I met Boehner at a reception for new members of Congress in December 1990. At the time, I was Vice President for Political Programs for the giant National Association of Realtors and controlled the largest political action committee (PAC) in town. Boehner had his hand out to every PAC, mine included, and made it clear he would vote the right way in exchange for maximum campaign contributions.
I know your issues, he said, and I can support. I trust you can see your way clear to support me?
Boehner made his name as a member of the Gang of Seven, a group of Congressional reformers who took on the House Bank that allowed members to overdraw their checking accounts at will and without penalty and helped expose Democratic powerhouse Dan Rostenkowskis cash for stamps scam that cost him his seat in Congress and sent him to jail.
Boehner joined with DeLay and other Republican leaders in browbeating lobbying firms into hiring more Republicans and threatened PACs with exclusion from GOP briefings and events if they did not donate more to GOP candidates and causes.
His style was smoother than DeLay, the GOP pit bull who openly bullied and once told me f*ck the law. I dont give a rats ass about the law. Boehner would smile and talk in diplomatic terms but the smile masked a ruthlessness that said play ball our way or you dont play in our ballpark.
Boehner quickly learned how the game is played in Washington. Since 2000, he has allowed special interest groups to finance 41 trips for he and his family to Rome, Venice, Paris and Edinburgh, as well as domestic resort spots like Boca Raton, Fla., and Pebble Beach, Calif.
He often goes on the floor of the House of Representatives to praise the liquor industry for what he calls their untiring efforts to fight underage drinking and drunk driving. The industry bought these paid advertisements from Boehner with more than $200,000 in campaign contributions.
He is a big booster of Sallie Mae, the federal agency that provides government-backed student loans. His daughter works for Sallie Maes collection agency and employees of Sallie Mae have kicked in $120,000 to Boehners campaign PAC since 1989,
Boehner heads up efforts on the hill to limit lawsuits against the health care industry. In return, insurance companies for health care groups have contributed $2 million to Boehner.
And, yes, Boehner accepted $30,000 in campaign contributions from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoffs tribal clients in the two election cycles. Unlike other members of Congress, Boehner has refused to return the tainted money.
And Boehners former chief of staff, now an aide to White House political guru Karl Rove, helped plan a congressional junket to the Mariana Islands with Abramoff.
With all this baggage, the GOP picked John Boehner to replace the corrupt Tom DeLay as the number two Republican in the House.