Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Big Boys' and Girls' World That We Don't Live In

The GOP is getting a lot of bad press for approving $2K in “meals” at a racy nightclub in LA. Accompanying the opprobrium for that are reports on the costs of meetings in Hawaii, car service charges and private jet charters.

Let’s skip the racy nightclub and move on to the town cars, jets and fancy resorts in exotic locals.

I’m shocked by the fact that the GOP, the recipient of the largesse, has to front the freebies to get the green stuff.

But I’m not surprised that the venues are expensive. If you are going to woo the rich, I guess it makes sense to do the wooing where they are. The people that give the big bucks live in those kinds of places. When traveling, they don’t use a Motel Eight frequent traveler card. They plop down an AmEx black card for their suite, car service and jet charter. Thousand dollar dinners are not a once in a lifetime experience. It’s what they do. And they aren’t just Republicans. If the Dems are courting their rich, I assume they are spending the same kind of money to be where their rich are.

Going back to my shock earlier in the post, the idea of the GOP or Dems as salesmen just never occurred to me before. I’m used to the political “scandal” of my representatives jetting off with lobbyists to the Super Bowl at the lobbyists’ expense. Here in Georgia, David Ralston, our new Speaker of the House, thinks it’s ground breaking that he has proposed legislation to require lobbyists (not legislators) to report (not limit) what they spend on legislators on a quicker timetable. I guess reporting graft quicker will reduce it in his mind; or, maybe he just wants the status quo to continue, throwing the reporting requirement out as a sop to us people.

Which takes us back to the GOP scandal. Face it, the big boys and girls think, and they are probably right, that they are above us, bullet proof. Yeah, there’s an occasional Rangel and maybe a Steele (here in Georgia a Richardson, the last Speaker) that goes down. But that leaves the rest of them (here in Georgia, Ralston and his friends) to do as they will.


The Curmudgeon said...

I am a big fan of disclosures as opposed to limits. Because limits can be more readily circumvented, I believe, than disclosures: If you spend it, you must disclose it. Easier to trace, easier to prove.

"Limits" we know are a joke because all it has done is created the "bundler" who is skilled at getting... and bundling... donations from, say, all the partners in a law firm, and most of the paralegals, and some of the secretaries (some of whom actually may have contributed... but only some). Two words: Tony Rezko.

I would let anyone donate anything -- let Hugo Chavez or the Chinese try and buy influence in Congress, for example -- as long as the donations are disclosed. That would make "straw" donations clearly wrong and more easily punishable, don't you think?

We deserve the government we get. If Microsoft or ExxonMobil or Barbara Streisand or Rush Limbaugh wants to buy a senator -- and we vote for that person anyway -- it's our fault. If we knew about it, at least. Don't you think so, too?

Dave said...

Maybe; but, there are problems. All the money is "disclosed" now, here in Georgia and for the GOP and the Dems. Every now and again the media looks into them and does a story about the fun stuff.

And, I distinguish between contributions to a campaign and lobbyist "entertainment." Here in Georgia they spend millions to influence the Legislature by lunches, trips, sports outings and "retreats." That isn't First Amendment stuff and to my mind, a public official shouldn't be able to receive more than a cup of coffee, and maybe not a Starbucks cup because it's expensive.

Our Pols say they aren't bought or influenced by a lunch or dinner or weekend at the Georgia/Florida game in Jacksonville (accessed in a nice corporate jet). Bull.

Sonja's Mom said...

In the early 1990's when I was working for our local GOP, Jack Kemp came to visit. One of the conditions for his visit was that he be picked up at the airport and driven everywhere in a NEW Lincoln Continental. All I had was a Mercury Grand Marquee and the Chairman of the local party drove a Chevy. We didn't have the money to rent one but finally found a party member who would loan us hers. Kemp tried to be "Mr. Nice Guy" but you tell he thought we were all beneath him - the things you have to do to get a few votes.

A few years ago FL passed a financial disclosure bill that requires all legislators to disclose all gifts, trips, meals, everything, even coffee and a doughnut provided by a lobbyist. I think this has helped some, although I'm sure there are loopholes somewhere.