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Ear to the Ground

Congress for Sale

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Posted on Feb 19, 2009
Flickr / debaird

Nearly a quarter of the members of the House of Representatives find themselves embroiled in a lobbying scandal, with Rep. John Murtha at the center. One hundred four representatives earmarked more than $300 million in just one bill, allegedly in exchange for campaign contributions from a lobbying firm founded by a former Murtha protégé.

Murtha is no stranger to scandal. In 1980 he was secretly videotaped by the FBI in the Abscam scandal.

Congressional Quarterly:

In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly’s analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown’s group.

Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116).

And when the lawmakers were in need — as they all are to finance their campaigns — PMA came through for them.

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Eric L. Prentis's avatar

By Eric L. Prentis, February 20, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Washington D.C. is a stinking cesspool of corruption. Add the Murtha payoffs with the TARP funds for Wall Street cronies, Bernanke funneling trillions of dollars to failed banks on his own say-so and public money directed by lobbyists going to private companies in defense, security, penal institutions, farming, transportation and finance results in a government on sale to the rich with the people paying the tab, i.e., privatized profits and socialized losses. President Obama, where are you.

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By coloradokarl, February 20, 2009 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

Campaign finance Reform, Term Limits, Is lobbying free speech if it drowns out the voters? A 5 year moratorium on lobbying? A smart Numbers cruncher should track the money and legislation for the last 50 years and write a Book. Best seller?

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By Louise, February 20, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

“You know, there’s just so damn much money in this.”

Thanks wildflower,

That pretty much says it all. There is no such person who is so overloaded with integrity that they can’t be bought. We all like to think we are, but that’s only because most of us have never had someone approach us with the promise of millions if we’ll just make sure our actions favor their group.

While we’ve all been screaming about whatever distraction is thrown up at the moment, quietly someone, somewhere takes advantage of the distraction to line their pockets. Thank goodness we have dozens of responsible investigative reporters working for dozens of responsible news corporations staying on top of this and daily informing us.

NOT! The cozy relationship between Congress and the Press should raise a red flag.

“In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients”

Details absent. Specific projects related to defense absent. But the memory of an angry populace who wanted Congress to slam the door on defense spending there-by shutting down Bush’s war is very much alive and well. Proving, when it comes to war, win or lose, the smart guy will always find a way to profit from it!

This hi-lites something else. The reluctance to actually stop that funding and the reluctance to actually dig deep into possible war crimes regarding that war. There are reps and senators who voted against Bush’s war. Nancy Pelosi for one. But there are MORE who voted for it. So when it all comes down to the bottom line, protecting their own (the congressaurs) is still more important than listening to us!

By the way, how convienient was it that “national security” brought snail mail to our elected officials to a virtual stand-still? Every site instructs us to email because there is such a long delay between when we send a letter and our person in Congress actually gets it. If we had all sent our letters snail mail, the system would have been clogged so badly, they would have been forced to see the overwhelming majority view about the war, and take action. Especially the still Republican controlled Senate. But it wasn’t and they didn’t.

A bzillion emails are so many bits. Easily deleted and/or ignored. And in all to many cases that is exactly what happened. An email sent, an appropriate pre-prepared response sent, an ignorant public waiting for things to change. The simple truth is, things will never change as long as money comes easy. So maybe what we need to do is set limits on how long someone can serve in Congress. The power to control the votes of fellows, is clearly linked to how long someone has been there to build the power.

I’m happy to see my Senators and Rep are not on the list. And not surprised to see who is.

As far as the Constitution goes, it is the responsibility of Congress to appropriate revenue (money) for the running of the country.

Article I, Section 7 - “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

Maybe it’s time we stop and accept, if the money benefits our little corner of the world we are OK with it, If it doesn’t we are outraged. So to that degree we are as responsible as our elected officials for any questionable way that money may come. Because we don’t care if it helps us! So if we are going to clean house, we need to begin with an honest evaluation of what we want. An honest government? Or, more money for OUR company, project, community, etc.

Nothing wrong with that except we need to look at who exactly benefits from that money. If it’s a conglomerate of control, with fingers in virtually every corner of our lives, like, http://www.thepmagroup.com/
maybe we need to demand an overhaul of how Congress does business! Beginning with putting the brakes on years in office!

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By GW=MCHammered, February 20, 2009 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unfortunately, lobbyists and congress developed a system that serves only one need ... their own greed. Their long term vision is so shortsighted that they actually believe, and thus function as though, an economy is just moving money around between pockets. Their system fails because a thriving economy satisfies the needs of the cultivating-many not just the grabby-few. The cure is a consummate Divorce between K-Street and Capital Hill.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, February 20, 2009 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

More Proof Just becasue you wore the Uniform Once does not make you Honorable, Or Honest.Look At McCain.Trying to sell BS by beefing up his ‘glory Story’ on the campaign trail.did he think We’d forgotten his close brush with the boot during the Licoln S&L Scandal? Did he think we missed that slimmy SOB over his Right shoulder who pushed through Wall Streets Liberties Act (aka Modernization Act- which pushed Regs back to just prior to the first Wall street meltdown).
Did he not realize we all were accutely aware that those ‘AFghani Freedom Fighters’ he so fondly referred to during a Debate, were the same SOB’s who attacked US on 9/11. Did he think we missed his name was proudly on th etop of the letter head of the group who ahd provided them funds and boots in the ‘80s.
Did he think we began to wonder How exactly He knew the Anthrax came from Saddam within three days- even though the testing had not yet been released (or even confirmed)
Did it not dawn on him that his claim that He “KNEW how to catch Bin laden” Immediatley made US ask ..Then why the hell haven’t you told any one Yet?
And as for His ‘Glory Story’ did he think we are so naive to not realize a top Admiral Son would be well cared for once they realized his identity. Far more valueable alive than dead, and certianly more valueable than the Nobody Kid from TN in the next cell. Did they put Chocolates on his pillow every night so he’d make his ‘movie shorts’ for them?
yes We Respect the Uniform, but not always the body in it deserve the same.
We are as much Cowards about discussing the personal short comings of our soldiers as we are about discussing Race.Let’s be honest some of these people go into th emilitary to be able to weild a big gun and intimidate people at liberty, just like some Cops.It’s a Power Trip, not always patriotism, or economics.

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By Jim Yell, February 20, 2009 at 7:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As they say the devil is in the details. I see a recomendation that we re-write the constitution as being out-dated and not written by God.

Which God would that be the one who invented disease, hunger, murder and other vicious behavior and then blamed it on mankind or Satan who is just Gods other face?

No thank you I will still look to a rational Bill of Rights moderating an outline for right behavior (aka A Consitution), which I would not so much like to see re-written as enforced. Especially the part about separation of church and state.

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By wildflower, February 20, 2009 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

re Fadel Abdallah

The U.S. Constitution is fine.  There is nothing wrong it.  Our obvious problem is the lobbyists and the big money they’ve brought into the system. Interestingly, Bill Moyer’s Journal will be discussing this issue this evening on PBS.  As I understand it, one of his guests will be Robert Kaiser [Reporter/Washington Post] who has written a book that deals with the lobbying issue. A quote from the program blurb sort of says it all:

“Kaiser explains that as long as Washington is a center of money and power, it will tempt some people. He illustrates his point with the story that titled his book:

I went to [lobbyist Bob] Strauss, and I said, “Explain to me why the lobbying business has boomed so, in the years that you’ve been in it, 35 years.” And he thought about it for a minute, and he said, “You know, there’s just so damn much money in this.”

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02202009/profile.html

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By samosamo, February 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

So, what happens? Treat those representatives, senators and lobbyists just like we treat those crooks on wall street, bail them all out also? Where in the hell is oversight, regulation, law enforcement? Last I remember it was still against the law to use an elected office for any kind of gain be it personal, financial, political whatever. And it is against the law to bribe an elected offical and that is all lobbying has turned out to be. Maybe everybody thinks it just fine and dandy with the idea of some slick wit going to a senator or representative with a suit case full of money and some paper work he wants voted in to law that benefits his little world and screws most everybody else, but I don’t, that is not the way our government was designed to work and that is why there are laws against bribery. And it appears the justice department are a bunch of cowards that don’t even give it a thought to look into these inproprities.

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By Fadel Abdallah, February 19, 2009 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Since I can remember Congress has been for sale; and it will continue to be for sale as long as the current system of politics remains as it is now.

Only a serious revolution and serious changes to the Constitution of the US will bring a desired improvement to this outdated man-made Bible called the Constitution of the United States!

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