HIGHTOWER: "How to Play the "Washington Game"
Who says you can't play "The Washington Game"? Samuel Heyman is playing to the tune of billions of dollars ... and he's winning!Heyman owns the GAF Corporation, which used to make asbestos, a substance that has poisoned hundreds of thousands of Americans and led to many painful deaths. Mr. Heyman, however, doesn't want to shoulder financial responsibility for these poisonings, so he's trying to limit the ability of ill families to pursue their legal rights. As other firms have learned the best way to avoid responsibility for corporate abuse is to play "The Washington Game." Here's how to play:First, grease the skids with campaign contributions to key lawmakers. The New York Times reports that Heyman has funneled nearly $300,000 into both Democrats and Republicans in the past couple of years. This money has helped open the eyes of senators like Charles Schumer, who had been opposed to Heyman's bill, but now he's coming around, having received $77,000 from him.Second, push the lobbying button, hard. GAF Corporation has spent more than $4 million to hire not one, but five lobbying firms. One of these is especially well-connected to Senator Orrin Hatch who chairs the committee that oversees Heyman's bill. The firm includes Hatch's former chief of staff Tom Perry, former Senator Dennis DeConcini, who served on Hatch's committee, and even Hatch's son, Scott!Third, hire some academic experts. Heyman got a Harvard Law professor to write his bill, paying him through the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution -- a front group largely financed by GAF. He also got the dean of the Cordoza Law School to testify for his bill -- a favor that might have been influenced by Heyman's donation of $1 million to the school.This is Jim Hightower saying...As a result, Heyman's special bill is rocketing through congress -- proof that you can win in Washington...if you know how to play the game.