Inaugural galas for governors become influences-buying bazaars

Hey, we're Texas proud these days, because Greg Abbott, the incoming governor of our state has set a new gubernatorial record before he's even been sworn into office!

Hey, we’re Texas proud these days, because Greg Abbott, the incoming governor of our state has set a new gubernatorial record before he’s even been sworn into office!

Well, “proud” isn’t quite the right word, since Greg’s historic achievement is that he is throwing the most expensive inauguration bash the Lone Star State has ever had. With a parade, concert, ball, four tons of barbequed brisket, and beaucoup booze flowing freely, he has laid out $4 million for a party to celebrate – who else? – himself.

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Actually, it’s not Abbott’s 4 million buckarros – the cash largely is coming from the coffers Big Oil and other corporate powers. The irony here is that corporations are banned from giving any money to gubernatorial candidates on the grounds that those interests have special favors they’ll want from the state, so such donations are tantamount to bribery. Yet, the law lets those same corporations gain big brownie points with the gubernatorial winner by lavishing unlimited sums to fund his or her self-congratulatory party. Plus, the law allows this corrupting exchange to be kept secret from the public, which need not even be told the names of the corporate donors and how much they paid.

Abbott is hardly alone in playing this shell game – galas for governors of both parties have become high-dollar opportunities for politicos and corporate interests to bond. Of course, everyone involved loudly denies that inaugural blowouts have become little more than influence-buying bazaars. But methinks they protest too much – the louder they profess their purity, the more obvious their impurity becomes.

Besides, these exclusive, ever-more-extravagant affairs are unseemly, especially in these hard times. Have a little modesty – just take the oath of office, say a few words, have a low-key reception with a cash bar – then get to work!

“Donor cash fuels bashes,” Austin American Statesman, January 5, 2015.

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

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