[Title links to a .mp3 file] In this Planet Money story about campaign fundraisers from last November, Alex Bloomberg tries to get into some of the frequent fundraisers for members of Congress. He is (not shockingly) turned away at the door at all of them. But there were two striking parts to this story. First, this segment around the 20:00 mark:
Alex Bloomberg: I had already gotten a congressman to agree to let me to go to one. … We had it set up maybe a week in advance. But then less than 24 hours before I’m scheduled to go with him, his staff calls me all sheepish. Apparently once the guest list to this fundraiser got wind that I was going to be there, they all cancelled.
Robert Smith: So we need to revise this marketplace. You’re not just buying minutes with the Congressman; you’re buying candid minutes with the Congressman.
Everyone cancelled. Bear in mind, everything that these members of Congress and political action committees are doing is 100% legal and totally common, but no one involved seems to think it would pass the smell test if there happened to be someone with a microphone in the room. Fascinating.
The second striking part was the end, where Bloomberg and Smith were begging for anyone with any insider knowledge of these fundraisers to talk to them. I don’t think I’ve ever heard these guys so desparate to talk to anyone at all. They were even looking for waiters at restaurants that might have overheard things!
I mean, I get it. I don’t want a reporter recording most of my day-to-day business either. And they acknowledge that a microphone changes the dynamics.
But even if all of this is hunky-dory, it sure stinks.