Sen. Corker Plans to Meet With Wall Street Instead of Main Street During Easter Recess

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  • Dale Eisman

Released Email Reveals Corker Campaign Offers Wall Street Banks Meetings and Meals with Senator for Cash

Washington, DC– News coverage of a fundraising e-mail to financial industry firms on behalf of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has exposed the way Members of Congress sell access. The newspaper Politico reports that lobbyists for Wall Street banks received an e-mail from Sen. Corker’s campaign soliciting contributions totaling $5,000 or $10,000 in exchange for a chance to meet with the Senator or have a meal with him during the Easter recess. These pay-to-play “meet-and-greets,” while legal, demonstrate the appearance that some members of Congress sell access via big money campaign contributions.

“It is because this kind of crass access-selling is perfectly legal that this is a news story,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “Sen. Corker is deeply involved in developing the financial reform package before the Senate right now, and so his campaign hits up the financial services industry for campaign contributions. This is how the current system works.”

Sen. Corker disavowed the solicitation sent on his behalf to financial industry lobbyists, but also conceded that the consultant responsible for sending the e-mail was “the very best there is in Tennessee.”

“Until Congress passes the Fair Elections Now Act, we can expect more of the same,” said Nick Nyhart, President of Public Campaign. “Lobbyists for Wall Street banks – and other industries fighting against comprehensive reform measures – routinely act as middlemen to bundle and direct campaign contributions to members of Congress who can carry their water for them. They are buying access and influence, plain and simple.”

The Fair Elections Now Act, sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and House Caucus Chair John Larson (D-Conn.), would allow candidates for Congress to seek office without relying on big money contributors. Candidates would pay for their campaigns by qualifying for a limited public grant coupled with a four-to-one match on contributions of $100 or less. The House version of the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826) has bipartisan support with 140 co-sponsors.

Public Campaign Action Fund and Common Cause are working with other state and national organizations to pass the Fair Elections Now Act. The broad coalition is made up of more than 30 groups representing tens of millions of Americans.