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Cash for comment in the US

December 20th, 2005

In a US case reminiscent of our own cash for comment scandal, Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow has resigned following the revelation that he wrote (for pay) articles promoting the interests of Jack Abramoff’s clients, including the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands and the gaming interests of the Choctaw tribe. This is disappointing – I liked Bandow best among the Cato crew (unless you count Julian Sanchez). And the amount of money involved was piddling – $2000 a pop or about $24K all up. A few quick-and-dirty consultancy jobs could have brought in a similar amount, without raising the same conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the Institute for Policy Innovation is sticking to his job despite taking Abramoff’s cash. No surprise there.

But the question that really strikes me is this: If Bandow’s relatively minor ethical lapse is a sackable offence, how can Cato continue to harbour Steve Milloy? He’s not only a corporate shill of the worst kind, but a walking offence to civilised standards of behavior. Cato Institute President Edward Crane, who has failed to sack Milloy, ought to resign before Bandow.

Update IPI responds, confirming the basic facts noted above, but criticising other aspects of the Business Week story I linked.

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  1. December 21st, 2005 at 14:16 | #1

    The article in BusinessWeek that started this whole thing, upon which all subsequent articles and Paul Krugman’s commentary are based, omitted important statements and resulted in a complete misrepresentation. All subsequent who have written on this topic are guilty of passing on misrepresentation without bothering to fact-check. You can view IPI’s and Ferrara’s statements at http://www.ipi.org

  2. jquiggin
    December 21st, 2005 at 16:06 | #2

    I read both statements before posting, and what I wrote is entirely consistent with them. Ferrara took Abramoff’s cash and he’s sticking to his job.

    I think the main omission to which Giovanetti refers is that Ferrara wrote the cash-for-comment stuff before being hired by IPI. So what? IPI is still employing a professional shill, and this is, as I said, no surprise.

  3. December 21st, 2005 at 16:59 | #3

    this news about Cato and Bandow is indeed very disappointing. they’ve got some really good people there, heaven knows why they hang on to hacks like Milloy.

  4. December 22nd, 2005 at 02:57 | #4

    No, John, that isn’t the only important distinction. Ferrara and I were both misrepresented in the BizWeek article, and almost no commentators or news outlets have bothered to fact check with us before proceeding to write their own articles based on this single erroneous article.

    Neither Ferrara nor I were referring to taking undisclosed funds from lobbyists when we made our quotes to the BizWeek reporter. We were referring to the fact that policy writers frequently have a portfolio of affiliations and supporters, and that there is nothing wrong with THAT. But we both indicated in the interviews that we did not approve of undisclosed lobbyist payments, and Ferrara expressed some degree of regret for having been involved with Abramoff. But the BizWeek reporter didn’t mention THAT.

  5. December 22nd, 2005 at 03:44 | #5

    Oh, and it also appears that you need some blogspam filtering functions on your blog!

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