Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"The Standard Washington Way of Doing Business"

The NYT reports today about contributions to Senate Intellegence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) from the executives at the two biggest telephone companies, AT&T and Verizon. Rockefeller's Intellegence Committee is supporting legislation to grant legal immunity to the companies regarding the company's participation in the NSA wire-tapping, eavesdropping program, which it turns out, was illegal under the nation's FISA law. AT&T and Verizon, unsurprisingly, strongly support the legislation. In the eyes of some observers, the contributions, a sudden increase from past contributions from the company's executives to the Senator, are indicative of some kind of pay-for-play.

But no, we're assured, this isn't really the case at all.

“The idea that John Rockefeller could be bought is kind of ridiculous,” said Matt Bennett, vice president for Third Way, a moderate Democratic policy group that has supported immunity for the phone carriers.

“That these companies are going to focus their lobbying efforts where their business interests are is no revelation,” Mr. Bennett said. “That’s the standard Washington way of doing business. But you’re not going to buy a Rockefeller.”

Somebody smarter than me is going to have explain to me how this statement is consistent and logical.

On the one hand we're told that it's quite natural for companies to "focus their lobbying efforts where their business interests are"---and by "lobbying" I assume this would include making cash payments to the politicos connected to the company's "business interests". But on the other hand we're told that in now way is such lobbying or such payments in any way indicative of a politician's being bought. Then what are the companies giving money for?

I guess it's just all too difficult for me to understand, this "standard Washington way of doing business."

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