Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Republican Cronyism Continues

Corruption and cronyism are nothing new but there was a time when it seemed both Democrats and Republicans went to Washington to deal with the problems of the day. I can remember Jimmy Stewart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance promising at one point to give up politics as soon as he got a water bill done. Stewart was a lifelong Republican. Today, more and more politicians, mostly Republicans, think of Washington as a personal gravy train for themselves and their friends and relatives. Ken Silverstein of Harper's has the story:
As I have previously noted here, being a friend or relative of Congressman Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican, appears to be a surer path to gainful employment than a Harvard MBA. To review: one of the congressman's daughters got a job with an Italian arms maker with close ties to her daddy; another daughter started a lucrative lobbying career, exclusively representing clients who had been helped out by Weldon; and Cecelia Grimes, a real estate agent and long-time friend who lives in his district, is now making good money as a (Weldon-connected) defense lobbyist.

Weldon is a powerhouse on the House Armed Services Committee, and defense contractors have traditionally been his biggest campaign donors—so it isn't surprising to learn that his political sponsors are looking out for one of the congressman's sons. The Delco Times, a newspaper in Weldon's district, recently ran a story on Andrew Weldon's exciting career as a racecar driver. Unless you manage to break into the NASCAR circuit, racing cars is a tough way to make a living. But Andrew at least found a sponsor this year—a firm called Schaffer Motorsports.

Schaffer Motorsports, I learned, is owned by Tom Schaffer, a senior employee at Boeing; One of the sponsors of Schaffer Motorsports is Boeing Helicopters Credit Union, whose logo appears on the racecar Andrew Weldon drives. Boeing, in turn, is Weldon's top career patron, to the tune of $62,050 in donations.

It gets cozy, doesn't it?

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