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GannettUSA Today

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Friends in high places

We keep railing about the power wielded by moneyed political insiders in Trenton, but it pales when considering the shenanigans in Washington, where money really is king. One of the biggest evils in both venues is the political action committee. In New Jersey, it means money can be wheeled in from one county to another -- all in the name of political party building. But in Congress, it means money can flow from one area of the country to the re-election campaign of a colleague from a faraway state -- all in the name of retaining or gaining power.

That's business as usual in Washington and gets little, if any, publicity. But when the person behind that PAC suddenly is disgraced, then the scurrying begins. That's what happened this week with money distributed by the Florida Republican Leadership PAC controlled by former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., who resigned after his involvement in e-mail sex exchanges with male congressional pages came to light. Republican members of Congress were tripping over themselves to concede they received money from Foley's PAC -- $149,000 to candidates since 1998 -- and were donating their share to charity. It even hit close to home, with Mike Ferguson of New Jersey's 7th District in Union, Somerset and Hunterdon counties donating $2,000 he received from Foley in 2002.

It's great to have friends in high places, as long as they don't slip off the pedestal. Then it's as if they never existed.

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