Perry – Thompson’s ethics investigations

But last week the Washington Post called into question another investigation by Thompson that might not cross the Homeland Security threshold, and that a former Thompson staffer alleges was in fact a shakedown for campaign contributions.

The committee had previously never addressed credit card issues – usually the domain of the House Financial Services Committee – but Thompson called a hearing on identity theft and the Post reported, “Thompson warned Visa, MasterCard and others that Congress might need to impose tighter security standards costing millions of dollars from identity theft. Behind the scenes, some of Thompson’s staff members sensed a different motive – an attempt to pressure the companies into making political donations to the chairman, according to several former committee staff members.”

The Post reported Thompson received $15,000 in campaign contributions from the credit card industry and their lobbyists within weeks of the hearing, and no legislative action was ever taken by Thompson or the committee.

But it doesn’t stop there. This week, The New York Times reported on yet another investigation into Thompson regarding an event hosted in Tunica in 2008 for the Congressional Black Caucus.

The 14 House members who attended submitted materials to the Ethics Committee to pre-clear the event. Such activity is required after ethics reforms two years ago prohibiting corporate sponsorship for congressional junkets.

The agendas at the event were identical to the materials submitted for preclearance except, once in Tunica and away from the House Ethics Committee, the agendas all listed corporate sponsors of various events. Corporate sponsors included: Wal-Mart, Eli Lilly, Microsoft, General Dynamics, PhRMA, Edison Electric, Anheuser Busch, and gaming, transportation, and labor interests.

Brian Perry
The Madison County Journal