Thursday, July 17, 2008

Garrett & A Fishy Donation

In a press release today, the Shulman campaign called on Representative Scott Garrett to return the funds he'd received from Countrywide since hiring their former lobbyist, Amy Smith, as his Chief of Staff.

The press release, although not stating this, begged the question whether there was anything about these donations that was unusual. The fact is, according to FEC records, there seems to be:

Countrywide Financial's PAC had never donated to Garrett before March 3, 2008.

The reason this is odd is because of Garrett's committee assignments. You'd expect him to have received donations from Countrywide before now; it's the way Washington usually works. However, there wasn't a dime that went Garrett's way until the Smith hire.

I'm not sure when the official date of hire for Ms. Smith was, but the initial donation was $1,000. Since Herb Jackson announced the hire, they've given an additional $6,500.

Back when the Shulman campaign first raised the issue of Smith, I chose not to write about it. There were two reasons for this: first, I don't like going after staff (nor am I about to); second, it was a moot point as Shulman's campaign manager was also a lobbyist.

However, after seeing this, I decided to bring it up because it points once again to what is so wrong with Washington and our current pay-to-play campaign financing at all levels. It's politics as usual, and it needs to change.

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