Friday, December 16, 2005

Columnist Resigns For Accepting Abramoff $ for Favorable OpEds

Op-Eds for Sale

BusinessWeek Online: A columnist from a libertarian think tank admits accepting payments to promote an indicted lobbyist's clients. Will more examples follow?

A senior fellow at the Cato Institute resigned from the libertarian think tank on Dec. 15 after admitting that he had accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff for writing op-ed articles favorable to the positions of some of Abramoff's clients. Doug Bandow, who writes a syndicated column for Copley News Service, told BusinessWeek Online that he had accepted money from Abramoff for writing between 12 and 24 articles over a period of years, beginning in the mid '90s.....

MULTIPLE TRAVAILS. A former Abramoff associate says Bandow and at least one other think-tank expert were typically paid $2,000 per column to address specific topics of interest to Abramoff's clients. Bandow's standing as a columnist and think-tank analyst provided a seemingly independent validation of the arguments the Abramoff team were using to try to sway Congressional action....

[UPDATE] 12-17
Copley News Service syndicated columnist Doug Bandow, a senior fellow at the CATO Institute, and Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the Institute for Policy Innovation (and formerly of Americans for Tax Reform), admitted to Businessweek that they wrote opinion columns favorable to Jack Abramoff's clients in exchange for payments from the lobbyist. Ferrara defends the practice and says he'll do it again.
These revelations are, unfortunately, only the tip of the iceberg....

WHY PAYOLA? An interesting Jonathan Adler post on cash-for-columns:
When I was working at CEI, I was offered cash payments to write op-eds on particular topics by PR firms, lobbyists or corporations several times. The offered $1,000 or more for an op-ed saying things I agree with anyway was a big deal given the salary structure at a small free-market non-profit. I turned down such proposals every time nonetheless. Send me good information, I would tell them, and if the information checks out, and the story is that good (as it often was), I'll write about it on my own.
Part of what amazed me is the resistance that I would get from PR firms to this attitude.....

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