I Wish I Were In Paris

From war to peace and politics to gossip, if we have an opinion on something we'll share it here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Big (Democratic Party) Surprise!

So there was going to be change and there was going to be a new way of doing business.

I seem to recall the same thing said eight years ago but you know what happened there, don't you?

So, as I said last night, I was watching CNN between the hours of 2-4 ET yesterday when the following came on:

The election may have been about change, but things are very much the same when it comes to the relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers right here in Washington.

CNN's Special Investigations Unit correspondent, Drew Griffin, shows us how money still talks in the nation's capital.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): You may not know Rick Fenton, but you can bet the freshmen Democrats in Congress who turned out at Democratic Party headquarters might not forget him. Fenton is a lobbyist who unabashedly showed up at fundraiser this morning, introducing the newest Democratic members of Congress to how the old boys do business.

(on camera): Is this cynically buying access?

FENTON: No. Absolutely not. We're just educators. We provide an important function, as an education function.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Fenton is a lobbyist who educates members of Congress on mining interests. He was one of a string of lobbyists and political action committee contributors who responded to this invitation to a new member debt retirement reception. There was even a suggested contribution amount from $2,500 to $20,000, and a dance card so you, the contributor, can make sure you don't miss anyone.

(on camera): How much money are you giving today?

RIC FENTON, LOBBYIST, KLEIN AND SAKS GROUP: I think we're giving $5,000.

GRIFFIN: To one or a bunch?

FENTON: No, to several. We go through that fairly thoroughly.

GRIFFIN: Is that right? Keeping them honest, we watched who went to the early morning breakfast sponsored by Congressman John Dingell who didn't talk to us and Congressman Nick Rahall who did.

(on camera): It seems like same old business as usual. Retire the debt and introduce the new members to the old pack money.

REP. NICK RAHALL (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Do you have an alternative?

GRIFFIN: If this looks, sounds and seems like old fashioned pay to play politics, that's because Joan Claybrook of the watchdog group Public Citizen says well, it is.

(on camera): This is change?

JOAN CLAYBROOK, PUBLIC CITIZEN: This is the old boy network at work. They know who gave them money and when the key issues come up, key bills and key amendements, these members are going to be approached by special interests and asked to vote with them because they gave them money.

GRIFFIN: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer with his arm around the newest member of congress from Michigan told us it's way overplayed that members of congress vote in their donors' interests. So what do these people who come here with the $5,000 and $10,000 checks what, are they getting if they're not getting access and votes?

REP. STENY HOYER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, of course, they're getting access just as a citizen gets access when they go a town meeting and spends some time there or when they volunteer in a campaign. They have an ear that they can talk to. That's true. But the fact is, you'd be surprised at how many people in this room are Democrats first and interest representatives second.

GRIFFIN: No one is saying just how much money was raised.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you give a lot of money?

GRIFFIN: But those new Democrats who may have come to Washington with change on their minds at least left the DNC with some change in their pockets, too. Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.


When I saw the above segment, Rick Sanchez was the newsreader sitting behind the desk. In the transcript above, it's Wolf Blitzer, who, after the tape ran, decided he just had to discuss it with Donna Brazile and Terry Jeffrey, two of the most worthless opinions that you could ever hear.

But, for shits and giggles, let's see how Donna Brazile justified the happenings in the video.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's talk a little bit about lobbying. Business as usual here in Washington with our Democratic strategist, our CNN political contributor Donna Brazile and Terry Jeffrey, the editor in chief of the Cyber Cast News Service. They promised change. But so far it, looks like it's business as usual.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Wolf, there's nothing illegal or unethical about taking money from political action committees or lobbyists. That money comes from workers. There's nothing illegal. On the other hand, to allow a special group of lobbyists to influence legislation and not allow citizens to have input, I think that's what people want to change. There's nothing wrong with that. Some lobby for student aid, others programs to help children.

Anyone really think there were student aid lobbyists or child advocates in that fucking room? If you do, check your I.Q. at the door; Donna Brazile might have a prize for you.

We know the name of at least one of the lobbyists and the firm he represents. Go look up Klein & Saks Group for yourself. I'll let you know what I found but don't just take my word for it; look it up yourself.

Klein & Saks Group is, according to one description, "a public affairs company focused on the mining and metals industries. The firm advises companies, industry organizations and coalitions on political, regulatory, and public policy matters."

Sounds like Donna Brazile was, er, wrong about who was in the fucking room. Sounds like business as usual, which, Ms. Brazile thinks is a-okay, despite the fact that she backed the horse that said lobbyists and the way they conduct business was going to, what's the word, change when he became president.

Oh, I know, Obamaists, he's not quite president yet. He hasn't taken the oath and he hasn't sat his ass down in the Oval Office yet so get as much cash as you can now.


Change We Can Believe In...if we also believe in Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy.


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