WASHINGTON – The Senate and House of Representatives voted this morning to radically alter the legal ramifications of “bribery” in an effort to exempt themselves, major lobbyists, and corporations from legal action.
The legal definition of “bribery” formerly recognized the act as “the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties.” The new statute, however, specifies that it must be “an individual citizen, acting without affiliation to any political action group, political party, corporation, international conglomerate, or leading global bank.” It also mandates that the aforementioned “official” accepting “something of value” must be a “local official,” exempting state and federal politicians and legal authorities from the new law.
Political analysts see the statute as highly transparent and a blatant attempt to legalize the thinly veiled bribery of Congressmen by major companies, industry lobbyists, and the like. “They all do it,” said James Geary, a political theorist based in Washington. “They accept private flights, luxury vacations, jewelry – whatever is offered in exchange for loosening the regulations on pharmaceutical companies, Wall Street, big tobacco, and so on.”
Beginning in the Clinton administration, an increasing number of political figures and industry lobbyists have been accused of accepting or soliciting bribes. “Instead of just abiding by the rules,” Geary says, “they’re doing the classic Congress move: changing the rules.”
The statute amendment passed the Senate and the House almost unanimously. One of the few naysayers of the bunch was Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND), who issued a statement this morning calling the condoning, if not the encouragement of bribery, “shameful…an absolute mockery of everything our Founding Fathers stood for.”
One hour later, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) was caught leaving the Capitol Building and heading for his new Rolls Royce, which he was thrilled to announce was “a gift from the NRA.” He added, “It is truly a beautiful day for America when I can be open and honest, as a politician should be, about the political support I just sold in exchange for a lobbyist’s generosity.”
When asked by members of the press for a response to Rep. Berg’s earlier remarks, Rep. Wilson guffawed. “Berg?” he said. “He’s just mad because his constituency consists of like 17 low-income farmers who can’t afford to bribe him!”