Friday, July 24, 2009

And You Thought Democracy Was Free

1) Money buys power.
2) Special interest groups control the agenda.
3) Authentic democracy dies.

In this USA Today article (not a line of which criticizes the sweet deal described), Fredreka Schouten reminds us how government really works.

Lobbyists and businesses that employ them donated $5.8 million last year to foundations affiliated with congressional groups, a USA TODAY analysis of federal lobbying data shows.

Nearly all of it — $5.7 million — went to non-profit groups connected to the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, according to the analysis.

Under congressional rules, the caucuses face limits on how much public money they can use to support their activities. They also are barred from using private funds to operate. However, nothing stops lobbyists from writing big checks to the non-profits connected to caucuses.

Giving to a caucus-related group is a way to earn favor with a large number of lawmakers, said Sheila Krumholz, of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. Lobbyists "get to rub shoulders with lawmakers and their families in a relaxed comfortable atmosphere," she added. "It's all conducive to building cordial relationships that you can later cash in on."...