Monday, May 01, 2006

Pay to Play

So maybe this New York Times article explains why Jimbo is afraid of a strong ethics bill:

After appearing to falter Thursday, the House of Representatives is once again poised to pass a new package of lobbying restrictions, thanks largely to the efforts of an alliance of Republican moderates. Nothing in the bill, however, would stop those same Republican moderates from continuing to court corporate lobbyists with some unusually explicit invitations to lunch.

For $5,000, a lobbyist can join lawmakers and staff members of the alliance, the Republican Main Street Partnership, for a lunchtime policy briefing by an outside expert. For $15,000, the lobbyist can attend four lunches, two of them with briefings by an outside expert and two with briefings from members of Congress.

And for $25,000, the lobbyist can have three lunch briefings with lawmakers, not to mention V.I.P. seating for eight at a black-tie dinner for the moderates' coalition.

Lobbyists who have contributed to the partnership say the lunches are worth it. "Whatever lobbying we would do on an issue, this just gives us a chance to see the members one more time," said Thomas Bruderle, a lobbyist for the National Association of Health Underwriters, which contributes to the group. "This just gives us a chance to reinforce whatever case we want to make." (Mr. Bruderle declined to say how much his organization gave. The partnership does not disclose its contributions.)


Critics of the campaign finance legislation accuse the Republican Main Street Partnership of hypocrisy. "It is reformers on parade," said Jan Witold Baran, a Republican campaign finance lawyer who opposed some recent campaign finance restrictions as curbs on free speech. "All of these moderate Republicans who support all this campaign finance reform and lobbying reform have this convoluted organization that basically raises a variety of corporate funding and apparently pays for pajama parties with lobbyists."

The emphasis is mine. But as you may have guessed, Jimbo is a member of the group. I can't say that I'm surprised.


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