Two days after recent election, while the average slob was dragging his ass to work, wondering how he will pay his taxes, six members of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with three New York City officials and New York State Governor Paterson (no doubt fresh from attending victory parties), took time away from their busy schedules to fly off to the luxurious Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino in St. Martaan, to spend four days attending the 13th annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference. Among those attending were Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel and my own
illustrious Waste-of-Space Congressman Donald Payne.
The event, the stated purpose of which is, “promoting business relationships between some of America’s largest firms and the Caribbean’s most successful enterprises,” was sponsored by several large corporations, including IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, Macy’s, American Airlines and Citigroup, Citigroup having recently received a big-ticket taxpayer funded bailout. The attendees were wined and dined by representatives of the corporate sponsors and by company-paid lobbyists.
While some attendees appear to have funded the trip themselves (From their congressional budgets? From their own pockets? Feh!), others, including my
illustrious Waste-of-Space Congressman, had his airfare and lodging paid for.
The problem with this is that junkets such as this almost certainly violate House Ethics Rules, which forbid the acceptance of any multi-day trip that is sponsored by an organization that employs lobbyists. Representatives are supposed to complete a disclosure form with respect to attending events such as this, and the only person who submitted the requisite form was my
illustrious Waste-of-Space Congressman. The problem is that the form submitted by Congressman Payne didn’t disclose the identity of any of the corporations that provided funds to run the event.
According to the filing submitted by Payne, a Democrat who represents northern New Jersey, his airfare, meals and lodging were paid for by Carib News, which spent up to $1,000 per participant.
But Payne’s disclosure didn’t list any of the corporations that gave money to Carib News[***] for the trip, even though their banners were prominently displayed behind a podium in the conference room of the hotel, listed on the glossy program and visible on items inside a Macy’s gift bag distributed to participants.
Payne checked the “No” box next to the question on whether the travel was being sponsored by “an entity that employs a lobbyist.” If Payne had disclosed the corporate sponsors, the trip might not have been permitted by the House Ethics Committee.
Kerry McKenney, a spokeswoman for Payne, told The Post: “It was our understanding that the trip was sponsored by the Carib News Foundation. We are unaware of any corporate sponsors.”
The screaming arrogance of these sumbitches slays me, but, in the case of Donald Payne, it doesn’t surprise me. Why should he worry one whit about what his constituents think, when last month he was again elected, without opposition? New Jersey Republicans know that running against Donald Payne in his gerrymandered district is a waste of time.
Then there is Charlie Rangel, who never passes up an opportunity to rub his constituents’ noses in the dirt and, like New Jersey voters, they eat it up and, every two years vote for more of the same.
The One campaigned relentlessly on the promise to curb the influence of eeeevil corporate lobbyists in Washington. Assuming he really meant it (Yeah, I know), I suggest that a good place for him to start would be by having a word or two with the Congressional Black Caucus.
I’m sure he’ll get right on that.
***The Carib News Foundation claims to be a non-profit organization, which can lawfully sponsor such trips, but, according to an IRS representative, as reported by the New York Post, there is no record of the Carib News Foundation being such an entity. It appears to be a slapdash attempt to evade the ethics rules.