HIGHTOWER: The GOP's New "Bribery Blind"

While Washington fiddles and twiddles with the explosive issue of big-money corruption in politics, hoping to pose as "reformers" without actually having to stop the corruption, a few lawmakers and political operatives are actually doing something about the corruption: They're expanding it.

These clever boys have gouged out a brand new campaign finance loophole big enough to drive an armored truck through, and millions of dollars are being trucked-in by corporations eager to curry favor with key political and congressional leaders. One operative already has used this scam to buy $1 million-worth of TV ads for George W. Bush. Also Rep. Tom DeLay, the third ranking Republican lawmaker in the House and a guy who considers "ethics" a four letter word, is leaning on corporate lobbyists to put $25 million into a fund operated by one of his former political aides. The money will be spent to elect Republicans in key House races this fall. "It's the rage," a gleeful GOP consultant exulted to the Wall Street Journal, "It' the future. It's the way things are going."

How true. And how sad. This latest loophole is especially ugly because it abuses article 527 of the tax code, which is meant to benefit non-profit, tax-free organizations. But Republican leaders are cynically manipulating it to give for-profit corporations a secret way to funnel unlimited sums of money to the very lawmakers from whom they need legislative favors. It's a secret funnel because, under article 527, groups are not required to disclose the names of their contributors or the amounts contributed. It amounts to a Bribery Blind, allowing the buying and selling of legislation without the awkwardness of public scrutiny.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Don't listen to the Washington "talk" about reform, watch what these frauds are doing behind the scenes. To learn more, contact the watchdog group, Democracy 21, 202-362-5151.

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