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Leviathan Richard Falknor on 23 Oct 2013 06:22 pm

UPDATED! A Rosetta Stone To Understand The Permanent Political Class: “Extortion”

UPDATE OCTOBER 25, 2013 Lou Dobbs (click here): “Extortion a part of politics in DC? — Extortion’ author Peter Schweizer on the tactics used by politicians to get money from industries and donors.”

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A Rosetta Stone To Understand The Permanent Political Class: “Extortion”

Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, Peter Schweizer, 2013.
“We also need to recognize that in Washington today corruption is driven more by extortion than by bribery. The power equation in Washington has shifted from buyers to sellers of influence” – Peter Schweizer

We have just finished eyeballing our Kindle version of this eye-opening guide to the way the Permanent Political Class muscles productive America. 

As the jacket blurb says –

“*Obama’s ‘Protection Money’: How the Obama Administration targeted industries for criminal investigation but chose not to pursue key political donors.
 *John Boehner’s ‘Tollbooth’: How the Speaker of the House extracts money by soliciting political donations before he will hold crucial votes on the House floor.
 *The ‘Slush Fund’: How politicians extract ‘campaign contributions’ and then convert them to bankroll lavish lifestyles complete with limos, private jets, golf at five-star resorts, fine wines, and cash for family members.
 *Capitol Hill’s ‘Underground Economy’: How congressmen use a little-known loophole that allows them to secretly link their votes to cash.
 Extortion finally makes clear why Congress is so dysfunctional: it’s all about making money, not making law.”

We learn even more about how the Hard Left operates. Extortion looks closely at the Obama-Holder Justice Department and the Big-Harry-Reid-Machine.

But our instant concern should be fixing the Beltway GOP.

We can’t get the national course correction we need unless the GOP Congressional Leadership is devoted to right-sizing government, and legislating properly — without vast grants of authority to the Administrative Branch and without enormous ‘continuing resolutions’ that only specialists and lobbyist understand. 

After reading Hoover Institution Fellow Schweizer’s Extortion, it is impossible to believe that the Congressional GOP leadership ever thinks about pulling back the reach of Federal power in a serious way.

For how could they continue to raise big money?

The Shame of Leadership PACs

“But a leadership PAC is different [from a traditional campaign committee]. Leadership PACs are ostensibly about raising money to help political colleagues hold and win seats. But the FEC has few restrictions on how these monies can be used and does not restrict the ‘personal use’ of such funds…. To be sure, some leadership PACs do devote a substantial portion of their funds to helping elect members of  Congress. Yet many of them spend most of their money on events in swanky five-start resorts, food, and entertainment. Here are some of the unwritten rules about how politicians use leadership PAC money. First, ‘retreats,’ ‘strategic planning sessions,’ and other events never occur at a Hampton Inn or a Holiday Inn. They are almost exclusively held at five-star resorts that feature golf and high-end spas.” – Peter Schweizer  (Highlighting Forum’s.)

Tony Lee at Breitbart here sums up his colleagues Sunday evening take on the abuse of Leadership PACS.

“[Wynton] Hall said the leadership PACs are usually not used for re-election efforts and instead serve as a ‘crony piggy bank’ used to ‘dole out favors’ and ‘buy votes.’ In discussing the 60 Minutes exposé that revealed ‘what is going on with leadership PAC corruption,’ which Hall described as ‘one of the dirtiest little secrets in Washington,’ he said that though the PACs are supposedly meant to help ‘members of your party,’ there are ‘sneaky loopholes’ that allow lawmakers to have ‘lifestyle upgrades’ that are ‘eye-opening.’. . . .  As 60 Minutes detailed, ‘nearly every congressman and senator has a leadership PAC, not just the leaders. And they are used to solicit contributions from friends and supporters in order to advance their political agendas, their careers and, in many cases, their lifestyle.’. . . .  According to the 60 Minutes investigation, there are reportedly ‘75 members of Congress who have hired members of their family to work on their campaign and paid them with political contributions.’ For instance, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) had ‘six family members on the campaign payroll — daughter, daughter’s mother in-law, three grandchildren and a grandchild in-law.’ He paid them ‘a total of $304,000 over the past two election cycles.’” (Highlighting Forum’s.)

Tea Partiers will want to identify here the Leadership PACs of GOP House members in their states.

Enter the name of a Leadership PAC of interest here  and follow the links to see a PAC’s detailed disbursements.

Of course, while not every GOP member misuses his Leadership PAC, they are certainly an open invitation to civic sin.

GOP Leadership & The Underground Interplay of Campaign Funds

For conservatives digesting the lessons of Extortion, many questions come to mind: 

  • How did what Schweizer describes as an “Underground Washington Economy” or interplay of campaign funds shape the actions of the GOP Leadership on Obamacare in their last-minute and obviously reluctant confrontation with the White House? Was it a big money-raising opportunity to squeeze those business interests who opposed a shutdown?
  • How will this campaign-funds interplay affect the progress of Giant Amnesty in the House? Since the patriotic immigration-enforcement voices have relatively little money, will the House GOP leadership keeping shaking down for contributions big employers seeking cheap labor?
  • How has this interplay stifled the effort to get a special House panel to investigate Benghazi, to look into Al Jazeera broadcasting in America, and to ask Inspectors General to check out Islamist influence in national-security agencies? Since the folks seeking better national security are not wealthy “marks,” who is ponying up and how much for the other side?

Will this underground interplay of campaign funds keep being used to buy off any effort to change the House GOP leadership?

For Peter Schweizer also reminds us that–

“FEC records indicate that Speaker of the House John Boehner, facing a challenge for his position in early 2013, likewise used the transfer of campaign donations to certain members of Congress to shore up support from those who might be inclined to vote against him.”

There is much more in “Extortion” — including the author’s recommendations for curing some of these campaign-money problems  . . . stay tuned!

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