Congress plays take-and-give with corporate lobbyists

Rep. Steve Scalise might not be for sale, but he is available for long-term lease.

Rep. Steve Scalise might not be for sale, but he is available for long-term lease.

Assuming, of course, that you’re a corporate lobbyist able to put beaucoup bucks into his congressional quid pro quo arrangement. The lease is straightforward: Lobbyists pony up millions of corporate dollars to, as Steve puts it, “Keep and expand our [Republican] majority in Congress;” then that majority delivers billions of dollars-worth of legislative favors to the lease holders. Yes, it’s appallingly corrupt, but the transaction is “legal,” since lawmakers like Scalise write the rules that give such corruption a pass.

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The Louisiana tea partier is the new No. 3 House Republican leader, but he’s an old hand at playing Congress’s take-and-give game with what he lovingly calls the “K Street community.” And that community loves him back by stuffing his “Leadership PAC” with regular payments. In January, some 300 lobbyists and corporate operatives jammed into a room at the swank Capitol Hill Club to cheer No. 3 as he laid out his corporate legislative agenda – in tandem with laying out his political fundraising program. Lobbyists for American Airlines, Comcast, T-Mobil, and others with big items on Steve’s legislative list were winking, nodding, and cheering as their Congressman explained that he was “looking forward to a good year” for both the lessees and the lessor.

One attendee who was beaming with approval was Bill Hughes, who serves as the formal seal on this scandalous money-for-legislation deal. Until January, Hughes was lobbyist for a slew of big-box retail chains, and he was a major player last year in preventing the House from even considering an increase in America’s minimum wage. This year, Bill is Steve Scalise’s policy director.

And they wonder why people think Congress and lobbyists are scum.

“With These Hires, Congress Becomes Even More Like a Corporation,” www.thenation.com, February 11, 2015.

“Nearly 300 K Streeters flock to meet Steve Scalise,” www.politico.com, January 13, 2015.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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