Insiders from the D.C. mayor’s 2010 campaign plead guilty to federal charges. Maryland’s governor signs a bevy of bills. And Virginia voters gear up for a June 12 primary. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Guests

  • Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
  • Daniel Bongino Candidate, U.S. Senate (R-Md.)
  • William Lightfoot Campaign Chairman, Fenty 2010; Former Member, D.C. Council (I-At Large)

Related Video

William Lightfoot, Campaign Chairman for Fenty 2010 and former D.C. Councilmember (D-At Large), addresses Harry Thomas Jr.’s prison sentence over stealing money that was intended for children. He also discusses his thoughts on the legitimacy of the Gray campaign.

Transcript

  • 12:06:49

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood, he is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. He's been spending quite a lot of time in court during the course of this past week, but not because, in this case, he was the perp -- that is normally the case...

  • 12:07:26

    MR. TOM SHERWOODIn any case. Just to be clear.

  • 12:07:28

    NNAMDIAnd then in this case, he was in court because two campaign aides of Mayor Vincent Gray, during his campaign for mayor in 2010, were in court this week to plead guilty, Thomas Gore and Howard Brooks. Tom Sherwood, give us a brief, I guess, synopsis of what each of them pled guilty to.

  • 12:07:48

    SHERWOODWell, the key thing is both of them guilty to at least one felony in faking, and as what the U.S. attorney said, deceiving the voters of the District of Columbia in 2010 by participating in a scheme to pay off minor candidates Sulaimon Brown so he would keep up his hectoring of Adrian Fenty during the campaign. And there was more than a few hundred dollars. It appears to be several thousand dollars went to Sulaimon Brown, a significant attempt to distort the election. They both pled guilty, and they're both cooperating with prosecutors who say they are aggressively continuing the investigation.

  • 12:08:28

    NNAMDINow, a technicality here, they're both apparently pled guilty to lying to the FBI, correct?

  • 12:08:34

    SHERWOODWell, one was making a false statement if you want to be technical, but we can yield to the lawyer a moment for that.

  • 12:08:41

    NNAMDIWe'll be yielding to the lawyer...

  • 12:08:42

    SHERWOODAnd one...

  • 12:08:42

    NNAMDI...in a moment.

  • 12:08:43

    SHERWOODYes.

  • 12:08:43

    NNAMDIBut also technically, it, I guess, it should be noted that had they given this money to Sulaimon Brown in their own name or in the name of the campaign and done it openly, there would have been nothing technically illegal about that.

  • 12:08:59

    SHERWOODYes. They put real names on these various money orders, but the money orders were not given by the people whose names appeared on the money order. So that was fraud. It might be a misdemeanor to give a contribution in the name of another person, but they didn't even clear with the people whose names -- they used relatives and other people. It was a very -- it's, in retrospect now, a very sloppy effort at some stupid reason to support Sulaimon Brown as if he was going to make a difference in the election.

  • 12:09:35

    NNAMDIHad they given that money in their own names or in the name of the campaign and not lied about it, they may have suffered some minor or major embarrassment, but they wouldn't be...

  • 12:09:46

    SHERWOODIt's correct.

  • 12:09:46

    NNAMDI...in the position they're in now. What are the implications in this for Mayor Vincent Gray?

  • 12:09:53

    SHERWOODWell, the implication is did he know about it, did he know about it in the beginning and did he give approval or tacit approval, did he find out about it and not say anything and stopped it. At the early outset of this investigation after The Post's Nikita Stewart original story in March of last year, he has denied any wrongdoing, has acted somewhat shocked or surprised that someone might even do that.

  • 12:10:20

    SHERWOODBut more recently, his attorney in fairly forceful language has told him to stop talking publicly about it, and the mayor is now following advice of his attorney and is not commenting about anything. But clearly, the U.S. attorney, Robert Meacham, who is on this program said this is a serious corruption of the public election process, is stepping up the pace and bringing this investigation -- year-old investigation to an end.

  • 12:10:49

    NNAMDIHoward Brooks in his testimony said he was instructed to give this money to the candidate Sulaimon Brown, and the speculation is that one of the individuals who may have instructed him would have been the chairman of Vincent Gray's campaign, Lorraine Green. Well, joining us in studio now is the chairman of former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's 2010 campaign for re-election.

  • 12:11:14

    NNAMDIYou may remember him because he served on the D.C. Council from 1989 to 1997. He's a Democratic. He held an at-large seat. Bill Lightfoot, William Lightfoot, good to have you in studio. Thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:11:26

    MR. WILLIAM LIGHTFOOTThank you. Good to be here.

  • 12:11:27

    SHERWOODAnd before we grill him, can we just make it clear, since you were so technical with me a moment ago, that Lorraine Green's name has not come up in any of the pleadings or the paperwork or the court cases of the past week or any legal action?

  • 12:11:40

    NNAMDIThere has been speculation is what I said...

  • 12:11:42

    SHERWOODWell, I know.

  • 12:11:42

    NNAMDI...that she might be the person referred. You can join the conversation by calling 800-433-8850, sending email to kojo@wamu.org, a tweet, @kojoshow, or go to our website, kojoshow.org, join the conversation there. Bill Lightfoot, so glad you could join us. You lived through the heat of the 2010 campaign for mayor. Now, the U.S. attorney for the District is charging ahead with an investigation into the integrity of that election.

  • 12:12:07

    NNAMDITwo aides to Vincent Gray's campaign have entered guilty pleas. Ron Meacham has said pointblank that the voters were deceived. As someone who was on the other side of that race, what was your immediate reaction to what unfolded this week?

  • 12:12:21

    LIGHTFOOTDisappointment, great disappointment in large part because I'm disappointed that the Gray campaign would have engaged in these type of activities. I've had respect for Mr. Gray for many years, respect for Lorraine Green, his chairperson, whatever may have happened. And in fact, in the campaign, she and I would talk and have a very cordial relationship. Having said that, I think it's sad for all of us that they thought they needed to do something like this, and that somebody actually condone it in the campaign.

  • 12:12:49

    LIGHTFOOTMr. Gray ran on a platform of integrity, of honesty. And unfortunately for him, somebody below him must have not believed him in his platform because they've acted totally contrary to what he had said. And I think it's very hypocritical to run a campaign on honesty when in fact they were not.

  • 12:13:05

    SHERWOODAnd, you know, Mayor Gray in his entire career as a Ward 7 councilmember, before that, as a human service activist and then as chairman, had a reputation for being detailed, involved in every aspect of everything that's going on. In fact, he even to this day talks about he stays up after midnight, 1:00 or 2 o'clock in the morning reading things, making sure he's fully engaged.

  • 12:13:27

    SHERWOODAnd some people think it would be inconsistent for this mayor to have allowed his campaign to go along without asking what's going on, that he should know and probably does know because he's such a detail-oriented person.

  • 12:13:41

    LIGHTFOOTWell...

  • 12:13:41

    SHERWOODI know you don't know the answer to that, but doesn't that seem logical?

  • 12:13:45

    LIGHTFOOTYeah. I'm not going to speculate on what was going on in Vince Gray's mind. I mean, I've known Vince for a long time. He's testified before me as a city councilmember. I've known him many years throughout the community. I have tremendous respect for him. Having said that, you get in the heat of the campaign, and it does get heated. It moves fast, and a lot of people putting pressure on you.

  • 12:14:05

    LIGHTFOOTAnd you're up late. And you're working hard. And you're getting tired. Who knows what happened during the campaign, and what they were thinking about any one particular moment? And somebody may have given bad instruction, and it just started to snowball out of control. I don't know what happened.

  • 12:14:17

    SHERWOODYou're a distinguished lawyer, personal injury lawyer, right?

  • 12:14:21

    LIGHTFOOTCorrect.

  • 12:14:23

    SHERWOODYou know, the prosecutors, they've been doing this for a year now. If it were just a case of few rouge campaign workers who said, hey, this is cool, this guy is really beating it up on Adrian, it's getting under his skin, let's keep him in the race, let's give him a little money, that could have been solved last year because it's fairly clear what happens, and now, they know who did it. But the fact that it's continuing -- and Jeff Thompson, the whole aspect of what Jeff Thompson's contributions were and his -- the house -- his businesses being raided, this is far more than the Sulaimon Brown incident.

  • 12:14:56

    LIGHTFOOTIt appears that way. You know, there's been some evidence in the newspapers to the extent it's evidence...

  • 12:15:01

    SHERWOODAnd TV.

  • 12:15:02

    LIGHTFOOTAnd TV, yes, Sir. That there was a shadow campaign going on. And the shadow campaign has not been fully disclosed yet and -- to the extent if there really was one. But there may have been one from what we know right now, and that may also be in the play in the background and...

  • 12:15:18

    SHERWOODAnd I'm sorry. Go ahead.

  • 12:15:19

    LIGHTFOOTWell, I was going to say let's not minimize what occurred here. It was a deception of the public. And I think, as the attorney said, it's deceiving the public, which is a major crime, when you're talking about elections and the fundamental -- the bedrock of our democracy is having an open and honest election where people abide by the law and follow the law because we're going to live by our laws. These people did not.

  • 12:15:43

    SHERWOODWell, can I just -- this is my last and single line of interrogation...

  • 12:15:47

    NNAMDIHe lied cleverly.

  • 12:15:47

    SHERWOOD...I apologize. But every person that have spoken, I mean, there's hundreds of people I wouldn't -- without exaggeration had said to me, what does Adrian Fenty think about this, what does -- Adrian hadn't said a word. Mayor -- former Mayor Adrian Fenty, not a public word. He has steadfastly not said -- I don't know if you've spoken to him privately or to his wife or to whomever.

  • 12:16:07

    SHERWOODWhat is the thought of the insider -- from Mayor Fenty on to you and others the insider's thought about what has happened?

  • 12:16:16

    LIGHTFOOTWell, I've spoken to Adrian, but it was a couple of months ago, and it wasn't about this. So I'm not going to speak for Adrian. Recently, I've spoken to a couple people who were working together very closely in the campaign, particularly Tom Lindenfeld, as you know, was a campaign strategist. And our view of it is let the U.S. attorney do what he's got to do, but our point now is we've got move forward.

  • 12:16:36

    LIGHTFOOTThe reason we were in politics was to better the city, to improve the city. We should learn lessons from this and figure out what we can do to prevent fraudulent activity, criminal activity in the future. And that's what this needs to be about. The clock turns forward. The clock does not turn backwards.

  • 12:16:50

    NNAMDII want to ask you some procedural things. You said earlier that maybe somebody in his campaign decided to go ahead and do this. When you are the chairperson of a campaign, to what extent are you aware of what other strategists in the campaign might be doing, and is it possible or likely that they might be embarking on entire things like a shadow campaign without either the chairman or the candidate knowing about this?

  • 12:17:14

    LIGHTFOOTI would -- if -- I've now chaired at least two mayoral campaigns and several council seat races, and I've run my own campaign. There are things that occur sporadically that you don't know about. But and not when they happened, but you may find out later. And then when you find out later, you put a stop to it. You send a message back. And I also think the tone is set by the chairperson at the top, anyway.

  • 12:17:37

    LIGHTFOOTIf the people believe the chairperson is going to be honest and the people underneath the chairperson better be honest too because then they understand. The chairperson is going to crack the whip, throw them out of the campaign or take some kind of action if they break the law or don't follow the rules.

  • 12:17:51

    SHERWOODIn the best case, people have said about Mayor Gray is that should he not be charged that is going to be bad enough. There might be civil fines against his campaign if there are violations of the civil laws of campaigning, and that he'll simply limp to re-election. Do you think this has irreparably damaged him to be a viable candidate for re-election if he's not even criminally charged?

  • 12:18:15

    LIGHTFOOTWell, if he's innocent, then it shouldn't be irreparable. We don't know if he's innocent yet. And I'm trying to say one way or the other, but I do think it's time that the mayor tells us what he knows. Two people now have come forward. They've admitted the guilt in the campaign. I think the mayor now has to tell us what does he know and when did he know it.

  • 12:18:34

    NNAMDI800...

  • 12:18:34

    SHERWOODBut you're a lawyer -- I'm sorry.

  • 12:18:35

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. We're discussing the guilty pleas this week of two campaign aides in Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign. How do you see it? 800-433-8850. What do see as being the implications for the mayor? You can also send us a tweet, @kojoshow. Did during the course of the campaign, when Sulaimon Brown was raising all of these questions and reporters and people who are in the audience were saying who is this guy and why is he asking these questions? Was there ever discussion in the Fenty campaign at all about whether any of this may have been orchestrated and by whom?

  • 12:19:11

    LIGHTFOOTI think there was a feeling that he was working in concert with the Gray campaign that they were doing things together, and Sulaimon was like an attack dog for the Gray campaign. But it was only a feeling that they were coordinating an attack because they had a common enemy, and the common enemy in their mind was Adrian. I don't recall any discussions or any suspicion that the Gray campaign was paying for the Sulaimon Brown campaign.

  • 12:19:38

    NNAMDIThere were some ugly rumors flying around about Mayor Fenty during the campaign, and I'm referring here to the possibility of a shadow campaign. I heard in a number of places rumors that Adrian, frankly -- Adrian Fenty, frankly, was abusing his wife. What kind...

  • 12:19:53

    SHERWOODYou know...

  • 12:19:53

    NNAMDI...what kind -- how aware were you of this kind of talk, and was there ever discussion about whether or not these rumors were coming from the Gray campaign or any kind of shadow campaign that might have been going on? There's always whispering campaigns, I know that.

  • 12:20:06

    LIGHTFOOTKojo, it's politics, all right? In politics, we talk about...

  • 12:20:10

    NNAMDIWhy I'm also naive?

  • 12:20:11

    LIGHTFOOTYeah, you're not naive. You know the answer to this, and Tom does too. It's politics. People will talk about you, and they talk about you like a dog, and people will talk about you, so you don't even recognize who you are. And a lot of it is bathroom talk. And it's what you find -- finding the scribble on the bathroom stall, and you give it about that much credence. The first thing you do in a campaign, however, is vet your candidate. Investigate your own candidate to find out what is negative out there about that candidate.

  • 12:20:36

    SHERWOODGo into Johnsons and take him to woodshed.

  • 12:20:38

    LIGHTFOOTAbsolutely. You do that first, and then you're not gonna be surprised. And then you can make a distinction between what is a false rumor, started for some malicious purpose, and what might have shred of truth to it. So, yeah, I heard a lot of rumors about Adrian, but I was very comfortable that the rumors I heard were false because I knew a great deal about his background. Of course, and Adrian too, I've known him for many years, so I...

  • 12:20:59

    SHERWOODWell, we thought you knew Mayor Gray, too.

  • 12:21:01

    NNAMDI800...

  • 12:21:02

    LIGHTFOOTWell, you know, again, in fairness defense, we don't know what he did wrong yet. I mean, we know people beneath him did something wrong. And I'm not here to defend him, and I've said he's got to stand up and say what he knows. But I think we've all got to be careful until the man has been charged with something.

  • 12:21:15

    SHERWOODYou -- well, you talked about wanting to go forward in importance of that. You -- there is a second investigation of the Chairman Kwame Brown. It is within the possibility, if the worst comes to pass for those two gentlemen, that the chairman of the council and the mayor could be charged with possible crimes, and they could be removed from office. That is the worst case. I'm not saying it's likely to happen. I'm just saying that is the worst case.

  • 12:21:41

    SHERWOODIf that is the case, do you not see that Congress might step in again with another control board? Do you think, if we have to have a special election for chairman, a special election for mayor, it would just roil the city politics? But would Congress let us go through this process?

  • 12:21:55

    LIGHTFOOTWell, I think it is a risk based upon past behavior that Congress might wanna step in. But when Congress stepped in in the past, it was because the city had gone bankrupt. And we just absolutely required the congressional input because we needed the Congress' money. This is not a financial crisis. This is a crisis of people breaking the law and feeling a lack of morality. That's what this problem this.

  • 12:22:18

    LIGHTFOOTI think our laws of succession about how a new chairman is selected, about how a new mayor is selected, that can all be orderly done in a timely basis without disrupting the government.

  • 12:22:29

    NNAMDIWilliam Lightfoot was chairman of former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's 2010 campaign for reelection. He now joins us in studio. He also served on the D.C. Council from 1989 to 1997. He's a Democrat. He held an at-large seat. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. If you have comments or questions, give us a call at 800-433-8850. How do you feel about the general direction of the council and the administration this past two years?

  • 12:22:56

    NNAMDISome people feel that with the ethical clouds hanging over the city, these have pretty much been lost years where little can be accomplished. What do you say?

  • 12:23:06

    LIGHTFOOTWell, that is a good question as to what's been accomplished in the last two years. You know, the big concern that I have is education and what's happening with our children. I think the city was very optimistic. We were clearly moving forward with respect to education, improvement of the schools, improvement of scholastic achievement, the building of new schools, the building of new libraries. The improvement of what the classroom performance, what's happened in the last two years? I'm not sure.

  • 12:23:31

    LIGHTFOOTIf I may say this much, crime, though, seems to be fine. The police department is doing just fine with crime, and the city continues to grow, and more citizens are moving here, and the diversity continues. So there's a lot of forces in our city that are good that continue to march on.

  • 12:23:45

    SHERWOODA lot of people who were in the Fenty administration, Mayor Gray -- people would say just credit kept them. Kaya Henderson, who is a deputy to Michelle Rhee, has certainly stayed into the schools and has moved along all the things that Michelle Rhee and she were doing when Fenty was mayor. Terry Bellamy, who's the DDOT director of transportation, was an assistant to Klein.

  • 12:24:09

    LIGHTFOOTHarriet Tregoning.

  • 12:24:10

    SHERWOODAnd Harriet Tregoning. And there are a number of people of who left over from that who...

  • 12:24:13

    LIGHTFOOTCathy Lanier?

  • 12:24:14

    SHERWOODThen Cathy Lanier, and so I think -- as one official said to me, well, the city is doing great. It's the leadership -- political leadership that's in tatters.

  • 12:24:25

    LIGHTFOOTWell, there may be some element of truth to that. But having said that, we have problems of job creation just like they do nationally. We have problems in our schools. We have problems with crime with regards to our neighborhoods, bunch of our cities. And, again, a large part of it is it's economics. Part of it is what part of town are you talking about. And probably what's most disappointing about this is Mayor Gray is from East of the River, Ward 7. And have they seen the kind of improvements they expected to have during these two years.

  • 12:24:53

    SHERWOODJack Evans, a Ward 2 councilmember, your former colleague says it's the worst council he's ever served on. What do you think about the council in general?

  • 12:25:00

    NNAMDIAnd talk a little bit about what you see as the difference between the relationship between the members of the council when you served on it as compared to now?

  • 12:25:07

    LIGHTFOOTWell, we were different people in large part, and we came from different backgrounds. I came to a city council where you had a large number of people who were ex-civil rights activists, who are really motivated by a goal of higher aspirations because they've been involved in the civil rights movement. You know, John Wilson, Dave Clark, Marion Barry, these are people motivated that grew up to the civil rights movement.

  • 12:25:28

    LIGHTFOOTThe councilors we have now are -- they're post -- what I call the young Turks, and the young Turks were myself, Harold Brazil, Jack Evans, Kevin Chavous. We were young professionals that came on the city council, and we were not government employees. We were not people that had -- had grew up in social activist movements. We had grown up really having jobs in the private sector and then came into the government.

  • 12:25:49

    LIGHTFOOTThe group that we have now are actually after us. It's kind of a mixture. Some of those people now actually served on the city council. For example, Phil Mendelson, (unintelligible) Chairman Ambrose had done it before him.

  • 12:26:01

    NNAMDIHe'd worked for -- who had -- Mendelson had worked for Dave Clark, right?

  • 12:26:04

    LIGHTFOOTNo. Jim Nathanson.

  • 12:26:05

    NNAMDIJim Nathanson. Okay.

  • 12:26:05

    LIGHTFOOTMm-hmm. But having said that, they don't seem to get along very well.

  • 12:26:11

    NNAMDIOkay.

  • 12:26:12

    SHERWOODIs that a...

  • 12:26:12

    NNAMDIOh, that's the politest way of...

  • 12:26:13

    SHERWOODSeveral of them have told me that part of the problem is that the chairman is so weakened by his own problems, that he can't crack the whip in private and control the council members 'cause they don' feel he's a permanent force.

  • 12:26:26

    LIGHTFOOTWell, did Linda Cropp crack the whip? Did...

  • 12:26:29

    SHERWOODWell, privately she was. She was very tough privately.

  • 12:26:32

    LIGHTFOOTAnd she was a very sweet lady that we all love dearly and continue to love and get along with her very well. Did Vince Gray crack the whip like that?

  • 12:26:39

    SHERWOODNo, but he was quite clear about getting things done and make sure the council members were heard and they didn't have anything hanging over his head like the current chairman does even when he tries to just focus on the budget. How long is he gonna be there? He could be gone this fall.

  • 12:26:52

    LIGHTFOOTTrue.

  • 12:26:53

    NNAMDIYou have launched a kind of campaign of your own this spring to discourage the mayor from reappointing Natwar Gandhi as the city's chief financial officer. What is your beef with the CFO, and why do feel he needs to go?

  • 12:27:05

    LIGHTFOOTWell, let me clear. My beef is not with the CFO, and I have not started a campaign to get rid of the CFO. What I have started a campaign for is have a national search. I wanna look for a chief financial officer. I think this is a very important position. It's got more authority than any other position in our government. It controls a quarter of the agencies. It's got -- the CFO has got everything to do with all of our money.

  • 12:27:27

    LIGHTFOOTAnd Mr. Gandhi did a good job for the years he's been here, and he may be the best person as we move forward. But I think given the cloud that we have over the ethics of our government, the concerns that we have about corruption in government, and we laid out in that letter I had printed in The Post, there are series of corrupt, unethical and fraudulent activities that occurred within the ambient of the CFO's responsibility and control.

  • 12:27:56

    LIGHTFOOTAs we move forward, do we have the systems in place to prevent that? What is going to be done not only prevent it but to anticipate what may happen in the future as we have new financing schemes? And what I'm really saying is we're living in a new city, a new age, where technology becomes more important. It's more important to have computerized systems with internal checks and balances. And do we have that, and who's in the best position to give those to us?

  • 12:28:22

    SHERWOODDid you talked to Mr. Gandhi before you wrote the letter, or did it come as a surprise to him when he woke up in the morning and maybe read it online or saw it in the print edition?

  • 12:28:31

    LIGHTFOOTHe didn't get it from me.

  • 12:28:34

    NNAMDIObviously, you didn't talk to Mr. Gandhi.

  • 12:28:36

    SHERWOODSo that's pretty much says you would like for it to be someone other Mr. Gandhi in the fall.

  • 12:28:39

    LIGHTFOOTNo. I put in -- look, let's be clear. Honestly, I want a national search. I supported Adrian Fenty when he ran because he ran on a platform of best practices. I believe in good government. I believe we live in a government of institutions, not individual...

  • 12:28:53

    SHERWOODWhy don't you run for mayor?

  • 12:28:55

    LIGHTFOOTWe're talking about Mr. Gandhi. I'm not (unintelligible) right now.

  • 12:28:56

    SHERWOODYeah, but...

  • 12:28:57

    NNAMDII've heard that question before.

  • 12:28:59

    SHERWOODI've heard it before. You, at least, thought about running for mayor. Would you consider it now maybe as totally off the boards?

  • 12:29:07

    LIGHTFOOTWell, I appreciate that.

  • 12:29:09

    SHERWOODSo what's the answer?

  • 12:29:10

    LIGHTFOOTWell, the answer is I get the question many times, but the answer is no. I don't have the fire in the belly. I don't want it. I help people by a political activist. I do not I believe I have the fire in the belly to serve in that position, to run for office.

  • 12:29:24

    NNAMDIIf we were to conduct a national search for a new chief financial officer, do you think that Mr. Gandhi should be included in his search? Should his hat be in the ring?

  • 12:29:33

    LIGHTFOOTAbsolutely should be. He's got a -- he can -- because he has the institutional memory. He can tell us what's been going on in these agencies. He can tell us what he's tried to implement, and he must have a plan for the future because anyone running that kind of jobs says, this is what I'm doing today, and this is what I'm gonna do to tomorrow. This is what I'm gonna do long range. We want that kind of input, so we can then compare his vision for the future with other people's vision for the future, and then we can see which vision coincides with our view with the city (unintelligible).

  • 12:30:01

    SHERWOODThe influential bond buyer has written a very glowing piece about Mr. Gandhi and how he has gotten the confidence of Wall Street and the city's finances and the credit rating for the bonds the city has and -- in rebuilding the financial, I mean, there are some strong points for him that you would at least be considering.

  • 12:30:18

    LIGHTFOOTAbsolutely. Mr. Gandhi has done very well bouncing the books. And the reason Wall Street's in favor is because the books are balanced, because we have a surplus. And I'm sure if you ask them, it's not just because of an individual. Now, what has to be kept in mind? We have evidence that our financial system is not under control. We have evidence that our financial accountability is unstable.

  • 12:30:40

    LIGHTFOOTAnd the evidence is the fraudulent schemes that we have laid out, whether it's the lottery board or the recordation tax -- we've laid them out there in that letter -- I'm not saying anybody -- that Mr. Gandhi did it wrong, but it happened under his watch.

  • 12:30:55

    SHERWOODSounds like you want fresh eyes.

  • 12:30:56

    LIGHTFOOTI want fresh eyes to look at it. I wanna analyze it. That's the best practice. If you're really running a first-class city, if you wanna do what's best for your citizens, then you wanna be able to go out and see what competition or what skilled people are available. And that's all I'm saying.

  • 12:31:11

    SHERWOODYou wanna comment on Harry Thomas Jr.? He's going to prison, I think, June 23 about the -- his theft -- the money that were intended for children. I'm not sure of -- how strong you could say anything.

  • 12:31:20

    LIGHTFOOTWell, I mean, I'll say two things, three.

  • 12:31:23

    SHERWOODYou served with his father, didn't you?

  • 12:31:24

    LIGHTFOOTI served -- yes, I did. He sat right next to me.

  • 12:31:26

    SHERWOODOkay.

  • 12:31:27

    NNAMDIUh-huh.

  • 12:31:27

    LIGHTFOOTAnd I love him dearly.

  • 12:31:28

    SHERWOODI'd like to hear those comments. I love to hear those conversations repeated, but go ahead. Harry Thomas Jr. messed up big time.

  • 12:31:33

    LIGHTFOOTI'm wild about Harry. That was his name, okay, to say. Harry Thomas Jr., I've known since he was young a boy. And, again, I feel great disappointment about this. I'm surprised. I'm hurt. I've known his mother. But if Harry stole that money and he did steal the money, he ought to go to jail. And I wish him best while he's there. But, yeah, damn right, he ought to go to jail. And he stole it from a bunch of kinds, and he never should have done that. And he held himself at helping children. The hypocrisy I find shocking, and it angers me.

  • 12:32:01

    NNAMDIBack to topic we started out discussing at the beginning. Based on the activities that people in the Gray campaign have now admitted to participating in, how do you feel about the legitimacy of his administration? You represented -- were chairperson of the campaigns for the candidate he defeated. Now, we found that there were some, if you will, dirty tricks going on in the campaign. How do you feel that affects the legitimacy of the Gray administration?

  • 12:32:25

    LIGHTFOOTI think it does affect the legitimacy. I think it raises a real question about whether or not they legitimately won an election. Let me just say, the little things that we know about what these people did was illegal. Any of them by themselves, I know they change the election probably than we know of. But what -- I will say this about it. If the voters had known that the Gray campaign was engaged in illegal activity, and if the voters had known that while running on a platform of integrity, they will actually engage in illegal activity, a lot of people would not have voted for Mr. Gray.

  • 12:32:59

    LIGHTFOOTAnd that might have made a difference in the election. So that's number one about how it affects the legitimacy of it. The second thing, I think, as everybody wanna keep in mind, in elections, what's important is a free flow of information. And we believe that if the voters have a chance to learn about you, they can make an informed decision. While in this case, they would not give an opportunity to know certain things.

  • 12:33:22

    LIGHTFOOTAnd if they had known that people in the Gray administration, people of office, were acting corruptly, they would have known they are likely to be corrupt when they come into office. And low and behold, what happened? As soon as the Gray people went in office, we had other allegations of corruption.

  • 12:33:39

    SHERWOODThe jobs of the family members getting to -- the Fenty campaign, in fact, put out very tough advertisements essentially saying, we'd go back to the worst parts of the Barry era should Vince Gray win. And people are saying, no, Vince Gray is not like that. Vince Gray means well. He's got a good record, and, yes, some old line, Washingtonians will be back in power with him. But they're gonna do something. They're gonna more friendly 'cause Adrian, of course, stopped talking to everybody in the city.

  • 12:34:03

    SHERWOODBut it seems -- a lot of you are saying that that Fenty campaign warning has come true that it's not the Barry era corruption, but it's certainly the Barry era style of corruption.

  • 12:34:15

    LIGHTFOOTWell, without comparing it to Barry, we did raise a concern that we would have some illegal activity, nepotism, cronyism, fraudulent activity, and we've had all of that.

  • 12:34:27

    NNAMDIWilliam Lightfoot was the chairman of former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty's 2010 campaign for re-election. You may remember he also served under D.C. council from '98 -- 1989 to 1997. He held an at-large seat as a Democrat and once as an independent. Did you not hold (unintelligible) ?

  • 12:34:42

    LIGHTFOOTI was the first person elected as an independent. And, actually, I was an independent for my entire term on the council. I'm what you call an independent Democrat.

  • 12:34:53

    NNAMDIWell, thank you so -- thank you...

  • 12:34:55

    SHERWOODWhich doesn't exist since, I mean, legally it's doesn't exist.

  • 12:34:58

    NNAMDIThank you very much whatever you are, Will Lightfoot, for joining us.

  • 12:35:00

    SHERWOODHe's a concerned citizen who won't run for mayor.

  • 12:35:04

    LIGHTFOOTThank you.

  • 12:35:04

    NNAMDINo matter how much Tom Sherwood encourages it.

  • 12:35:06

    SHERWOODI'm not encouraging anyone. I just want a full open campaign.

  • 12:35:10

    LIGHTFOOTWe have a lot of people who are qualified to be mayor. Some of them...

  • 12:35:13

    SHERWOODYou want to name one?

  • 12:35:14

    LIGHTFOOTI think my Ward 4 councilmember is qualified.

  • 12:35:16

    SHERWOODOh, here we go. The first test for Muriel Bowser right here. You heard it on "The Kojo Show."

  • 12:35:21

    LIGHTFOOTShe still gotta win her race in Ward 4.

  • 12:35:24

    SHERWOODOh, yes.

  • 12:35:24

    NNAMDIWill Lightfoot, always a pleasure. Good to see you.

  • 12:35:26

    LIGHTFOOTThank you very much for having me.

  • 12:35:27

    NNAMDITom Sherwood, you mentioned and Will Lightfoot mentioned Marion Barry. Marion Barry wants to, I guess, apologize and did to the Asian-American community for remarks that he made both about Koreans and about Filipinos. And somehow during the course of this apology, he managed to insult people of Polish descent, and I guess he said he misspoke on that occasion. But it -- in my opinion, the former mayor, Ward 8 councilmember definitely seems to be slipping a little bit mentally.

  • 12:36:04

    SHERWOODWell, I don't know if we can make that...

  • 12:36:06

    NNAMDII said in my opinion.

  • 12:36:07

    SHERWOOD...on your opinion. Okay. I do think the mayor has been thrashing about -- Mayor Barry has been trashing about. He said something -- those of us who have known him a long time kinda know what he means, but he still says what he says, the English language as a matter of fact. And so I think it's unfortunate that he got caught up in the stores. The issue of some of the stores, whoever owns them in Ward 8, is a significant in public policy issue.

  • 12:36:34

    SHERWOODAnd the issues of training people for jobs in the medical -- in the booming medical health care field is a public policy issue. You do not have to slur or tag any ethnic group at all. And when you talk about...

  • 12:36:48

    NNAMDIThe slip with people of Polish descent is one he would not have made 30 years ago.

  • 12:36:52

    SHERWOODRight. He would not have -- and so I think he's trashing about it. He's caught -- and every time he turns it -- once you've -- if you know that every word you say is going to be listened to, it will make you nervous about saying anything. But -- so I don't know what's gonna happen now. Some people think Barry's time is -- has passed, that whatever you think of him, that it's maybe time for him to retire. I think he's probably had his last campaign. But it's sad -- the good thing is he's at least apologizing. Perhaps he should just not be talking as much.

  • 12:37:28

    NNAMDIMitt Romney, the presidential -- the presumed presidential candidate for the Republican Party said he is going to, if elected, expand Washington's school voucher program as part of a broader nationwide push for school choice. One of the criticisms aimed at President Obama is his own refusal to expand the voucher program in the District of Columbia. Do you think that in this predominantly Democratic city that can give Mitt Romney any attraction at all? Okay. I'll move on the answer to that.

  • 12:37:58

    SHERWOODWell, you know, the fact, his opportunity of scholarships has been pretty popular. The teachers' professional organizations, some of the teachers' unions didn't like them 'cause they saw them as a way for the scholarships to cherry-pick bright and engaging students and get them out of the public school system, thereby, lowering the standards of the entire school system while a few hundred or thousand kids get to go to private schools.

  • 12:38:23

    SHERWOODI would think -- we just urged Mitt Romney, should he become president, to pay a great deal of attention to the city much more than just the schools -- and then as President Obama does, just the restaurant -- and give us some attention as real human beings, real Americans, who wanna be part of the country and not just be treated like some kind of reservation.

  • 12:38:42

    NNAMDIOne cannot help absorbing the irony of the city's fire department being dispatched to the city's fire department training academy to put out fires that were apparently involved -- that fires that apparently involved the burning and destruction of personnel files of both police and firefighters in the District of Columbia. Do you think there were some kind of training exercise taking place at the training academy about burning stuff?

  • 12:39:12

    SHERWOODWell, it's clear some -- it was clear someone needs more training about what to do with personnel files. I mean, it seems like every few years in our city or in some government agency, there's some destruction of records or openly destruction of records that somehow, they're not just destroyed and there's a story about them, how they're lose upon that -- it's just the oddest story that's being alleged, investigated. We'll see what happens, but this is just a bizarre story.

  • 12:39:38

    NNAMDIHey, guys. Here's how you put out a fire. First, we have to set a fire before we put out. What can we set alight? Ah, the personnel records over here. We can light -- that's not what happened.

  • 12:39:47

    SHERWOODWell, you know, there is a certain, I mean, there are businesses that dispose of public records because of the sensitivity of them. But I don't think the best thing to do is to have a bonfire.

  • 12:39:59

    NNAMDIJoining us now in studio is Daniel Bongino. He is a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. He's running for the seat currently occupied by Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. Daniel Bongino, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:40:11

    MR. DANIEL BONGINOThanks for having me. Appreciate it.

  • 12:40:12

    NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Daniel Bongino, you can call us at 800-433-8850 or send email to kojo@wamu.org. You can go to our website, kojoshow.org, join the conversation there. You're a political novice who spent quite a bit of his life working, however, right in the middle of a political world as a member of the Secret Service. But you've picked a pretty tough fight for your first time out.

  • 12:40:37

    NNAMDIBen Cardin is one of the more veteran politicians in Maryland, and Maryland has been pretty hostile territory for Republicans in statewide races. Why are you in this race, and what gives you the confidence that you can win?

  • 12:40:50

    BONGINOWell, I only like tough fights. I don't like easy fights. My whole life has been in tough fights.

  • 12:40:53

    NNAMDIYou've picked a good tough one.

  • 12:40:55

    BONGINOYeah, we did, and it's nothing personal against Sen. Cardin. He's a wonderful man personally. This is a political fight. And I really thought -- I left everything for this. First, I just wanna be clear: I did not retire from the Secret Service. I resigned to do this. And I say that because no one has more skin in the game than me. We can barely put braces on my daughter's teeth right now. I don't -- I'm not looking for anybody's sympathy.

  • 12:41:16

    BONGINOThis was a decision we had made as a family. But I think Maryland really needs a change in direction. And it's shows like this that I really prefer to come on because I think Republicans have just done, frankly, not a really good job of marketing their ideas to what I call underserved Republican communities. There's this, you know, scary Republicans thing out there, which I think is completely and totally inaccurate.

  • 12:41:38

    BONGINOWe spend an enormous amount of time in Prince George's County, Montgomery and Baltimore City 'cause we think our ideas are the right ideas.

  • 12:41:45

    SHERWOODWhat is wrong with Ben Cardin that's so important you gave up your job and risking your family's stability, financial stability, to run against someone in a blue state who is probably favored to win 80 percent of the vote or more? What is it -- the one thing about him that you think should be changed, about moving him out of office?

  • 12:42:03

    BONGINOWell, there are a couple of things. First, he's very vulnerable. His numbers are actually not good at all. Even some of the left-leaning polling places and publicly available data show he's not very popular. His approval ratings are very low. His generic polling is awful, and his name recognition is low. He's been around 45 years, hasn't really done much in that time.

  • 12:42:22

    BONGINOAnd on the big three issues in my campaign -- the economy, health care and education -- he's been wrong on all three, and especially wrong in areas of Baltimore City and Prince George's County. You know, I'm the one who grew up, you know, in the struggle. I grew up poor in the city streets. I know what that's like.

  • 12:42:38

    SHERWOODWhere did you grow up?

  • 12:42:39

    BONGINOI grew up on 64th Place & Myrtle Avenue in New York City. So I thought we will Google Earth it all the time...

  • 12:42:45

    NNAMDIAnd served as a New York police officer.

  • 12:42:47

    BONGINOYes, sir.

  • 12:42:47

    NNAMDII've heard you say that voters ultimately -- and you just said it -- care about the economy, and that's what this race is about. But you've spent nearly your entire professional career in law enforcement. Where do you think you're going to have credibility when it comes to economic issues?

  • 12:43:00

    BONGINOWell, I own three small businesses. I have an MBA in finance. I've got a graduate degree in psychology. I've studied economics for 15 years, chosen not to get a degree in economics 'cause I think in academia, unfortunately, economics is a philosophy, not a science. There are actual scientific components to it. And I can tell you how to start a business and how to run a business and how to...

  • 12:43:19

    SHERWOODWhat three businesses do you -- small businesses -- what are the names of them?

  • 12:43:22

    BONGINOSilverlock, which is an Internet business. We do websites. My wife and I -- we have some partners -- we own a company called GrappleSock as well, which is -- sells mixed martial arts, martial arts-type equipment. I have boxed for my entire life. I've been very athletic. And we, very entrepreneurially, invented a product, and so we were the ones who started it.

  • 12:43:40

    BONGINOAnd I run an independent security consulting business myself, which, I'll be honest with you, I haven't done much with for the last year while I've been campaigning. I got to turn down a few potential clients. But, yeah, that's the three.

  • 12:43:52

    NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, Daniel Bongino is our guest. He's a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. He's running for the seat currently occupied by Ben Cardin, Democrat from Maryland. Tom?

  • 12:44:03

    SHERWOODWhat is the process to be the official nominee? Do you have primaries?

  • 12:44:08

    BONGINOYeah, we won the primary.

  • 12:44:09

    SHERWOODYou won the primary.

  • 12:44:10

    BONGINOWe beat nine other candidates.

  • 12:44:11

    SHERWOODI have to tell you, I'm so focused on Democrats in the state that...

  • 12:44:15

    BONGINOSure.

  • 12:44:16

    SHERWOOD...I didn't know you even won.

  • 12:44:17

    BONGINOYeah, yeah.

  • 12:44:17

    SHERWOODThat might be a thumbnail view of what's facing you. How do you get -- clearly, money is gonna be an issue. I mean, do you -- is the national senatorial -- Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee supporting your nomination with any monies?

  • 12:44:33

    BONGINOThey will be shortly once we release our poll data, which I think is gonna surprise a lot of people.

  • 12:44:38

    SHERWOODYou do have to have some certain level of support before the national folk will bring money or people in to help you.

  • 12:44:42

    BONGINOYeah. And -- yeah. And we've largely reached that. We have almost 2,500 donors.

  • 12:44:47

    SHERWOODWhere do you live in Maryland?

  • 12:44:49

    BONGINOSeverna Park in Anne Arundel County.

  • 12:44:49

    SHERWOODSeverna? And where is your headquarters?

  • 12:44:51

    BONGINOIn Severna Park, Ritchie Highway, 537 Ritchie Highway.

  • 12:44:53

    SHERWOODIf people wanna get in touch with you, you're online?

  • 12:44:55

    BONGINOYeah, bongino.com, B-O-N-G-I-N-O.com.

  • 12:44:58

    NNAMDIAnd if you'd like to talk with him right now, 800-433-8850 is the number to call. You're running for a seat in a Congress that's generally characterized as more divided than most people have seen it, where Republicans and Democrats not only can't seem to agree, but don't even seem to like one another. You spent three years on President George W. Bush's security detail. You spent two years on President Barack Obama's security detail.

  • 12:45:25

    NNAMDIYou're running as a Republican. And so I guess people ask you a lot: How do you feel about the Democratic president of the United States, Barack Obama? I frankly was a little bit surprised at the answer you gave. You might wanna give it again.

  • 12:45:39

    BONGINOWell, personally, he is a wonderful guy. I really mean that. There's a different level of relationship between me and the president and folks in the general public. Obviously, he's the president of the United States. The accessibility is not there. He's a great guy. He's a fantastic father. His family was wonderful to me and my wife. And I wanna be clear on that. He is a great guy.

  • 12:45:59

    BONGINOI think he's been, you know, he's been mischaracterized, I think, by the press sometimes, him and his family. Politically, I could not disagree with him more, though. I really couldn't. I think, unfortunately, there's a chasm between his intentions and the results. He's a patriot. I don't deny that. But, unfortunately, his policies are hurting people that really, I think, our message is starting to resonate with, especially folks who just want access.

  • 12:46:25

    BONGINOYou brought up the school choices here. I'm so happy you did that. That has been an anchor issue of our campaign from day one. I mean, those kids deserve a shot or not. I mean, I'm in Anne Arundel County. It's not my fight. Our schools are great. It is our fight, though. They're our kids.

  • 12:46:39

    NNAMDIYou are sounding like the kind of Republican who can get along with Democrats. What's -- the way that is characterized in the press now as the kind of Republican who can't get elected or who, if elected, will not be able to be effective because the Republican Party these days is characterized as one that does not want to do business with Democrats. You sound like you want to do business with Democrats if you have to.

  • 12:47:04

    BONGINOWell, there are issues we all agree on. And when you look at it from an umbrella view -- let's get out of the granule or the single case studies because you can always find a case in any society of 300 million people where something went wrong. Let's look at the big umbrella argument. What are our big problems? Education. What is wrong in Baltimore City? What's wrong with Baltimore City?

  • 12:47:21

    SHERWOODDo you think the federal government should direct the Baltimore City schools?

  • 12:47:25

    BONGINOWell, think about it. We have $60 billion...

  • 12:47:27

    SHERWOODA lot of people want the schools -- the federal government to stop messing them with local schools.

  • 12:47:31

    BONGINOEducation is a local issue, and I do believe in subsidiarity (sic) . But we give $60 billion to the Department of Education. For what? Since I'm born in 1974, we have spent 200 percent, in real dollars, more money on education for a complete flat line. Those kids in Baltimore City, frankly, have no shot, zero. I visited charter schools out there. How about we take some of that $60 billion -- which we could have already done in D.C., and the president has not funded -- and let those parents get a voucher, a premium support voucher, where they can pick their own school?

  • 12:48:01

    BONGINOI don't understand what's not bipartisan about that idea. When I sit in Lexington Market in Baltimore City and actually ask those parents -- by the way, I don't see Ben Cardin there ever. I spend an -- I'll be there Friday.

  • 12:48:11

    SHERWOODYou wanna privatize the school system then.

  • 12:48:13

    BONGINOAbsolutely not. No one's talking about privatizing the school system.

  • 12:48:15

    SHERWOODAll the charter schools are basically private. Schools depend on money.

  • 12:48:19

    BONGINOI ask you this. It's not -- we're not talking about privatizing. We're talking about public money...

  • 12:48:22

    SHERWOODRight.

  • 12:48:22

    BONGINO...on premium support vouchers. That's not private. That's tax money.

  • 12:48:25

    SHERWOODOn the private -- those -- then taking a voucher and going to a charter school, that's private.

  • 12:48:29

    BONGINOI ask you this: What's your solution? Lock the doors?

  • 12:48:31

    SHERWOODI'm a reporter. I don't have to have a solution.

  • 12:48:33

    BONGINONo. But I ask you, when people say that, everybody gives a counter, but no one gives an idea. Well, what's your idea? If they choose to take that voucher and spend that on a private school that will educate their kids...

  • 12:48:42

    SHERWOODAnd I have interviewed any number of parents who have loved the opportunity scholarships and have -- and are grateful to this day that their children had the opportunity.

  • 12:48:50

    BONGINOYeah.

  • 12:48:51

    SHERWOODBut it sounds to me like if you did that and gave everyone a voucher, then some parents would have to choose public schools, private schools and Catholic schools. They would be allowed to be participants?

  • 12:49:01

    BONGINOSure. But if the public school -- I ask you this. And I get that argument a lot. They say, well, you're trading money from the public schools. Don't start the story in the middle. Start it at the beginning. Why would parents leave public schools and take their money with them? Because they're not working. What's your solution? Change the door -- chain the door shut?

  • 12:49:17

    NNAMDIWhat are some of the other issues on which you would -- might be willing to work with Democrats and forego partisanship? Would you be willing to compromise on issues like raising the debt ceiling, for example?

  • 12:49:26

    BONGINOOf course. Listen, the debt ceiling, we can't have another bond downgrade. But at some point, can we get serious about cutting the absurd level of spending? We are at historic levels. I'm not gonna argue over what Bush spent and what Obama spent and Reagan. That's -- forget it. That's nonsense. They're all government officials. Forget the party. We've spent too much money. We're spending historic levels of money. We're spending 25 cents of every dollar on government spending. But here's the catch...

  • 12:49:50

    NNAMDIWell, the Democrats say, we're willing to cut some spending if you are willing to raise some taxes on people who make the most money in the country. That's the compromise that...

  • 12:49:57

    BONGINOSure.

  • 12:49:58

    NNAMDI...they would be looking for. Would you be willing...

  • 12:49:59

    BONGINOOkay. That's not compromise, though.

  • 12:50:00

    NNAMDIWould you be willing to make a compromise like that?

  • 12:50:02

    BONGINOWell, that doesn't work. Again, I'm not rich. I'm the only one in this race who's not a millionaire. OK, my wife and I make about $60,000 a year right now. Again, this doesn't affect me. I'm not funded by PACs like my opponent, by these super PACs. I have a couple of PACs, and that's it. They're constitutional PACs, and that's about it. It doesn't work. When you raise taxes, there's two things we're talking about. One, will it raise tax revenue? And secondly, what's the effect in the economy?

  • 12:50:26

    BONGINOMounds of historical data show you, one, when you raise taxes on the so-called rich, which in Maryland are folks who make $75,000 a year, what do they do? They leave. Secondly -- so you're not gonna raise the revenue. There's historical data, and I can forward you mounds of research data on it. Secondly, what are the effects in the economy? They're suppressive. How is taking money from person A giving it to person B, you know, I take a dollar from you, I give you 60 cents once I take 40 cents out for a bureaucratic cost, how is anyone in the room richer?

  • 12:50:53

    SHERWOODDo you support Romney's idea of lowering the capital gains taxes and taking away all the deductions, all of the loopholes and that...

  • 12:51:03

    BONGINOYes.

  • 12:51:04

    SHERWOOD...to make the tax system fair, you won't have to raise taxes.

  • 12:51:07

    BONGINOSure. And that's what we can do. We can keep revenue neutrality where we raise the same amount if we just level the playing field. All of these deductions are favors to insiders who have given money to their favorite politicians and gotten deductions for their company -- Kojo has a yellow shirt on -- that make yellow shirts.

  • 12:51:22

    NNAMDIHave you already signed or do you plan on signing the Grover Norquist pledge on not voting to raise taxes?

  • 12:51:27

    BONGINOI'm not gonna raise anyone's taxes on net. You may see...

  • 12:51:31

    SHERWOODWould you sign that pledge?

  • 12:51:32

    BONGINOI did. I've signed that pledge. I will not raise your taxes. I will not.

  • 12:51:35

    SHERWOODIt does not handcuff you, though, as a politician to sign a pledge that you won't raise taxes which takes -- I've never -- even if you're anti-tax, I mean, I'm always surprised if someone will just say I won't do that because how do you negotiate from a position where I won't do something?

  • 12:51:51

    BONGINOWell, the pledge doesn't say I won't raise taxes. It says I won't raise taxes on net. So there are people whose taxes may very well go up when we flatten and broaden the tax code. In other words, say, again, you have a company that makes yellow shirts. You've paid your campaign donations to your favorite politician...

  • 12:52:04

    NNAMDII got to stop wearing yellow shirts.

  • 12:52:07

    BONGINO…and you get a deduction for your yellow shirt company. Your taxes may very well go up because you'll lose your deduction. But on net, the other -- just the plumber in Baltimore city who's working his butt off, his taxes may now go down 'cause he's competing on a fair playing field. That's not what the pledge says. There's a misconception about that.

  • 12:52:22

    SHERWOODIn the state of Maryland which is considered a very strong blue state, which you think you can crack, what -- there's gonna be various items on the ballot this fall. The DREAM Act to allow children of illegal immigrants to have access to schools and other government services, are you for or against the DREAM Act?

  • 12:52:39

    BONGINOWell, that's -- again, let's not characterize that. They already have access to schools. What we're talking about is subsidizing the taxpayer dollars. My wife's a first-generation immigrant. No one has more skin in the game than me. We went through the process. I sat there and cried when she pledged allegiance to our flag. She's from Colombia. It's not about illegal immigration. It's about illegality.

  • 12:52:57

    BONGINOEvery Republican I know and Democrat -- we need immigrants. We will welcome you with open arms. But you cannot break the laws and take taxpayer dollars we need to build schools in Baltimore City.

  • 12:53:05

    SHERWOODSo voting...

  • 12:53:06

    NNAMDIWait a minute. A former Secret Service agent just mentioned Colombia.

  • 12:53:09

    SHERWOOD(unintelligible)

  • 12:53:10

    BONGINOI know. We opened the can of worms...

  • 12:53:11

    NNAMDIBefore we...

  • 12:53:12

    SHERWOODCan we hear whether he would vote yes or no on the referendum to repeal it?

  • 12:53:14

    BONGINONo. Yeah, I will not support the DREAM Act that takes seats away from good taxpayers, no.

  • 12:53:19

    SHERWOODSo you would vote to oppose it.

  • 12:53:20

    BONGINOOppose, yes, that's right.

  • 12:53:21

    SHERWOODOkay.

  • 12:53:22

    NNAMDIThe director of the Secret Service testified before Congress that the scandal involving agents who allegedly took prostitutes to their hotel rooms during a presidential trip to Colombia is not indicative of systemic problems with the Secret Service itself. The episode has raised questions about the culture at the Secret Service, which some people apparently call the secret circus when you are on the road. How does this episode compare to the experiences you had when you were protecting the president?

  • 12:53:48

    BONGINOWell, okay. In full disclosure, I've said this on a number of media outlets, I have very personal relationships with the people involved and is friends, family, so I wanna get that out there. Again, I've left the Secret Service a year ago. It's not indicative at all. I think, unfortunately, it may be being used as a wedge issue against government employees. Government employees are not the problem. The system is the problem, not the employees.

  • 12:54:08

    BONGINOBut my 12 years in the Secret Service, 27 countries and four lead advances where I was in charge of the entire advance, I've never seen or heard of anything like this. And I can only speak to my experiences. I'm not saying it didn't happen. I'm just saying I never saw it, you know?

  • 12:54:21

    SHERWOODThe phrase that's stuck in a lot of people's minds and certainly mine was when someone wrote the phrase for travelling security folks, Secret Service and others, it's wheels up, rings off.

  • 12:54:33

    BONGINOThat's -- I've never heard that. I've heard that a few times. I don't know who said that. My guess is it's a former agent who wants to get on TV and thought, let me give them a good sound bite. I have never heard that in my life. Listen, it's a human agency full of human beings. They made a mistake...

  • 12:54:48

    SHERWOODNo, no. And they're almost -- the damage to the Secret Service, I mean, people -- I've seen them. They come to our station with the vice president or whatever, and you look at them and you see the job they are doing but you have that flicker of a moment. I wonder if he was there. I wonder if -- so it does -- it's an amazing damage to otherwise a well-respected service.

  • 12:55:06

    BONGINOPerfectly accurate. But these guys would, you know, listen, I'm a Republican, and I'll tell you right now, we shouldn't even have to say this. It's so absurd. But I would have died for this man George Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, it doesn't matter in a heartbeat. It's a mission-first agency. They made a huge mistake. The service took responsibility. And they're gonna clear it up. But it is an unfortunate incident. You're not inaccurate. (unintelligible)

  • 12:55:28

    SHERWOODAny debates between...

  • 12:55:29

    NNAMDILet me see -- gentlemen, don your headphones, please, because I wanna see if you have appropriately answered this question on the Secret Service for Joe, who's calling from Northwest Washington. Joe, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:55:40

    JOEHey, gentlemen. Thanks for all your help, I mean, your time and your conversation. And, Mr. Bongino, is that the correct pronunciation?

  • 12:55:46

    BONGINOBongino.

  • 12:55:47

    JOEMr. Bongino?

  • 12:55:48

    NNAMDIBongino.

  • 12:55:49

    BONGINOBongino. It's a with a G pronounced like a J.

  • 12:55:52

    JOEMr. Bongino.

  • 12:55:53

    BONGINOYes.

  • 12:55:54

    JOEYes, sir. Man, you gave me a new question. You have a Colombian wife. I wonder where you meet this kind of a lady. But maybe you had and maybe you don't. And not to make problems because, really, I'm supporting you. so, you know...

  • 12:56:03

    BONGINOOh, thank you.

  • 12:56:04

    JOE...we're grateful for your efforts. And I like your platform and your style. And the other gentleman that's grilling you there, I guess I appreciate that. You want to get to the bottom, and so thank you for your questions too. And, Kojo, you're so neutral. We appreciate that.

  • 12:56:16

    SHERWOODMy questions are neutral. My questions are neutral. But go ahead with your question. We're running out of time.

  • 12:56:22

    JOEAbsolutely. My question is with the election coming up and Mr. Romney, how he is and everything -- and I guess you support Mr. Romney, being you're a Republican -- I guess I kinda lost my question. But I will say this, Mr. Cardin, whom I know personally, he seems like someone that can be beaten. And, you know, I guess just have a statement, having dealt with Mr. Cardin many times in my life with my friend that was a delegate in Maryland.

  • 12:56:44

    JOEI used to hang out with the gentleman, nice guy. Nice guy, I'm sure. But I didn't even know he's a politician when I was dealing with him. Didn't -- he wasn't really...

  • 12:56:50

    NNAMDIBut now you're backing Mr. Bongino against him.

  • 12:56:52

    JOEOkay. Well, thank you, guys. (unintelligible)

  • 12:56:53

    NNAMDIAnd thank you for your call.

  • 12:56:54

    BONGINOThank you very much.

  • 12:56:55

    NNAMDII think we have time for one more. Yvette in Bowie, Md. Yvette, you have about 30 seconds.

  • 12:57:00

    YVETTEHi. Two quick things. First of all, it's not the press that has mischaracterized our president. It's the Republican Party that has mischaracterized him. Secondly, you say that you're coming in to be more bipartisan, but every single thing that you have said today supports the Republican Party with no effort to say, well, once I get to the Congress I'm gonna work to mend fences. So you've not convinced me that...

  • 12:57:24

    NNAMDIHow would you work to mend fences because we're almost out of time? How would you work to mend fences?

  • 12:57:29

    BONGINOWell, folks there are ideas that work and ideas that don't. Again, you either believe the government spends money better than you do, that your health care system should be run through the DMV and that the government should pick where your kids go to school. If you think I should compromise on those three, then, you know what, ma'am, you're right. I may not be your guy. I'm sorry. But I think you should be able to decide where your kids go to school and you decide your health care.

  • 12:57:47

    SHERWOODThose sound like campaign talking points, not an effort to reach across the aisle.

  • 12:57:53

    BONGINOThere are ideas that work. Folks, I don't believe in moving ideas that work towards poles. You need to move poles towards ideas that work. There's a difference.

  • 12:58:01

    NNAMDIDaniel Bongino, he's a Republican candidate for the United States Senate. He's running for the seat currently occupied by Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. Daniel Bongino, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you.

  • 12:58:11

    BONGINOThank you very much.

  • 12:58:12

    NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for The Current Newspapers. He leans neither left nor right. He leans forward.

  • 12:58:19

    SHERWOODBest candidate name so far this season, though. I like that, Bongino.

  • 12:58:23

    NNAMDINow he's leaning backward. Tom Sherwood...

  • 12:58:24

    SHERWOODSounds like a glass of wine.

  • 12:58:25

    NNAMDI...thank you very much for joining us. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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