A few weeks ago my congressman, Pat Tiberi, announced his resignation. When he leaves the House at the end of January, he will take a job leading the Ohio Business Roundtable, a lobbying group for the state's biggest businesses and the CEOs who run them.
Yesterday Tiberi, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, began presiding over hearings for the Republicans' new tax bill. The bill, sold to the public with lie after lie after lie, provides massive benefits for corporations and massive benefits for CEOs and the people who make the sort of money they make. CEOs like Leslie Wexner, Ohio's richest man, pictured here on the Ohio Business Roundtable's "About Us" page:
Wexner, a board member of the Roundtable, happens to live in Tiberi's district and has donated thousands upon thousands of dollars to Tiberi's campaigns over the years. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.
There are millions of people who will be worse off if and when the tax bill passes. Millions more who will be further harmed once its consequences fully play out. Meanwhile, there will be a few hundred CEOs -- and their layabout heirs -- who make out like bandits. Pat Tiberi, one of the men most responsible for passing this bill, will literally be working for those CEOs when the law takes effect.
Tiberi will face no consequences for his blatant conflict of interest. He has filed all the proper disclosures and abided by all the relevant ethics laws in taking his new job. He likewise never has to face the voters of our district again, so delivering his new corporate bosses exactly what they want while harming the people he still, technically, represents, will create no problems for him whatsoever. He's going to get away it.
We in Ohio's 12th District, however, can prevent this from happening again. We can make it a point to elect a successor to Tiberi who is not beholden to corporate interests. We can demand that whoever takes Tiberi's seat demonstrate that they will carry out the will of the people who vote for him or her, not the will of the people they'll look to for their next job after they leave Congress.
When the candidates to replace Pat Tiberi come forward, ask yourself: who do they work for? Answer that question by looking at who gives them money, who vouches for them and what it is, exactly, that they promise to do for those people. Then ask yourself if we do not already have enough people in Congress working for the rich and for corporate interests.
Sometimes, like Pat Tiberi, quite literally so.