Beltway Confidential

Mel Watt, lobbyist donors and government favors

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Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Taxes,Lobbying,Analysis,Mel Watt

Government shouldn’t tax foreign goods any more than domestic goods. But it does. But there’s also a standard process by which congressmen request special tariff waivers for the import of some products. This is a recipe for cronyism.

Lobbying firm Venable pushed for a “duty suspension” for a North Carolina firm that wanted to import materials. Congressman Mel Watt introduced bills to grant such suspensions. Days later, Venable contributed to Watt’s re-election.

Lachlan Markay at the Free Beacon has the story.

The political action committee of Baltimore-based lobbying firm Venable LLPmade a pair of thousand-dollar contributions to the reelection campaign of Rep. Mel Watt (D., N.C.) in May and September of 2012.

The donations came shortly after Watt authored 56 “duty suspension” bills specifically exempting products headed for the production facilities of North Carolina-based textile and leather company DyStar LP from import duties.

The exemptions, if passed, will net DyStar, a Venable client, nearly $3 million in 2013 alone, according to data filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission. By 2017, the company will save nearly $15 million in foregone tax payments.

Markay delves into some of the issues here regarding the duty suspensions. I’ll touch on one other issue: shouldn’t any politician be embarrassed to take money from directly from the coffers of a lobbying firm or its political action committee?

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