Leaked Audio Shows Levels of Corruption in DC

If you have any doubts that US politics is run by a pay-to-play system, listen to the featured commentary given by US Congressman Alabama Mo Brooks in the video above. . The leaked audio is from an event held in March 2022first and explained that, under no certain conditions, seats on the most powerful committees in Congress must be purchased, for a price of $1 million or more.

The money for these chairs doesn’t come from the average American, who usually can’t afford to donate that much. It comes from lobbyists who offer to bid for the chair in exchange for political favors. “Special interest groups run Washington, and I don’t mean metaphor,” Brooks said. “I mean literally.”2

The Truth about Corruption in DC

Brooks, who is running for the Senate, told event attendees, “I’m sure you’re very concerned about why our Congress isn’t responding to the regular needs of American citizens. , why are some of the policies put in place so weird. , it’s unfair, so skewed against the usual Jane and Joe Citizen.”3 The reason is simple, he continued – it is because of entrenched corruption. He continued:4

“Now this is how it happens. In the House – I take that as an example because that’s where I work – if you want to be the chairman of a big committee, you have to buy it. And the purchase price for a large commission, such as Ways and Means, the minimum bid is one million dollars. And I am speaking literally here. I’m not talking metaphorically, okay? ”

He then goes on to explain that commissions are actually divided into categories depending on their different rates:5

“We have committees broken down into group A, group B and group C. C is the cheapest, B is… average, A is the most expensive. It is the most expensive because those are the committees that special interest groups are most interested in.”

In the United States House of Representatives, committees play an important role. They review bills and matters and oversee the agencies, programs and activities within their jurisdiction.6 However, the only MPs who can afford seats on the most expensive committees are often the ones who take money from lobbyists to do so:7

“So where does $1 million come from to chair one of these eight committees? You can’t get it from Joe and Jane Citizen because Joe and Jane Citizen are back home, they won’t contribute that currency. They don’t have it. They need that money for their own families… And so you have to get that money from special interest groups.”

Politicians Dependent on Money from Lobbyists in Quid Pro Quo

Money from special interest groups comes with strings attached, and these groups offer a strategic way to gain leverage over politicians who will further their own agendas. surname.8 According to Brooks:9

“With special interest groups, there is a clear backing. If you don’t do what they ask you to do, they won’t give you the funding for your presidency. I have a person who ran for NRCC chair, this is where Republicans pay their fees for the duties and chairmanship of this committee, just as Democrats pay their bills to the DCCC.

And this guy who wanted to be president of the NRCC actually had a brochure and that brochure had a price list on it. And his argument for getting elected was, ‘Vote for me. I will charge you less. ‘”

However, this arrangement derails the public policy debate. “We need to be in a position of power,” says Brooks. “You have to do what special interest groups ask, which undermines the public policy debate.

Money is now winning. ”ten He then gave the example of Representative Thomas Massie, who was approached by a lobbyist from the medical devices sector who offered to pay $500,000 so Massie could join the Committee. Ways and Means, the body that oversees tax policy – but only if he will finance the patent bill.

By the way, the Ways and Means Committee is one of the most powerful and sought after. To give you an idea of ​​how coveted a seat on this committee is, Open Secrets explains:11

“When Congress was drafting tax legislation, no committee was busier and more popular than the Ways and Means of the State. Lobbyists often pay people to stand in the corridors of Congress to watch every move of committee members. Because when it comes to this kind of complex legislation, every detail counts.

Special interests often use these hefty bills as vehicles for their legislative wish lists, hoping the sheer size of the proposals will divert attention away from their desired terms. surname. Since tax bills affect the bottom line of many industries, it is not surprising that members should solicit generous donations from a variety of sources, including medical professionals and private individuals. insurance company. ”

“Thomas was brilliant. He had a patent, he was an MIT graduate,” Brooks said, so Massie agreed to look at the patent, which turned out to be harmful to small inventors. “People with power and money will use that power and money to steal patent rights from the person who actually has the idea, who will reap the benefits of that idea,” says Brooks.twelfth

Massie told the lobbyist he would not be sponsoring the patent, so the lobbyist withdrew his offer to pay $500,000. This story was published by USA Today in 2016, which means it’s no secret when such exchanges happen. At the time, Massie told USA Today:13

“It was one of the worst meetings I’ve ever been in. I’m just reeling, thinking about the implications for the way this place is run, when you realize that the lobbyists choose to do. Who will be on which committee?”

There’s just one thing Massie wishes he’d said differently from the press, Brooks said. He’s talked about lobbyists buying committee mandates, but really, he told Brooks, “It’s a lease. You have to pay it every two years”.14

Most politicians are working for their personal gain

What is clear is that systemic corruption is present, with most politicians not fighting for the public but instead seeking self-interest and amassing their own fortunes. Many political campaigns run on platforms that make them look like ordinary Americans, but personal financial disclosures show that more than half of members of Congress are millionaires, with an average net worth of just over half. more than 1 million dollars.15

Furthermore, the top 10% of legislators in terms of wealth are three times as rich as the bottom 90%.16 Many of them became millionaires by trading stocks and options. Are their successful deals just luck or do they benefit from inside knowledge of the corporations they do business with – and their power to manipulate the law affecting the futures of their businesses. the company?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, earns $223,500 a year, making her the third highest-paid elected official in America.17 Since 2004, however, her fortune has grown from $41 million to nearly $115 million, according to OpenSecrets, which began tracking lawmakers’ personal finances that year.18

Over the past two years, nearly 75% of Pelosi’s stock trades have involved Big Tech stock, with a combined value of over $33 million. “It so happened that major legislation pending before the House, controlled by committees that Pelosi oversees, could completely reshape the industry and the laws governing the very companies that she oversees. She and her husband traded most actively,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald.19

Greenwald also revealed that Pelosi’s five most-traded stocks over the past two years — Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google — are the ones most affected by the pending legislation. And, not just any law, but the law she’s working to negotiate and get through Congress.

Another example is Senator Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., whose fortune is estimated at over $500 million.20 She and her husband, New York Stock Exchange chief executive officer Jeff Sprecher, have been criticized for a suspicious stock trade worth between $1.2 million and $3.1 million that occurred shortly after. a “closed-door coronavirus meeting in late January” 2020.21 Among them:22

  • Bought the stock on an online travel booking site in February 2020, then sold it four days later, just before the ban on flights from Europe was publicly announced
  • Buy shares in Citrix, which sells remote work software GoToMeeting

Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who regularly receives briefings on potential US threats, also dumped stocks, including in hotel companies. , worth up to $1.7 million by the end of January 2020.23 Sen. Dianne Feinstein from California and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma also sold shares after meetings of the Intelligence Committee.24

The revolving door: Politicians often become lobbyists

Another problem is the revolving door between politicians, who are said to be performing public service, and the private sector. After their political careers are over, many continue to serve as lobbyists or work in the corporate world, meaning that during their tenure they want to keep their doors open. door can help them when they are no longer involved in politics. As noted by Open Secrets:25

“As American voters get rid of elected officials — and their employees — lobbying firms and interest groups quickly attract the unemployed. Lobbying firms – which often charge high fees from their deep-pocketed clients – can offer salaries to former government employees much higher than Uncle Sam offers, as well. as continued to affect Capitol Hill.

In turn, companies get lobbyists who have established connections in the federal government and whose backgrounds can play a powerful role in attracting potential clients. “

Counting former members of the 115th Congress alone, of the 106 members, 62 have found new jobs – almost half of which are lobbying firms:26

“Lawmakers who left their congressional offices in January 2019 have come in a variety of professions – but as usual, a large portion of them moved through the revolving door to lobbying outlets. lang. While they can’t technically mobilize their former colleagues right away (although this isn’t true of the executive branch), they can keep themselves busy during the cool-down with how to advise clients and carry titles like ‘strategic advisor’.

Corruption runs deep

As for the Brooks and Massie corruption scandal, while the national media is aware of the matter, and both political parties are guilty of participating in it, no one has brought it up. as a major public policy issue.27 However, the corruption runs so deep that, in the “Breaking Points” video above, it is shown that not even Brooks and Massie are immune.

While Brooks receives money from real estate developers and hobbyists as well as the military-industrial complex industry, Massie has personally invited lobbyists to fundraising events. “He’s playing his own game here,” said host Krystal Ball, referring to Brooks. “In this respect, he is playing the game, but there is no reason why his hands are clean… They like the pose, but then they are also guilty of playing the same game with other people. “.28

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