April 21, 2011
AN EERILY FAMILIAR POWER STRUCTURE.... For the better part of two years, the Republican base made it clear it prefers a certain kind of far-right candidate. These activists demanded "insurgents" and "outsiders," who have no use for the entrenched Washington establishment and its corrupt power structure.
And six months after the midterms that swept many of the activists' favorite right-wing candidates into the halls of Congress, this new breed of Republicans looks an awful lot like the old breed.
Many of the Republican freshmen in the House won election vowing to shake up Washington, so it's a little surprising that many of them seem to be playing an old Washington game: raising much of their campaign money from corporate political action committees.
More than 50 members of the class of 87 GOP freshmen took in more than $50,000 from PACs during the first quarter of 2011, according to new campaign disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Eighteen of the lawmakers took in more than $100,000.
Rep. Steve Stivers (Ohio) accepted the most PAC dollars of any of the new Republican lawmakers, $241,000 in the first quarter, or about 60 percent of the money he raised.
This comes the same day as a Politico report that notes many of the far-right freshman Republicans are already using their offices to do things "the Washington way." That means "using a legislative process they once railed against as a way to assist donors, protect favored industries or settle scores with their political enemies." These efforts include steps that look an awful lot like "payback for benefactors," with nine GOP freshmen offering "targeted proposals that would assist major donors or supportive industries or bills that would hurt labor adversaries."
Remember, this Congress has only been in session for three months. Usually, it takes a while for a new Republican majority to settle in and start making ethically-sketchy moves -- but these guys are already pushing the envelope.
What's more, we're also seeing several Tea Party Republicans hiring corporate lobbyists to help oversee their congressional offices, and are going back to letting lobbyists write legislation.
I'm curious, is this what the anti-establishment Tea Party crowd had in mind?