Here Comes the Bribe

(Eric Shansby)
By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, January 13, 2008

As an investigative humorist, it is my job to pursue important tips, such as the one I recently received in an e-mail. It was just 10 words long and not even a complete sentence: just a guy and his job title, cut and pasted from a news story.

I got right on the phone. The following conversation is verbatim.

Me: Is this Tom Susman?

Tom: Yep.

Me: I cannot help but notice that you are identified as the "ethics chairman" of the American League of Lobbyists.

Tom: That's correct.

Me: So, is that a no-show job? Like "etiquette chairman" of the World Wrestling Federation?

Tom: Or Lamaze instructor at a convent.

Me: Even better!

Tom: Thank you. Actually, I give lectures and answer ethics questions from individual members.

Me: So, I imagine you must be sick of the unfair and hurtful negative stereotype that lobbyists have to endure merely because of the few regrettable incidents that have come to light virtually every year since the Warren Harding administration. I thought I might give you an opportunity today to share with our readers some basic principles of lobbying ethics by answering a few hypothetical questions.

Tom: Okay.

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