The revelation that at least 25 Michigan lawmakers managed to put away at least
The word I am thinking of is schnorrer -- a Yiddish noun that describes someone for whom the mooching of free food and drink has become not just a habit, but an art form.
Journalists, it should be said, are notorious schnorrers, as anyone who has ever come between the buffet table and the press corps waiting to cover a presidential debate or new car unveiling knows.
But the provisions laid out for persons of my ilk are typically modest, designed to more fend off the unseemly on-camera collapse than to seduce the enemy of the people with memorable cuisine.
To become a big-league schnorrer, one must first get elected to public office, then arrange to have oneself appointed to chair a committee that acts as a gatekeeper for legislation of interest to people with real money.
That's what former state Rep.
Callton chaired the
Mauger, who combed through a state database of public filings in which
That's more than
Just two lobbyists -- the multi-client lobbying firm Government Consultant Services and health insurance giant
The next-largest beneficiaries of lobbyists' gastronomic largesse, in order, were Rep.
In a phone interview last week, Mauger told me that the only thing more interesting than what he found perusing officials'
Unlike those in many other states,
Other states require the influence-peddlers paying the bill to say who they're lobbying, what bill they're discussing, and on whose behalf a targeted legislator's glass is being refilled. But in
Home away from home
No one is suggesting that
What worries Mauger (and ought to concern any voter whose household budget doesn't allow for wining and dining their elected representatives) is the distance this transaction feeding trough culture creates between the government and the governed.
"These are people who were sent to
I know some of the schnorrers who made Mauger's top ten list. Most are hard-working, essentially honest lawmakers who probably don't pay much attention to which special interest paid for which of their dinners or remember all the things those benefactors wanted.
But I bet they appreciate being part of an elite that can usually count on someone else to pick up the check, no matter how many people are at the table or what they're talking about. No wonder so many of them seek to become lobbyists themselves when their tours of legislative duty are up.
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