Roy Blunt/Commentary

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Representative Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) is a "fifth-term Member of Congress, representing the 7th district of Missouri." After two years in office, in 1999, Blunt was "handpicked by then-Whip" Thomas D. DeLay "to serve as Chief Deputy Whip, and Rep. Blunt assumed the role of Whip in 2003, when DeLay became the Majority Leader." [1]

According to information published by "Open Secrets", Roy Blunt's Political Action Committee, "Rely on Your Beliefs," contributed $682,039 to 111 Republican House of Representatives candidates in the 2004 election cycle.

GOP Ousts Blunt
"In a clear sign that they're worried about the direction of the Republican Party, House GOP members ousted acting majority leader Roy Blunt, the chamber's second in command, [on February 2, 2006,] and replaced him with Representative John A. Boehner, an Ohio conservative who has promised to crack down on pet projects inserted into bills at the request of lobbyists and lawmakers," Rick Klein wrote in the Boston Globe.

Heir Apparent?
"Blunt, 55, No. 3 in the current leadership and a DeLay protégé, is the early favorite for promotion. He's a darling of the Religious Right, tight with Bush, and close to Missouri companies, including Anheuser-Busch (BUD), Emerson Electric (EMR), and Jones Financial Cos. If Republicans believe DeLay was railroaded, Blunt benefits. But if The Hammer gets nailed, Blunt could suffer collateral damage." --Eamon Javers, Business Week, May 16, 2005.

DeLay Scandal
DeLay, indicted September 28, 2005, by a Texas grand jury, charged with "conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme," was forced to step down and "temporarily relinquish his post." [2]

"Blunt will move up from Republican whip to temporarily fill DeLay's post and will be aided" by David Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Eric Cantor of Virginia, chief deputy whip. [3]

Blunt's PAC Paid the J W Ellis Company
The Associated Press reported September 28, 2005, that Blunt’s "federal PAC, Rely On Your Beliefs Fund, paid Jim Ellis’s firm, the J W Ellis Company, $3,000 a month from May March 2003 to January 2005, and $4,000 a month from February 2005 to at least July 2005. The payment for June and July was made in August, the last month covered by disclosure reports. The payments were identified as political consulting and fundraising services. The total payment for those months was $88,000 $94,000." [4]

Blunt: Ashcroft to DeLay

"Roy Blunt jump-started his political career at age 22 when John Ashcroft made him his chauffeur for his unsuccessful 1972 campaign for Congress," David Goldstein and Matt Stearns wrote September 29, 2005. "The Missouri Republican was elected the state's youngest secretary of state in 1984. In 1999, then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas made Blunt chief deputy whip, after just a single term in the House. When DeLay rose to leader in 2002, Blunt became majority whip."

DeLay's Interim Replacement

Although the Associated Press originally reported on September 28, 2005, that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert intended to recommend Representative David Dreier of California to "take over DeLay's duties," Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, after a closed-door meeting, "unanimously elected Roy Blunt of Missouri as their majority leader." Republicans said that "Blunt's position was an interim arrangement for the rest of the year and that he would share leadership responsibilities with Rep. David Dreier of California," Reuters reported.

"DeLay's indictment capped a quick rise for Blunt, first elected to Congress in 1996. His district in southwestern Missouri includes Branson, a town of a few thousand residents that draws millions of country music fans each year to its performance stages," Larry Margasak reported for the Associated Press September 28, 2005.

DeLay "Benefactor"

The June 16, 2005, issue of The Hill provided a current listing of Congressional benefactors who pitched in to help defray DeLay's $125,003 in legal costs (to date). The majority contributed $5,000, with a couple at $2,500 and $1,000. However, the "standouts" at $10,000 each were Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Missouri) and Rep. Henry Bonilla (Texas). [5]

Some Roads Lead to DeLay

"A political committee controlled by embattled Majority Leader Tom DeLay made two contributions in the spring of 2000 totaling $150,000 to Majority Whip Roy Blunt's Rely on Your Beliefs Committee," Roy Temple wrote September 9, 2005.

"Previous reports put total contributions from Delay to Blunt at significantly lower amounts. But those figures greatly under-reported Delay's contributions to Blunt because they overlooked the activities of a little known Delay-controlled committee called ARMPAC-Convention."

"According to the Ethics Commission documents, on March 31, 2000 ARMPAC-Convention made a contribution to ROYB Fund-Non-Federal Committee in the amount of $50,000. On May 24, 2000, ARMPAC-Convention donated an additional $100,000," Temple wrote. "During the 2000 election cycle, ROYB-Non Federal Committee was used to funnel money to state candidates in Missouri, including the campaign of then-Secretary of State candidate Matt Blunt."

Some Roads Connect Blunt to DeLay to Ellis

Blunt's political committee has paid "fees since 2003 to a consultant under indictment in Texas with DeLay, according to federal records," Larry Margasak wrote September 28, 2005.

Blunt retained Jim Ellis of the firm J.W. Ellis Co. for his Rely on Your Beliefs Fund "and has made periodic payments for services," according to the Federal Election Commission, Margasak wrote.

Ellis, one of three DeLay political associates "who have been indicted in an alleged scheme to use corporate political donations illegally to support candidates in state elections, ... also runs DeLay's national political action committee," Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC).

The UPI reported March 17, 2004, that "Democrats in the House and Republicans outside the House" wanted the House Ethics Committee to investigate DeLay, Blunt, "and several committee chairmen." Critics were "frustrated the panel [was] not looking into accusations of bribery and threats on the House floor, illegal use of campaign funds, misuse of a federal agency for political purposes, conflicts of interest, and strong-arm tactics against lobbyists and campaign contributors."

Some Roads Lead to Abramoff

"Blunt and his staff have close connections to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of criminal and congressional probes. In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded Majority Leader Tom DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by Speaker Hastert, Whip Roy Blunt, and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, that endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe. Mr. Abramoff has donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs," according to the Beyond DeLay website.

"If, as it appears, Rep. Blunt was accepting campaign contributions from Mr. Abramoff in exchange for using his official position so support a view of gambling law that would benefit Mr. Abramoff’s client, he would be in violation of the law," Beyond DeLay said.

Biographical Profile

Roy Blunt was born January 10, 1950, in Niangua, Webster County, Missouri. He received a BA in 1970 and an MA in History in 1972 from Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO.

The Blunt family is steeped in Missouri Politics: Roy Blunt's father, Leroy Blunt, was a state legislator, his gradfather a county politicain, and one of Blunt's sons, Matt, is Missouri Governor.

Blunt's political career:

  • 1973-84: Clerk and Chief Election Officer, Greene County, MO.
  • 1984-93: Missouri State Secretary of State.
  • 1993-96: President, Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO.
  • 1997-present: Congressman, Missouri 7th.

Blunt was House Majority Whip 2003-2005 and House Majority Leader commencing Septembe 28, 2005.

In 2002, Blunt divorced his wife of 35 years, and mother of his three children. The following year he married Abigail Perlman, a Washington DC tobacco lobbyist for Altria Group Inc., the parent corporation of Philip Morris.

Blunt and the Tobacco Industry

Not only is Blunt married to a Phillip Morris lobbyist, his son, Andy is a Missouri State Legislature lobbyist with Phillip Morris being one of his clients. This hasn't blunted Blunt's attempts to aid the tobacco industry in the least.

Pamela Brogan, wrote in the March 30, 2004, Springfield News Leader (Missouri), March 30, 2004 (orig. url dead):

Dawn Schneider, an Altria spokeswoman, said Abigail Blunt, the company's director of federal government affairs, is not lobbying "the Republican elected leadership in the House." That arrangement has been in place since the lobbyist and congressman were dating.
Under a company policy, Abigail Blunt can still lobby senators and other House members.
The decision by Rep. Blunt not to refrain from helping to shape tobacco bills or vote on them comes as Congress prepares to consider major legislation for the first time in years that could establish a new national tobacco policy. As a member of the House leadership, Blunt is part of the GOP's policy-making team.
Burson Taylor, a spokeswoman for Blunt, said the congressman has not removed himself from tobacco issues because he "has no financial interest" in tobacco legislation. "Mrs. Blunt does not stand to benefit from this bill," Taylor said. "It's important to know that congressman Blunt is not involved in any negotiations in the tobacco buyout bill."
There have been intense behind-the scenes negotiations by lawmakers, industry representatives, growers and public health groups since last year on a buyout for tobacco farmers and the Food and Drug Administration's role in regulating tobacco. Draft versions of those bills have not been introduced, but there are other tobacco-related measures pending in the House and Senate.
Blunt also is among the top recipients of campaign donations from the tobacco industry, including Philip Morris, the nation's largest cigarette company and one of the 10 biggest campaign contributors to members of Congress. Campaign contributions from the tobacco industry are likely to increase during this election year, particularly as the debate over tobacco heats up.
Blunt's son, Andrew, is retained by Phillip Morris as a lobbyist in Missouri.
Last year, Blunt came under scrutiny when The Washington Post detailed his unsuccessful efforts to tuck a provision benefiting Phillip Morris into homeland security legislation. At the time, he was not married to Abigail Blunt.

Jim VandeHei wrote in the June 11, 2003, Washington Post:

Only hours after Rep. Roy Blunt was named to the House's third-highest leadership job in November, he surprised his fellow top Republicans by trying to quietly insert a provision benefiting Philip Morris USA into the 475-page bill creating a Department of Homeland Security, according to several people familiar with the effort.
The new majority whip, who has close personal and political ties to the company, instructed congressional aides to add the tobacco provision to the bill -- then within hours of a final House vote -- even though no one else in leadership supported it or knew he was trying to squeeze it in.
Once alerted to the provision, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, quickly had it pulled out, said a senior GOP leader who requested anonymity. Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) also opposed what Blunt (Mo.) was trying to do, the member said, and "worked against it" when he learned of it.

Money Talks

Sam Dealey, wrote July 9, 2003, in The Hill that "Campaign finance records show that Matt Blunt, the son of House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), received significant contributions from out-of-state sources during his successful 2000 race for Missouri secretary of state" and "[m]any of the contributors seemingly lacked a direct interest in the down-ballot state race but had significant interests pending before Matt Blunt’s father.

"At the time that the contributions to his son’s campaign occurred, Roy Blunt was a rising GOP star and an aggressive fundraiser. After the elevation of J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to Speaker in 1999, Blunt was named chief deputy whip" and "also won a seat on the powerful House Commerce Committee, with assignments on subcommittees with jurisdiction over finance and hazardous materials, oversight and investigations, and telecommunications, trade and consumer protection. Missouri state records show contributions to Matt Blunt’s campaign came from firms and individuals with business pending before Roy Blunt’s subcommittees. Although some of the companies have significant interests in the state, others do not."

"By far the biggest outside contributors to Matt Blunt’s campaign, however, were colleagues of Roy Blunt. Campaign finance documents show 84 House lawmakers made 95 contributions to the secretary of state campaign, totaling more than $65,000.

"'What it looks like is that people were giving not because of an independent desire to help Matt Blunt but because he was Roy Blunt’s son,' said Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics. 'Clearly, there are questions raised by the fact that so much money came from out-of-state donors, and it looks like the givers have interests where Mr. Blunt might be able to help.'"

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