Tuesday, September 09, 2008

McCain ethics reform: Dept. of Lobbyists

John McCain gives a "thumbs up" to his proposed Department of Lobbyists

Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain introduced a sweeping ethics reform proposal today that included the creation of a new Department of Lobbyists in a speech before the Chamber of Commerce in Velva, North Dakota.

The text of his speech follows:
My friends, I have said many times that I am a maverick who is not afraid to take my colleagues in the Senate to task for their lack of ethics, whichever party they belong to. The problem of how those in Congress relate to big business and corporations is shameful.

Everyday, corporations or wealthy individuals will make contributions to our campaigns and our shell foundations and PACs , or even give high paying jobs to our wives or children, fully expecting tax or regulatory relief, government contracts, or even subsidies in return.

Too often though, elected officials fail to keep their end of the bargain. They make half-hearted attempts to service their donors, then abandon even that effort if some newspaper or website starts to ask questions. Worse, some don't even make the effort in the first place, pretending that the donation was given out of some idealistic agreement with a candidates ideology, not a fee for service.

My friends, there is a word for not doing what you are paid to do, and that word is FRAUD.

Those in Congress must be held accountable and must be forced to do their patriotic duty for those who supported them financially.

Therefore, I will create a new Department of Lobbyists that will exist solely to expedite service to political donors. They will keep a central database of donations and inform donors of the level of service their donation entitles them to, from a letter to a regulator telling them to back off, to five senators showing up at the regulators office to give him an attitude adjustment.

This will also make life easier for lobbyists. Currently, to seek favors, they have to visit each and every politician they will need on their side, wine and dine them, or provide escorts of their preferred gender. With the new Department of Lobbyists, they will only have to make ONE stop. The DOL will then give the marching orders to the relevant congressmen and senators.

The Department will also serve a valuable function for retiring legislators. We all look forward to working as consultants, lobbyists, CEO's, and board members for our past donors when we leave office, but actually negotiating for the job can be awkward and time consuming. There is nothing more embarassing than asking for a CEO job when a defense contractor thinks you only rate a couple of paychecks as a consultant. Just as there will be a set schedule of expected favors for past donations, there will be a set schedule of after-office jobs for favors done in office. If an elected official has his heart set on a certain position but hasn't done enough favors to qualify for it, the Department could tell him how to make up for his shortcomings.

The best person to run this new department would of course be a lobbyist. Any number of the members of my campaign staff would be qualified to be Secretary of Lobbyists, but for his outstanding service in inciting the Georgia-Russia conflict, Randy Scheunemann, a lobbyist for Georgia, has shown himself to be head and shoulders above his peers.

My own story with the Keating Five should be a tragic reminder of why this new department is needed. Savings & Loan owner Charles Keating made good faith donations to myself and four other senators, fully expecting that we could end a regulatory fishing expedition into his business practices. Because there was no streamlined process, we failed to intervene soon enough or thoroughly enough to protect Mr. Keating from eventual criminal charges.

If we had the Department of Lobbyists to help us help Mr. Keating, he might have retired to Bermuda to live off of kickbacks from loans he gave his friends, who had no intention of repaying, which left depositors holding the bag. Instead, he ended up in prison.

My friends, if I am elected, the Department of Lobbyists will be just the beginning of my ethics reform. If I have to, I will go to the gates of Hell to serve my donors, whether they are trying to outsource jobs, loot their employees pensions, pollute the air and water with coal or nuclear plants, or secure oil reserves in some God-forsaken Middle Eastern backwater.

That is the way America is supposed to work, and under a McCain presidency, that is how it WILL work, so help me God.

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