When will our government cease being corrupt ??
February 11, 2007
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 — The 110th Congress opened with the passage of new rules intended to curb the influence of lobbyists by prohibiting them from treating lawmakers to meals, trips, stadium box seats or the discounted use of private jets.
But it did not take long for lawmakers to find ways to keep having lobbyist-financed fun.
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.
Instead of picking up the lawmaker’s tab, lobbyists pay a political fund-raising committee set up by the lawmaker. In turn, the committee pays the legislator’s way.
Lobbyists and fund-raisers say such trips are becoming increasingly popular, partly as a quirky consequence of the new ethics rules.
By barring lobbyists from mingling with a lawmaker or his staff for the cost of a steak dinner, the restrictions have stirred new demand for pricier tickets to social fund-raising events.
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.
Some lawmakers acknowledge that some fund-raising trips resemble the lobbyist-paid junkets that Congress voted to prohibit.
Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said its leaders had decided to stop holding fund-raising events for lobbyists with political action committees because of the seeming inconsistency.
So the committee canceled its annual Colorado ski weekend for lobbyists and lawmakers to raise money for the next campaign. Gone, too, is its Maryland hunting trip with Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan, the avid hunter who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
But other Congressional party campaign committees have not stopped their events, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s annual Nantucket weekend for donors who contribute $25,000. And individual lawmakers are still playing host to plenty of events themselves.
Congress Finds Ways to Avoid Lobbyist Limits
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Once again . . . When will our government cease being corrupt ??
break soft money
June 6, 2000
Web posted at: 2:22 PM EDT
By Beth Fouhy/CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It
may be the ultimate love-hate
relationship: politicians and soft
money. Because, despite all the
handshakes, the legislation and
the proclamations, the political
parties can't get enough of it --
and they're raking it in like
According to newly released
figures by the Federal Election
Commission, the Republican
party and its campaign
committees raised $86.4 million
in soft money between January
1, 1999 and March 31st, 2000.
That's a staggering 93 percent
increase over the same period
in the 1995-1996 election
Democrats did almost as well,
raising $77 million for its party
committees, about 94 percent
above the 1995-1996 figures.
It was the Democrats'
aggressive fund-raising tactics
in 1996 that called attention to
the easily-exploitable, soft
money loophole. Congressional
hearings and a Justice
depicted a fund-raising machine
nearly out of control -- with the
party accepting illegal overseas
donations, and President Bill
Clinton personally vetting
so-called issue ads that clearly
advocated his re-election.
The 1996 controversy also
painted an unflattering portrait
of Vice President Al Gore. In
addition to his infamous visit to
a Buddhist Temple for an
illegal fund-raiser, Gore
narrowly escaped an
investigation after he admitted
making some 71 soft-money
solicitations from his White
House office -- despite his
claims that "no controlling legal
authority" presided over the
Democrats argue that
Republicans have long been the
main beneficiaries of soft
money, pointing to
Republicans' efforts to thwart
bipartisan legislation sponsored
by Sens. John McCain
(R-Arizona) and Russ Feingold
(D-Wisconsin) that would have
So while both parties argue, the
money keeps rolling in. The
new FEC figures don't even
reflect the two parties' most
recent huge fund-raisers -- a
$21 million Republican gala in
April, and a blue jeans and
barbecue bash for the
Committee last month that
raised $26 million.
The two parties are now baiting
one another over who will be
the first to go on the air with
issue ads, paid for by soft
money. Judging from the new
FEC figures, they'll both have a
lot of it to work with.
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This page is dated February 2007