A BANNER DAY FOR THE GOP’S CULTURE OF CORRUPTION…. Sen. Richard Shelby (R) of Alabama made a name for himself in February, when he held several national security nominees hostage in the Senate, demanding to be paid off in pork. It was the kind of casual corruption of American politics that’s been all too common.

As it turns out, Shelby may also be caught up with a more pernicious kind of corruption.

Since 2008, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby has steered more than $250 million in earmarks to beneficiaries whose lobbyists used to work in his Senate office — including millions for Alabama universities represented by a former top staffer.

In a mix of revolving-door and campaign finance politics, the same organizations that have enjoyed Shelby’s earmarks have seen their lobbyists and employees contribute nearly $1 million to Shelby’s campaign and political action committee since 1999, according to federal records.

It’s quite a scheme, isn’t it? Shelby’s aides become lobbyists … Shelby directs our money to his former aides’ new employers through earmarks … Shelby then gets campaign contributions from those employers.

This comes, by the way, the same day as a report on House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) new fundraising scheme, which effectively sells access to the man the GOP bills as the next Speaker.

But while the effort plays up Boehner’s modest roots, the going rate to participate is pricey: According to materials distributed by Boehner’s camp and obtained by POLITICO, lobbyists and other major donors across the country who give the maximum or help raise $100,000 will get meetings with Boehner, calls from senior aides with updates on the campaign and “VIP access to all events, including roundtables, briefings, breakout discussions and interactive panel discussions.”

The initiative is being organized with the help of several corporate lobbyists “Boehner is close to.”

And Shelby’s and Boehner’s schemes come to light just as we see House Minority Whip Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) support from Wall Street soar after he helped organize opposition to new financial industry safeguards.

For a cynical observer, [Cantor’s outreach to Wall Street] appeared to be a signal that the GOP was prepared to do the financial services industry’s bidding.

Either way, they appeared to have worked…. Data released on Wednesday morning by the good government group Public Campaign shows that Cantor received more than $460,000 from the financial sector during the second quarter of 2010. That total represents a “32 percent increase from the average of the previous five quarters,” the group found. And the donors included some of the biggest names on the Street as well as those they pay to lobby on their behalf in Washington.

Cantor fights to kill Wall Street accountability, and Wall Street writes a bunch of checks for Cantor.

Care to guess who’ll be writing the legislation if there’s a Republican majority next year?

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.