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The Nod-Nod, Wink-Wink Gimme Rumba: Snausage politics

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Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

The dispute between Range Resources and state Rep. Jesse White shines some sunlight on behavior that has been standard operating practice in politics for ages — pols perpetually pimping for campaign cash becoming pains in the posterior.

Range, one of the big Marcellus shale natural gas drillers in the region, alleges that Mr. White, a Washington County Democrat, has become something of a fundraising shakedown artist. Range even goes as far as using the phrase “strong-arm.”

Mr. White denies any improprieties.

But pols and political action committees everywhere are familiar with the scenario: PACs give pols money to gain their ears on legislation promoting the interests of the corporation behind the PAC. The pols then continually pester the PACs to organize fundraising breakfasts, lunches, dinners or cocktail parties with very bad hors d'oeuvres probably made of Snausages.

If the PACs don't — or if they do and the cash take disappoints the pol — the pol, reinventing the art of euphemism — intimates that, hey, you know (cue the raised eyebrow here) that legislation you'd like might just have to go back to that hardly select subcommittee for the study of slow-growing grasses.

Just don't say quid pro quo.

So, crack down on campaign cash? Of course not. It's constitutionally protected speech. Crack down on pols who do the Nod-Nod, Wink-Wink Gimme Rumba? Absolutely. After all, sunlight remains the best disinfectant.

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