Thursday, February 15, 2007

Old and new bosses

In a post at the national left-leaning blog Crooks and Liars there's a discouraging new post, Meet the new boss, same as the old boss commenting on an article in the New York Times about ways lobbyists have found to get around the rules:

In just the last two months, lawmakers invited lobbyists to help pay for a catalog of outings: lavish birthday parties in a lawmaker's honor ($1,000 a lobbyist), martinis and margaritas at Washington restaurants (at least $1,000), a California wine-tasting tour (all donors welcome), hunting and fishing trips (typically $5,000), weekend golf tournaments ($2,500 and up), a Presidents' Day weekend at Disney World ($5,000), parties in South Beach in Miami ($5,000), concerts by the Who or Bob Seger ($2,500 for two seats), and even Broadway shows like "Mary Poppins" and "The Drowsy Chaperone" (also $2,500 for two).

The lobbyists and their employers typically end up paying for the events, but within the new rules.

Instead of picking up the lawmaker's tab, lobbyists pay a political fund-raising committee set up by the lawmaker. In turn, the committee pays the legislator's way.
There are plenty of Texas taxpayer-funded lobbyists operating not just in Austin but also in Washington, DC. We'll have to keep an eye on whether any of "our" lobbyists in Washington have been part of this dodge.

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