Linkmeister, in full:

Did the Softwood Lumber deal the US just made with Canada include a $450 million slush fund channeled to the White House from the Canadians? Could be. Buried in the text of the recently-agreed softwood lumber agreement with our neighbors to the North is a clause which says that the Canadian timber industry must

... sign over $450 million to an escrow fund slated to be conveyed to the White House. The agreement does not mention Congress, and the Bush administration says that Congress will not be involved in any way with this agreement. The government of Canada thus is making a gift of $450 million to be spent by the president. That was more than a belt buckle, even more than a stetson, on July 6th. There is only one date certain in the deal: that the planned expenditure of the $450 million must be determined by September 1.
By law and by the US Constitution, all monetary gifts to the US must go into the Treasury. If this trade lawyer's analysis is correct, the Bush Administration is once again breaking the law. That's bad enough, but from a political point of view, imagine Karl Rove with $450M to spend on Congressional campaigns in this year's midterms.

There's a much more thorough analysis here. The full text of the lawyer's remarks can be found here.
I don’t even know where to begin. The thought of Bush with $450 million to spend with no Congressional oversight is absolutely mind-blowing. As Feldman (the lawyer who’s quoted, above) points out, “At the height of the Watergate scandal, focus was on an illegal slush fund available to the Committee to Re-Elect the President, that was thought to be tipping the balance of American politics. The fund never exceeded $20 million. One of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was that he received foreign campaign donations, perhaps as much as $50,000. … The entire Republican campaign war chest is less than $300 million. Canada will add to it by 150 per cent in funds to be expended for ‘meritorious initiatives.’ It does not require much imagination to foresee the strategic places where this money will be spent.”

This has been unfolding since April, and it’s the first time I’m hearing anything about it. Where is the media on this? Where are the Dems? I’d like to believe that having heard nothing about it means it’s nothing, but, unfortunately, that can be a very foolish assumption these days.

The 9/1 deadline has obviously passed, and, by email, Linkmeister tells me he heard Feldman on CBC Radio's As It Happens program, Monday, 9/4, and Feldman said that the 9/1 deadline had passed with no determination (publicly announced).

I’ve got no bloody clue where I’d even begin to look for information about whether that determination was made and just not announced, or whether it was but fell through the cracks of a Friday News Hole before a holiday weekend, or whether it just wasn’t made at all, and the Bush administration now has its hands on a $450 million slush fund that it can use however it wants.

Anyone got any ideas? The mere possibility of this situation has me all in a dither, and, well, I’d like to find out if I’m getting myself wound up unnecessarily, or if this is actually a significant issue.

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