Touched a nerve did we?
Recently RTP revealed Rep. Charles Sargent’s campaign manager is the wife of the lobbyist for Pfizer, a firm that has funneled thousands in campaign contributions to Sargent. Lobbyist Josh Brown took to his wife’s Facebook page to respond, but in so doing created even more questions about his cozy relationship with Sargent.
Brown says he wanted to “make the facts known.” But he did nothing to refute the following facts listed by RTP. They are (we repeat):
1. Josh Brown is the paid, in-house lobbyist for Pfizer. In that role, he frequently lobbies the chairman of the House Finance Committee, Charles Sargent.
2. Pfizer made thousands in campaign contributions to Sargent, with Brown’s sign off.
3. Charles Sargent hired Brown’s wife as his campaign manager and has already paid her thousands of dollars in consulting fees.
Brown claimed this infromation was somehow an attack on his family. That’s absurd. No, what RTP did was simply make public what was already public information. Employing the “Hamas Defense” of using others as some sort of shield against criticism is pretty lame. One cannot lobby and also have their spouse be a paid campaign staffer for the person you are lobbying, then whine when someone notes that they are engaged in politics.
Brown made the claim that just for “this year” his wife is donating her Sargent paycheck to a charity. Gee, really? And just when did they make that decision? Was it about an hour after RTP revealed she was on Sargent’s payroll? Why not just have Sargent’s campaign make a direct contribution to said charity? And why would the Browns suddenly feel the need to earmark just her political paycheck? Josh Brown is in politics too. Why isn’t he donating HIS paycheck as well?
But for the sake of argument, would Brown care to provide contemporaneous physical evidence of a paycheck earmark from his wife to the specific “charity?” Or is such a claim just a ruse to try to wash the smell off the money she got from Sargent? Random altruism? We have our obvious doubts.
Brown’s claimed he has never tried to exert “undue influence” on Sargent. Love that word — “undue”. Just what is “undue” and who sets the standard? “Undue” is what we here at RTP call a “weasel word.” We noticed Brown did not deny the thousands of dollars in contributions from his employer to Sargent, some of which Sargent then uses to pay Brown’s wife. Nah, move along — there’s no conflict or unseemly “undue” activity going on here.
Would Brown might like to tell us every piece of legislation he has ever discussed with Sargent (likely to be a long list). Has Brown ever asked to Rep. Sargent to carry, vote for or against, or kill a piece of legislation that would benefit his client? Of course he has — that’s what lobbyists do. Nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with being paid to do it. But don’t sit there wrapped in a “holier-than-thou” attitude and try to peddle crap about how such an incestuous relationship with a politician is all hunky-dory. It’s not. And don’t pretend that double dipping into the political coffers by having your wife on the payroll of an elected official to whom you funnel thousands in contributions is okay. It’s not.
Look, the folks at RTP are not out to “get” the Browns. We simply pointed out the unseemly nature of their cozy relationship with Sargent. The Browns chose to enter the political arena and be paid handsomely for doing so. But it’s the appearance of such relationships that is the reason the public has such a low opinion of government and politicians these days.
Lobbyists and political operatives like the Browns would be wise to remember that theirs is a profession that requires a level of moral and ethical gymnastics that most people can’t stomach. Lots of people are involved in the political arena (In fact, every single contributor at RTP has been actively involved in politics and has been paid for their efforts). But when someone gins up contrived “outrage” for having someone else reveal what they do for a living, don’t be surprised when their complaints are not viewed sympathetically by the voters or anyone else.