Perhaps making fun of Pete Sessions is just too easy, as when he compared the GOP to the Taliban. Stumbles such as that, and the attention they receive, obscure a deeper problem with the Dallas congressman. Sessions represents one of the wealthiest districts in America, yet he seems to have an insatiable appetite for money and not much concern for how he gets it.
Last July, I reported on his financial connections with the internet gaming world, after the NewsÂ revealed he hosted a fund-raising event at a Las Vegas strip club. Park Cities People’s Josh Hixson even obtained a tape of a meeting with gamblers Sessions hosted in which they strategized about how to get internet gaming legalized.
Then there is the question of earmarks. Sessions grabbed more and received more money from recepients of his good graces than any other Dallas congressional representative.
Now we have the Allen Stanford swindle, and once again Pete Sessions is implicated, as reported in today’s NYTimes:
Around the same time, Mr. Stanford and his Houston-based company, Stanford Financial Group, burst onto the scene as players in federal politics. The White House was pushing legislation to make banks crack down on money laundering, so Stanford Financial hired a Washington lobbying firm and began donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and Democrats alike. The sudden rush of money drew the attention of Public Citizen, which singled out Stanford as a case study of the influence of campaign donations in shaping legislation. Public Citizen concluded that it was “clear” that the Stanford contributions “were aimed at killing the bills,” although broader help turned out to be unnecessary because Texas Republicans simply blocked it from receiving a vote in both chambers.
Which Texas Republicans would those be? Pete Sessions was the #2 recepient of Stanford money, after Sen. Bill Nelson (D, Fla).Â The story continues:
Another lawmaker, Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, received $41,375 in such donations. He also went on two council trips, totaling more than $10,000 in expenses, according to Legistorm, a group that tracks lawmaker travel disclosure forms.
Mr. Sessions’s spokeswoman, Emily Davis, told Bloomberg News this week that Mr. Sessions did not know Mr. Stanford personally. But that account was called into question when the Web site Talking Points Memo published a photograph showing the two men talking during a trip to Antigua. (Ms. Davis declined to comment on Friday.)
So a quid pro quo seems to have been in place. Stanford gives Sessions money. Sessions stops legislationÂ aimed at money-launderingÂ (at the insistence of the Administration after 9/11, the legislation was re-introduced and eventually passed).
As with the internet gaming money, itÂ was a perfectly legal form of bribery. It is the way business is now done in the U.S. Congress underÂ Republicans and Democrats. Â But does that mean that Dallas Republicans have to put up with it? Is this we want representing Dallas in Washington? Is this who Republicans want to uphold conservative principles?