Congressional Republicans are baldly enticing donors with the promise of meetings with senior legislative staff, effectively placing access to congressional employees up for sale to professional influence peddlers and other well-heeled interests.This makes Newt Gingrich's peccadilloes seem almost quaint.
Documents obtained by The Intercept and the Center for Media and Democracy show that the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee are both telling donors that in exchange for campaign contributions, they will receive invitations to special events to meet with congressional staff including chiefs of staff, leadership staffers, and committee staffers.
While selling donors access to senators and representatives and their campaign staff is nothing new, the open effort to sell access to their legislative staff — the taxpayer-funded government employees who work behind the scenes to write legislation, handle investigations, and organize committee hearings — appears to be in violation of ethics rules that prohibit campaigns from using House and Senate resources in any way.
Congressional ethics rules flatly forbid Capitol Hill employees from engaging in fundraising activities as part of their official duties. Any explicit fundraising work must be done strictly as a volunteer, and there must be a clear firewall separating government work from campaign work.
But a document obtained by The Intercept and the Center for Media and Democracy from the NRSC, the Senate GOP campaign arm, lists the benefits of “D.C. Personal Giving Memberships,” which costs as little as $1,500 a year. Among them: “Invitation to attend events with Republican Chiefs of Staff, Leadership Staff, and Committee Staff.”
It’s not the first time a major Capitol Hill funding outfit has raised campaign cash using congressional employees. In 2013, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee advertised a “Women on the Hill Dinner” with chiefs of staff to Democratic senators. The event was asked for a suggested donation of $1,000.
But the new Republican effort is more structured, making the exchange of money for meetings with a variety of congressional staffers an official element of the party’s fundraising apparatus, with regular events and tiered levels of access.
20 April 2017
I am once more horrified in the latest Republican adventure in blatant corruption: