Hints of the GOP’s ‘culture of corruption’ already making a comeback

HINTS OF THE GOP’S ‘CULTURE OF CORRUPTION’ ALREADY MAKING A COMEBACK…. Congressional Republicans’ affinity for corporate lobbyists is hardly new. When Congress worked on a jobs bill, the GOP huddled with corporate lobbyists. When work on Wall Street reform got underway, the GOP huddled with industry lobbyists. When Congress worked on health care reform, the GOP huddled with insurance lobbyists. When an energy/climate bill started advancing, Republicans huddled with energy lobbyists.

Care to guess who’ll be writing the laws under a GOP majority on the Hill?

This week, however, the ties looked even more unsavory. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee announced that it would co-host an Election Night reception with one of the top lobbying firms in Washington, and corporate donors willing to write big checks could buy all kinds of nice perks.

GOP officials, meanwhile, are trying to argue this isn’t a fundraiser, and that donors to the Election Night event are merely “underwriters” who will help cover the costs of the shindig.

If this sounds legally sketchy to you, you’re not alone. Ben Smith reported that campaign finance experts believe soliciting corporate contributions to help throw an election night party is “treading close to the legal line.”

Meredith McGehee, the Policy Director at the Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan group that favors finance regulation and is chaired by John McCain’s campaign lawyer, said she’s never seen an invitation to an event that listed both party committees and corporations as hosts.

Parties, she said, typically fall into the “widely attended event” exception to traditional gift rules, and legislators can attend them — unlike, say, gratis concerts — without running afoul of ethics rules.

“Because of the soft money limits and because there are party committees involved, parties should have an abundance of caution in ensuring they comply with the law, and they seem to have found a clever lawyer who figured out this is permissible because it’s not a fundraiser,” said McGehee. “It’s a little too cute by half.”

Another prominent campaign finance lawyer unconnected to the event asked not to be quoted by name, but emailed: “The NRSC and NRCC are raising money to pay for this event. That sounds like contributions to me and soft money is illegal.”

Remember, these are the games the party is playing now. The last time there was a Republican congressional majority, a culture of corruption flourished and several members of Congress wound up in handcuffs.

The GOP hasn’t won anything yet, and they’re already planning a return to the party’s ethically-challenged ways.