We have only just concluded the First 100 Hours, and Washington is back to its old ways. With much fanfare, the new Congress changed the rules to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."
In just the last two months, lawmakers invited lobbyists to help pay for a catalog of outings: lavish birthday parties in a lawmaker’s honor ($1,000 a lobbyist), martinis and margaritas at Washington restaurants (at least $1,000), a California wine-tasting tour (all donors welcome), hunting and fishing trips (typically $5,000), weekend golf tournaments ($2,500 and up), a Presidents’ Day weekend at Disney World ($5,000), parties in South Beach in Miami ($5,000), concerts by the Who or Bob Seger ($2,500 for two seats), and even Broadway shows like “Mary Poppins” and “The Drowsy Chaperone” (also $2,500 for two).
The lobbyists and their employers typically end up paying for the events, but within the new rules.
Instead of picking up the lawmaker’s tab, lobbyists pay a political fund-raising committee set up by the lawmaker. In turn, the committee pays the legislator’s way.
Few things are as certain as corruption in the Halls of Congress, except possibly the existence (and subsequent exploitation) of loopholes.