HIGHTOWER: Lobbyists And Lawmakers Rendezvous

Maybe you had a few friends over to watch the Super Bowl last month, serving up a fridge full of brewskis and a bucket of onion dip.But did you think of charging them $6,000 each to watch the game with you? John Linder and Bill Paxon did. Linder is from Georgia and Paxon from New York -- two top-ranking Republicans in congress who whored-out on Super Bowl Sunday for any corporate lobbyist who would pay $6,000-a-pop to sit with them at the game and whisper sweet nothings in their ears.If lobbyists wanted a cheaper date, they could have had Democrat David Bonior and the whole Louisiana congressional delegation at the Super Bowl for only $2,500.Maybe football isn't your cup of tea. How about skiing? Rep. Michael Oxley of Ohio and other Republican lawmakers who oversee legislation affecting utilities played hosts to more than 40 industry lobbyists for several days of skiing and hobnobbing in Vail, Colorado. The lobbyists paid $3,000 each to be part of this exclusive rendezvous, plus paying for their air fares and for rooms costing up to $1,785 a night. Wow, you want to make sure you get kissed for that kind of moolah.In addition to quality-time with the lawmakers on the ski lifts and intimate dinners with them at night, the lobbyists got a closed-door policy briefing from these key committee members each morning. One lobbyist explained to The New York Times why it is worth the big bucks to spend a lost weekend like this," You become more of a known quantity to a lot of congressmen. You become really familiar when you go out with them on these trips. You're not just a name on a tag."Representative Oxley himself snapped, "This is all perfectly legal."Yeah, Mike, but only because whores like you write the rules on what's legal. To help chase the whores out of the Capitol, contact the Center for Responsive Politics at 202-857-0044. For More Information: Center for Responsive Politics at (202) 857-0044Source: "A special deal for Lobbyists: A Getaway with Lawmakers" by Leslie Wayne. New York Times: January 26, 1997.

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