Disappointed new Congressman
Capt. Louis Renault: And what in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick Blaine: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Capt. Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.
As a newly elected Congressman, I’m thrilled and honored by the great privilege to patriotically serve my district, constituents and the country.
Words cannot express my deepest appreciation for the incredible outpouring of support by the voters, the tireless work by campaign volunteers, and the amazing generosity by small individual donors but especially by fat-cat lobbyists and Secret Big Special Interest Money that will not be expecting any return on their significant investment in me.
This Congressman is not for sale and everyone knows it, which is why my biggest contributors supported me.
Without my most loyal big contributors who believed in my pledge to end the corrupting influence of big campaign money and “pay-to-play” system in Washington, my campaign never could have spent $1.3 million on yard signs, tee-shirts, bumper stickers and doctored video ads that showed my opponent placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job.
The young woman actually is my opponent’s loving wife and mother of his children who worked on his campaign, but hello? Ever hear of a little thing called #MeToo?
But now that I’ve won and I am so excited to hit the ground running to serve my district, constituents and America, I’ll be completely honest like every Congressman is:
I’m starting to wonder whether the job is all it’s cracked up to be.
During freshman Congressional orientation where they teach you the basic rules, I was shocked to learn some disturbing things.
1. I can’t get rich doing this?
People believe congressmen do. I believed it. That’s why I got into the game — sorry — selfless public service.
But then I found out the Congressional salary is just $174,000/year.
“Just” $174,000 you say? Let me tell you, that’s a big pay cut. It’s a LOT less than I made as a mesothelioma personal injury lawyer winning multi-million-dollar judgments for victims suffering from asbestos exposure, of which my law firm (i.e., me) kept 99.7 percent and delivered nearly $2.00 to each and every victim. You’ve seen my ads on Fox and also on highway billboards.
But isn’t the $174,000 Congressional salary a lot more than the average American earns? Sure. But nurse anesthesiologists and computer and information systems managers make more money, and they’re not running the country. At least not like I’ll do in Congress.
Besides, Manhattan hedge fund managers make $175,000 every minute of their lives, even while they’re sleeping in their $20 million Hampton summer homes. Meanwhile, Congress — yours truly — is supposed to keep these Wall Street titans from destroying the economy again.
How can we possibly hold Wall Street fat cats who finance our campaigns accountable when they make so much more money and can buy us in their sleep, even while we sleep?
Speaking of sleeping, I found out that in Washington, DC, the average home costs about $600,000 — tiny one-bedroom condos are $400,000 — versus $200,000 for the country. The average rent in DC is $2,000, twice the national rate. To live in DC, a $175,000 salary is barely keeping up.
Especially when you also have to keep your home back home and pay the mortgage because your loving family lives there. Also to prevent your next opponent from running secretly financed ads claiming you abandoned your district and constituents and joined the Washington swamp. The ads will feature your family explaining that you’re horrible for not being home enough even if they like it.
2. What about all the campaign money?
Apparently I can’t pocket the $1 million in campaign contributions my campaign didn’t spend because I deliberately cheaped on office supplies as well as my attack ads by using a $19.99 ZTE Majesty™ Pro Plus LTE smartphone to film local high school theater actors to play my opponent and the young woman/his wife he #MeTooed.
3. I can’t live large?
I thought the fat-cat lobbyists and Secret Big Special Interest Money that generously supported my campaign to buy my vote and are already generously supporting my reelection campaign to double down on my votes were going to make my life better as I work hard to make America better.
But no, lobbyists can’t stretch-limo or even Uber Black me to fancy prime rib dinners washed down with $500 wines, “anoint my feet with fragrant oils of pure nard at great price” like they did to Jesus in the Bible, or fly me on private jets to lavish tropical golf resorts while my constituents freeze through another unusually violent and deadly cold winter due to the destructive climate crisis the generous lobbyists want me to say isn’t happening and also do nothing about.
Nor do the nerdy ethics sticklers let lobbyists buy me expensive Manafort hand-tailored suits and Virginia governor gold watches, or pay off the National Enquirer to kill its exposé about my fun non-spousal fool-around gal upon whom I actually did put my hands and now wants to #MeToo me because she’s jealous that I found another campaign worker who doesn’t care about dating disgusting older guys.
In fact, the rules say I can’t accept any gifts — defined as “a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value” — from a “registered lobbyist, agent or a foreign principal, or private entity that retains or employs such individuals.” That’s pretty much nothing from anyone who my Congressional calendar is filled with meetings with.
Worse, I can’t accept anything whatsoever worth more than $50 from anyone, not even a round of golf at a disgracefully un-luxurious and plebeian public course where my pathetic voters play. Not even a box of Titleist Pro V1 golf balls at $49.99 plus tax! But I didn’t run for Congress — nobody does — to play with a $14.38 pack of 96 practice quality Walmart Value Mix Golf Balls.
How am I supposed to work on my long game so I am good enough to golf with lobbyists so eventually they’ll hire me at 10 times my salary plus at least $2 million in annual performance bonus if I succeed in milking and paying my former colleagues in Congress to kill a climate-protecting bill?
4. I can’t have a side hustle?
I thought that while serving America in Congress, I would get to keep on screwing — sorry — serving mesothelioma victims and taking fees from my former law firm to pay for my expensive second home in Washington plus a ski condo in Sun Valley and also get richer.
This would be perfect and also reasonable since I’ll be on the Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees healthcare as well as law firms that serve mesothelioma victims.
Apparently, my scheme — sorry — service to constituents by enriching myself from my firm while in Congress is nominally against the rules. Something nerdy to do with “conflict of interest.”
What about owning stocks in companies that I regulate, loading up when I’m about to vote to help them and dumping when I’m about to hold hearings to screw them because they won’t contribute to my reelection campaign? I don’t speak German, but I believe the term is verboten.
All to say, the Congressional rules have put a temporary stop to my scheme — I mean, patriotic vision for the future of America.
I might have to wait until I retire from Congress, or get defeated because of my rule-breaking scandals,in order to make the big bucks as a successful, well-connected former Congressman/influence peddler/convicted felon in a minimum security prison with tennis courts.
But wait! As an attorney I know: Every law or rule has loopholes.
My job, on behalf of all the wonderful people who believe in me, worked for me, voted for me, and supported me, is to have the courage to find and exploit the loopholes and stand up for their elected representative who is me.
Changed my mind. I love this job!
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer