Friday, October 13, 2006

The Congressional Chucky Max Show Hosts Sesame’s Grover

The two “leaders” of the Senate Finance Committee squared off once again over despicable behavior by non profit organizations. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Max Baucus, D-Montana continued their pugilistic verbal battle over “non-profits” just weeks before an election.

This would be the same Chuck Grassley that not long ago advocated taxing pimps, whores, and non profit community hospitals. Yes, Max Baucus is the same Montana pol who took tens of thousands in donations from for-profit hospital chains without having one of their facilities in his whole state.

The fight is over political non-profits who served as a drop box for Jackie Abramoff. Lobbying is an express no no for groups with non profit status. At least three famously connected groups helped launder Jack’s money.

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform took $1.5 million from Jack’s client before passing more than two thirds of it to ex. Christian coalition chief Ralph Reed for lobbying assistance to block a rival tribe’s bid for a casino. The client said funds were sent through ATR as a conduit with the non profit taking “a fee”.

Another Grover venture, The Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy started with former Interior Secretary Gale Norton took at least $250,000 from Jack’s clients to lobby the Interior Department.

And Chuck’s response as the lead Republican on the Finance Committee? Senator Grassley said he would consider the report but it should have looked at more non profit groups. It is a shame the Senator cannot be consistent in his public service. In questioning the “tax exempt” status of non profit community hospitals in the U.S., Chuck surveyed 10 out of some 3,500 non profits. How did he pick the ten? Did his friends at the Federation of American Hospitals, the for-profit lobby, help him find the ones that apply “for profit” like financial management and collection policies?

Max was quoted as saying “"Nonprofits should not function as de facto lobbying firms. Lobbying for a fee, public relations, and disguising sources of money are not charitable or social welfare activities.” I agree with Senator Baucus there, but still wonder what his response would be to all his for-profit healthcare donations from companies that don’t do business in his state? (Included is a link to Chuck’s list for fair and balanced purposes)

Grover’s crying foul, saying the report is politically motivated. If Mr. Norquist’s non profit were a Muslim charity, he would be in jail as funds were used for downstream illegal activity at a minimum. Will the feds investigate these groups under RICO? Time will tell, but my money is this current crew won’t. What say you to giving a different spate of legislators a chance? It’s only weeks away….

No comments: