wwwHIGHTOWER: After The Party Is Over

Twenty-six million dollars.That's how much major corporations spent last month to sponsor, host and otherwise BUY the political conventions of the two big parties. While the TV cameras kept panning from one state delegation to another on the convention floor, the only delegations that really mattered were ones you never saw on TV-- the ones from Big Oil, Tobacco, Insurance, Banks and all the rest ensconced way-up in the sky boxes, wining and dining the political bigshots of both parties.This year's conventions were a political grabfest where corporate executives and lobbyists could gain access to -- and favors from -- Washington's top officials.How plugged-in was big business? Direct to the presidential nominees themselves. A lobbyist whose firm represents such companies as Budweiser, ABC/Disney and Chrysler was Bob Dole's senior convention advisor in San Diego. The co-chair of Bill Clinton's Chicago convention is a partner in a corporate firm that handles Sears-Roebuck, Quaker Oats and Sara Lee. Indeed, Clinton's campaign manager comes straight out of a lobbying firm that represents Bell-Atlantic, Lockheed and Sony. Every one of these special interests have recently received tax loopholes, subsidies and regulatory advantages from Washington, and they want more, which is why they are partying so gaily with the parties.AT&T, for example, was a $100, 000 -- sponsor of both the Republican and Democratic bashes. Is the phone giant merely being patriotic? Hardly. It's working both sides of the political coin because, next year, the fat, juicy contract to provide phone service to the entire federal government is up for grabs, and AT&T wants to be on the good side of whichever party is in charge of awarding that baby.You see, after the party is over, all the fat-cat sponsors cash-in.

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