The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Majority Leader increasing GOPs lobbyist ties

John Boehner became the House Majority Leader when Tom DeLay announced he was stepping down over charges relating to illegal fund raising in Texas. It wasn't DeLay's first run-in with ethics problems, as he'd been reprimanded three times previously. His allies tried to undo one of their own laws that would have cost him his position, but backed down after the move started to garner press and public attention.

One of Boehner's own acts in the past got some press when he was selected as the replacement-- handing out checks from tobacco companies during a House vote on legislation beneficial to the companies. And true to form, he's going after lobbyist contributions more aggressively than ever.

And far from trying to put the brakes on lobbyists and the money they channel into Republican coffers, Mr. Boehner, who has portrayed his ties to Washington lobbyists as something to be proud of, has stepped on the gas.

He has been holding fund-raisers at lobbyists’ offices, flying to political events on corporate planes and staying at a golf resort with a business group that has a direct stake in issues before Congress.

Tapping a rich vein of longstanding relationships with lobbyists and their corporate clients, Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has raised campaign contributions at a rate of about $10,000 a day since February, surpassing the pace set by former Representative Tom DeLay after he became majority leader in 2002, a review of federal filings shows.

His fund-raising pace is roughly twice what it was before he became majority leader in February; in April his two federal committees took in $334,500 from political action committees, a monthly take that Mr. DeLay did not match for more than two years after the elections in 2002.

Mr. Boehner’s biggest donors include the political action committees of lobbying firms, drug and cigarette makers, banks, health insurers, oil companies and military contractors. Seven American Indian tribes with casinos have contributed $32,000.

And despite an intensified spotlight on Congressional trip taking, Mr. Boehner flew to a golf resort in Boca Raton, Fla., in March for a convention of commodities traders, who have contributed more than $100,000 to his campaigns and are lobbying against a proposed federal tax on futures transactions.

During the trip, Mr. Boehner assured his hosts that Congress would most likely not approve a tax they opposed.