Friday, July 17, 2009

What Can You Do For Brown?

Mike Allen of Politico drops a nuke on the Village conservatives, and ships it via FedEx.
The American Conservative Union asked FedEx for a check for $2 million to $3 million in return for the group’s support in a bitter legislative dispute, then the group’s chairman flipped and sided with UPS after FedEx refused to pay.

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx , which was provided to POLITICO.

The letter exposes the practice by some political interest groups of taking stands not for reasons of pure principle, as their members and supporters might assume, but also in part because a sponsor is paying big money.

In the three-page letter asking for money on June 30, the conservative group backed FedEx. After FedEx says it rejected the offer, Keene signed onto a two-page July 15 letter backing UPS. Keene did not return a message left on his cell phone.

Maury Lane, FedEx’s director of corporate communications, said: “Clearly, the ACU shopped their beliefs and UPS bought.”

Are you kidding me? The Village is built on think tanks charging "consulting fees" and media outlet influence peddling and pay for play deals like this. It has been for decades. Mike Allen just caught a cockroach under a glass when he turned on the lights. It's the other couple thousand roaches that are still hiding in the walls we should worry about.

Still, my opinion of Politico has gone up a couple notches from "Village's Internet outpost for Obama hit pieces" to "The conservative version of HuffPo" which isn't all that bad. Double kudos to FedEx for telling the ACU to go to hell. Still, the real question is how many other think tank groups out there are playing this game, liberal, conservative, glibertarian, or what have you. The Village is the Village, and despite the groups like ACU being the ones selling the influence, they then turn to the Villagers to get out their message, and the Villagers are the ones who comply. One has to wonder how deep this rabbit hole goes. Ask yourself that next time when that op-ed from the think tank fellow pops up in your news feed.

In the meantime, what can I do for brown? Not use them, apparently. I'll be delivering my own message...with my wallet.

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