Companies Fund College Endowments to Woo Lawmakers

It's easy to stroke an ego in Congress
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2010 7:23 AM CDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Any efforts to draw comparisons with Mr. Rangel are absurd,” says a spokesman.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Surprise, surprise: Charlie Rangel's troubles prompted the New York Times to look into the ties between academia and politics, and things don't come off squeaky clean. At least a dozen current or former lawmakers have had endowments or chairs set up in their name, and those endowments were funded (usually quickly) by corporations who had "business before Congress." Of course, all parties involved (Mitch McConnell, Daniel Inouye, and James Clyburn are among those mentioned) say there's no quid pro quo involved.

“It is another way to curry favor—and a less visible one,” the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington tells the Times. “But it can perhaps be even more effective, because the sums can be much vaster, and it really feeds the members’ vanity as these centers are something that will last in perpetuity.” Lawmakers aren't required to disclose such endowments because they're not donations in the usual sense, so the list likely isn't complete.

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