When are Lobbying Donations Considered Bribes?

Posted by Anthony Dimond on April 10, 2019

An American lawyer living in Asia last week described to me the ubiquitousness of bribes for most interactions with Asian governments. For example, to get the court clerk in the national capital to forward paperwork to a provincial court he had to bribe the judge, clerk, and provincial court clerk @$100 US each. Prof. Frank Cavico discusses bribes as essential to business in the Middle East and Asia in “Baksheesh or Bribe: Cultural Conventions and Legal Pitfalls.” This renowned litigator said that US government is equivalently corrupt. He illustrated his equivalency comment using campaign donations. But is the US as corrupt as Asia?
A US government official taking a bribe for an official action brings criminal liability to both payer and recipient. In Asia taking bribes is a major and customary perquisite of civil service and constitute part of the civil servant’s compensation package. No equivalency because one goes to jail in the US for doing what is normal in Asia.
For campaign contributions to be bribes there must be a quid pro quo, “this for that” If money is the quidwhat is the quo? The bribe argument would say votes. However, when deciding how to vote, legislators have more important things to think about than your campaign contribution. A few of many include:

1. Lawmakers first satisfy the people putting and keeping them in office, namely their supporters, voters, and to a     lesser degree their constituents. Lawmakers are not going to abandon them for your dollars.
2. Voting contrary to their caucus, party, and instructions from chamber leadership could ruin their careers. They will take your money but won’t change their vote to get it.
3. Next, legislators don’t change their long-held political values for money. Were they to do so, potential opponents would call them “flip-floppers,” and nobody likes a political flip-flopper.
4. Incumbents have earned political interest-group “scores. ” They are not going to endanger these scores for your donation, especially since scores impact support received from entire subsets of donors.

If money doesn’t get votes, then why do some interest groups give so much to campaigns?
They give money because they don’t have anything better to give; money is all they’ve got. They can’t give candidates what they need, and that is votes. “Interest groups with individual members may be able to deliver voters to a candidate but most organized groups-in particular corporations, businesses, and professions-cannot deliver votes. But they can deliver dollars; and they do so to the best of their ability, for a number of reasons.” 1 The fewer the number of votes special interests can deliver, the more money they need to give to purchase any measure of influence with lawmakers.
A significant donation surely makes a lawmaker feel warmer toward the donor. You’ve shown the lawmaker you are on his or her team and presumably not on the opponent’s team. But warmer feelings do not rise to the level of quo. Further, unlike Asia where the civil servant spends the bribe on himself, in the US a campaign donation spent on oneself is also a crime.

Finally, making campaign contributions is a form of free speech. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976) If one form of free speech is bribery, then other types of support must also be bribery such as friendly letters to the editor, holding campaign signs, even voting for the candidate.
During my lobbying career only once did a state lawmaker ever ask me for a campaign donation. I didn’t make it and my bill still became law. Nor do I recall this lawmaker voting against my bill.
Without a quo a political donation isn’t a bribe. But even accepting this brilliant litigator’s theoretical link, the quidand quo are far removed from each other. Further, my quidis lost among the thousands of other donors that I would have no hope for a unique quo. Our hoped-for collective quo is a lawmaker who will vote the way we want and save us from the candidate we didn’t want.
There is at best a weak equivalence as to theory but no equivalence as to practice.

1. Alan Rosenthal, Engines of Democracy (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2009), 166

August 31, 2018

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H.R.1748 2 person crew.

Posted by Anthony Dimond on April 7, 2019

116TH CONGRESS
1ST SESSION H. R. 1748

To amend title 49, United States Code, to provide for the minimum size of crews of freight trains, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 13, 2019

Mr. YOUNG introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

A BILL

To amend title 49, United States Code, to provide for the minimum size of crews of freight trains, and for other purposes.

1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa

2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

3 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

4 This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Safe Freight Act of

5 2019’’.

6 SEC. 2. FREIGHT TRAIN CREW SIZE.

7 (a) AMENDMENT.—Subchapter II of chapter 201 of

8 title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the

9 end the following new section:

2
•HR 1748 IH

1 ‘‘§ 20169. Freight train crew size

2 ‘‘Effective 30 days after the date of enactment of the

3 Safe Freight Act of 2019, no freight train or light engine

4 used in connection with the movement of freight may be

5 operated unless it has a crew consisting of at least 2 indi

6 viduals, one of whom is certified under regulations promul

7 gated by the Federal Railroad Administration as a loco

8 motive engineer pursuant to section 20135, and the other

9 of whom is certified under regulations promulgated by the

10 Federal Railroad Administration as a conductor pursuant

11 to section 20163.’’.

12 (b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—The table of sec

13 tions for chapter 201 of title 49, United States Code, is

14 amended by adding at the end the following new item:

‘‘20169. Freight train crew size.’’.

Topics: DC, National | No Comments »

support H.R. 1748

Posted by Anthony Dimond on March 31, 2019

Brothers and Sisters,

Congressman Don Young of Alaska has introduced H.R. 1748 into the 116th Congress. This legislation would require two-person
crews on all freight trains. This federal legislation is a major priority for our members and protecting the communities against the
unsafe and dangerous conditions of one person or even no person trains.

 

Please contact your Congressman and tell them to support H.R. 1748. (Please see attachment of H.R. 1748 in PDF)

 

Bryan Steil
Representative for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district
Since Jan 3, 2019 (next election in 2020)
Republican 202-225-3031

Mark Pocan
Representative for Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district
Since Jan 3, 2013 (next election in 2020)
Democrat 202-225-2906

Ron Kind
Representative for Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district
Since Jan 7, 1997 (next election in 2020)
Democrat 202-225-5506

Gwen Moore
Representative for Wisconsin’s 4th congressional district
Since Jan 4, 2005 (next election in 2020)
Democrat 202-225-4572

James Sensenbrenner Jr.
Representative for Wisconsin’s 5th congressional district
Since Jan 7, 2003 (next election in 2020)
Republican 202-225-5101

Glenn Grothman
Representative for Wisconsin’s 6th congressional district
Since Jan 6, 2015 (next election in 2020)
Republican 202-225-2476

 

Sean Duffy
Representative for Wisconsin’s 7th congressional district
Since Jan 5, 2011 (next election in 2020)
Republican 202-225-3365

Mike Gallagher
Representative for Wisconsin’s 8th congressional district
Since Jan 3, 2017 (next election in 2020)
Republican 202-225-5665

Respectfully,

Chuck M. Schulz
Wisconsin State Legislative Board – Chairman
Teamsters – Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
2768 Oakwood Circle
Oshkosh, WI 54904
chairman@wislb.org
Cell /Office (920) 410-2953

Topics: BLET Washington, DC | No Comments »

Posted by Anthony Dimond on March 21, 2019

Skip the lines and vote early. In-person absentee voting is now underway for the Spring 2019 Election. Check with your local municipal clerk’s office for available in-person absentee voting times and locations.

To find your municipal clerk contact information and see what is on your ballot, visit: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us Scroll down to “Find my Municipal Clerk.”

For Racine early voting times and locations, click here.

For Milwaukee early voting times and locations, click here.

For Madison early voting times and locations, click here.

The 2019 Spring Election is just around the corner on Tuesday, April 2. There are hundreds of local races, many referendums across the state, and an important statewide race for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.

Whether you vote early or on Election Day, remember to bring your ID to the polls.

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO has endorsed Judge Lisa Neubauer for Supreme Court Justice.

*View all our union endorsements here.

*Increase voter turnout by joining our Labor 2019 voter education and mobilization efforts here.

As union members, we know that elected representatives at every level of government can make changes that impact our wages, schedules, safe workplaces and union rights.

We are fighting for a fair economy where working people can get ahead. We are fighting for justice, fairness, and for a better day for the next generation of Wisconsinites. That is why we have endorsed Judge Lisa Neubauer for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice. Judge Neubauer is a tough, independent, and fair judge.

Vote early or vote on Tuesday, April 2. Volunteer with our Labor 2019 political program, and bring a friend or family member with you when you go vote.

In Solidarity,

Stephanie Bloomingdale, President

Dennis Delie, Secretary-Treasurer

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WISLB Podcast with Joshua Weatherford NOV 2018

Posted by Anthony Dimond on November 25, 2018

November 2018
WISLB Podcast with Joshua Weatherford

WISLB Executive Board 1st Discussion, Chairman Schulz, First-Vice Chairman Dimond, Secretary Treasurer Stroik

 

WISLB Executive Board 2nd Discussion, Chairman Schulz, First-Vice Chairman Dimond, Secretary Treasurer Stroik

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WISLB Podcast with Joshua Weatherford OCT 2018

Posted by Anthony Dimond on November 25, 2018

 

October 2018

WISLB Podcast with Joshua Weatherford

Jessica Cole  BLET Auxiliary 2nd vice chairwoman & National Legislative Representative-Oct 2018

John Tolman BLET Vice President & National Legislative Representative-Oct 2018

Bob Hagan BLET Director of Political and Legislative Affairs-Oct 2018

David Brown BLET Minnesota State Legislative Board Chairman-Oct 2018

 

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Thanksgiving 2018

Posted by Anthony Dimond on November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 21 — At Thanksgiving, I ask our membership to join me in a moment of reflection for those who are away from their families at this special time of year. Let us remember our service men and women, who are fighting overseas or are stationed at military bases throughout the world. Let us also remember our own BLET Brothers and Sisters, who are sitting in the cab of a locomotive or in a hotel instead of at the Thanksgiving dinner table with their families.

In the toil of our day-to-day lives, we may forget in this season of Thanksgiving that we are truly blessed. We sometimes forget to count our blessings because, as locomotive engineers and trainmen, we work extremely hard to earn our pay and benefits.

While our work at the railroad often prevents us from fully enjoying the fruits of our labor, we are blessed with the knowledge that our hard work and dedication puts food on the table and clothes on the backs of our children and families.

At this time of year, I would also like to express my thanks to all of our elected officers and staff at the national, general committee, state and local levels. I am thankful for your hard work and devotion to the Brotherhood.

Earlier this year, the BLET held its Fourth National Convention in Las Vegas and all BLET members should be proud of the results. Our delegates put in long hours poring over many important changes to strengthen our Bylaws and our Brotherhood. They are part of a long line of delegates who proudly carry the torch of Brotherhood that was first lit by the brave founders who established our great union in 1863. I am thankful for our delegates and am proud of the work they accomplished while in session.

But most of all, I am thankful for our members, both past and present.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Brothers and Sisters of past generations, whose commitment and sacrifice helped to lay a solid foundation. And I am also proud of today’s generation of locomotive engineers and trainmen for continuing to build upon that foundation so that today, the BLET stands as the leading rail labor union in America.

On behalf of the BLET Advisory Board, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018
bentley@ble-t.org

Like us on Facebook at
Facebook.com/BLETNational

Sign up for BLET News Flash Alerts

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VOTE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS ON NOVEMBER 6

Posted by Anthony Dimond on October 31, 2018


 

VOTE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS ON NOVEMBER 6

Brothers and Sisters,

On Election Day, November 6, Wisconsin voters have the opportunity to make a fundamental change in the course of our proud State. Gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers is seeking to reverse the direction of the current Governor and move Wisconsin, as its motto declares, “Forward.”
Since his election Scott Walker has been, by no definition, a friend of the Labor movement. Backed by out-of- state “dark money”, most notably corporate donors such as the billionaire Koch brothers, Governor Walker has rampaged Unions in what was once a proud Labor state.

Labor views notwithstanding, Walker has used ”divide and conquer” as a tactic on Wisconsin residents, leaving a once proud tradition of bi-partisanship laid to waste. A world renowned education system is now in tatters, infrastructure is in disrepair and the Governor’s Foxconn debacle will cost generations of Wisconsin taxpayers over four billion dollars. These are just some examples of the effects of Walkers administration has had.
Tony Evers strong Labor stance is much needed in this time of a declining middle class in Wisconsin. It is assured that a Governor Evers administration would seek to preserve and protect not only the rights of our Union Sisters and Brothers, but specifically Railroaders, as he has pledged to preserve Wisconsin’s “Two Person Crew” law.
The past eight years have proven that Elections have consequences! Use your constitutional right to register and vote. Don’t let your voice be silenced. VOTE this November 6th!

A message from the BLET Mobilization Team

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VOTE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS ON NOVEMBER 6

Posted by Anthony Dimond on October 24, 2018

VOTE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS ON NOVEMBER 6

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The BLET Mobilization Team, in conjunction with the Wisconsin State Legislative Board would like to remind you to take personal action and vote during this mid-term election on November 6th. It is critical that all Members vote to preserve our Union Rights to bargain for wages, health care and safety in the workplace. Additionally, Railroad Retirement, FELA and Whistleblower Protection, amongst others, stand at great risk unless the current administration is not put in check.

Registering to vote can be done at your polling place up to and including Election Day, November 6, 2018. Unfortunately, online registration is now closed.

Wisconsin does not require a citizen to provide a valid excuse to vote absentee, however; your absentee request must be received by your municipal clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2018. Voters can also request and vote an absentee ballot in-person in their municipal clerk’s office through November 4, 2018.

The link, https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/VoteAbsentee provides information on requesting an absentee ballot online.
Wisconsin also permits no-excuse early voting. This allows citizens to cast ballots in person at a municipal clerk’s office or polling place prior to an election.

If you are unsure where your polling place is, it can be found at: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace
Use your constitutional right to register and vote.

Elections have consequences! Don’t let your voice be silenced.

VOTE this November 6th!

A message from the BLET Mobilization Team

Topics: National | No Comments »

Wisconsin Voters info

Posted by Anthony Dimond on September 27, 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When registering to vote at your Polling Place, you can do so on Election Day, November 6, 2018. Voters who are able to match their name, date of birth, Wisconsin Driver License or State ID number, and address with the Wisconsin DMV can register to vote online through October 17, 2018. I would strongly recommend this option to avoid long lines on election day.

Use this link below to register online which will only take a minute or so.

https://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/register-to-vote/?source=nvrd-topnav

We have 20 states that require a citizen to provide a valid excuse to vote absentee, Wisconsin is not one of them.
It is important to note, your absentee request must be received by your municipal clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on
November 1, 2018. Voters can also request and vote an absentee ballot in-person in their municipal clerk’s office
through November 4, 2018.

Use this link below to request an absentee ballot online. This also only takes a minute or two.

https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/VoteAbsentee

Wisconsin also permits no-excuse early voting. Early voting permits citizens to cast ballots in person at a municipal
clerk’s office or polling place prior to an election.

This link will help you find your Polling Place. https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/FindMyPollingPlace

Use your constitutional right to register and vote. Help them, help us on election day.

 

Thank you for your time.

 

Respectfully,

Chuck M. Schulz
Wisconsin State Legislative Board – Chairman
Teamsters – Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen

Topics: State | No Comments »

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