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Friday, June 24, 2005

The Lobby Loophole -Showing Congress the World

“A lobbyist can’t legally pay for members of Congress to spend a lavish weekend in California’s wine country” (or foreign country) “but a group of lobbyists apparently can.”

This interesting legal issue appeared in a USA Today article on June 22 (sorry, I don't have the link.)

My question is this: Why hasn’t Congress changed the law to outlaw mass influence peddling by lobbyists operating as a group (and paying for Congress travel) when it is illegal to do it one-on-one? These Congress trips paid by lobbyists are getting out of hand.

I do not need a lobbyist to give me a gold plated tour of the world, be at to Russia, Saipan, golf in Scotland, etc. I’ve already been around the world, thank you. I was lucky enough to get a global education as a young negotiator for large companies and small ones (after starting out on a farm in Iowa, which is as far from foreign as you can get). I know what is happening in these countries, instead of believing what someone tells me over a fancy dinner in a foreign place.

A fancy dinner in Saipan, paid by lobbyists, was enough for Mr. DeLay to overlook substandard working conditions in that country –guaranteeing them a “Made in USA” label when it was sold in the U.S. I would never vote for such a thing, trip or no trip.

I don’t need a junket paid by special interests to convince me anyone should get a “Made in USA” label when they have the item produced in an offshore, sub wage sweatshop. I’d vote against it every time.

Congress and its leadership are skirting the law on illegal travel by lobbyists, by allowing groups of them to do what one cannot legally do. Funding of a lavish trip for our Congressman to play golf in Scotland did nothing to avoid 9 11. Did it? I call for Congress and its leadership to stop allowing the this circumventing of the law by groups of lobbyists.

Fact: Since 2000, the number of lobbyists in Washington has more than DOUBLED, now totally over 34,000!

Where is the leadership on this ethical loophole by our Majority leader?

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