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Corruption Chronicles

Senator Boxer’s Unethical Fundraising

A veteran Democratic lawmaker is unethically using her position as chair of a powerful U.S. Senate committee to raise money for her reelection campaign.

As chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, California Senator Barbara Boxer has befriended former vice president turned international global warming star Al Gore and now she is using his testimony before her committee to raise cash for her 2010 reelection campaign.

Boxer has asked her supporters to sign an online thank you card to Gore for his many years of leadership and hard work. It points out that no single person has done more for the environment than Gore, praises his Oscar-winning documentary (An Inconvenient Truth) and prominently mentions that the former vice president accepted Boxer’s invitation to testify before her committee this week. Boxer promises to personally deliver the notes to Gore.

The thank you card also asks for donations to the Friends of Barbara Boxer, which campaign finance watchdogs call inappropriate because it unethically suggesting a link between a congressional hearing, legislative activity and campaign contributions. Boxer’s campaign consultant says there is no violation because the “entire focus is on Al Gore” and not making a contribution.

A fixture in the U.S. Senate since 1993, Boxer has already come under fire for violating her own committee’s strict hearing rules to give her famous friend preferential treatment. Gore demanded and was granted an unprecedented 30-minute opening statement and a waiver of the committee’s 48-hour rule that requires all witnesses to submit testimony in advance.


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