Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bizarre Congressional Bribery Scandal

Proof that if you're a Democratic congressman, absolutely everything is for sale.

Eric Semler wanted to throw his son a Bar Mitzvah bash that he would never forget — capped by a fireworks show near the hedge fund investor’s Southampton, N.Y., home — but he needed Rep. Tim Bishop’s help.

The fireworks company Semler hired hadn’t received government permits needed to put on the display. So on May 21, with the party just five days away, Semler contacted the Democratic congressman and asked for his help.

Bishop agreed to intercede. But before Bishop and his aides completed their work on his behalf, Semler received a request from the congressman’s campaign staff, according to documents obtained by POLITICO and multiple interviews: For a contribution of up to $10,000 to Bishop’s reelection campaign.

“Our Finance Chair, Bob Sillerman suggested to my dad that you were interested in contribution to his campaign and that I should be in touch directly with you. We are going to be in a tough, expensive campaign and so we are very grateful for your willingness to be of help,” the congressman’s daughter and fundraiser, Molly Bishop, wrote to Semler in a May 23 email, three days before the party, when it was still unknown whether the permits would come through.

“If you make a contribution before June 26th you and your wife may each contribute up to $5,000; after June 26th the most you can each contribute is $2,500,” she added.

Tim Bishop received $5,000 combined from Semler and his wife on June 26, the first time the couple had given to the five-term congressman.

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