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CORRUPTION AND GREED COMPROMISING AMERICAN POLITICS

Jan 8th, 2006 by James Breedlove | 0

The Jack Abramoff plea agreement has many in congress and the White House shaking in their boots, running for cover, and desperately trying to return tainted Abramoff money or in a sudden fit of compassion send it to charity. Abramoff’s plea agreement stipulates that the lobbyist must provide information and testimony to prosecutors “concerning any matter,” that could include his dealings with high ranking members of Congress, the Executive Branch, and their respective staffers as investigators continue to unravel the cozy relationship between politicians and the K Street lobbying mafia.

 

Even the preliminary media reports indicate that Jack Abramoff was so deeply entrenched in the inner circles of Washington that he and his trusted minions functioned as a virtual fourth branch of government. 

 

This super-lobbyist walked the halls of power and had unfettered access to the key political decision makers for years.  Republicans fell all over themselves to get their hands on his seemingly bottomless barrel of cash.  When Jack had something to say they all gathered around and listened.  He was so sure of his exalted position on the lobbying totem pole that he played sweetheart with Native American tribes to bilk them of their money while referring to them as “monkeys”.

 

The Bush Administration was wide open to Abramoff.   The National Journal reported back in 2002, “Last summer, in an effort to raise the visibility of his Indian clients, Abramoff helped arrange a White House get-together on tax issues with President Bush for top Indian leaders.

 

According to a 2003 story in Roll Call, Abramoff was one of a half-dozen lobbyists who raised over $100,000 for Bush’s 2000 campaign.

 

Then Jack Abramoff enters plea bargains in Washington, D. C. and Florida and the same friends that were too happy to take his money suddenly don’t know the man when queried about their relationship.

 

Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, insisted that Bush does not know Abramoff personally.  Just like he did not know Ken Lay after the Enron bubble burst. 

 

Throughout the past decade, the Center for Public Integrity has reviewed and monitored the lobbying industry.  The Center’s Lobby Watch project details who the lobbyists and lobbying firms are, how much they spend and on whom.  Their web site is a must for concerned citizens who want to know whose money is inundating their elected officials.

 

Jack Abramoff is only one of the many well-connected operatives who have sought to reshape the political landscape through the disbursement of money for access.  Each year since 1998 the amount of money spent by lobbyists to influence federal lawmakers is double the amount of money spent to elect them.

 

The Center for Public Integrity reports that in the last six years lobbyists have increased their spending over 46 percent from 1.5 billion to 2.1 billion annually and have spent a cumulative total of almost $13 billion on wining, dining, entertaining and providing lavish junkets to members of Congress and federal officials responsible for legislation and regulations.

 

The number of registered lobbyists has more than doubled over the same period from 14,000 to 30,000.  More than 2,200 former federal government employees had registered as federal lobbyists between 1998 and 2004 of which nearly 250 are former members of Congress.

 

While the Republicans are currently in the spotlight because of the Jack Abranoff/Tom Delay connection the dubious methods used to circumvent campaign finance laws are used by Democrats and Republicans alike.

 

One of the many vehicles that politicians and lobbyists use to channel forbidden corporate money is the 527 organization, named for the section of the tax code that gives them a tax exemption, that are political nonprofits that can spend money in support of specific issues, but not on behalf of particular candidates. 

 

Corporate funds are given to the 527 non-profit.  These funds are then transferred to the National Political Party who then sends the money to the State Campaign offices.  Tom Delay is currently under indictment in Texas accused of funneling corporate funds into state elections.

 

American politics is infested with corrupt and greedy termites (lobbyists and officials) that are undermining, subverting, and degrading the democratic process.  

 

It is nearly impossible, as the many abortive attempts to reform influence peddling and campaign finance has revealed, to have the legislative chickens objectively reform their own hen house.  It is time for the American people to step up and be counted to let the politicians know that “we the people” still exist.

 

In the 2006 mid-term elections the people should send a strong message to the electorate and remind  them who they were elected to serve.  All incumbant members of congress who are standing for re-election should be sent home by the voters.  Yes, some honorable ones would be caught in the “clean up thine house” message.  But the new group of elected officials would have a clear understanding that they will be held accountable for decisions that are not in the best interests of the people.

 

James W. Breedlove

Comments or opinions may be sent to the writer at: wwwtruthclinic.com

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