Scott Peters aide junkets to Philly

Dark-money group held "issues retreat" starring Fox's Tucker Carlson

Scott Peters
  • Scott Peters

The chief of staff for freshman Democratic congressman Scott Peters, who is expected by many to face a fierce reelection battle against GOP ex–San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, recently returned from a two-day trip to Philadelphia, courtesy of Center Forward, a self-styled centrist nonprofit whose chairman is ex-Democratic House member Robert “Bud” Cramer, Jr. of Alabama.

Cramer went to work last month as a managing director of "strategic communications" for Florida-based FTI Consulting, according to the firm's website.

Mr. Cramer brings deep expertise in advocacy, community relations, government relations and issues management to FTI Consulting. He has worked extensively in the aerospace, defense, financial services and transportation industries.

In his new role, he will counsel clients through the legislative, policy and regulatory process, engaging policymakers, regulators and other key stakeholders in and outside of Washington, D.C.

Center Forward, its website says, "has its roots with the Blue Dog Democrats, which have always played a critical role in maintaining fiscal responsibility, supporting pro-growth business policies and leading meaningful reform.

"Through our year round programming, including hosting discussion dinners on the debt and deficit, corporate tax reform, and energy we invite various opinion leaders to discuss and share ideas Americans can rally around."

According to a trip disclosure report filed by Peters staff chief Michelle Dorothy, Center Forward's "Issues Retreat" in Philadelphia was held between February 7 and 9 at the Four Seasons hotel there.

Speakers included ex-Pennsylvania Democratic governor Ed Rendell and House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer, addressing such matters as "corporate tax reform" and "deficit reduction and the need for fiscal reform."

The media star of the retreat was conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, son of onetime San Diego mayoral candidate Richard Carlson, who ran unsuccessfully against Roger Hedgecock, later forced from office in a money-laundering scandal.

CNN's Stephanie Cutter, an ex-Obama campaign aide, also spoke.

In her disclosure filing, posted online by LegiStorm.com, Dorothy said the Philadelphia trip was made because "this is a policy conference and in my role as chief of staff, I advice [sic] my boss on policy matters."

Center Forward, which picked up Dorothy's $1090 tab, was formerly called the Blue Dog Research Forum. It changed its name two years ago in an effort to revive the brand of conservative Democrats, according to a March 22, 2012, report by Politico.com.

As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, it is not required to disclose its donors. According to OpenSecrets.org, Center Forward spent $2,057,089 during the 2012 federal election cycle.

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You would think Peters and his staff would stay away from this stuff with his re-election challenge. No matter who "pays" the immediate tab, ultimately it's the taxpayers who pay big-time with sweetheart deals for the hosts. A host pays a few thousands. We citizens pay billions.

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