Pay for play…
As Bush “Pioneers” who had raised at least $100,000 each for the president’s reelection campaign, or “Rangers” who had raised $200,000 each, the men and women who shot skeet with Cheney, played golf with pros Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller and laughed at the jokes of comedian Dennis Miller are the heart of the most successful political money operation in the nation’s history. Since 1998, Bush has raised a record $296.3 million in campaign funds, giving him an overwhelming advantage in running against Vice President Al Gore and now Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). At least a third of the total — many sources believe more than half — was raised by 631 people.
Of the 246 fundraisers identified by The Post as Pioneers in the 2000 campaign, 104 — or slightly more than 40 percent — ended up in a job or an appointment. A study by The Washington Post, partly using information compiled by Texans for Public Justice, which is planning to release a separate study of the Pioneers this week, found that 23 Pioneers were named as ambassadors and three were named to the Cabinet: Donald L. Evans at the Commerce Department, Elaine L. Chao at Labor and Tom Ridge at Homeland Security. At least 37 Pioneers were named to postelection transition teams, which helped place political appointees into key regulatory positions affecting industry.
A more important reward than a job, perhaps, is access. For about one-fifth of the 2000 Pioneers, this is their business — they are lobbyists whose livelihoods depend on the perception that they can get things done in the government. More than half the Pioneers are heads of companies — chief executive officers, company founders or managing partners — whose bottom lines are directly affected by a variety of government regulatory and tax decisions.
When Kenneth L. Lay, for example, a 2000 Pioneer and then-chairman of Enron Corp., was a member of the Energy Department transition team, he sent White House personnel director Clay Johnson III a list of eight persons he recommended for appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Two were named to the five-member commission.
Lay had ties to Bush and his father, former president George H.W. Bush, and was typical of the 2000 Pioneers. Two-thirds of them had some connection to the Bush family or Bush himself — from his days in college and business school, his early oil wildcatting in West Texas, his partial ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team and the political machine he developed as governor.
“It’s clearly the case that these networking operations have been the key driving Bush fundraising,” said Anthony Corrado, a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution and a political scientist at Colby College. “The fact that we have great numbers of these individuals raising larger and larger sums means there are going to be more individuals, postcampaign, making claims for policy preferences and ambassadorial posts.”
Asked whether the president gives any special preference to campaign contributors in making decisions about policy, appointments or other matters, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, “Absolutely not.” The president, Duffy said, “bases his policy decisions on what’s best for the American people.”
A statement that caused polygraphs within a three hundred mile radius to burst into flames, injuring seven.
By the way, I find it extremely offensive that Nancy Brinker who founded the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation is a Pioneer. It must be nice to turn a blind eye towards the Bush administration’s policies towards women, but what the hell, she got to play ambassador in Hungary which proves that most everyone has a price.
Some are just cheaper than others.