WAMU: The Cost of D.C. Council’s Power Over Contracts

For Lawmakers And Contractors, The Campaign Finance Game Is Wide Open
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Lorenz’s story would fit the classic description of what it’s like to do business in a "pay-to-play" environment, according to Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center.

“It’s a legalized shakedown. That’s what 'pay to play' is,” said McGehee. “It’s telling any contractor that to get this politician’s ear, you better make a campaign contribution.” 

But McGehee said the “shakedown” is often not explicit: “It’s all done with a wink and a nod and experience that gets the word around the community of what you need to do.” ...

“Contractors wouldn’t be making these contributions within these time frames if they didn’t feel, as business people, they weren’t good investments,” said McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center. “You don’t expend your money — or your company’s money — unless you feel like you are going to get something in return.” ...

“It’s a corrupting system for all the players in it,” said McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center. “The ones that like it are the ones that have figured out how to play the game most effectively.”

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