Ambramoff and the hubris of the lobby…

The US has unearthed a juicy big scandal which could see millionaire lobbyist Jack Abramoff facing ten years in prison. Having pleaded guilty to public corruption, he has spread panic to his many clients in Congress, mostly, but by no means all Republicans, by turning states evidence. The majority leader in the house of representatives was the first to jump. Apart from protending spectacular impending carnage in Congress, it raises questions about the clarity of the line between legitimate lobbying and the semi takeover of public representatives by interest groups. Jack Shafer on some impressive one sided editorialising from the WSJ.

  • trpd

    For what it’s worth, DeLay wasn’t “leader of the house of representatives”. He was the Majority Leader, a position from which he stepped down last autumn after his indictment in Texas. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is Dennis Hastert.

    At least until we see the results of the (a)elections for all House of Representative seats this year or (b)the political and legal fallout from the Abramoff matter. By the way, that matter has been brewing for some time; it wasn’t just “unearthed”. It has been sitting there, mounded and steaming, for some time.

  • Crataegus

    Need greater restrictions on how much can be spent on elections and there does need to be consideration given to the role of lobbyists. Very difficult as some provide useful information and expertise on specific issues, but it is the job of the politicians to critically disseminate.

    Not anywhere near as bad as the US but need tighter and more sensible restrictions on party expenditure here as well. We don’t need the full colour posters and bill boards. Keep it simple and reduce the need for finance and donations and you reduce the temptation to accept donations.

  • Alan

    We also need to be clear that there are lobbyists with considerable funding behind them – and lobbyists with nothing behind them. The question is how to maintain access, but trust politicians and parties to recognise what the acceptance of donations* can mean to their own reputations.

  • We’ve always had the best goldurn ‘gumint money can buy. Two centuries of bourgeois reform has not altered that one dadblamed iota.

    The engine driving the whole shebang is the continuing concentration of power within a few corporations which, through some adroit giggling of the law, have become immortal entities. Think Energizer Bunny.

    Every once in a while a wee event like Love Canal, Bhopal or Enron’s meltdown catch our attention and for five or six weeks we focus on regulating the rapacious blackguards to secure our life, our liberty and the pursuit of our happiness. .

    That makes it a survival imperative that the corporate oligarchies infiltrate government to counter the effects of regulation.

    Sooner or later Tom Cruise or some other bozo will bounce up and down on Oprah’s couch and the population will once more be safely off to Gomer Land. We will forget that the Great Reformers saving our fair nation from the Beast of Mammon are, themselves, totally dependent on corporate coffers for the mother’s milk of American Politics and that the Fix Is In.

    It always was.

    This ain’t rocket science, Sluggiepoos.