More tales of legalized corruption from Washington, DC
A few days back, Newsweek carried a report about U.S. senators Chuck Schumer, Mike Rounds, and Kirsten Gillibrand spending most of the $1 million that lawmakers set aside for charter flights for themselves during the period of October 2021 through September 2022.
New York Democrat Sen. Gillibrand spent $235,915, while Schumer spent $153,979 flying across the state to hold press conferences, meet with constituents, and make other public appearances. They often traveled via private plane to places within driving distance. The senators didn't seem too concerned about their carbon footprint, despite claiming to be advocates of climate change.
GOP senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota spent over $384,029 in airfare, commuting multiple times a month to Washington, D.C., from his home state. Despite these luxuries, Rounds was absent for 20 Senate roll call votes this year as of early November, a record much worse than that of his colleagues.
Schumer, Rounds, and Gillibrand outspent their colleagues in each of the past three fiscal years by wide margins.
Other big spenders of taxpayers' money include GOP leaders such as Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who spent $47,011 on more than a dozen trips during the fiscal year 2022; Sen. John Thune of South Dakota; who spent $59,991; and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, who spent $84,000 of taxpayers' money on private flights.
Now-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona spent more than $55,439 for just five flights.
The remaining senators spent a total of $42,484 on private flights.
When the Senate Rules Committee in 2020 relaxed restrictions on chartering private aircraft to keep operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, senators took hundreds of private flights that together cost the taxpayers more than $3 million.
House members spent less than $50,000, booking only about a dozen trips during the same period.
All of these expenses are part of the annual allowances given to lawmakers via taxpayer funds, to pay for transportation, staff salaries, and office equipment.
Individual senators received between $3.7 million and $5.9 million for the past fiscal year, from October 2021 through September 2022.
The rules for each chamber of Congress are different.
Members of Congress can't avail themselves of private flights to or from D.C. without prior written permission from the House Administration Committee. These restrictions also apply for trips priced above $7,500. The House reveals its expenditure data in a spreadsheet every three months.
U.S. senators don't require such pre-approval, but they must show they're traveling to or from an area not served by commercial airlines, or that their schedules demand a private flight. That may be the case for Wyoming and South Dakota, but New York State and Arizona are well served by commercial flights. The Senate Rules Committee staff decide what qualifies for reimbursement. The Senate reveals spending information twice a year.
In other corruption news, Fox Business revealed that the re-election campaign of Rep. Maxine Waters from California paid $8,000 to her daughter Karen in September, adding to over $1 million the congresswoman paid her daughter over the past two decades.
Karen Waters and her company, Progressive Connections, have received over $1 million in payments from Waters's campaign since 2003 for organizing slate-mailing operations to bolster her mother's re-election.
A Federal Election Commission filing by Citizens for Waters revealed that Karen received two payments totaling $8,000 from the committee in June for "slate mailer management fees," totaling nearly $50,000 for the year.
Ironically, Rep. Waters is the chairwoman of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, whose function is to oversee the propriety of the financial services industry, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and other financial service regulators.
All of the examples provide an insight into the functioning of the D.C. Establishment.
The establishment is like the host that enables parasites to feed in exchange for their loyalty and quid pro quo agreements.
When there are restrictions placed on using taxpayers' funds, the campaign coffers are opened.
Most modern campaigns, especially those of politicians of experience such as Maxine Waters, are multimillion-dollar organizations. There is not much requirement for transparency here.
They hire their family members, relatives, and cronies for their campaigns and give them important-sounding designations to justify their handsome salaries and fees. At times, contracts are awarded to firms run by cronies or family members. Personal expenses are billed to the campaign.
Even retired politicians thrive under this system.
Celebrity Net Worth reported that Michelle and Barack Obama have a combined net worth of $70 million.
The Obamas earned $1.65 million in 2005 due to Barack's book royalties. In 2017, the Obamas signed a $60-million book deal for their autobiographies. Barack and Michelle earned $85 million between 2000 and 2017. Michelle Obama signed lucrative Netflix and Spotify deals. Obama is paid $400,000 for public speaking events.
The investors of firms inking multimillion deals with the Obamas could have benefited due to Obama policies or Democrat policies pushed by Obama. Hence, these deals could be a form of payback.
Had Obama not been president, neither could have even dreamed of such astronomical amounts.
Obama never earned more than $30,000 per year between 1991 and 2004. Michelle was the breadwinner, earning $274,000 per year as a lawyer.
There are other means of easy money.
The offspring, cronies, or relatives can choose a career in art.
Hunter Biden's "works of art" sold for $500,000, a price that resembles those received by well known artists. The buyers of these "masterpieces" are obviously anonymous. The public will never know what compromises were made in exchange for these generous payments.
Will any of these politicians or their relatives and cronies face the consequences of their actions?
This is because all of these instances of extravagant spending of taxpayers' funds, paying relatives from campaign funds, and being handsomely paid post-retirement are within the limits of legality.
Legality and morality are not always connected.
This is the way of the system we conceived and implemented.
D.C. passed laws and make rules that enable politicians to legally live like royalty while their voters struggle due to high inflation because of Biden's catastrophic misgovernance
The contrast is stark.
Regular people could also be rendered unemployed due to the faltering economy or COVID lockdowns, or poor performance at work. But politicians, their family members, and their cronies have no such concerns. They always have taxpayers' or campaign funds, which enable them a life of luxury, irrespective of effort.
This two-tier system causes people to be cynical and suspicious of politicians.
What is worse is that the likes of Michelle Obama have the audacity to turn around and brand the same taxpayers as bigots.
This explains the bipartisan animosity toward President Trump. He had talked about draining the swamp during his 2016 campaign. The swamp-dwellers from McConnell to Waters weren't going to allow an outsider to destroy the system that enriched them.
The myriad government investigations and vile media attacks that Trump receives are not only punishment for Trump's audacity, but also a warning to others intending to reform this self-serving, self-promoting, self-preserving, corrupt, and nepotistic system.
Politics enables absolute power and enrichment with absolutely no accountability.
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