Just Because You Can Do It Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Illegal

Is it just me or does this seem kind of…illegal?

President Obama’s Interior secretary is due for a raise, but Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter threatened to block that pay increase unless the Interior Department opens more access to Gulf drilling. Democrats say that Vitter’s opposition amounts to coercion.

This morning, aides to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar say he asked the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to withdraw any effort to address Salazar’s planned salary increase over a rare and personal dispute launched by Vitter. Salazar wrote to Reid, that Vitter’s demand is “wrong” and called it “attempted coercion.”

When I first clicked on the story I figured Vitter was blocking Salazar’s pay increase as part of some trivial but symbolic budget gesture. “In times of high unemployment and record level debt why should we give public officials raises?”. Silly, but relatively harmless. Instead Vitter refuses to allow Salazar’s scheduled raise to go through unless he leans a certain way on a policy.

If this isn’t pay to play I don’t know what is.

Sure Vitters method and approach might be different, but don’t let that fool you. What he’s saying is quite literally…I will give you money if and only if you support my policy.

HORRIBLE PRECEDENT

If this kind of political coercion is permissible what’s to stop Congress from offering bribes “pay rises” to public officials that vote favorably on certain issues are high achievers.

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