Bob Franken

The DC Investment

Let’s thank the Washington Post and reporters T.W. Farnam and Carol Leonnig for an comment that speaks volumes about a political system in the United States that is bought and paid for.

In their Saturday story “PACs betting on GOP takeover”, one of them got a quote from Rep. Greg Walden who is Deputy Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He’s not just a House member, but a party fundraiser, who says that in pitching corporate givers to spread some of their wealth to his side “I tell them ‘I understand you have to give money to Democrats, but I want to be back in the majority'” “‘You don’t have to give (this Democrat) $5000. Give them $2000. You can give $3000 elsewhere. Now let me show you some open seats where you can make an investment in a Republican candidate you will like”

“INVEST”???!!! What the hell does that mean? What is the return on that investment? We know the answer. It is favored treatment for the “investor” by the investee. And it is as close to a sure thing as you can get. Particularly when you diversify your holdings.

Toss a teeny bit of your riches into what we euphemistically call “campaign contributions”, what others might label “legalized bribery. Make sure you spread it around, to Republicans and Democrats alike, to officeholders and challengers alike, hedging your bets with both sides. Reap huge rewards.

It’s kind of a protection racket. Slip a few bucks to them and your elected officials will make sure your wealth is unmolested by those troublemakers who might have the audacity to try and set some limits on the way you accumulate it.

Not only that, but you get to munch little shrimp balls with the present or future officeholder you’ve purchased, and watch ballgames and rock concerts with them from the sky boxes you maintain because you’re so civic minded.

Think of how you help the economy. Can you imagine how deprived the owners of the area’s sports and entertainment complexes would be if they didn’t have corporate lobbyists to buy these overhead Fat Cathouses?

While you watch the teams play ball down below, you get your handout-seeking insatiable fundraiser to play ball with you for as long as they maintain their power. Once they lose it, or if they don’t do what you tell them to, they’re easily discarded, replaced by someone else you finance. It’s how the game is played. There are no free agents.

For you, the sport is not very dangerous. There aren’t very many rules, and you can get away with breaking them as long as you follow the most important one which, of course, is “Don’t Get Caught”. Every once in awhile somebody will get too brazen for even this shameless profession (the world’s oldest by the way) and not only goes to jail but stains everyone else.

No big deal. Influence peddlers have long ago gotten used to being stained. In Washington, they wear their blots with pride. It’s part of the uniform, like wing-tipped shoes. (By the way, did you ever notice that female lobbyists wear wing-tipped high heels?)

As long as you don’t get ridiculously careless, success is guaranteed. Just spend a little of your loose change to add or subtract a mere word or two from legislation or regulation and you’ve bought yourself a huge loophole.

In this “investment” club, the only watchword is ‘Buy Low”. For the desperate-for-money politician it is “Sell Out”

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