Monday, April 28, 2008

Government Ideas On How To Spend Tax Dollars

Here is a story that bothers me in a number of ways

After an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2000, Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama faced serious financial pressure: numerous debts, limited cash and a law practice he had neglected for a year. Help arrived in early 2001 from a significant new legal client -- a longtime political supporter.

Chicago entrepreneur Robert Blackwell Jr. paid Obama an $8,000-a-month retainer to give legal advice to his growing technology firm, Electronic Knowledge Interchange. It allowed Obama to supplement his $58,000 part-time state Senate salary for over a year with regular payments from Blackwell's firm that eventually totaled $112,000.

A few months after receiving his final payment from EKI, Obama sent a request on state Senate letterhead urging Illinois officials to provide a $50,000 tourism promotion grant to another Blackwell company, Killerspin.

Killerspin specializes in table tennis, running tournaments nationwide and selling its own line of equipment and apparel and DVD recordings of the competitions. With support from Obama, other state officials and an Obama aide who went to work part time for Killerspin, the company eventually obtained $320,000 in state grants between 2002 and 2004 to subsidize its tournaments.

There is the obvious corruption angle. Clearly Obama took a payment in order to direct taxpayer money to a client. But here is my issue... the government is providing tourism promotional grants... to a ping pong company?

This reminds me of a book I read about the Clinton administration. Before the 1992 election, the Clinton camp was going to come up with places where the federal budget could be cut and the one thing they came up with, reducing the amount of money the government gave to honey producers by 40 million dollars. And why exactly is the federal government giving money to honey producers?

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