When Democrats Act Like Dick(s)

Seems to me like Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY) has some explaining to do.

In late 2003, knee-deep in regret over his Iraq war vote, Ackerman released a statement explaining his then reluctant support of President Bush's $87 billion supplemental appropriations bill. In it, he lambasts the GOP's Halliburtonistic tendencies:

[“...And because of the majority’s tax-cutting fanaticism, these billions are going to come in the form of debt-to be paid by our children and our children’s children. And this, because the majority party has squandered our surplus by their tax pay off to their wealthiest contributors.”]

Problem was, that by that time, one of Ackerman's wealthiest contributors was also getting shnoockered off the Afghanistan and Iraq war troughs. And an even bigger problem – that Ackerman was himself getting tipsy as well; and in fact, has gotten sloshed off the war ever since.

How slushed – I mean, sloshed?

Ackerman's personal profits from Xenonics – a company that sells compact, long-range lighting systems primarily to the US Army and Marines – have skyrocketed from his 2002 purchase, which fell in the $1,000 - $15,000 range (according to his 2002 personal financial disclosure) to the $100,000 - $250,000 range in 2005, and that's after taking some profits (as shown on his most recent disclosure forms).

In 2004, the value of Ackerman's options climaxed in the $500,000 - $1,000,000 range. That was probably because starting in 2003, just after he voted for the war, Xenonics began landing all sorts of monsterous contracts from the US Army.

Through the end of 2005, Xenonics sold over $18 million worth of goods to the US military; which most recently included a $3.0 million earmark within the 2005 Defense Appropriations Bill for the Marine Corps to buy Xenonic's NightHunter products.

Coincidence? I don't think so...

Not only is Ackerman the ranking Democrat on the International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, which has oversight over US policy towards the nations therein (Afghanistan and Iraq included), but Xenonics also employed a team of powerful Washington lobbyists over the years to get the job done (though there's no evidence on the record showing Ackerman was responsible for the earmark).

Shrewd Investor, Honest Grafter or War Profiteer?

Why Xenonics? The answer can probably be found in Ackerman's close ties to the Zises family, one of New York's uber-Likudniks. Since 1990, the Zises family contributed at least $30,000 to Ackerman's campaign coffers. And since somewhere aroud 1999, unscathed-Milkenite, financier Selig Zises has owned upwards of 20% of Xenonics Holdings.

How close are Ackerman and the Zises? Close enough apparently for Ackerman to have made a statement on the House floor last year in celebration of patriarch Bernard Zises's 90th birthday. That's right: a statement on the House floor.

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Ironically, just a month before venturing into Xenonics in 1992, Ackerman proposed a new law regulating auditing and consulting firms in the wake of the Enron scandal, about which he had this to say:

["This legislation would prevent the fox from being hired to guard the chicken coop," Ackerman said.

"An accounting firm consulting for the companies they audit is equivalent to the company that builds a roller coaster conducting its own safety inspections."

Ackerman said his legislation was long over due and it would help investors and public companies by avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest by auditors.]

Now, that's food for thought. As is the reality that Ackerman wrote 111 bad checks during the House Banking Scandal of 1992 (for which he later apologized to his constituents). As is the reality that he's been slammed repeatedly for other shady stock dealings. As is this.

So, that's the muckety muck over Ackerman's moment of Xen. Now, feel free to rake.