Lee Fang at Republic Report is on fire. The Jimmy Olsen Award for best incoming investigator is his for the asking.
We featured his work here (our "buying Buck McKeon" piece) and here (our "why you can't smoke nice things" piece).
Next up, what ThankYou Street is offering at the going rate. I'll give you a taste of Fang's great prologue, and then just one of his many examples. Our intrepid reporter writes (my emphasis; some reparagraphing):
Selling out pays. If you’re a corporation or lobbyist, what’s the best way to “buy” a member of Congress? Secretly promise them a million dollars or more in pay if they come to work for you after they leave office.That last link is worth clicking, by the way. (Just helping out.)
Once a public official makes a deal to go to work for a lobbying firm or corporation after leaving office, he or she becomes loyal to the future employer. And since those deals are done in secret, legislators are largely free to pass laws, special tax cuts, or earmarks that benefit their future employer with little or no accountability to the public.
While campaign contributions and super PACS are a big problem, the every day bribery of the revolving door may be the most pernicious form of corruption today. (See our post on Monday about current members of Congress already negotiating for jobs on K Street).
This is exactly why I call Congress the "House of Retainers" — because that's what they are. Literally, employees on retainer.
All of the money is in a small number of hands, so the Greek slaves who administer the empire (sorry, well-heeled public officials who administer our laws) can only be bribed from one set of sources — Our Betters.
If money were more widely distributed, you and I could get a piece of that. No more.
Now a sample from the perps gallery, the rogues parade:
Republic Report combed through the few disclosures that are out there to find out how much lawmakers make when they sell out ... Republic Report’s investigation found that lawmakers increased their salary by 1452% on average from the last year they were in office[.] ...Consider this:
Former Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA) made $19,359,927 as a lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies between 2006 and 2010. Tauzin retired from Congress in 2005, shortly after leading the passage of President Bush’s prescription drug expansion. He was recruited to lead PhRMA, a lobbying association for Pfizer, Bayer, and other top drug companies.
During the [Obama] health reform debate, the former congressman helped his association block a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate for drug prices, a major concession that extended the policies enacted in Tauzin’s original Medicare drug-purchasing scheme.
Tauzin left PhRMA in late 2010. He was paid over $11 million in his last year at the trade group. Comparing Tauzin’s salary during his last year as congressman and his last year as head of PhRMA, his salary went up 7110%.
■ Tauzen's RIO on selling out the public interest is 70:1. Not bad.
■ PhRMA's ROI on Tauzen's last year is easily 1000:1 or more, since the difference between the current cost of all drugs sold and what they would cost if negotiated — that must be in the billions, maybe hundreds of billions. That increased revenue, compared to Tauzen's measly $11 million — peanuts.
And don't forget the key role Tauzen (as noted above) had in shaping Obama's Health Care "Reform" Act. It's a bipartisan corruption scheme; they do both do it.
Read the rest. The phrases "Chris Dodd" and "Tom Daschle" (an Obama-associated name early on) comes up, as do a number of others.
I'll leave you with a phrase of my own — "House of Retainers" — and I do mean that literally. This is definitely not your daddy's U.S.A. For starters, we now have our king back.