BlogSpasm #49...November 8, 2011
Recently, one of the news magazine programs had an interesting piece. Jack Abramoff, a now convicted felon and former D.C. lobbyist, described how he could obtain just about any legislative item that he needed for his clients. His main tools were: providing elected officials with gifts, event/game tickets, trips (foreign and domestic), golf junkets, campaign contributions, utilizing politicos staff to help grease the skids, etc.
In his book, “The Lobbyist’s Playbook,” he imparts that corrupting a politician doesn’t necessarily involve handing over a check or envelope with cash to get a favor. The corruption is more akin to bribery than anything else.
On the news magazine program, he stated: “In my view. I’m talking about giving a gift to somebody who makes a decision on behalf of the public. At the end of the day, that’s really what bribery is.”
Of course, we have all heard politicos -- local, state and national -- reflect and be insistent that campaign contributions or other collected perks “do not influence my vote.” Sound familiar?
After listening to one of the nation’s best felony bribers (Abramoff) and hearing how he operated for many years, one has to believe he knows what he is talking about.
And this causes the staff of the CCR to wonder: Could this ever happen in beautiful downtown Irving?
Over the last several years, the CCR has witnessed: Campaign contributions to a mayoral candidate exceeding $1 million; grossly large campaign contributions from individuals representing primarily the interest of north Irving development; the Irving Fireman’s PAC receiving thousands upon thousands of dollars to campaign for specific candidates; city funds being spent for a Cowboys Stadium suite by the chamber of commerce for entertainment purposes; domestic and foreign travel by council members paid for by various organizations or politically bent groups; lavish shindigs sponsored and funded by city-paid consultants; lobbying of individual council members for multi-million dollar projects; council members being fined by the Texas Ethics Commission; awarding lucrative consultant contracts with nebulous quantifiable outcomes; and finally, noting that all these items are those that actually appear ‘on top of the table.‘
The question becomes: What is all of this money, contributions, lobbying and glad-handing buying, influencing, or accomplishing? Should favorable consideration for votes on city projects even be a consideration or on the minds of the “little people” of Irving concerning these actions?
Sadly, Abramoff concludes that regardless of the policies the politicos put in place to curb these types of abuses, the players (lobbyist) will find a loophole to skirt the system and keep their gravy train on the track to the politicos depot.
Where is Diogenes when you really need him?
A reader sez: Rings so true! Most of our city council are being played...or should I say paid. Anonymous
We Say: Voters could ring out the old, then ring in the new next election. Mark Holbrook
A reader sez: Are you suggesting… Anonymous
We Say: If the suggestion fits...you can’t acquit. Mark Holbrook
A reader sez: I truly believe when council members vote to give general fund money to host events for other elected officials, they are contributing to the very corruption they so often rail against. Anonymous
We Say: Examples exist of individuals who probably should be on the rails...out of town. Mark Holbrook