Joined Nov 11, 2007
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Alive and Well: Political Bribery

“Despite a number of laws forbidding them from accepting gifts from lobbyists, congressional leaders regularly exploit legal loopholes to jet-set throughout the country on lobbyists’ expense, according to a new report.

Members of Congress have taken trips to California’s Napa Wine Valley, Colorado ski country, and other hotspots around the US and Puerto Rico – all paid for by companies and corporate representatives hoping to cozy up and hopefully influence politicians.

A law was signed in 2007 aiming to curb such abuse after lawmakers were busted taking paid golf trips to Europe, but some creative scheming has made it possible for politicians to enjoy their weekends outside of Washington.

The New York Times has revealed that political action committee (PACs) and political campaigns controlled by politicians on both sides of the aisle collect money from wealthy donors and corporate executives, and then use that money to fund catering and lodging expenses at swanky resort locations. There, at five star hotels in Las Vegas, Florida, and Bermuda, Democrats and Republicans mingle with executives from an array of businesses.

It has become kind of the norm,” Vic Fazio, a California congressman-turned-lobbyist, told the Times. “To the average citizen, it might seem like there is a disconnect between the reality of life in America and these getaways.”

Between 50 and 100 lobbyists make generally accompany lawmakers on the trips, donating anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 to the lawmaker’s PAC for the privilege. Such activity is perfectly legal under current campaign law, a contentious topic that legislators have sought to eliminate, amend, and completely overhaul in recent years…..”

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