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Francine Blasts Bilbray's Poor Priorities

Press Release

Location: Cardiff by the Sea, CA


"Brian Bilbray's dismissal of the serious ethical and possibly illegal activities of the Congressional Cigar Association strikes a familiar chord in the 50th District. This is where the disgraced Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham treated early allegations of misconduct with similar disdain.

"Brian Bilbray is asking his constituents to "ignore the man behind the curtain" when he states that "they played by the rules" and that the Cigar Association "is basically a lot of young kids getting together and networking.

"Bilbray is not only refusing to take responsibility for the ethics violations, but he is purposely misleading his constituents and taking the predictable low road of casting aspersions on his political opponent as a distraction.

In fact according to the original report, Ken Neumann, an advocate for IPCPR (International Premier Cigar and Pipe Retailers) and owner of Cigars and More of Libertyville, Illinois, explained the importance of the alliance with the staff association. "It's important for us to be communicating with these key influencers on an ongoing basis so that when a piece of legislation comes along that could impact our industry, they are better informed about our
industry and the kinds of people and industries that depend on and enjoy premium cigars and pipes," said Neumann.

"The IPCPR press release explicitly states, "The CCA is an official 'Congressional Staff Organization' and is officially recognized by Congress. The group is comprised of Congressional staff members who share a passion for premium cigars," To the members of their association, the clear message is that they have established a powerful link to members of Congress through their staffers. It is illegal for staffers to recieve gifts from lobbyists.

"It is no surprise then that Rocky Patel, a Florida-based maker of premium cigars that are manufactured in Honduras, was so quick to come to Bilbray's defense. Patel said he believed he had an ally in Brian Bilbray for pushing the Cigar agenda. What is surprising is that Bilbray is working harder to create Cigar jobs in Honduras than he is to help the many unemployed workers in his own district.

"Brian Bilbray is just another example in a long line of politicians, including Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who think they can break the rules and sweep the evidence under the rug. The people of the 50th district have been through this before and deserve a representative who will work hard and represent them in Congress.

"I condemn not only his actions but also his refusal to own up to them and tell the truth. In his desperation to dismiss this scandal, he is insulting the intelligenced and integrity of his constituents who need a member of Congress who is serious about representing them especially during these difficult economic times."

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