Leadership PACs Provide a Ticket to Luxury Lawmaking
By Marcus Stern and Jennifer LaFleur
When it comes to golf, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has champagne taste.
In California, he’s putted at Pebble Beach, where a round of golf costs $495. In Florida, he’s driven the ball down the fairways of the Boca Raton Resort, with its signature island green on the 18th hole. These are among the dozen premier resorts where Chambliss played golf in 2007 and 2008 at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. Yet Chambliss is hardly rich. His net worth is between $181,006 and $415,000, according to his 2007 financial disclosure report, ranking him 91st in the Senate in terms of wealth.
The congressman pays for his golf through a political leadership fund, the Republican Majority Fund, which took in $692,618 during the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Almost all of it came from lobbyists, political action committees and corporate leaders.
PAC, if you are not already aware, is the acronym for Political Action Committee.
And boy, do they get action.
In a Congress that trumpets financial reform among its members, while quietly slipping a mute on the trumpet, the PAC is a whole orchestra of gimmies and gotchas, pandering and gratification among the claimants to integrity. Nothing much has changed since Mark Twain’s prophetic statement of a hundred years ago, that;
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.“
The mechanics have changed. Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay hardwired an already vicious lobbyist flow of bribery money into the system during the Clinton administration by empowering lobbyists to sit at the table by reservation only. Prior to that, it was a free-market system for purchasing the Senator or Representative of your choice. These two slugs raked the chips over to the Republican side.
But now the Democratic party of change has revealed itself to be no better at washing its hands before coming to the table than those old nasty Republicans. Were you surprised? Dismayed? Unsettled or discouraged?
C’mon, folks–grow up.
Until we join the fray and organize a lobbying group to represent (and pay for) the legislation necessary to support the common citizenry, we have no cause for complaint–other than ethical. I once owned a domain-name to start such a group and then let it lapse. It may yet be available. Anyone want to run it?