Bribery by any other name (Updated)

Suppose you're a billionare Republican and you want to build a museum honoring the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York. Now suppose you don't want to spend your own money building it.

What's a rich guy to do? Why,
bribe his Senators to get the taxpayers to foot the bill - naturally!

Days after a Senate committee approved $1 million for a Woodstock concert museum, the project's Republican billionaire backer and his family contributed $29,200 to help the Democrats who requested the money,

Sens. Hillary It's neither illegal nor unusual for contributors to benefit from congressionally directed spending known as earmarks. But the timing of the June donations is grist for critics who see a link between legislative pet projects and campaign money.

"If you don't help their campaign, they're not going to be as friendly with the earmarks next time," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who will seek to amend a spending bill this week to redirect the Woodstock money to educate homeless children.

The New York senators put their names jointly on all their earmark requests, but Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said that this one came through Schumer's office. Of the donations, he said, "One thing had nothing to do with the other."
Right. And there's a bridge a little to the south in a place called Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

The billionare, Alan Gerry, did contribute $15 million of his own money to the $100 million project. For the rest, he's reached into our pockets by donating hundreds of thousands to lawmakers who earmark federal funds for the project.

On the federal level, Gerry, his wife and three children have given $507,800 since 1998, including $272,050 to Democrats and $212,750 to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gerry's wife, Sandra, is a registered Democrat.

Most of the Democratic recipients helped the Woodstock venture. Since 2005, the Gerrys have donated $150,000 to the Schumer-led Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $18,600 to Clinton.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., who earmarked $200,000 for the project in 2003, has received $19,500 since 1998. Hinchey spokesman Jeff Lieberson said the project would offer a "huge economic boost."
Okay, no one is arguing that it wouldn't attract visitors and "boost" the economy but that still doesn't explain why the taxpayers have to foot so much of the bill.

The fact is, Gerry is getting taxpayers to pay for his project because he knows a little money given to politicians goes a long way toward greasing the wheels of government. This kind of shameless bribery was supposed to be reformed by the Democrats who took great delight in skewering Republicans in the lead up to the 2006 mid terms for exactly this kind of "corruption."

I guess what's good for the goose is good for the billionare - and the politicians who do his bidding in exchange for a little campaign cash.

UPDATE

I was incorrect in the figures regarding Gerry's contribution to the project. The State of New York contributed $15 million while Gerry supplied the bulk of the remaining $85 million.

However, the earmark was for the museum and Gerry did contribute money to both Shumer and Clinton's campaigns. Perhaps some might believe "only" a $1 million payoff for Gerry's contributions don't amount to much. I disagree. And more than that, it shows the Democrats are towering hypocrites when it comes to both their promise to reform the earmarks process and their accusing Republicans of corruption.

 
Suppose you're a billionare Republican and you want to build a museum honoring the 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York. Now suppose you don't want to spend your own money building it.

What's a rich guy to do? Why,
bribe his Senators to get the taxpayers to foot the bill - naturally!

Days after a Senate committee approved $1 million for a Woodstock concert museum, the project's Republican billionaire backer and his family contributed $29,200 to help the Democrats who requested the money,

Sens. Hillary It's neither illegal nor unusual for contributors to benefit from congressionally directed spending known as earmarks. But the timing of the June donations is grist for critics who see a link between legislative pet projects and campaign money.

"If you don't help their campaign, they're not going to be as friendly with the earmarks next time," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who will seek to amend a spending bill this week to redirect the Woodstock money to educate homeless children.

The New York senators put their names jointly on all their earmark requests, but Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said that this one came through Schumer's office. Of the donations, he said, "One thing had nothing to do with the other."
Right. And there's a bridge a little to the south in a place called Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

The billionare, Alan Gerry, did contribute $15 million of his own money to the $100 million project. For the rest, he's reached into our pockets by donating hundreds of thousands to lawmakers who earmark federal funds for the project.

On the federal level, Gerry, his wife and three children have given $507,800 since 1998, including $272,050 to Democrats and $212,750 to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Gerry's wife, Sandra, is a registered Democrat.

Most of the Democratic recipients helped the Woodstock venture. Since 2005, the Gerrys have donated $150,000 to the Schumer-led Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $18,600 to Clinton.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., who earmarked $200,000 for the project in 2003, has received $19,500 since 1998. Hinchey spokesman Jeff Lieberson said the project would offer a "huge economic boost."
Okay, no one is arguing that it wouldn't attract visitors and "boost" the economy but that still doesn't explain why the taxpayers have to foot so much of the bill.

The fact is, Gerry is getting taxpayers to pay for his project because he knows a little money given to politicians goes a long way toward greasing the wheels of government. This kind of shameless bribery was supposed to be reformed by the Democrats who took great delight in skewering Republicans in the lead up to the 2006 mid terms for exactly this kind of "corruption."

I guess what's good for the goose is good for the billionare - and the politicians who do his bidding in exchange for a little campaign cash.

UPDATE

I was incorrect in the figures regarding Gerry's contribution to the project. The State of New York contributed $15 million while Gerry supplied the bulk of the remaining $85 million.

However, the earmark was for the museum and Gerry did contribute money to both Shumer and Clinton's campaigns. Perhaps some might believe "only" a $1 million payoff for Gerry's contributions don't amount to much. I disagree. And more than that, it shows the Democrats are towering hypocrites when it comes to both their promise to reform the earmarks process and their accusing Republicans of corruption.