Friday, June 18, 2010

Business As Usual

One would think that in the midst of the horrifying disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that BP and other oil companies would lay low this election season, but one would, of course, be wrong. There are still politicians running for office, which means there are still politicians to be bought.

Lobbyists for BP hosted at least 53 fundraising parties for lawmakers and candidates in recent years -- four of them since the explosion and oil spill at a BP-run oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a watchdog group's analysis.

Lobbyists typically represent multiple clients, and it is unknown how many of the events were intended to advance BP's interests. The numbers are based on fundraiser data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, which collects information from anonymous donors and lobbyist reports. The list is incomplete, and it is possible the lobbyists held other fundraisers as well.

The silly caveats contained in the second paragraph of from this WaPo article aside, it's clear that candidates from both parties and their funders are in full campaign mode, the crises facing the nation be damned. It's business as usual.

What is especially maddening is that apparently both the candidates and the money baggers for the oil companies and the other corporations think that no one can do anything about it. After all, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) (who got over $27,000 from BP and its affiliates) got only a slap on the wrist from his party's leaders for apologizing to BP, probably more for the poor framing of his remarks than for the message.

David Donnelly, of the Campaign for Fair Elections, said he wasn't surprised that fundraisers were held by the lobbyists of BP and other oil firms.

"The fundraising season in Washington never ends, even when there are disasters like in the Gulf Coast and when the economy crashes. Members of Congress still have to look for money," Donnelly said. ...

"It's amazing that Rep. Barton would stand up for a multinational corporation that has wrecked the livelihoods of so many people along the Gulf Coast," Donnelly said. "Comments like this make all Americans question whether Congress represents them or the special interests funding their campaigns."

I think we're past the point of questioning, Mr. Donnelly. We're at the confirmation stage. Thanks to our Supreme Court and our election system, the business of government has indeed become business.

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