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At a hearing in late March, the nation’s credit card companies faced the threat of expensive new rules from an unlikely regulator: the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
The committee had never before dealt with credit card issues, but Thompson warned Visa, MasterCard and others that Congress might need to impose tighter security standards costing millions of dollars to protect customers from identity theft.
Behind the scenes, some of Thompson’s staff members sensed a different motive — an attempt to pressure the companies into making political donations to the chairman, according to several former committee staff members.
Now the House ethics committee is investigating the propriety of the committee’s operations, and whether its members’ interactions with companies compromised its work. Within a few weeks of the hearing, Thompson collected $15,000 in donations from the credit card industry and its Washington-based lobbyists, a Washington Post analysis shows. No legislation on card security has been introduced.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner:
The bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, was being scrutinized in the hope of building a better airplane engine.
London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”