Characterizing GOP House Minorty Leader (and wannabe House Speaker), John Boehner, as "one of the especially sleazy figures in a capital seething with sleaze," New York Times columnist, Bob Herbert paints a pretty picture of Boehner's largesse towards fellow Republicans, a largesse that undoubtedly gained Boehner his current influence and position.
"I remember writing about that day back in the mid-’90s," Herbert recalls, "when this slick, chain-smoking, quintessential influence-peddler decided to play Santa Claus by handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Congressional sleazes right on the floor of the House."
Is it just me, or does anyone else see the resemblance? Shifty eyes, weird complexion, cat-that-ate-the-canary grin?
"It was incredible," Herbert recalls, "even to some Republicans. The House was in session, and here was a congressman actually distributing money on the floor."
Checking with Boehner's office, his then-staffers unabashedly confirmed to Herbert that the checks the jolly Boehner was so merrily spreading around were, in fact, contributions "from tobacco P.A.C.’s.”
When Herbert asked the staffer why Boehner was so blatantly handing out checks from the tobacco lobbyists on the House floor (a practice that is now, belatedly, illegal), the staffer reportedly replied, "The floor is where the members meet with each other.”
I can only shake my head. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if it were mandatory that all lobbyist checks be handed out live on C-Span, if Boehner's then practice would not go along way towards the ephemeral goal of "transparency" so blithely touted by Republicans and Democrats alike.