THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT
Here are some pieces of a puzzle for you:
1. Bill Clinton's #1 campaign contributor, according to Charles
Lewis, author of the just released book, *The Buying of the
President* (New York: Avon Books, 1995-96), is Goldman Sachs.
They reportedly contributed $107,850.
2. Robert Rubin worked for Goldman Sachs just before he moved on
to become Treasury Secretary.
3. The January 1995 commitment, by Bill Clinton, of $20 billion
for loans and loan guarantees to Mexico.
4. According to Workers World ("Mexico: Washington's Role In The
Economic Crisis," Jan. 26, 1995), "The bail-outs... were
developed to defend the profits of Telmex, Citicorp and other
5. According to Christopher Whalen, publisher of *The Mexico
Report*, the bailout was being pushed by friends of the Treasury
Secretary, Robert Rubin, and Goldman Sachs.
So Goldman Sachs is the #1 contributor to Bill Clinton's
presidential campaign. Then Robert Rubin, of Goldman Sachs,
becomes Treasury Secretary. Then big money investors, likely to
suffer loss consequent to the late-1994 Peso devaluation, are
rescued by Clinton/Rubin. Hmmm...... Could there be some sort of
deal going on here? Hmmm........
Author Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity
(http://www.essential.org/cpi) was Brian Lamb's guest on a
segment broadcast by C-Span on January 12, 1996. In his new book,
Lewis has profiled about a dozen presidential candidates:
Clinton, Gore and the announced (prior to September 15, 1995)
Republicans. There is also a "wild card" chapter, giving
background on five candidates of whom there was speculation that
they would run for president.
Host Brian Lamb of C-Span asked Lewis what he meant by
documenting, in his book, what he referred to as the "Top Ten
Career Patrons" of each candidate; why call them "career
patrons"? Lewis replied, "I think we too frequently look at a
snapshot... We don't look at the pattern. Virtually everyone
running for president has been a 'player' on the national scene
for ten, twenty, or more years... And so there are groups,
interest groups -- business, labor, and other groups -- that have
been *around* these candidates. And so when you elect the
candidates, you're getting these 'patrons' as I would call them."
An analogy might be that it's as if the various candidates are
"prize fighters", backed by wealthy interests watching from the
shadows. And sometimes, just as in the world of prize fights and
gamblers, those laying down the cash will hedge their bets. At
position number 5 in Clinton's list of career patrons is Gallo
Wine in Modesto, California. For Bob Dole, his number 1 career
patron is Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery, Modesto, California.
"I assume they are the same?" asked Lamb.
"Right," answered Lewis.
"Are they getting something for their money?"
"To me, there's no question about it."
Remember, we're talking about *career* *patrons* here. So for
Senator Dole, this means that Gallo has been funding him for a
long time, presumably when he represented just his state of
Kansas as senator. So why does Gallo, from California, pay to
help elect Senator Dole, from Kansas? Says Lewis: "There are
several legislative examples of how Dole helped Gallo. And we
calculated that Gallo made over $100 million from legislative
measures that Dole was involved in."
A caller from Dayton, Ohio asked, "What about foreign
contributors to campaigns?" George Bush, she claimed, helped
Croatia in its push for independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Did
this in turn help de-stabilize Yugoslavia so that American boys
and girls now risk death and injury in the region? "Do you have
there what foreign countries contributed to candidates?"
According to Mr. Lewis, "Foreign governments and foreign
corporations... I believe it is illegal for them to make direct
contributions to candidates. However what happens is the U.S.
subsidiaries will frequently make these contributions... The
Center for Public Integrity has done a lot of research over the
years about foreign lobbying. We've identified a lot of lobbying
firms and law firms doing all kinds of things. We're the ones
that came out with the study that half the trade officials from
the White House, over a 20-year period, went to work for the
people that we are negotiating against. This information was used
by Perot, Clinton and others in the '92 election."
Mr. Lamb then wondered about a recent article in Roll Call, which
"had a story yesterday which said that under the new law over
here, about disclosure and all, and what gifts you can give, that
the lobbyists have figured out a way around it with the staff.
And there's a big travel thing with the people that work on the
staffs of these committees. And the way they get around it is,
the industry gives money to a tax-free foundation, and then the
tax-free foundation sponsors the trips for several staff members
to go overseas on a trip in which the lobbyists join them on that
Sighed Lamb: "Is there any way this will *ever* stop?"
"If there's a loophole like that, it needs to be closed,"
"How are you gonna close it?"
"Well... I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head,"
was the response. Mr. Lewis could only offer that we've just got
to basically keep trying.
Lamb then inquired of Lewis if he had "ever studied the
townhouses that exist behind the Capitol, where all the lobbyists
have their 'hideaways?'"
Said Lewis: "I haven't studied it. But I certainly have walked
"Is there a story there?"
"There probably is. It would really be fun to just lay out who
lives in each one of them and what they're all about."
Lamb amplified that the notorious townhouses were "for fund-
raisers and special dinners. And Members go there. They're off-
limits, they're off-the-record."
"It would be nice to know who goes there, on a daily basis,"
responded Lewis. "The problem is, the Freedom of Information Act
does not apply to Congress. We can't ever find out where these
guys go. We can't find out how they fill up their hours in the
day. We can't find out who they meet with."
"Interesting that they're the ones that wrote the law," he added.
Also on Clinton's list of top ten career patrons is, at number 2,
something called Voice of Teachers for Education. (Could this
have anything to do with why he does not support school vouchers
that would offer poor families a choice as to what school their
children attend?) We also find, further down the list at about
the middle, that the President's major *group* of funders,
occupying several positions, turns out to be lawyers and
lobbyists. "His biggest source of income [is] trial lawyers, but
also big lobbying and law firms -- which is frustrating, because
we don't know who they all represent and who their clients are,"
Names of contributors flashed by, but I believe I did indeed see
the name "Jackson Stephens" as being among the top-ten career
patrons for *both* Clinton and Dole.
Another interesting tidbit, mentioned only in passing, was that
James Lake(sp?), who worked for the Bush presidential campaign,
also worked for the Bank of Credit and Commerce International
Does Lewis get discouraged? "I get frustrated, like anybody else.
This is a pretty bleak situation here in Washington. But I also
know that somebody's got to do something... And I feel we *are*
getting information out to the people. And I think we're getting
better at it."