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To the editor:

How do 97% of incumbents seem to stay in office when, according to author Mark Tapscott, only 17% of voter’s polled believe that Congressmen are doing a good job? In addition to their congressional pay, members of Congress are employed by, receive pensions from, and own investments in corporations, organizations and universities. Furthermore their owners, corporate officers, employees and lobbyists, richly contribute to the congressmen's campaigns, and to the congressmen’s private foundations.

Those “big entities” profit heavily from Republican and Democratic congressmen that go to work and secure government grants and contracts in their behalf. Congressmen are then corporately hired during recesses as highly paid employees, professors, consultants and board members, and in the future receive stacked pensions from numerous cooperating corporations.

Moreover congressmen invest in the very corporations they secure grants and contracts for. Propelled by the infusion of federal dollars, both the corporations and congressman benefit from that advanced knowledge, otherwise considered inside trading. Congressmen legislate the laws and therefore deem these pay-to-play procedures unethical - but not illegal.

From 2014-16 Democrat Tom Cooper from Tennessee worked hard to see that “Vanderbilt” University, received $2.2 billion in federal grants, and $187.3 million in federal contracts. Vanderbilt executives, lobbyists and employees lavishly contributed in numerous ways to Cooper’s campaign. What’s more, from 2009-1515 Cooper Brothers Land Co. received $108,000 in agriculture subsidies.

From 2014-17, Oklahoma Republican House Rep. Cole stepped up for the nation of Native Americans which have 10,000 employees who reciprocated when Cole effectively secured $700 million in federal grants, and $434,000 in surplus military lab and testing equipment from the DOD. During four elections, Cole received $12 million in conflicted contributions, again from cooperating corporations, while his opponents received nothing.

In 2016 the Tax Foundation determined that 1% of the wealthy pay 37% of national taxes. An alternate perspective reveals that the wealthiest 50% pay 97%, while the other half only pay 3% of national taxes.

Are politicians therefore hypocritically stretching the envelope when they castigate tax-evading corporations for using the very loopholes Congressmen legislate to favor big corporations — and ultimately themselves?

Congressmen jettison their oath of office every time they vanquish constitutional rights, legislate expanding taxes and participate in kickbacks – resulting from Congress’ unethically masterminded conflicts of interest. As politicians line their feather beds with the game of pay-to-play, it appears their collusion with big corporations parasitically foment the heart of our nation’s financial woes.

Heavily conflicted, congressmen betray taxpaying citizens, by favoring their own personal enrichment, above their duty to establish and honor a budget. Are they noble Congressmen, or money-dipping professionals? You decide. Use the Scorecard at Freedomfirssociety.org to expose your congressman's conflicted voting record.

Barton Boothe

Smithfield

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