EYE ON NEWT
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.
- 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?
- 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
- 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.
- 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