June 06, 2003
Get yer influence over here

You know, I'm not sure which is more galling for me, the fact that a failing energy company apparently bought influence from some politicians or the fact that I skipped past the headline in today's paper without giving it a second thought because the concept didn't surprise me in the least.

One executive of Westar Energy Inc. told colleagues in an e-mail that "we have a plan for participation to get a seat at the table" of a House-Senate conference committee on the Bush administration's energy plan. The cost, he wrote, would be $56,500 to campaign committees, including some associated with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.), Rep. Joe Barton (Tex.), Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (La.) and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.).

The e-mail said Tauzin and Barton "made this request" for donations, and Shelby "made a substantial request" for another candidate. It not specify a direct request from DeLay.

The pols involved all claim that just because the Westar folks thought they were buying influence doesn't mean they were selling influence. There's a truth-in-advertising law joke in there somewhere, but I don't quite have the intestinal fortitude to make it today.

The least surprising thing about this is the appearance of the name Tom DeLay, who probably wears a button that says "Ask me about our frequent-peddlers program!" I hope it's occurred to every single Democratic candidate's chief strategist that they will need to campaign against Bush and DeLay in the way that Clinton campaigned against Dole and Gingrich in 1996. Anyone who isn't clear on that concept should drop out of the race now.

Let's see if this gets any traction. I've given up predicting what the mainstream press and punditocracy will decide is newsworthy. Thanks to Alfredo Garcia for nudging me on this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 06, 2003 to Scandalized! | TrackBack