Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Corruption Is Rampant

Why is it that we have a congress and an executive branch residing in the hands of lobbyists who do not represent our interests but only those of corporations who continually feed our officials money for elections and reelections? The same may be said for every state government in the Union. * “Between the early 1970's and the mid-1980's, the number of trade associations doubled; in the first half of the 1980's alone, the number of registered lobbyists quadrupled, according to The Washington Monthly. A study by the Center for Public Integrity found that in the early 1990's, political donations from 19 major industries – including pharmaceuticals, defense, commercial banking and accounting - were split about evenly between the two parties. By 2003, the Republicans held a 2-to-1 advantage. Since 1998, the center found, more than 2,200 former federal employees had registered as federal lobbyists, as had nearly 275 former White House aides and nearly 250 former members of Congress. Many rules governing their conduct remain deliberately vague, and the House Ethics Committee has been paralyzed because of dysfunction and partisan disputes. In 1995, Tom DeLay famously compiled a list of the 400 largest PACs, along with the amounts and percentages of money they had recently given to each party. Lobbyists were invited into DeLay's office and shown their place in "friendly" or "unfriendly" columns. ("If you want to play in our revolution," DeLay told The Washington Post, "you have to live by our rules." (The K street project was born). Today's Republican entanglement with corporate lobbyists like Jack Abramoff is not an accident. It's not a matter of a few bad apples. And it's not something that happened gradually as Republicans got overly accustomed to power and lost their revolutionary zeal. It was a deliberate strategy, conceived by the leaders of the 1994 revolution as part of their fundamental governing strategy, and pursued relentlessly ever since.” The only way to clean up federal, state, and local governments is to drastically overhaul campaign financing and to insure transparency regarding corporate dealings with all government officials.
* Excerpted from The Washington Monthly
Jerry Lotierzo

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