Friday, June 4, 2010

The Difference between Bribery and Lobbying; a conundrum

While shades of Jack Abramoff still cover the windows of congress what they fail to illustrate is just how far lobbyists can go. What remain still unaddressed are the ramifications of the money Wall Street pumps into the coffers of our legislators. A congressman or woman can enter Washington Politics with mediocre means and leave a multi millionaire.

But, Power, money, and politics always have the potential to mix into a toxic brew, and for those looking to gain the legislative edge; the rules leave enough loopholes to do so within the bounds of the law, a law designed specifically for that purpose.

Lobbying is a broad based concept, so broad, and ambiguous that lobbyists actually have the edge, including the ability to have their own attorneys draft legislation that becomes law.

And the rewards for our politically privileged are ominous, for example:

The American Bankers Association invested $1.8 million lobbying the federal government in the first quarter to prevent several key issues of sweeping legislation to overhaul financial institutions from being passed by the House and Senate.

The banking industry's biggest trade group lobbied Congress and federal agencies on the financial overhaul legislation as well as accounting rules, new requirements for credit card issuers, small business lending, bankruptcy legislation, insurance, retirement savings and taxes. In addition to the House and Senate, the bankers' group also had lobbying contacts with the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the White House, according to a disclosure form filed April 20 with the Senate's public records office.

Among the group's members are Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and U.S. Bancorp. The association represents major financial institutions as well as regional, community and small banks.

Paying someone for their vote even though it is considered lobbying is just another way to say Bribery even if no money is exchanged at the moment, but only a promise for future support.

Lobbyists are like insects, they multiply and there is no clear method to exterminate them.