Reprinted almost without comment:

Mr. McGinnis, who gave $10,000 to [Newt Gingrich's] Gopac in 1992 and lesser amounts since then, said in an interview Friday that he has long been frustrated by the "extremely conservative" and "very slow moving" approach of the Food and Drug Administration in approving new medical technologies such as those his company makes ...

[Gingrich supporter Progress and Freedom] foundation paid about $125,000 last year to National Empowerment Television to broadcast the college course and to underwrite an hour-long television call-in program hosted by Mr. Gingrich. It is also studying ways to speed up the licensing and testing of new medical technologies, a matter of intense interest to the health industry. The New York Times, December 18, 1994 (National, p. 32.)

These short excerpts from the Times article illustrate numerous interesting concepts about our political system and the media which covers it.

  1. All campaign finance is legalized bribery. A manufacturer of medical equipment donates thousands of dollars to Newt Gingrich. His membership in Gingrich's PAC, Gopac, "gave him the opportunity to share [his] views with Mr. Gingrich in private meetings the group holds for charter members." Who will be more influential when Mr. Gingrich votes, Mr. McGinnis or a few hundred thousand constituents who contributed little or nothing to the campaign?

  2. What cannot be understood cannot be criticized. The American public's so-what attitude to the Whitewater investigation is a direct result of the complexity of the financial relationships involved. People's eyes glaze over. Mr. Gingrich knows how to play this game too. Mr. McGinnis contributes money to a PAC (which reveals the name of only 10% of its contributors, on the silly theory that only 10% of the PAC's funds go to federal elections. Who picks which 10% of contributors get matched to the ten percent of funds?) A foundation which bankrolls Mr. Gingrich happens to be studying the same issue Mr. McGinnis is eager to have considered. With enough players in the game--contributors, Congressmen, PAC's, foundations--everyone's eyes glaze over.

  3. The apparent neutrality of the press results in a kind of moral tepidness. Let's report the dirt, but separate salient facts by enough paragraphs that we are not shouting the truth, just allowing the reader to infer it. Thirty-three paragraphs of the Times article separate the references to Mr. McGinnis and the Progress and Freedom Foundation which is studying medical licensing. If you will be shocked when the Foundation recommends the shortcuts called for by Mr. McGinnis, and Mr. Gingrich then waves the Foundation's recommendations around as impartial evidence in support of new legislation, please raise your hand.

  4. These dirty arrangements, which scream conflict of interest, are legal so long as disclosed. Our system permits the purchase of legislator's votes so long as the donations are made in the right amounts to the right people in compliance with campaign finance laws. We would have to believe all of our legislators moral supermen to believe they are impervious to this, and we know they are not. Why do we permit the survival of a system of finance which allows special interest dollars to devalue our votes?

Mr. Eisenach, a member of Mr. Gingrich's inner circle, said he had no qualms about accepting donations from drug companies and others with a financial stake in the debate over regulation.

Why should he have qualms, so long as its legal?

You can write Mr. Gingrich, expressing your opinion of the campaign finance laws, and his use of them, at 2428 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington D.C. 20515, or call 202-225-4501.