Lobbyists Buy Charities

For the first time, corporations and their lobbyists are being required to disclose donations they make to the favorite causes of House and Senate members, and a review of thousands of pages of records shows the extent — and lavishness — of this once hidden practice.

During the first six months of 2008, lobbyists, corporations and interest groups gave approximately $13 million to charities and nonprofit organizations in honor of more than 200 members of the House and Senate.

…donors said they were supporting worthy causes, such as scholarships and research. But several also acknowledged that charitable giving is a way to build good will with lawmakers, whose decisions can have a huge effect on their business.

In addition, with new restrictions on the access lobbyists have to lawmakers, the practice provides the lobbyists a way to publicly support — and, sometimes, mingle with — the members of Congress and their staffs.

“It’s a very personal way to curry favor with powerful lawmakers.”