Cash is now the gift of choice in politics

Bill Miles

Several weeks from another state I received a phone call from an ambitious Millennial whose business associates wanted to pick his brain for potential political influence in regard to complicated government rules in their related business. I know the person well. He was concerned that Congress might change an IRS allowance in regard to investment. I’m not going to try to explain ‘the game’ because I don’t understand it. All I can say is that it takes ‘big’ money players to participate. I noted that in the current atmosphere I doubt any substantial changes to existing rules or law will be enacted. Why? The House is run by Democrats. The Senate is run by Republicans. The White House and a lot more are run by Donald Trump. He’s ‘big money’, too. Anxiety for my young friend was a Senate Committee headed by a Western Republican who was holding hearings. My friend and his associates wanted to keep the status quo. They were neither for nor against pending legislation. They just didn’t want the apple cart turned over. In explaining my reasoning I pointed out that the Senator was perhaps ‘fiddling’ with hearings to create an avenue for campaign contributions. Obviously these folks (all sides) know how to donate to political candidates. In my experience of a dozen years in the Legislature as well as related work I have seen this tactic used by powerful chairmen. In other words it’s a “quid pro quo”. A businessman I had association with several years ago explained ‘the lay of the land’ for me. He said that it was cheaper to gamble on a political figure early on rather than wait for the results of the election. One could gain access for less. He called trying to influence later was ‘joining the church’. My recommendation to my caller was that his associates utilize what I assumed was a relationship with a powerful senator chairman of another senate committee separate from the one considering their interests. At least he’d have staff who could keep my friend’s company abreast of Washington thinking. I even suggested they contact a junior senator on the other side who at least would have access to official recordings. They could actually cast a ballot for these officials. I also pointed out that no Senate action could be expected unless approved by the Majority Leader, Mitch McDonnell. I was amazed at the naivety of my young friend’s associates. It was at this time he revealed how they were approaching the situation. He explained that when the Majority Leader announced he was coming to Atlanta, they notified the event handlers that they (my friend’s company) would like to contribute for the knick knacks, accessories, etc. for the large number expected to attend. He was surprised when word came back not to worry about the knick knacks, Make a substantial five figure contribution to the Majority leader’s Super PAC (political action committee). At my last knowledge of the situation nothing has been done in the Senate Committee, the full body or Congress in general. And it won’t. This is an election year.

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