Posts Tagged ‘aarp’

AP Shines Light on Taxpayer Subsidized Lobbying

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

AS IF THE lobbyist’s public image weren’t tarnished enough – a shortcoming of conventional belief that LobbyBlog opposes – the Associated Press has published a widely-circulated article that would make even the most accepting among us seethe.

According to the article, private sector lobbyists are receiving government pensions in 20 states.*  Stephen Acquario, the article’s opening example and a lobbyist for New York’s statehouse, earns over $200k (more than Governor Cuomo himself) yet is entitled to a full state pension.

Though it’s difficult to see any sense in this, it’s useful to understand the supporting argument.  Peter Baynes, Executive Director of the New York Conference of Mayors, who “makes $196,000 a year and gets a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee,” supports this seemingly misguided scheme on the grounds that the lobbyists who benefit can have a positive impact in reducing the overall costs of state pension systems, implying that the pensions they receive eventually pay for themselves.

That is if they have a positive impact in reducing pension costs, which would be woefully difficult to quantify were it even true.  The more probable agenda for many of these lobbyists is actually to cut pensions and benefits received by other government workers, an approach Michael Kink of the Strong Economy for All Coalition calls “do as I say, not as I do,” and which may be more precisely branded as the quintessence of dishonesty.

There are two redeeming factors to this story, the first of which can be generally applied to any lamentable situation.  That is, it could be worse.  As AARP Blog notes, at least this isn’t Celeste Carpiano all over again (who?),

the executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties, who — after retiring with a $99,000-a-year government pension and lifetime health, prescription and dental coverage and a one-time $53,221 credit for unused sick and vacation time — filed for unemployment benefits.

The other break in the clouds is in how states are responding.  Governor Christie (R-N.J.), perhaps the most vocal opponent of broken pension schemes, has recently signed an executive order creating a Pension Fraud and Abuse Unit.  According to the Governor’s office, “The Unit will recommend all civil and criminal remedies available under the law and petition the appropriate boards as needed for denial of a pension or disability application or revocation of an improperly granted benefit.” (Italics mine).

Despite Christie’s polarizing politics, that’s something all but the unrightful beneficiaries of state pensions can applaud.

*Here’s the full list of states offering pensions to private sector lobbyists.

GOP Attacks AARP

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Vbhotla

A Politico story published today reports that the House Ways and Means Committee released a report asserting that AARP’s interest in the healthcare overhaul presented a conflict of interests, considering the group’s connections within the industry.

The story quotes GOP lobbyist Chris Lamond of Thorn Run Partners, who says, “There is certainly a sense of getting back at some of those groups that supported [healthcare reform].  It is a little bit like, ‘We are in charge of the House side, we are going to hold their feet to the fire.’”

AARP spent $114,706,000 in lobbying dollars during the critical period between giada delaurentis little pokies 2008-2010 (when healthcare reform legislation was passed, and then Republicans, running largely on promise to repeal the measure, took control of the House of Representatives).  This is purely the amount spent on direct lobbying, as reported on LDA disclosures filed with the Senate.  This does not speak to any campaign donations on behalf of the organization, or direct contributions made by members at the urging of their association leadership.

The story goes on to contend that the IRS, which the House committee has designated as being responsible for taking action on the issue, has not raised any qualms with the organization.