Buying time-shares in Congressional committee leaders

Friday, May 3, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
Bookmark and Share

You never know how popular you are, how smart you are, and how funny your jokes are – until you become the head of a Congressional committee.

If you're named to chair a major legislative panel, suddenly people are eager to show you love, respect… and cash! Well, not normal people, but corporate lobbyists who want legislative favors from the committee barons. These favor-seekers know that the way to get cozy with powerhouse lawmakers is to show them the money.

Sure enough, in January, nine Republicans were elevated to the top position of their committees in the US House, and in just the first three months of their reign, these newly-crowned chairs have enjoyed an inflow of $1.3 million into their campaign accounts from political action committees. That's 74 percent more than the nine attracted prior to their ascendancy to the throne.

Perhaps you want to believe that the beneficence of the PACs merely reflects an altruistic commitment to good, honest, unbiased public policy. No, no, Nanette – the bulk of the lucre comes from the very industries that the recipients are supposed to oversee. Check out Bill Shuster, for example, top beneficiary of this year's increase in PAC largesse. His haul of over $300,000 since January is five times more than he collected from PACs last year, with big bundles being donated by airlines, cruise ships, railroads, and trucking outfits. Can you guess which committee Bill chairs? Yes, Transportation!

Of course, Shuster would tell you that, by gollies, money can't buy him. But the industries don't need to purchase the committee chairman – a short-term rental is all they want. That $300,000 is just the deposit on Shuster, for he'll be taking regular payments as he pushes their bills along, but what a great deal for lobbyists: a time-share in a member of Congress.

"PACs rain cash on new GOP chairmen," USA Today, Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

Bookmark and Share