On Monday, Government Accountability Institute (GAI) and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer accused lawmakers in Congress of deliberately using their positions to extract money from donors and citizens to subsidize lavish lifestyles.
Schweizer said one lawmaker spent more on golf outings ($100,000) than they gave to other candidates, while another spent “more on limousine service on himself than he gave to his colleagues.”
And because lawmakers “write their own rules,” this is perfectly legal.
In an appearance on CBS’s This Morning, 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.”
The ways in which lawmakers use these leadership PACs as slush funds were detailed on 60 Minutes on Sunday. The segment was based on Schweizer’s investigation, which is featured in his new book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.
As Breitbart News has reported, the book will rock Capitol Hill on Tuesday with stunning revelations about how Republicans and Democrats use mafia-like tactics to extort political contributions. Schweizer’s last book, Throw Them All Out, shocked the political establishment and mobilized Americans against Washington’s permanent political class, forcing Congress to pass the STOCK Act which banned insider trading by lawmakers in Congress.
Calling it “an enormous problem” that “is going to get worse,” Schweizer said the political economy in Washington is increasingly about extortion as lawmakers see how easily they can subsidize their lavish lifestyles with leadership PACs.
He said the system is “only going to change if people who are in charge of the reforms, namely the politicians, get enough pressure in order to change them.”
Schweizer said “pretty much anyone” can donate to leadership PACs, but donations come from corporations, labor unions, and lobbyists.
He said it is “very much the insider game” because lawmakers do not want to go home to their districts and ask constituents to donate to their slush funds.
Schweizer said leadership PACs are like having a “second pocket.” Schweizer said the “first pocket is highly regulated campaign funds”; he noted how former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. went to jail because because he violated the ways in which money from the “first pocket” could be spent.
Had Jackson used funds from a leadership PAC, he could have used the money for a lot more personal expenses and probably have done so legally because there is such a wide definition of “personal expenses.”
Schweizer said this was a “classical example of self regulation by politicians” who “write their own rules.”
“Rules that apply to us don’t necessarily apply to them,” Schweizer said.
Schweizer said this was like like employees telling their corporations, “Don’t worry about what i’m submitting for my expenses, you can trust me.”
“That’s basically what we’re doing with politicians,” Schweizer said.
Schweizer said Washington is like professional wrestling because insiders look at Washington as a “political economy” where there is no financial incentives in solving for fixing problems.
“You make money with conflict, you make money with division,” Schweizer said. “And you make money by not fixing problems… You think that these two sides really hate each other, but, in reality, they are kind of business partners with each other.”
He said the only way the system will change if lawmakers are “embarrassed and shamed” with “pubic pressure” and “attention” after the revelations which are featured in his book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, come to light.
“This is a slush fund,” Schweizer said. “It’s not doing what it’s supposed to do, which is help fellow members of Congress. That’s why we need to have serious reforms.”