is Richard John Santorum?  He is fifty-four years old and was born in Winchester, Virginia.  He grew up in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. His father, Aldo, was an Italian immigrant.  His mother’s lineage is half-Italian, half-Irish.  As a high school student, Santorum’s nickname was “Rooster” because of his tendency to get riled up.  He earned a degree in political science and later practiced law in Pittsburgh.

Santorum was elected to the House of Representatives in 1990 at age 32.  He strongly criticized his opponent for living outside of his own congressional district for much of the year.  Later, Santorum rode the wave of voter discontentment during the 1994 Republican Takeover to win a seat in the US Senate. 

Santorum became involved in a scandal later known as the “K Street Project”.  Lobbying firms were pressured to hire high ranking Republican lawmakers and to grant GOP lobbyists with access to influential decision makers.  Led by Congressman Tom Delay, now a convicted felon, the Project had associations with lobbyists including Jack Abramoff.  Santorum played the role of Senate liaison to the K Street Project. He soaked up the Washington lobbyist culture.  The connections made by Santorum landed him high-paying lobbying opportunities after he lost his seat in the senate.

Santorum was reelected for a second term in 2000. 

Senator Santorum cosponsored the Workplace Religious Freedom Act with Democrat Senator John Kerry.  The legislation would impose on business owners the requirement that they accommodate the religious practices of their employees.  It is Santorum’s belief that if companies don’t cater to their employees sundry faith observances then they should be compelled by law to change their business practices.  Government is Santorum’s solution to social and business problems.

Santorum built a reputation of being partisan, confrontational and divisive.  His short-tempered behavior has been observed in recent Republican debates, earning him the unflattering nickname, “Scrappy Doo” - after the hot-headed cartoon pup whose temper frequently gets him into confrontations that require others to rescue him.

While in office, Santorum voted to spend taxpayer money to fight AIDS globally, to help underprivileged children in third world countries, to pay off debts owed to the US by other nations and to combat political instability in Sudan.  He voted to increase welfare programs such as Healthy Start.  Such social-welfare spending projects are not typically associated with the concept of Republican conservatism.

In 2001, Santorum created a charitable foundation.  This organization, Operation Good Neighbor Foundation, gave out nearly $474,000 to community groups in its first few years.  Sounds great, right?  The problem is that it had actually raised over a million dollars in that time.  The remaining half million dollars was paid out to as salaries and consulting fees to lobbyists and fundraisers connected to Santorum’s campaign.  Only 36% of the money raised by the foundation actually made it to those it was designed to help.

Similar discrepancies can be found in a political action committee formed by Santorum.  It was supposed to be raising money to help fellow Republican candidates.  However, only 18% of the funds went to those candidates.  Much of the remaining money was used to furnish Santorum with a lavish lifestyle.  Reports also show dozens of trips to fast food joints, supermarkets, Starbucks and other everyday expenses that had little to nothing to do with the original intent of the funds raised.

Rick Santorum claims to be a fiscal conservative, yet voted five times to raise the debt ceiling – adding trillions to the federal deficit.  He also strongly supported the largest hike in welfare entitlement spending in history (prior to Obamacare) – Medicaid Part D.  This was George W. Bush’s free prescription medicine program, virtually socializing the pharmaceutical industry.  Santorum gleefully voted to enrich the industry he had received so many campaign contributions from.  In fact, Santorum was such a favorite of GlaxoSmithKline that, following the loss of his senate seat, executives wrote, “The defeat of [Santorum] creates a big hole we need to fill.”  The leaked memo is evidence that unprincipled politicians, like Santorum, can still be bought and sold in the USA.

Continuing the subject of corruption, retail giant Wal-Mart lined Santorum’s pockets with campaign cash – giving him $10,000 in one month alone.  In return, Wal-Mart received votes in-kind from Santorum on issues relating to overtime, minimum wages, tort reform, charitable giving credits, etc.

In his current campaign for president, Santorum has compared himself to Ronald Reagan.  Yet, Reagan himself campaigned in 1980 on a platform that included abolishing the recently created Department of Education.  Santorum, on the other hand, voted and strongly supported legislation that doubled the size of the DOE, including the introduction of Ted Kennedy’s infamous “No Child Left Behind”. 

Santorum proposed amending No Child Left Behind to include the requirement that “intelligent design” be taught in classrooms.  In 2002, Santorum wrote in a Washington Times article, “intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.”  However, in 2005 Santorum said on National Public Radio, “I’m not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom.”  Santorum, like Mitt Romney, changes his position to suit his audience.  Some may call this “politicking”.  Others call it “lying”.

When the Associated Press asked Santorum, a Catholic, to comment on his views regarding child sex abuse by Catholic priests, he responded that the priests were engaging in homosexuality.  He went on to compare homosexuality to pedophilia, incest and sex with dogs.  The latter comment drew this response from the AP reporter interviewing Santorum. He said, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t think I was going to talk about ‘man on dog’ with a United States senator.  It’s sort of freaking me out.”  As well it should.  Santorum is on record many times explaining that what happens in an individual’s bedroom is the business of the entire community and that private, consensual sex should be a matter of government regulation.

One result of Santorum’s anti-gay remarks was a campaign to humiliate the Senator.  In 2003, sex columnist Dan Savage launched an internet campaign to promote the new usage of the word “santorum” as a particularly vulgar sexual definition.  The connection of the Senator’s name with this new definition on internet search engines is commonly referred to as the “Google problem.”

On the campaign trail, Santorum is frequently asked about his belief in the right to privacy.  His position is that no such right exists under the Constitution.   He said, “…this right to privacy doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution.”

It is because of this belief, in part, that Santorum is comfortable supporting legislation that imposes his own values on everyone else.  For example, Santorum supports the prohibition of contraception – a position he was recently challenged on during an appearance on the O’Reilly Factor.

Santorum has a record of exercising punitive control over citizens through the strong arm of government.  As Hurricane Katrina approached, the tax funded National Weather Service gave evacuation warnings.  Santorum proposed that those people who chose not to follow the recommendation to leave their homes should be penalized for refusing to obey government warnings. 

Santorum’s interest in weather services wasn’t limited to penalizing Americans who didn’t obey the federal weatherman.  Just two days before he introduced a bill that benefited private weather services, he was paid thousands of dollars from… a private weather service.

Among other legislative favors, Santorum was given six thousand dollars from Miller Brewing just half a year after Santorum introduced legislation to cut taxes on large brewing companies.  He received three thousand dollars from US Tobacco Corp. the day after he voted against a tobacco regulation bill.  The list of favors to his campaign contributors goes on and on.  Taking money from corporations and then voting for legislation that favors them is called corruption

In 2006, Santorum was named the “Most Corrupt Politician” by a political watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.  The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that Santorum took the most cash from corporate lobbyists of any other politician in Washington, adding that Santorum “has a black belt in hypocrisy” (10/22/2006).

Santorum was, and is, a strong supporter of the neoconservative “War on Terror.”  He proposed sanctions for Syria.  In 2005, Santorum sponsored a bill aimed at overthrowing the government of Iran, called the Iran Freedom and Support Act. As part of his opposition to Iran, Santorum recommended that America fight for “a strong Lebanon, a strong Israel and a strong Iraq.” These pro-zionist positions are unconstitutional and are not in the best interests of our national security. 

Santorum supported the invasion of Iraq.  In 2006, he announced that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq – a claim later proven false.

Accusations of corruption and scandal plagued Santorum while in office.  One issue that led to charges of hypocrisy against Santorum was the fact that he and his family moved to Virginia while he was a Senator, spending less than a month a year residing in the state from which he was elected.  His former criticisms of his first congressional opponent had come back to haunt him.  This permitted him to maintain residency in Pennsylvania so he could keep running for his existing senate seat without having to actually live in Pennsylvania.  It’s kind of like Hillary Clinton moving to New York and putting on a Yankees cap to be able to snatch a senate seat.

Additionally, while living in Virginia, Santorum kept his five children enrolled in an expensive Pennsylvania “cyber school”, expecting the local district to pay the tuition costs.  This benefit to Santorum cost the Pennsylvania school district $73,000.  The district sued Santorum to reimburse $67,000 because his residency status disqualified him for their educational services.  Santorum capitalized on the controversy to champion himself as a family man.  He ran campaign ads featuring his son saying, “My dad’s opponents have criticized him for moving us to Washington so we could be with him more.”  Some would argue that a true family man would not exploit his own child for political advantage.

Santorum made headlines when he stopped in to visit Terri Shiavo, who, in 2005, lay on her deathbed in Tampa, FL.  Shiavo was the figure at the center of the national right-to-die debate.  It turns out that Santorum already had other business in Tampa.  The real reason for his visit was to collect a quarter of a million dollars in money raised for him by the executives of Outback Steakhouse.  Oddly enough, Santorum strongly agreed with Outback execs that the federal minimum wage should not be increased.  The Senator returned home on a Wal-Mart corporate jet.

In 2006, Santorum faced difficulties in his quest for a third term.  Corruption allegations dogged him everywhere he went.  He trailed his Democrat opponent by double digits for most of the campaign.  To try to siphon votes away from Santorum’s opponent, many of his supporters helped finance a Green Party candidate.  There were suspicions that Santorum’s campaign may have violated some federal election laws.  Ultimately, the Green Party candidate was denied access to the ballot and Santorum lost his seat in the Senate.  The Democrat won with 59% of the vote to Santorum’s 41%.  It was the biggest margin of loss for an incumbent Republican senator in US history.

Also contributing to Santorum’s loss was an erosion of his base of supporters over his decision to endorse his liberal Republican colleague, Arlen Specter, over social and fiscal conservative Congressman Pat Toomey in a senate race.  Santorum’s ease in walking away from his alleged social values was unforgivable to many Pennsylvanians.  It is speculated that Santorum was repaying a favor to Specter for having provided Santorum with important political staff during his first Senate race.  It is also speculated that Santorum’s allegiance to social values is partly a political ploy to maintain the support of social conservatives.

Following his departure from the Senate, Santorum joined a Washington DC “think tank”, earning a quarter of a million dollars.  He also became a Fox News contributor.  He quickly found other employment as a lobbyist for various industries, earning him over a million dollars in 2010 alone.

Santorum considered running for president in 2008, but instead chose to support Mitt Romney.  In 2011, he announced his own candidacy for the presidency.  He remained in single digits until a last minute surge prior to the Iowa Caucuses.  Now that he is under the spotlight, Santorum is beginning to stumble. 

In New Hampshire, Santorum made a statement about giving money to “black” people that drew accusations of racism.  In an interview, Santorum said that what sounded like the word “black” was actually an accidental mumble.  He said that he doesn’t even refer to that demographic as “black”, but as “African Americans”.  However, by the end of the interview, Santorum had used the term “black” three more times, not once having used the phrase “African Americans” in his dialogue.

This incident is reminiscent of a 2011 slip-up in which Santorum implied that President Barack Obama should be pro-life because he is black.  Santorum said, “The question is… is that human life a person under the constitution? And Barack Obama says ‘no’.  Well, if that human life is not a person then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.”

It seems that Rick Santorum is truly a mix of values.  There are those values of which he speaks – and then there are those of which he lives.  Facts can be pesky things.  Let’s just hope that the people of America care enough to learn them before casting another vote for Slick Rick, aka “Scrappy Doo” Santorum.  His own behaviors prove him to be a corrupt, big-government puppet whose strings are pulled by the highest bidder.  He has demonstrated a pattern of dishonesty and oppressive aggression when granted power.  The truth speaks for itself. 

This is the corrupt politician that Ron Paul rightly accuses of Betrayal – “a serial hypocrite who can’t be trusted.”


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Jake Morphonios has worked as a political consultant and campaign strategist for over two decades and is the author of “Organizing a Grassroots Political Machine”, used in the Steve Forbes 2000 Presidential campaign.

 

Other Articles by Jake Morphonios:

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Exchange with Paul Nearly Ends Perry Campaign

Ron Paul Knocks Off Michelle Bachmann

The Dirty Details of Newt Gingrich’s Marital Infidelity

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