When the idea of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction was raised, I expressed the hope that Congress would take steps to ensure that the people who served on the “Super Committee” did not trade on their membership for fundraising purposes.
Alas, my hopes were promptly dashed. According to Roll Call, about two hours after Representative Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat, was named to the “Super Committee,” emailed invitations to a fundraiser touted his appointment and asked attendees to make a “suggested contribution” of $1,500 to “Becerra for Congress.” The email pointedly states: “This will be Mr. Becerra’s first event since being named to the commission and may be one of the first for any of the twelve members of the group,” and adds, “This event could give all attendees a glimpse into what will most assuredly be the primary topic of discussion between now and the end of the year.”
Becerra says he did not know about the solicitation. “I did not know, did not ask, would not ask and I will not ask any of my supporters to use my appointment to the select committee for purposes outside its principle [sic] focus,” the Roll Call article quotes him as saying. “That’s my position today and that’s what my position will be for my tenure on the committee.”
Let’s take Representative Becerra at his word. Isn’t the real problem, though, that in our current system flunkies and cronies and lobbyists can do the wink-wink/nudge-nudge messaging for the candidate, who stays above the unseemly touting? Incidentally, the Roll Call article reports that the fundraiser is going forward, despite the controversy about the email and invitation linking Becerra’s service with a suggested contribution to his campaign. I wonder how many $1,500 checks will be made out to “Becerra for Congress”?