Like Father, Like Son?

Looks like Bob Schaffer, the Colorado GOP senate candidate, has done a good job of bringing up his son on views of unfair labor practices.

Quick refresher: Schaffer, who was house representative for Colorado between 1997 and 2003, went on one of those popular congressional “fact-finding” junket to the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth exempt from Federal immigration and minimum wage laws, where abuse and exploitation were rampant. Accompanied by his wife, Schaffer said he visited over 20 garment factories.

An August 24, 1999 memo to Schaffer from his congressional staff indicated that the trip was organized by the lobbying firm Preston Gates and included a meeting with clients of said firm. Further, payment for the trip was arranged through the Traditional Values Coalition, a non-profit religious pressure group that has been linked to CNMI lobbyist Jack Abramoff. It has not been proven that the lobbyist paid the $13,000 tab on the trip, but the allegations exist that he used Traditional Values Coalition to arrange it.

Why was Schaffer important to Abramoff? He was a member of the House Resources Committee, which had jurisdiction over CNMI policy. After a stay at beach resort, four days of factory tours and a lot of beach activities, Schaffer concluded that the working conditions were fine at most of the garment factories he visited, reporting only problems with one factory, which was closed shortly after his visit. The representative used his position on the Resources Committee to vehemently attack reports of abuses on the islands.

During his 2008 senate campaign, Schaffer has continued to be a strong proponent that the Northern Marianas’ guest worker be used as a model for US national immigration policy. And now there are reports that his college-aged son’s Facebook page has an image of the Egyptian pyramids along with the words: “Slavery Gets Sh*t Done.”

From the Talking Points Memo:

Now, as you remember, back in April, unprompted, Schaffer touted the guest worker program in the Mariana Islands as a great model and one we should emulate here on the mainland — notwithstanding the fact that the situation in the Marianas became notorious all over the world for sweat shop conditions, forced abortions, abusive workplace practices, sexual slavery and a whole bunch of other modern day workplace management best practices. He not only carried their water on Capitol Hill. He also went on one of Abramoff’s junkets to the Islands to investigate claims of abuses (which he concluded didn’t exist) and also parasail.

But here’s the key thing. Back when we were looking into this in April, there was one thing that didn’t quite compute. Unlike a lot of other Abramoff pals who stood up for the sex slavers on Capitol Hill, Schaffer didn’t seem to have gotten much money out of Abramoff. In fact, virtually none.

So Paul Kiel and I had to consider the possibility that rather than being corrupt stooge willing to gloss over manifest outrages in exchange for a seat on the Abramoff gravy train, Schaffer may just have been ideologically pro-sweat shop and pro-slavery. And now Schaffer’s son’s endorsement of slavery on his Facebook page lends some new credence to this theory.


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