Fair Elections: Ending the Earmark Game

Piece argues what is needed is a game changer, something to cut through the knot of influence-peddling once and for all.

May 7, 2009

Published by Roll Call.

In these belt-tightening times, CEOs could be forgiven for salivating over the details of the unfolding PMA scandal: Roll Call recently reported that $542,350 in campaign contributions from PMA clients to three lawmakers on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense yielded more than $100 million in defense earmarks.

Taken together, that would be an 18,400 percent return. What other corporate investment could post similar returns? What's more, the exchange of favors detailed in the media coverage of the PMA story is, for the most part, perfectly legal. The FBI's reported investigation of PMA focuses only on whether a small fraction of the millions of dollars in contributions it channeled were "straw men" contributions (those in which a proxy donor acted as a pass-through for the actual contributor).

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