Crapo and Risch — and the controversy surrounding the 'Franken amendment'

If you read enough left-wing blogs or watch enough Comedy Central, you might conclude that Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch condone rape.

The accusation is out of line. The so-called "Franken amendment" is far more complex than the critics would have you think. In our information age, innuendo and invective move at warp speed; nuance travels more slowly.

The story began on Oct. 6, when the Senate passed a defense appropriations amendment authored by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. The amendment would ban the Pentagon from doing business with any contractor or subcontractor that requires employees to agree to arbitration to settle claims "related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention."

The amendment passed on on a bipartisan 68-30 vote. Crapo and Risch voted no.

Franken's amendment has gotten considerable attention since then, because of the shocking story of Jamie Leigh Jones. In 2005, the 20-year-old Jones worked for KBR, a Pentagon contractor in Iraq. Four days into her job, she says she was gang-raped — a brutal attack that left her disfigured. Jones has spent the past four years seeking a chance to take her case to court, and she has become an advocate for arbitration reform.

As a result , the Franken amendment has become something of a referendum on sexual abuse. The Huffington Post blog called out the 30 senators — all Republican, and all male — who voted against Franken's amendment. Labeling the amendment's opponents the "rape-nuts," Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" gave the story an even wider audience:

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Not surprisingly, the vote has since taken on a life of its own. On Thursday, for instance, I received another e-mail on the issue. The subject line minced no words: "Crapo/Risch vote for rape."

This has left both senators scrambling to condemn the attack on Jones and defend their records on women's issues. Crapo, for instance, points to his work to secure federal dollars for Family Advocacy Center And Education Services, a Boise facility that consolidates legal, social and health services for abuse victims. Risch says he began fighting on behalf of abuse victims at the start of his political career, when he served as Ada County prosecutor; "I saw to it that those despicable people who committed such crimes were sent off to prison for a long time."

What's more, they make some fair points about the amendment itself.

• The senators say they aren't alone in their opposition: The Obama administration's Defense Department doesn't like the amendment either. Irony alert No. 1: Crapo and Risch are, in this instance, seeking cover by siding with the White House.

• They say it would dismantle the arbitration process — a potential boon for trial lawyers who take civil cases, but not necessarily to the advantage of victims who can receive a more rapid financial settlement through arbitration. Irony alert No. 2: Crapo and Risch, lawyers by training, are bashing the trial attorneys.

• Crapo and Risch also point out that arbitration does not preclude a rape victim from filing a civil suit or seeking criminal charges. In Jones' case, a federal circuit court of appeals has upheld her right to go to court. No irony here, just a crucial point to consider.

Has Jones waited hellishly far too long for a validation of her legal rights? Absolutely. But no amendment can do anything to fix that. And her byzantine legal battle establishes black-letter precedent that addresses any future rape and sexual abuse cases.

The senators make a reasoned argument that the Franken amendment does little good, and might even have unintended consequences. They should let it go at that, and not parrot the GOP company line about Halliburton. Since KBR is a Halliburton subsidiary, Republicans have called the Franken amendment a political hit against the contracting giant.

"I thought that it had ended, but here we have another case," Crapo said in a Wednesday interview. Crapo claimed he was unaware of the Halliburton connection when he voted no.

Crapo also says he was unaware of Halliburton's contributions to his 2010 re-election war chest — $1,000 on May 5 and another $1,500 on Sept. 18. Those contributions, he said, had nothing to do with his vote.

Risch — the recipient of a $2,000 Halliburton contribution in July 2008 — also pleads ignorance. "Until you just reminded me about it," he said in an interview Thursday, "I'd forgotten about it."

I'm not buying the over-the-top insinuation that Idaho's senators are pro-rape. That kind of rhetoric really coarsens and cheapens the debate.

Pro-Halliburton? Now, that is open to debate ...

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Not pro rape, but....

pro corporation and anti-personal rights. And I don't buy the argument that neither Crapo nor Risch were aware of the connection between KBR and Halliburton. Finally, as you point out, 30 Republican males voted against the Franken Amendment. What did the other Republicans, including the female senators, see in this amendment that Crapo and Risch did not?

Don't buy it? You will. And you'll pay for it, too.

That mere comment that "you don't buy" something doesn't make it void of truth. Candidates/incumbents many times have their fundraising efforts handled by segments of their staff, segments to which they are not fully connected--not from lack of interest but instead because they're good at what they do and don't need micromanagement from the politician. In many cases the fundraising is automated online. Our current president on more than one occasion used the same argument to explain "questionable" fundraising ties. Until we have an enterprising documentarian catch it all on video a la ACORN, we should probably take Sen. Crapo at his word. Unlike many others in Washington, he has been upfront and honorable to Idaho during his tenure.

What Risch and Crapo saw that others did not was 1) this is a huge gift to trial lawyers; 2) the Franken argument of "now victims can get their day in court" is a red herring. They already could get that day, as Richert accurately points out, and 3) this simply opens gates for ambulance-chasers to raid the seemingly deep pockets of the DoD. Who will foot the bill if defense contractors have to include "rogue employee insurance" in their contract negotiations? Hint: who pays the DoD budget?

You. Me.

Franken's amendment simply moves the shells. If the DoD has to ask for more money, it would do so at the expense of other governmental programs or Mr. Obama could simply raise our taxes. Something he has shown he's not hesitant to do.

What a load of hooey

Take him at his word? You think for a second this vote wasn't marching orders from McConnell, instead of a well thought out defense by Crapo? The very fact of the ACORN defunding efforts demonstrate unequivocally the hypocrisy of the Republican position. ACORN received only paltry millions in federal funding. Halliburton received [B]illions. And any attempt to hold them accountable for these funds have been unavailing. Just to demonstrate how thorough our senators were, the ACORN defunding is unconstitutional and based upon an illegal sting operation which may or may not prove collusion, yet the Franken amendment was cleared by three constitutional scholars and supported by several actual rape victims. I'd say spin is not the "word" I'm going to rely upon.

Here you demand proof but you don't provide any. And then you believe hook line and sinker anything written about 'trial lawyers'. Who do you think goes through the arbitration process? They get paid one way or the other. Of course these victims couldn't get their day in court on claims waived in an adhesion contract. These victims had to go through years of litigation before their case could see the inside of a courtroom. Why do you think defense contractors are going apey over this? Because if it goes to court they can't keep it confidential, precisely what they tried to do with these rape victims.

The Republican fear of our constitutionally endowed legal system should be pivotal in evaluating this vote. But omitted from Richert's assessment is the fact that these employee contracts aren't contracts that can be negotiated by the employee. Its a take it or leave deal and the vote is to make sure these contractors always have the upper hand. The Franken amendment merely makes it a level playing field and since they're using our tax dollars to do so, its a proper subject for the senators to be addressing. Our Idaho senators want to continue the carte blanche defense contractors enjoy once they leave US soil. These contractors are nothing more than mercenaries who brought much shame upon America with their egregious tactics creating an atmosphere which resulted in the rape of innocent women. Sweeping this under the rug of confidential arbitration is equally shameful. As is the Republican desire to avoid the justice served in American courts everyday. Why do you guys hate America?

Hello? ACORN wasn't in the business of supplying a WAR!

Delicious, delightful, deluded. Damn.

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Unloading the Hooey

To answer your first question: I think Crapo voted based on his background as an attorney and understanding of arbitration agreements as well as his ability to vote on principle regardless of party-line. Crapo is not a lemming conservative. He's a principled leader who has a greater understanding of issues such as these than even the former-comedian, plurality-vote Senator from Minnesota.

As for your commentary on "Republican fear...": the consistent erosive efforts of liberals against our constitutionally-endowed legal system should be more alarming, but alas, they are not. In part, smokescreens like Franken's here create a clever mask.

FYI: regardless of whether these contracts are negotiable by the employee or not, they can certainly "negotiate" with their pen. You sign it or you don't. And by signing, you agree to the terms or you don't. That's the inherent nature of contracts: two parties either agree (and sign) or disagree.

As noted elsewhere, the ability to bring accountable parties to criminal trial is not added in this amendment. It already existed. Once again, the bumper stickers take the day, a colossal waste of time has been perpetrated on America and its Congress, and the Republican Senators who see through this charade are made out by faux news programs like "The Daily Show" to look like ogres who promote rape.

Off-topic, as you were, sisyphus: Your political bias is on display with your modifier for the ACORN investigation. "Illegal" is certainly not appropriate. I'm sure we'll see this once the frivolous CYA lawsuit filed against Andrew Breitbart is thrown out for lack of merit. I'm sure he'll be called "racist" before it's all said and done as well...that is if the liberal playbook is followed as is typical in these types of situations. As for ACORN's total money received: they did something far more damaging to our political process than taking tax dollars. They took that money and bought votes for their slate of candidates, all the while masquerading as a "non-partisan" organization. The facts tell us they are anything but. The videos simply serve to show how moronic, ill-informed, rogue and utterly irresponsible ACORN personnel are across the board--across the country.

Some things are higher in value than money "New Tater"

This amendment says we will not hire contractors that have a binding arbitration on sexual assualts. Crapo and Risch should have been able to decipher that easily enough.

Halliburton prevents any employee from going to court without a huge (in this case, 4 years) struggle to be heard by a judge or jury. And, in the Senate hearings last week it was entered into testimony, that Halliburton has already filed an appeal to Miss Jones' case.

I do not want to pay for a company to hire employees to represent the U.S. in a foreign country, that denies basic rights to an employee.

Miss Jones was brutally gang raped, drugged, beaten and then put in a storage container for months under armed guards. And, Halliburton said she was not allowed to talk about it to anyone; under her binding arbitration.

This was another "No Bid Contract". We are paying Halliburton, aka KBR and ZE to act like despots on our dime.

Why Crapo and Risch support a decision like this, or why they have not questioned it over the last nine years is the issue here.

Profits are not the responsibility of government. Profits are a company responsiblity and a corporation should not profit from someones soul.

I've got 'homework' for you...

All of this screaming has been over ONE case.


If you are going to turn a rape case into World Wide Web War, I want to see some actual REASONS.

Rape is a disgusting crime. Inferring that it's rampant and condoned helps to destabilize our standing over there as well.


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If you quit your irrelevant rants and actually utilized teh google for something more than navel gazing you could educate your own self instead of asking others to do it for you.

No, this was not an isolated incident. Follow the links and learn.

Teh google is for teh porn/who cares about argyle socks?

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"Higher Values"

As a contractor myself, I'm well aware that I have the option to sign or not sign a contract. That's the crux of being a contractor. You like the contract, sign it. You don't, don't.

This amendment is merely a gift to trial lawyers. The "finally gets her day in court" is a red herring. The contract in place already allowed her a day in criminal court. If this is truly about criminal charges, not a money grab, then that should suffice. What has happened is this rape victim has been victimized twice. This second victimization is the same sort of scenario that Cindy Sheehan encountered. Once her poster-child utility is exhausted, she'll get left in a shipping container again, only this time by those she thought were looking out for her, not those who had physically raped her.

We'll get a good opportunity to view the "higher values" as this thing plays out.

Bank on it.

Can you aslo explain...

Senators Crapo and Risch's nay vote on the bill to expand hate crimes? Do we see a trend? Only one Democrat voted with 28 Republicans against this bill.

Aside from being stupid and unnecessary,

hate crime legislation has no business being attached to a defense spending bill. If hate crime legislation has any merit, it should be a separate bill in its own right so the public can debate the pros and cons of expanding our federal criminal code beyond the 4000 laws already on the books. The best way to put a stop to these sneaky and deceptive legislative practices is to make them illegal procedures. In the mean time, the second best way is to vote against the primary legislation to which they are attached.

As for your lone Democrat senator, this nicely illustrates the fact that "y'all ain't thinking for yourselves." Kudos to the maverick!

If there's a trend involved in these votes, let us hope it takes root fast among the rest of the political class.

The Republican Trend

While KR is right about nuance, the problem still remains that Republicans tend to put profits over people. That might why few people today self-identify as Republican. The lack of leadership is also a contributing factor. As far as Mr. Minnick is concerned, let's hope he switches parties soon. He is giving Democrats a bad name.

Oh baloney!

Profits I suppose are earned by robots, not people who create jobs for other people. Only ignorant people believe profit is an obscenity. Recent Gallup polls show that more people self-identify as conservative than as liberal, and the Left's attempt to rebrand itself as Progressives isnt gaining much traction with the electorate either. IMHO, the so-called lack of leadership is the best thing that could have happened to the GOP. because the conservative banner is being carried by a multitude of voices from all walks of life instead of career politicians whose turn it is to shut up and listen to what the people are saying.

Profits over People

Nothing wrong with making a fair profit, but not at the expense of the well-being of other people. The current health insurance industry is a prime example.

Who decides what is fair?

I believe I read the health insurance industry has a 3.5% profit margin, one of the lowest of any industries. Profits over people is a propagandist slogan used by people devoid of business and economic sense. You no more care about fair profits than I care about the color of your lying eyes.

3.5% ???

3.5% profit??? maybe after the overpaid execs have taken their cut...

Sorry, I overstated the profits according to AP factcheck

"Health insurers posted a 2.2 percent profit margin last year, placing them 35th on the Fortune 500 list of top industries. As is typical, other health sectors did much better - drugs and medical products and services were both in the top 10.

The railroads brought in a 12.6 percent profit margin. Leading the list: network and other communications equipment, at 20.4 percent.

HealthSpring, the best performer in the health insurance industry, posted 5.4 percent. That's a less profitable margin than was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach and Molson and Coors beers.

The star among the health insurance companies did, however, nose out Jack in the Box restaurants, which only achieved a 4 percent margin."

Back to the "profits over people" gang who obtain their facts from the Puffington Host.

We earned our good bad name 230 years ago. Don't front it.

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We don't need Walt Minnick's assistance for that. NEXT

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Rape a grievance or a

Rape a grievance or a crime?, well Mr. Richert what is it.?

If Crapo & Risch had there way and your wife or daughter was beaten & raped at work and because of her misleading employment contract , she would not have any rights to the American justice system, no law enforcement and no charges against her rapist, her only action is access to an arbitrator chosen by her rapists employer. Then that corporate appointed arbitrator would determine how much her rape was worth.

Crapo & Risch willfully voted against rape as a crime and without a doubt took a stance for corporate power over the American justice system. The thought that these two conservative white men approve of a corporation requiring employees to surrender our American rights to indemnify a corporation against criminal conduct on its part or on the part of its employees, is reprehensible and anti-American.

So, Richert, is rape a crime or not?

I don’t care how Crapo or Risch try to justify there disgusting behavior, they must be held accountable and women across Idaho and our country have the right to know what kind of blatant discrimination Crapo & Risch have voted for!

Richert, verify your facts, repeating the conservative talking points your feed only misinforms readers on the White House’s position. Yes, the W.H. was against this amendment, however they supported the intent of the amendment, but were in favor of stronger actions, they want a law prohibiting these clauses in employee contracts and ensuring business under contract with the US government, fall under U.S. laws and our justice system no matter the location.

Crapo & Risch are on the wrong side of this issue and they should be exposed as being discriminatory and approving of sexual assault. Crapo & Risch vote was a conservative choice for corporations’ rights over the rights of American women and our justice system.

Not worth answering

Who said there is no such thing as a stupid question?

the best money can buy

That's right folks, right there in black and white before your very eyes is vivid proof that we have the very best representation money can buy in Senators Crapo and Risch. You can bet your stuffed elephant these guys would never allow their daughters to work for KBR or join the U.S. Armed Forces either, for that matter. If it's someone's else's daughter then it's just out of sight, out of mind. This pro-business at any cost attitude is exactly what brought on our current financial crisis. Crapo and Risch could care less, their money is safe. And you can bet your dittohead bumper sticker as they step off the gravy train known as federal office they will buy a ticket on the lobbyist express, just like every other Idaho office holder in memory with the exception of that wacky professor from eastern Idaho, Richard Stallings. We need a new system of financing campaigns that will allow persons of integrity and ordinary means to serve in Congress. Just don't hold your breath waiting for it.

I'm confounded as to what to even say.

Whatever it is it probably isn't really going to help the issue to just gripe a lot like this.

I fear the actual focus of the protest is getting buried in the protest. I'm not certain how that helps.

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PS Jon Stewart isn't any more a politician than Rush, Beck.

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But Franken is a comedian

At least I thought Smalley's daily affirmations were just a joke, now I'm not so sure but what Franken was playing himself. Let's see what kind of feel good stuff he introduces next.

A. Whitney Brown routinely stole his Charmin, FACT.

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A truly heinous crime, but, this bill does nothing to prevent a further occurance....You cannot legislate against
evil....DO you think a bigger fine for the company would
prevent individuals from doing this? NO! Do you think in the heat of this horrible crime the monsters would have stopped and thought "we can't do this because of Franken's bill" LOL How stupid are you people! Same with hate crimes, it's just another piece of feel good legislation
that discriminates against one section of society...Another
divide...another hurdle....another joke by congress....
A crime is a crime regardless of the motive, you are now
letting jurors try to decide what a criminal was thinking..
btw, has there ever been a hate crime against a hetero-sexual white male?

Why deny our grandkids their right to misery?

Yes there have been plenty. We call them WARS. We had two really big ones for that matter.

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crime is a crime?

Motive plays a huge part in determining punishment in murder cases. One day makes the difference between statutory rape and consensual sex. It is not always black and white in matters legal.

Although I am not a fan of "hate crime" laws, I think as long as they are on the books at all, it only makes sense to extend them to cover sexual preference or gender idenity. All or nothing I say.

As far as the question, "has there ever been a hate crime against a hetero-sexual male?"
You can't be serious.

Convincing Vanilla Ice to make a complete album YO

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"this bill does nothing to

"this bill does nothing to prevent a further occurance (sic)"--you don't think taking away their billion dollar contract will cause them to make sure their employees don't rape other employees? And you call us stupid. At least we can spell.

"A crime is a crime regardless of the motive"--you don't know much about criminal law.

I still can't believe that baggage handler #2 is a Senator.


How Do You Suppose They Sleep at Night?

Or how do we for that matter? Hey people, these are our tax dollars at work.

Travesties and injustices like this will continue as long as politicians like Crapo and Risch are allowed to take contributions from companies the US government insists on contracting out our national defense to like Kellogg Brown and Root, Halliburton and ArmorGroup North America (a subsidiary of Wackenhut /G4S).

Remember this when the economy recovers and make sure these clowns aren't in your stock portfolio.

Clowns? I can barely afford Jack and Ronald. Stocks??? HAH

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Come on....

You can call it pro-rape or whatever you want. It was still a bad vote that won't be forgotten. Can't believe you spent the time coming to their defense on this one!

At least Al Franken doesn't resemble The Joker when he smiles...

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Summary: In the end, the victim was thrown out w/ the bath water

Thank you for not actually caring. You're too unkind.

crazy babies...

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This thread came from Babbleon. Fire at will.

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Which ones Will


Anyone's Will...take no prisoners!

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