Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lobbying: The Scourge of Politics Back in the News

(from Wordnet; ’scourge’: lay waste to: cause extensive destruction or ruin)

Neither major political party has done anything one can notice about ending politics as usual in Washington and the ever present plague of lobbyists. Some argue that lobbying is simply engaging the process and the public’s right to make their preferences known to politicians. But everyone knows lobbying is simply buying influence.

GOP still dominates drug lobby

By CHRIS FRATES | 3/12/09
With Democrats in charge of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, this really ought to be a no-brainer: Should GlaxoSmithKline put a Democrat or a Republican in charge of its Washington lobbying shop?

The in-house lobbying shops of at least eight of the nation’s largest drug companies are still run by Republicans, even as the industry’s major trade association, PhRMA, is desperately trying to cozy up to Democrats who now control both the Congress and the White House.

“They’re dealing with us the same way they dealt with us when we were in the minority, and we’re not,” said a Democratic House health staffer. “We literally don’t know where all the different companies stand on anything, so we just don’t care.”

Obama has set his sights on healthcare among other things. With another of his campaign promises tossed in the trash any optimism that politics as usual would end, including lobbying, has been reduced to a laughable footnote as expected for 21st century governing.

A Republican Congressman who is an outspoken critic of earmarks, Jeff Flake, (R-AZ) has a resolution in Congress related to lobbying. Here is an excerpt.

Raising a question of the privileges of the House.

Whereas The Hill reported on February 10, 2009, that `a top defense-lobbying firm’ that `specializes in obtaining earmarks in the defense budget for a long list of clients’ was `recently raided by the FBI.’;

Whereas the Associated Press reported on February 25, 2009 that the `FBI searched the lobbying firm … and the residence of its founder … .’;

Whereas The Hill reported on March 4, 2009, that the firm `has given $3.4 million to 284 Members of Congress’;

This resolution is to accomplish what exactly? Obama said no lobbyists will work in his White House. Really? How many lobbyists now work in the Obama Administration? Last tally taken through reports from various outlets suggested the number was at least a dozen.

GOP targets Dems for ethics complaints

March 10, 2009
WASHINGTON, Mar 10, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) — Congressional Republicans are filing ethics complaints against Democrats in an effort to put pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., analysts say.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has filed three resolutions calling for a House ethics committee investigation centering on the relationship between Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and PMA Group, a lobbying organization raided last year by federal authorities, the Washington publication Politico reported Tuesday. The House defeated one of the resolutions last week and is set to vote on the re-filed resolution later this week.

Liberals can raise the issue as is mentioned in the report above of the Tom Delay saga and conservatives can beat the drum over Murtha and PMA Group. But this is just another partisan mud slinging contest which serves no useful purpose. You either put an end to lobbying or you do not. It is that simple.

To dismiss the case against lobbying as merely a part of doing business is tantamount to admitting the purchase of public officials has Congressional approval. Which draws the logical conclusion that therefore the principles documented in the founding of our nation only receive lip service from those elected or appointed to act on the citizen’s behalf in governing the United States of America.

The dishonesty of lobbying or paying to play or buying executive, judicial or legislative outcomes cannot be overstated. Until this practice is eliminated the tainted legacy of Washington politics will continue to overshadow those ideals for which many have fought and died during the short history of this republic. Again, to merely dismiss this practice as the cost of doing business is a slap in the face to those whose legacy includes the ultimate sacrifice.

For public officials to have no shame in this regard serves as an indictment of who they are and the lack of character of those elected to serve in the public interest. It also adds to the suspicion other citizens of the world may have regarding our sincerity to do the right thing. If the current Administration and both major political parties are truly intereested in improving this nation’s image around the world this would be an excellent place to start.

But most of you know the odds of that ever happpening.

Here’s a tidbit related to the recent lobbying fiasco in the news.

The announcement comes as news broke on Monday that the FBI raided PMA’s offices in November.

Magliocchetti was a long-time aide for Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) on the House defense appropriations panel. PMA specializes in obtaining earmarks in the defense budget for a long list of clients.

Like other vermin in nature when exposed these fine examples simply start another company and business continues as usual buying outcomes from elected officials.

Stanford Matthews

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