John Boehner is just another Tom DeLay

    Rep. John Boehner came to Washington after the 1990 elections
    claiming to be a great reformer. In reality, he is just another
    politician on the take, out to milk the system for all he can.

    I met Boehner at a reception for new members of Congress in December
    1990. At the time, I was Vice President for Political Programs for the
    giant National Association of Realtors and controlled the largest
    political action committee (PAC) in town. Boehner had his hand out to
    every PAC, mine included, and made it clear he would vote the right way
    in exchange for maximum campaign contributions.

    “I know your issues,” he said, “and I can support. I trust you can see your way clear to support me?”

    Boehner made his name as a member of the “Gang of Seven,” a group of
    Congressional “reformers” who took on the House Bank that allowed
    members to overdraw their checking accounts at will and without penalty
    and helped expose Democratic powerhouse Dan Rostenkowski’s “cash for
    stamps” scam that cost him his seat in Congress and sent him to jail.

    But while Boehner campaigned as the great reformer, he worked the
    system behind the scenes, scamming it for campaign cash and favors,
    cozying up to the same lobbyists and dealmakers as fellow Republican
    Tom DeLay. In 1992, he argued publicly for the elimination of PACs
    because they gave most of their money to the Democrats who controlled
    Congress. After Republicans took control in 1994, Boehner changed his
    tune and became a leading advocate of PACs and the money they could
    dump into the coffers of the new GOP leadership.

    Boehner joined with DeLay and other Republican leaders in
    browbeating lobbying firms into hiring more Republicans and threatened
    PACs with exclusion from GOP briefings and events if they did not
    donate more to GOP candidates and causes.

    His style was smoother than DeLay, the GOP pit bull who openly
    bullied and once told me “fuck the law. I don’t give a rat’s ass about
    the law.” Boehner would smile and talk in diplomatic terms but the
    smile masked a ruthlessness that said “play ball our way or you don’t
    play in our ballpark.”

    “Make no mistake about it,” he told me in 1991. “We will remember
    those who helped us and those who did not will find themselves outside
    looking in. That’s the way the game is played.”

    Boehner quickly learned how the game is played in Washington. Since
    2000, he has allowed special interest groups to finance 41 trips for he
    and his family to Rome, Venice, Paris and Edinburgh, as well as
    domestic resort spots like Boca Raton, Fla., and Pebble Beach, Calif.

    He often goes on the floor of the House of Representatives to praise
    the liquor industry for what he calls their “untiring efforts” to fight
    underage drinking and drunk driving. The industry bought these paid
    advertisements from Boehner with more than $200,000 in campaign

    He is a big booster of Sallie Mae, the federal agency that provides
    government-backed student loans. His daughter works for Sallie Mae’s
    collection agency and employees of Sallie Mae have kicked in $120,000
    to Boehner’s campaign PAC since 1989,

    Boehner heads up efforts on the hill to limit lawsuits against the
    health care industry. In return, insurance companies for health care
    groups have contributed $2 million to Boehner.

    And, yes, Boehner accepted $30,000 in campaign contributions from
    corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients in the two election
    cycles. Unlike other members of Congress, Boehner has refused to return
    the tainted money.

    Boehner rents his $1,600 a month Capitol Hill apartment from veteran
    lobbyist John Milne, who just happens to represent clients who have
    benefited from legislation Boehner sponsored as chairman of the House
    Education and Workforce Committee.

    And Boehner’s former chief of staff, now an aide to White House
    political guru Karl Rove, helped plan a congressional junket to the
    Mariana Islands with Abramoff.

    With all this baggage, the GOP picked John Boehner to replace the corrupt Tom DeLay as the number two Republican in the House.

    And they “punished” Tom DeLay by giving him a highly-coveted seat on
    the House Appropriations Committee along with a spot on the
    subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department – the same Justice
    Department currently investigating DeLay for his many wrongdoings.

    Republicans call this “reform.” I call it business as usual.