Saturday, October 15, 2005

(Corrupt) business as usual

Yesterday Rep. Mike Conaway, of the 11th Congressional district of Texas, hosted a fundraiser for Tom DeLay at the Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas.

I don't have any report on how it went, but I do know a little about the Petroleum Club, as I went there a few times when I lived in Midland and in Beaumont as well. As you might imagine, it's the dining room for the captains of industry, and not just oil barons but cattle barons too, and also bank presidents and newspaper publishers and corporate executives and independent businessmen. Emphasis on 'men'. Extra emphasis on 'white'. The waiters in both cities where I attended functions were all black, but that was it. Don't know if any of that has changed; this was in the mid-'80's to early '90's.

The Houston Business Journal describes the Petroleum Club as one of the "most prestigious and influential organizations," with "a roster of members who are on the forefront of the Texas and global oil and gas industry." (A history on the club's website says the original conception was for "an exclusive, handsome club of and for men of the oil industry.")

"This is a very secure, comfortable place where our members can do their business without having anyone in their business," said Anna Schmidt, the Houston club's director of membership development.

DeLay certainly feels comfortable there. In fact, according to the Washington Post, it was at the Petroleum Club that DeLay received the corporate contributions at the center of his (alleged) money-laundering scheme:

Some corporations were careful to specify that their contributions were solely meant to defray legally permissible administrative expenses. TRMPAC solicitations being investigated did not mention the restrictions. For example, DeLay was the featured “special guest” at a fundraising luncheon for TRMPAC at the Houston Petroleum Club, where donors were asked to contribute $15,000 to be considered a co-chair and $25,000 to be listed as an underwriter.

Corporate checks are acceptable,” the invitation stated, according to a copy obtained by The Post.

That event took place on August 19, 2002. A few weeks later, TRMPAC official John Colyandro wrote this check, (allegedly) funneling corporate cash to the Republican National Committee, which is now at the heart of the indictment against DeLay.

Is there anyone who would like to hold accountable the Republicans who represent them in the US Congress for this in-your-face corruption?

No comments: