Republican Quico Canseco (CD-23) rode the Tea Party wave into office in 2010, vowing to stop “business as usual” in Washington DC. Quite naturally, now that he's up for re-election, Canseco is cozying up to the special interests and fat-cat lobbyists he campaigned against.
CBS News recently reported on an exclusive fundraising get-away with NRCC Chair Pete Sessions (CD-32) in Key Largo, where 14 Republican Congressmen gathered to rub shoulders with lobbyists and special interests. Canseco hosted a happy hour that required a $10,000 check at the door. Individual attendees could give a max of $46,200 at the event; all proceeds were split amongst the 12 Republican freshmen.
Now, high-dollar fundraisers are nothing new to politics. But it's noteworthy that Canseco, who ran for office campaigning to stand up to special interests in Washington DC is now toeing the Republican party line and taking money from lobbyists who represent corporate interests that are desperate for the GOP to stay in power. Canseco is selling out to the highest special-interest bidders, to the detriment of the working families in Texas.
The sad thing is, Canseco's willingness to consort with these corporate lobbyists suggests that he's already fully on board with their agenda. Political science research has shown that most lobbyists don't direct their large campaign donations to lawmakers they need to persuade — instead, special interests funnel them to their BFF's and allies, their most certain votes, to make sure their friends stay in office to gladly, happily do the bidding of these special interests. Or as Ezra Klein puts it, “lobbyists act like a volunteer, and highly skilled, army for politicians who already agree with them.”
The CBS report points out that the NRCC refused to release a guest list from the event. However, the Congressmembers in attendance will file FEC reports soon enough, and one can only expect researchers to find out exactly which special interests came to rub elbows with the Republicans in Key Largo.
In the meantime, I was curious to see how the $10,000 cocktail party in Key Largo stacked up to life for Canseco's constituents back in the 23rd district. The cost of the happy hour he hosted is barely lower than the mean annual Social Security income of constituents in his district, at $13,000. I'm pretty sure seniors on fixed incomes can't pony up most of their annual Social Security income for some drinks or thousands more for a round of golf. But I'm sure Canseco cares about their concerns just as much. I am sure he plays golf with them for free.
Thankfully, Democrats have a strong chance of ousting Quico Canseco this cycle — State Rep. Pete Gallego, former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, and John Bustamante are all battling to take on Quico in November.