Need a sure-fire way to get some positive testimony at a congressional hearing? Just invite the people who butter your bread. The Aberdeen News picked up an Associated Press story on how twice in the last four months Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D) has held congressional hearings that were littered with witnesses that are contributors to her campaign war chest.
Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation in the Aberdeen News piece: "I think this shows the relationship between members of Congress and their contributors. I'm sure there were people with no connection to Rep. Noem who could have testified."
Rep. Noem isn't alone in this practice. In July, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also invited witnesses with close ties his campaign donors to his hearing in the House Oversight Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending. And who could forget Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) notoriously apologizing to BP executives for their treatment from the White House at a hearing in 2010. BP, of course, is one of Barton's major campaign contributors.
Members of Congress routinely do the bidding of their major contributors, but having them testify at hearings adds another layer to the all-too-close relationship between our lawmakers and their big money backers. And we all bear witness to the results.