Stanislaus County Congressman Jeff Denham is the consummate politician; he keeps his constituents informed only about what he wants them to know. When telling folks only what they want to hear, he conceals his support for decisions that hurt his constituents. One important but little-known fact about Congressman Denham is his obstruction of economic development within his district. It’s a subject he dodges, just as he dodges other issues that might undermine his popularity.
Vote to Disband Office of Congressional Ethics
During the week of January 2, 2017, Congressman Denham was a member of the Republican Committee that met in the basement of the House of Representatives and voted to disband the Office of Congressional Ethics, an agency that investigates ethics complaints against members. The committee’s decision was abandoned immediately after it reached the floor of the House on January 3rd.
When asked how he voted on the proposal to abolish the ethics agency, Mr. Denham declined to state what position he took. If Congressman Denham admitted that he had voted against the agency, not only would he appear to be weak on ethics, but he would have demonstrated his poor judgment in advancing the proposal in the first place.
Since Mr. Denham refused to disclose the position he took, and since he usually takes positions which will only yield favorable public opinion, one may presume with reasonable confidence that he approved of disbanding the agency on ethics. Had he taken the ethical position, he would have immediately announced that he had opposed the proposal.
Bringing Money Home
Throughout Jeff Denham’s career in Congress he’s brought very little federal money into his district. His primary focus has been to sell off public property, assist Indian tribes outside his district to gain approval for gambling casinos, and posture with little substance as an advocate for veterans. None of these efforts have been much benefit to Mr. Denham’s district, but he is repeatedly reelected thanks to an ineffectual Democratic Party and lack of competent challengers within the local Republican Party.
Without any coherent political opposition, Congressman Denham has been free to act with impunity, such as his votes to shut down the government, repeal Obamacare with nothing to replace it, and make other votes that have been counter to the interests of various groups of his constituents.
Keeping Federal Money Out
Not only has Jeff Denham not worked hard to bring money home to the district that he represents, but the he actively opposed legislation that would have brought federal transportation funds into his district! In opposing the President’s proposal to allocate funds for a large transportation infrastructure program, Mr. Denham blocked any hope for Stanislaus County to receive additional federal money for wants such as the 132 Freeway project and the widening of Highway 99.
Stanislaus County citizens are so desperate for transportation funding that 71% voted themselves a half percent sales tax increase. Mr. Denham ignored the wishes of citizens by opposing the president’s infrastructure proposal solely for political reasons—the fact that the president was a Democrat. Mr. Denham once again played partisan politics at the expense of his constituents. Had the infrastructure program passed, the economically detrimental sales tax increase may not have been needed.
The Power of the Incumbent
When Jeff Denham supported Presidential candidate Donald Trump, he went out on a limb for the first time in his political career. He supported a horse that was not a guaranteed winner. While Denham’s endorsement of Trump cost him the support of the Modesto Bee, he still managed to win reelection.
Now that the spoils of victory are coming to the Republican Party, an interesting question is whether Denham will use his position on the winning side to finally bring home Federal money to the district he represents. If he adheres to past patterns of behavior and ignores the needs of his district, perhaps Mr. Denham will not win next election. More likely, he probably will skate to reelection when, again, no competent opposition emerges.
The Great Valley is known as “Appalachia of the West.” With the help of people who repeatedly vote for him regardless of partisanship that hurts his constituents, Congressman Jeff Denham has been instrumental in keeping his district poor,