The expensive airport parking fees and costly airline reservation cancellations that bedevil most travelers are of little concern for members of Congress.
According to the new book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, Capitol Hill staffers use private dedicated phone lines set up just for members of Congress when booking lawmakers’ flights. Airlines also allow politicians to reserve seats on multiple flights but only pay for the trips they actually take.
“They are treated completely differently from the time they book their ticket until the time they land at the airport,” Kate Hanni, director of Flyers Rights, told Roll Call.
Members of Congress also enjoy free parking courtesy of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. In fact, Washington’s Dulles International Airport has 97 reserved spaces just for members of Congress. Reagan National has 89 special parking spots.
The author of the book, Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer, says airlines extend the congressional perks to keep lawmakers happy–and at bay.
“Why do airlines pamper them?” writes Schweizer. “Precisely because they know that getting on the wrong side of the Permanent Political Class can cause their industry serious problems.”
In Extortion, Schweizer challenges the commonly accepted assumption that outside forces seek to bribe and strong arm Washington politicians. The reality is exactly the reverse, argues Schweizer. Politicians induce fear using legislative tactics to extort rich industries and individuals into making large campaign donations that are often then converted into funds that can be funneled to a politician’s friends or family members.
“Washington’s Permanent Political Class does not live and play by the same rules you and I do,” said Schweizer in an interview with Breitbart News. “The things that would send us to jail are simply ‘another day at the office’ for Washington politicians.”