Bill Thomas: Expensive Date
Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA) is, we assume, a cultured man-of-the-world type, so there's no reason to be too surprised that he's taken a few lobbyist-funded trips hither and thither. As we see on PoliticalMoneyLine, he gets around. Keep in mind, of course, that the gentleman is the head of the Ways and Means committee -- and, due to Republican committee term limits, he has decided to retire from office so that he won't have to suffer the indignity of a seat in the House with slightly less power and influence. From his trip disclosure info, a couple things stand out.
The first is the cost of his all-expenses paid trip to Colorado for an AEI forum:
(Note: Screenshot edited for size and clarity)
Uh, Bill... you're gonna have to do a better job of hiding that kind of stuff. Spread it out or something! But hey, that's just par-for-the-course corruption. Mostly harmless. You know, you see one big lobbyist cash gift, you seen 'em all. It was in Bill's trip to Scotland where we got a little more interested. The results of our investigation, after the jump.
Once again, Bill topped the travel-expense list, which is hard to do with this particular sponsor:
The Ripon Education Fund is, as we're sure you know, the "moderate" Republican organization that, according to the New York Review of Books, spends more on congressional travel than any other non-profit except the "serious" Aspen Institute. And the Ripon Fund is, of course, headed and run by lobbyists.
Take a look at the "other costs" -- while the stories of their extravagant and fabulous "fact-finding" trips to glamorous European locales are well-known, and those trips are taken by many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, this is, as far as we know, the only example of a Congressman disclosing that, yes, while on the lobbyist-sponsored junket, someone paid for him to get a tattoo. Once again, Bill -- learn to cover this shit up. You're ruining it for everyone!
Naturally, we were a little curious. Bill doesn't really seem like the tattoo type. So we called up his office:
"Representative Thomas' office."
"Hi, I'm calling with Wonkette, and I just had a quick question about Representative Thomas."
"Uh, you're calling with who?"
"It's like an online magazine. I just had a quick question about Representative Thomas: do you happen to know if he has any tattoos?"
"Do you happen to know if Representative Thomas has any tattoos."
"... I'm going to have to refer you to the Press person on this, let me see if he's in."
(Hold. We hope to hear "Waiting on a Friend" or "Little T&A," but, alas, just silence. Then the poor schlub comes back:)
"Uh, the Press Secretary's unavailable right now, but I can transfer you to his voicemail."
"That would be great."
"Hi, this is Wonkette, we're just wondering if Representative Thomas has any tattoos. If you could get back to us at..."
If he calls us back, we'll let you know. Otherwise, we'll just try again tomorrow. We realized after the fact where the confusion may have come from: The tattoo may have been for Bill's wife, who accompanied him. For now, though, we'll assume that Bill himself is the recipient of the very first lobbyist-sponsored body mod in Congressional history. You can tell that guy's hardcore.
Yes, we know, we know. It's a castle or something. But that would've made for a less entertaining phone call.
Selling Washington [NYRB]