Promoted by Jeff

United States Senators are busy people with demanding schedules.  Its understandable if one of the most powerful members of the most powerful legislative body in the nation doesn’t know where her husband is and what he is doing twenty-four hours of every day.  Still, you’d think better than a half-a-year employed by one of your major campaign donors as an illegally unregistered lobbyist… advocating a project you made a point of running against during your last statewide election… might raise a red flag or two.

That’s the reality Senator Debbie Stabenow has faced for the last six months as her husband, Tom Athens, made bank on the payroll of Democratic mega-donor and alleged lothario Jim Papas.  Unfortunately, despite the unending rhetoric about transparency and ethics in the Dem controlled Congress, the Senator who once voted to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity chose to turn a blind eye to her husband’s criminal actions, putting him, partisan election interests and the family bank account above Michigan residents and campaign promises.

Meanwhile, voters and taxpayers are left with more questions than answers…

How long has Senator Stabenow known her husband was breaking the law, making a living as an unregistered lobbyist?

How much money did Stabenow and Athens deposit into their family bank account as a result of the illegal lobbying?

Records indicate that Athens publicly lobbied Michigan lawmakers and at least one member of Michigan’s Congressional delegation because he understood they were firmly opposed to green-lighting a hazardous waste well.  There are no records of official lobbying of the Stabenow Senate office.

Is that because Stabenow supports her husband’s efforts to re-open the dump site despite her campaign pledges to the contrary?

According to a weekend report from the Ivory Tower, Athens worked illegally as a lobbyist, putting pressure on officials in the Granholm-Cherry administration, lawmakers, business interests and members of Congress in an effort to get the go-ahead for a reboot of a toxic waste injection well in Romulus.  His boss, Jim Papas, stands to make millions, most immediately from the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System, a fund which has already lost $33 million on the wells and has now agreed to pay the man $10 million more.

Papas, whose company plans to take over the wells, has collaborated with the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System in the past. The pension fund previously lost $3 million on Papas’ Atheneum Hotel in downtown Detroit. Confidential memos obtained by the Free Press show Papas hired Athans for political and lobbying efforts to win permits for Papas’ firm, Environmental Geo-Technologies.

Athans met with top state officials as far back as August, including with the deputy director of the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Athans also is a vice president at another Papas company, Helicon Holdings.

Papas’ name is not unfamiliar to residents in and around Detroit but he’s not as well known out-state.  His (barely) above-the-table resume filler includes the Motor City’s Greektown Casino, which he helped “build.”  Granted, the man has spent almost as much time in the courtroom as he has on the gaming floor, battling requests for personal protection orders after allegedly assaulting the children of business partners, state investigations into his use of HUD money to build luxury hotels and allegations (plural) of sexual harassment.  Maybe more importantly, according to Department of State and FEC records he’s a six-figure-a-cycle Democratic money man.

His latest project, lobbied for extensively for the better part of a year by Senator Stabenow’s husband, would bring more hazardous waste into the state from Canada.

In 2006 the Senator ran for reelection on a platform that included an elimination of the importation of Canadian garbage.  Her campaign website still reads:

Continue the Fight to Stop the Importation of Canadian Trash

Continue to work with EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt to enforce an existing treaty to stop the importation of Canadian Trash, and restrict the importation of trash through stronger enforcement measures at the Northern Border.

Meanwhile, she and her husband were profiting from efforts to do exactly the opposite.  The Ivory Tower continues:

Athans, working on behalf of Detroit businessman Dimitrios (Jim) Papas, spent months urging public officials to reopen the wells, despite not being registered as a lobbyist in Michigan.  He finally registered Jan. 29…

When approached by the newspaper Stabenow declined to comment, leaving taxpayers, residents and potential criminal investigators with more questions than answers.

Michigan moms and dads deserve answers.  Senator Stabenow should come clean today, explain her relationship with Papas and the role his major campaign contributions to Senate Democrats played in her decision to turn a blind eye to rampant illegality.

If she won’t do it for us on her own, maybe the folks behind the Office of Senate Integrity she voted to create could look into it on our behalf.

Cross-posted on Right Michigan at www.RightMichigan.com