Thursday, October 15, 2020

Hi, Kids! Today's Lesson: "Pay to Play"

 Hi, kids! Welcome to civics class, and our series on corruption.

Let me introduce you to the term, "pay to play." It's been really popular for many years in places like New Jersey, but it can and has happened in governments all over the world. Even in the U.S., at the highest levels. Sometimes it just involves campaign contributions - invitations to events that happen to arrive the day after you lobby or make a request of an elected official.
Sometimes it involves much, much more.
Here's an example. A close family member trades his connection to a high-ranked government official for pay. In exchange, he makes introductions and intervenes on behalf of the special interest.
Often, the high-ranking government official is in on the con. They can indirectly get a cut of the deal, perhaps at some later time. That appears to have happened in the following example.
Usually, when the "payor" is a foreign entity with close ties to a foreign government, there's something called the Foreign Agents Registration Act, at least here in the US, that requires you to register that relationship with the federal government. Especially if you're trying to influence US officials - like your close family member. It becomes part of a transparent public record.
Oops! It looks like, in our example, someone forgot to register.
"Pay to play" ultimately means that government officials, directly or through an "agent," sell government policies and decisions to the highest bidder. When that bidder is a hostile foreign-controlled entity, that's a problem!
We'll be seeing and talking about this a lot more in the coming days. Your daily reading assignment will be follow-ups to this example in the New York Post, a newspaper in America's largest city with the nation's fourth-highest circulation.

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