NYT: 'Extortion' Reveals 'Embarrassing' Info About Lawmakers' Use of Donations
In Peter Schweizer's Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, which hits the shelves on Tuesday, the New York Times found shocking revelations of lawmakers using donations to their leadership PACs to fund golf outings, commission paintings of themselves, finance trips to resorts, and throw lavish parties at their homes.
Revelations in the book, written by Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large and Government Accountability Institute (GAI) president Peter Schweizer, were detailed on 60 Minutes on Sunday. The Times explains that it could "draw attention to a number of questionable but legal fund-raising activities — some potentially damaging, others certainly embarrassing — that could prove uncomfortable for some on Capitol Hill."
As the Times notes, Schweizer hopes Extortion "will help push Congress to address loopholes in the campaign finance system, including banning 'Leadership PACs,' which allow politicians to spend and solicit money without many of the restrictions they face when using their dedicated campaign committees."
The Times found numerous examples of questionable expenditures from the leadership PACs of lawmakers in Congress in Extortion.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) has a leadership PAC that "spent $10,000 on golf at Pebble Beach, nearly $27,000 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and $107,752 at the exclusive Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla." As revealed in Extortion, the amount Chambliss spent "at the Breakers in the 2012 election cycle" is "three times what the senator gave to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the same period."
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) "racked up $65,000 in expenses during the 2012 cycle at a resort on South Carolina’s exclusive Kiawah Island." That money was also "more than he transferred to his party’s senatorial committee, despite raising $1.1 million."
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) used his "leadership PAC to pay for a painting of himself that cost $64,500," while Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) "used hers to pay for catered parties at her home several times a month."
As Schweizer noted on 60 Minutes and in his book, those Leadership PACs "have essentially become slush funds that enable lavish lifestyles while they exist ostensibly to help members of Congress fund their own campaigns and help political allies."
As Breitbart News reported, Schweizer's last book, Throw Them All Out, shocked the political establishment and mobilized Americans against Washington's permanent political class. It forced Congress to pass the STOCK Act, which banned insider trading by lawmakers in Congress.
On CBS's This Morning on Monday, Schweizer said though outsiders still try to influence those in Washington, "members of congress are looking for opportunities to leverage their position to extract money and extract wealth from individuals who maybe don't want to give but feel they have to because they don't have a choice."
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin heralded Schweizer's book in an exclusive op-ed for Breitbart News, saying the book will outrage average citizens to say "enough is enough."
"If the permanent political class won’t drain the swamp, we will," Palin wrote. "We should follow the advice in the title of Schweizer’s last book and 'Throw Them All Out.' 2014 is just around the corner."