Congressman [score]Thomas Massie[/score] (R-KY) recently admitted that he was faced with a proposal from a lobbyist that said he could help him raise enough money to be placed on the House Ways and Means Committee and recounted, “It was one of the scummiest meetings I’ve ever been in.”
“He pulled me and my chief of staff into a meeting,” Massie told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “He offered to raise the money that would be required to get me on Ways and Means. This is a lobbyist telling me he can get me on Ways and Means.”
What disgusted Massie most was the unstated implications of the lobbyist’s assistance was that once on the committee, which oversees tax policy, Massie would be called upon to return the favor through various bills.
“It was one of the scummiest meetings I’ve ever been in,” Massie said. “I left just reeling, thinking about the implications for how this place works, when you realize that the lobbyists pick who goes on which committee.”
However, former GOP congressman from Ohio Steven LaTourette claims that the lobbyists was lying because they are unable to secure a committee seat for a particular representative.
“Every committee has a constituency,” LaTourette continued, “and if you’re trying to be the chairman of Ways and Means, there are lots of businesses and corporations and hospitals who are really dependent on what sort of product the Ways and Means Committee produces.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer went on to report:
Committee assignments in the House are divvied up by “steering committees,” set up by each party. The GOP Steering Committee has about 30 members, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other leaders.
The panel also has lawmakers who represent each region of the country, along with committee chairmen and others. They vote on committee assignments, chairmanships, and subcommittee chairmanships in closed-door sessions.
“Members work together with each other to make those decisions,” said Rep. [score]Pat Tiberi[/score], R-Genoa Township, a member of the GOP Steering Committee. “Period.”
But others said that while lobbyists don’t exert any overt influence in the committee selection process, they can play a role behind the scenes.
Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, which supports campaign finance and ethics reform, said she had never heard an “explicit” proposal like the one Massie described. But it’s hardly surprising, she said, that a lobbyist would offer to help a lawmaker raise money.
According to McGehee, “There’s an enormous amount of pressure on the K Street-type lobbyists to deliver, and if you don’t your clients get hurt.”
So, money moves from the hands of clients to lobbyists to help put a particular representative into office and even help that person secure seats of power. I honestly think that LaTourette is either not being honest in his assessment or deceptive at worst.
According to Open Secrets, “The relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers is complicated. On one hand, lobbyists pursue relationships with lawmakers in order to shape legislation so that it benefits clients who would be affected by new laws or regulations. On the other hand, lobbyists are frequently targeted by lawmakers as sources of campaign money, which the lobbyists feel beholden to give to improve their clients’ prospects of success.”
Should you ever wonder just how corrupt lobbyists can be, check out this interview with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who claimed to have 100 politicians in his pocket at any given time. The is the kind of corrupt power that is being used to enslave us all in this nation.
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