Washington Babylon — September 6, 2010, 9:43 am

With Congress, Charity Begins at Home

Last year I posted an item about the James E. Clyburn Research and Scholarship Foundation, the personal charity of House Majority Whip James Clyburn. The foundation’s donors included a number of companies and groups that Clyburn had supported in Congress, especially the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Today the New York Times ran a story about Clyburn’s foundation and others run by members of congress. As the Times reported:

Since 2009, businesses have sent lobbyists and executives to the plush Boulders resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a fund-raiser for the scholarship fund of Representative Steve Buyer, Republican of Indiana; sponsored a skeet shooting competition in Florida to help the favorite food bank of Representative Allen Boyd, Democrat of Florida; and subsidized a spa and speedway outing in Las Vegas to aid the charity of Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada.

And here’s the best part:

After scandals involving Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican and former House majority leader, and the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Congress adopted rules requiring corporations with lobbyists to report donations to charities established by a lawmaker. The Times review, however, found at least a dozen companies that appear to have violated the requirements. A spokeswoman said the Senate Office of Public Records was barred from routinely checking lobbyist filings to ensure that they were honoring the rules.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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