On Sunday, Politico broke the story about how the FBI has been probing a 2011 House Republican trip to Israel that included embarrassing debauchery including drinking while swimming in the Sea of Galilee (Rep. Kevin Yoder [R-KS] apparently went skinny dipping).
Embattled freshman Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) was among these wild Republicans who joined in the revelry (at a price of $10,000 a person that special interests paid for).
While the party in the Galilee is a scandal in and of itself, Reed has been hitting a different party circuit during his short almost-two years in Washington: ritzy fundraisers with K Street lobbyists.
Here are just a few of the lobbyists, consultants, and other special interests he’s been partying with during his time as a freshman congressman:
- The Bellwether Group: This past February, staffers at this “professional fundraising and consulting firm” organized a fundraiser for Reed at Charlie Palmer Steak (did Reed and the attending lobbyists have Seared Hudson Valley Foei Gras or a $45 dollar rib eye “cowboy cut” steak?). The Bellwether Group’s clients include the pro-fracking Interstate Natural Gas Association and the mother of all corporate front groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which served as a conduit for over a hundred million dollars from the health insurance industry used to attack and undermine health reform.
- Corporate lobbyists Mike Zarrelli and Dan Mattoon: Sometimes, powerful lobbyists directly hold fundraisers for Members of Congress. Mattoon — who represents everyone from defense contractor Northrop Grumman to AT&T to charter schools — and Zarrelli — who represents Amway, the corporation founded by the powerful billionare DeVos family that advocate for school privatization — hosted a “Chinese takeout” fundraiser for Reed last November (the invitation is even adorned with dragon illustrations). Political Action Committees put up $2,000 to host the event and $1,000 to attend and get access to Reed.
- Resort and Real Estate Lobbyists: Resort and real estate corporations want special tax treatment and other favors from the government. The American Resort Development Association sent its vice president of federal relations, Sam DePoy, to join with Robert Dibblee of the Real Estate Investment Trusts PAC to host a lunch at the Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar for Reed this past October. The invitation prominently highlighted the fact that the congressman sits on the House Ways & Means Committee, the primary tax-writing committee in Congress.
These interests got what they paid for. Reed has shilled for fracking, voted for job-killing pro-corporate “free trade” deals, gone to bat for lower taxes for corporations, worked to kill net neutrality, and defended weapons contractors from cuts.
Reed’s been partying hard since he got from Congress — from the elite clubs and high-end restaurants of Capitol Hill to the Galilee. And at each glamorous event, it’s his constituents who are the ones who are losing out.
Today, his Democratic opponent Nate Shinigawa unveiled a pledge that he is making to not accept any trips as a Member of Congress that is sponsored by lobbyists or special interests. Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor here.