Kevin Drum discusses a potential scandal involving Congressman Nick Smith’s vote on the Medicare bill. Smith claims he was offered a $100,000-plus donation for his son’s campaign to succeed him in exchange for the vote–and threatened that the powers that be would “work to make sure your son doesn’t get to Congress” if he didn’t.
Kevin thinks someone should go to jail if it’s true. I don’t disagree in principle–to me, this would be tantamount to bribery–but I’m not sure what law has been broken. Strongarm tactics–and the handing out of pork barrel projects way more than $100,000–are hardly uncommon in tight votes. And people are legally bribed with committee assignments and such regularly. The only possible violation I could see is one of campaign finance laws, depending on how the $100,000 was accumulated.
Still, if true, this does seem a particularly sleazy episode. Given the presence of political parties and the machinery that goes with them, I’m not exactly sure where the line should be drawn. But it’s way before this, I’d think.