One of the refreshing aspects of NASCAR is its open honesty about its corporate sponsorships. Without corporate money the sport wouldn’t exist, a point the drivers, crews, and cars unabashedly acknowledge by being emblazoned with the corporate logos that make their jobs possible.
It’s high time Congress showed the honesty and integrity of NASCAR. Congressmen should be required to wear jackets at all public appearances with corporate logos on them proportionate in size to the donations they have made.
Presumptive Speaker John Boehner is hardly the only Congressman sponsored by industry, but he is among the worst offenders. He was most famously caught in 1996 handing out checks for tobacco companies on the floor of the House, but his ties to industry lobbyists are much broader and deeper than that.
In addition to cigarette companies like Altria and RJ Reynolds, Boehner is supported by Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Google, MillerCoors and UPS, just to name the large donors. Together they have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign. Lobbyists for those companies also are known to have provided him with rides on corporate jets, and to have socialized with him at luxury golf and waterfront resorts.
Boehner’s close circle of corporately connected friends and staff have ready access to to the man who is likely to be the the most powerful Republican on the Hill and third in line to the Presidency. One lobbyist listed recent issues for which he had sought the lawmaker’s backing: combating fee increases for the oil industry, fighting a proposed cap on debit card fees, protecting tax breaks for hedge fund executives, and opposing a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Boehner says these were issues he agreed with anyway, but given that he has known for years where his bread is buttered, that hardly means more than he already knows what his sponsors want.
Granted, politicians on both sides of the aisle are complicit in this corporate buy-out of legislators, and efforts at true campaign finance reform have repeatedly failed. Still, if there’s no way to get corporate money out of the process, minimally those sponsorships should be out in the open, displayed as proudly on the politician’s jacket as the requisite flag pin.