We Still Have The Best Congress Money Can Buy

The last post was on a group which some consider disreputable–strippers. However the strippers showed they weren’t all bad with their attempts to raise money for breast cancer research. At least there’s one group we can count on to remain scoundrels–members of Congress, regardless of party.

During the past your I rooted for a Democratic take over in hopes of having a Congress which could provide some checks and balances on the Executive Branch. A Democratic Congress could be counted upon to block Bush’s plans, and maybe even succeed in investigating his past crimes. It would mean an end to the outright institutionalization of corruption with the K Street Project, but I had no illusions that all the ethical problems would end regardless of what rules were passed.The New York Times shows that it didn’t take long for many members of Congress to find ways around the new ethics rules:

In just the last two months, lawmakers invited lobbyists to help pay for a catalog of outings: lavish birthday parties in a lawmaker’s honor ($1,000 a lobbyist), martinis and margaritas at Washington restaurants (at least $1,000), a California wine-tasting tour (all donors welcome), hunting and fishing trips (typically $5,000), weekend golf tournaments ($2,500 and up), a Presidents’ Day weekend at Disney World ($5,000), parties in South Beach in Miami ($5,000), concerts by the Who or Bob Seger ($2,500 for two seats), and even Broadway shows like “Mary Poppins” and “The Drowsy Chaperone” (also $2,500 for two).

The lobbyists and their employers typically end up paying for the events, but within the new rules.

Circumventing the rules is simple. Instead of paying directly, the lobbyists pay a political fund-raising PAC set up by the member of Congress which in turn pays the bills. The article reports, “Lobbyists say that the rules might even increase the volume of contributions flowing to Congress from K Street, where many lobbying firms have their offices.”

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