Monday, September 06, 2010

The Revival of the Ward Healer

The NYT has a story on a new scam called Congressional Charities.   In these entities Members of Congress solicit charitable donations for activities that they choose in their district.   They technically qualify as charitable entities but what they really become is a reincarnation of the worst kind of boss politics.  While the Times quotes a constituent as saying this is great - the article appropriately describes these activities as "something akin to a permanent political campaign."  The funding for these things does not come from the largesse of the Congressman but from corporations.   But guess who gets the credit, if you guessed the politician, you are right.

The nexus of political contributions which in a normal situation would be considered inappropriate are fine under these situations.  The corporate givers understand the link between a politician's causes and his "charitable" causes.  In the end they become the same.

If a politician wants to do charitable work with his own dough - then that is fine.  But the potential for impropriety here argues that these arrangements should be curtailed immediately.  The Executive Director of a Foundation founded by (soon to be) former Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said “Nothing about this is political,” she said. “Everyone is here just to support the charity.”  Yeah, right.  How come all of the supporters seem to be organizations who wanted access to the Senator?

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