Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Cashing In

Posted by Adam Graham on June 19, 2007

The Washington Examiner has a fascinating article on how politicians get rich on their “public service:”

Bill and Hill’s money machine grabbed headlines last week when congressional financial disclosure reports were filed. But taking a wider view of the congressional disclosures reveals a highly distressing trend. Being president or a member of Congress these days looks more like a ticket to get rich than an opportunity to serve the public. Or, to put it more bluntly, how can people become so wealthy while making relatively modest government salaries?

With the Clintons, worries about paying off a $10 million legal bill at the end of Bill’s two terms as chief executive have become a distant memory thanks to his lucrative speaking fees. Last year alone, Markson Sparks paid him $750,000 for three speeches, The Power Within Inc. paid him $1.22 million for five speeches and ThePublic Inc. spent $525,000 for four speeches. Few Americans have heard of those companies because the first is in Australia and the second two are in Canada, and they paid Clinton for speeches outside the country. Others like General Motors, IBM, Cisco and Citigroup are well-known domestic Fortune 500 corporations.

The 56 speeches listed for him on Hillary’s financial disclosure form paid an average of $175,000 each (highest was $450,000, lowest was $75,000). Bill Clinton is a powerful speaker, but nearly $6,000 a minute for a half-hour speech? Note, too, that Citicorp managed the Clintons’ blind trust even as the financial giant paid him $300,000 for two speeches last year.

Members of Congress get in on the act as well:

Sen. Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican whose total assets are valued at between $1.75 million and $2.77 million, according to his latest disclosure form. Lott’s lot has changed since 2001, when Time magazine said he had not “accumulated any significant wealth” during his career.

Since then, he has become famous for championing earmarks, including the biggest one ever, the $700 million “Railroad to Nowhere” last year. Lott’s son was a lobbyist for a Kentucky firm well-positioned to benefit from the project that, though defeated last year, could reappear in a different guise. Then there is former House Speaker Denny Hastert, whose net worth when he entered Congress in 1987 reportedly was $170,000. After getting earmarks in 2005 worth more than $200 million for a highway project a couple of miles from real estate he bought the year before, Hastert and a partner realized a profit of $1.8 million by selling to a developer. The recent 16-count indictment of Louisiana Democrat Rep. William Jefferson and the continuing probe of the earmark fandangos of Rep. Allan Molohan, D-W.Va., show this is a bipartisan problem.

With more than 32,000 earmark requests pending with the House Appropriations Committee after only five months of the current Congress, it is no surprise that people are putting two and two together and getting four. It seems the ticket is to gain federal office, take advantage of the perks and the deals that can be made because of the position and the opportunities it creates, then watch as the bank account swells.

We have politicians raking it in hand over fist and the cost comes back to us in deficits and debt passed on to future generations. Of course, I shouldn’t say future generations, because it’s going to be my generation that’s stuck cleaning up this mess in the twilight of our working years when we ought to be looking towards retirement.

This is a big part of the reason, I’m working for John Cox for President. He’s not in this to make himself rich, but rather wants to serve the public. Some people think it’s crazy to back a candidate without the strength of support of the political establishment. But, having seen the damage done by the political establishment to this country, the most insane thing I can imagine is standing by the Status Quo.

Hat Tip: Outside the Beltway

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