Bouillabaisse of Bribes

Hey, I picked up the check for dinner last time. This one is yours. It’s only $60,000. Why so much? Well, your wine was pretty fancy. And the main course was…five senators.

That is the going rate for senators these days. Joe Curl wrote about it in the Washington Times. You could dine with five senators if you kicked in $30,000 per head to the Democratic Party.

You can pony up for this sort of event all the time in Washington. And back in the politicians’ districts. You can pay many thousands to go hunting with a big-time pol. You can go to parties for representatives for several thousand bucks a pop.

You end up with a photo of you and the office-holder. If you kick in enough money, it may come with a personal thank you note.



The politicians call these…well, I am not sure what foolish name they use these days. They do not call them “fundraisers.” That would be too coarse. They do not call them “influence buying events.” That would be too close to the truth.

And they do not call them bribes. That would offend the donors, and the pols who have their hands out.

Maybe we can call them “dues.”

Politicians shrug when you mention them. They are as much a part of being a member of Congress as riding on the Senate subway. The fact that the politicians see nothing untoward about this stuff only underscores the reality that this is corruption. Guys who swim in cesspools get so used to the stench that feces looks like flowers to them. The capitol dome should fly the Roto-Rooter flag.

Are the Republicans upset with this? Yes. They can only charge half as much for their events. That is your fate when you are in the minority. If ever they regain control over either house their rates will shoot up first day.

Do these shenanigans buy votes and influence? Duhhhh. Can you think of any other reason for blowing $30,000 on dinner? Our politicians are bought and sold. 

The latest example is tucked within the healthcare legislation. Nancy made certain there was a provision that would allow trial lawyers to grub billions, over time, from medical lawsuits. Many states had placed caps on awards. The new bill purposely overrides those caps. Trial lawyers paid politicians many millions for this gift, thank you. You can imagine how many more dinners they will be invited to.

Who pays for these dinners? You do. When you belong to a union, you do. When you work for a corporation, you do indirectly. When you send in your dues to AARP, you do. Part of what you pay for insurance goes toward the industry’s efforts to buy influence.

A lot of nefarious characters also pay for such events. Ooops. I am getting too polite. Let me rephrase. A lot of nefarious characters also buy votes this way.

What’s for dinner tonight, all over Washington? Consommé d’Graft. Sautéed Extortion, served on a bed of green. (Yes, that kind of green.) Bouillabaisse of Bribes.

Bon appétit!

From Tom ... as in Morgan.                  

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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