Democratic Convention 2008

When Your +1 Is Your Lawyer

|

If only the conventions were like this

Last week, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) set up at a Starbucks three blocks from the House office buildings to distribute tickets to congressional staffers for a Kanye West concert at the DNC. But a new round of ethics decrees has everyone in a tizzy, because (surprise, surprise) "the House ethics committee had concluded that a free ticket was akin to a gift, and was therefore illegal. If staff members want to go to the concert on Wednesday night, they'll have to pony up $90."

The ethics committee was tardy, staffers are confused, and the RIAA is scrambling. But guess who's happy? Lawyers, of course:

"You can still have parties, just like at past conventions, but you need to talk to a lawyer to make sure you're not putting your donors, your sponsors, your guests—members of Congress and staff—in an ethical quandary," said Jason Torchinsky, a Republican lawyer advising both lawmakers and lobbying party hosts on the rules at the GOP convention in Minnesota next week. 

To hear some brilliant trash talk about ethics and campaign finance rules, keep an eye out for an upcoming interview with former Federal Election Commission chairman Brad Smith at reason.tv.