Lobbyists invited to the Republican retreat?
Oh yes, of course they are! From ABC:
The day after President Barack Obama urged members of Congress to be more transparent about their interactions with lobbyists, the House Republican Caucus headed up Interstate 95 for a retreat where they will be able to mingle privately with… lobbyists.
The annual retreat, sponsored by a non-profit group called the Congressional Institute, is meant to be a chance for members to escape the Beltway to talk about big ideas, hear from rising stars in the party, media pundits, and even visit with President Obama, who will address the caucus Friday.
In between these work sessions, though, there will be less formal gatherings involving several of the Institute’s 14-member board of directors. The vast majority of the Institute’s board is made up by top Capitol Hill lobbyists whose clients include leading drug manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and such major corporations as American Express and Verizon.
Institute Executive Director Mark Strand said the entire event has been scrubbed for potential ethics problems, and everything will be done above board. He explained it this way:
“The institute’s supporters, who include lobbyists, do not plan, attend or participate in any session of the annual conference. They are invited to a reception and dinner and depart the next morning,” he said.(emphasis mine)
“Such a courtesy for a tax-exempt organization’s supporters is commonplace and within ethical rules,” Strand added. “All members of Congress who participate in the conference pay their own expenses. The Institute does not employ a lobbyist nor does it engage in lobbying.”
Oh…and there will be no “transparency” during the reception and dinner, meaning the press will not be allowed to attend. Chew on these facts regarding lobbying Congress:
Last year Washington lobbyists netted $3.2 billion, a 13.7 percent increase from 2007, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, aka OpenSecrets.org.
And it’s the industries most affected by the economic downturn that seem to be doing much of the spending: finance, insurance and real estate, the group found.
Fucking carpetbaggers. Nothing turns my stomach more than lobbyists. Nothing. They are the hyena pack, ready to surround and consume whatever they see as a threat to their bottom line, regardless of the consequences to Main Street and the average Joe and Jill American. Below is a list from OpenSecrets of the top 20 corporations and what they spent to lobby Congress in 2009:
US Chamber of Commerce $73,899,200
Exxon Mobil $27,430,000
Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $26,150,520
General Electric $21,470,000
American Medical Assn $20,830,000
Chevron Corp $20,815,000
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $20,067,939
Pfizer Inc $19,669,268
National Assn of Realtors $19,477,000
Verizon Communications $17,820,000
FedEx Corp $17,000,000
Boeing Co $16,850,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn $15,980,000
Northrop Grumman $15,180,000
Lockheed Martin $13,533,782
Business Roundtable $13,410,000
American Hospital Assn $13,230,696
Altria Group $12,770,000
Ain’t that some shit? Makes me wanna beat someone about the head and shoulders with a Louisville Slugger.