June 1, 2012

VIDEO: Congressman Tim Scott Holds Jobs Forum, But Room Was Packed With Lawyers And Lobbyists

VIDEO: Congressman Tim Scott Holds Jobs Forum, But Room Was Packed With Lawyers And Lobbyists
Rep. Tim Scott

The jobs report released this morning by the federal government is discouraging, with unemployment hanging around 8.2 percent.  Americans expect their government to take action and work to fix the economy. Freshman congressman Tim Scott (R-SC) claimed to be doing that yesterday, when he hosted a “Revitalizing America” forum on Capitol Hill.

My colleague Lee Fang and I attended Scott’s forum yesterday, which the congressman repeatedly said was an event for job creators and entrepreneurs from his district.

While there were some small business owners there and some South Carolinians — we counted numerous staff from the University of South Carolina, for example — the event was packed full of two categories of people most Americans would not consider to be major job creators: lawyers and lobbyists.

As I scanned the invitation list at the welcome table, I saw the names of lobbyists from PhRMA (the pharmaceutical industry’s massive trade association), Koch Industries, and many, many DC-area law firms. We even spotted some of the most prominent influence peddlers on Capitol Hill, including Sean O’Hollaren, Honeywell’s chief lobbyist, who was walking around the room, greeting congressmen as they entered. Lynn Liddle, a “vice president of legislative affairs” for Domino’s Pizza corporation, was seen in the front of the room. “Legislative affairs” is corporate-speak for lobbyist.

As we reported yesterday, labor reporter Mike Elk was physically attacked during the forum after he tried to ask a dissenting question to David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell. Not only was Cote at the forum, but so were a number of the company’s super-lobbyists.

Scott agreed to do a quick interview with us about his forum. We asked him why so many lawyers and lobbyists were invited, and if this was simply a symptom of Washington’s corruption. The congressman repeatedly deflected these questions, and also didn’t offer any comment about the fact that Honeywell actually spends more on lobbying than it pays in corporate income taxes (likely thanks to its political connections).

The congressman claimed that out of the 300 people invited, 280 were from South Carolina. We asked if he would provide us with the guest list to verify this assertion, but he did not agree to our request. Watch our interview with Scott:

It’s truly disheartening for Scott to open up his jobs events to so many corporate lawyers and lobbyists at a time when Americans are demanding real solutions from their government, not gimmicky events that give access to special interests.

Shortly after our interview, Scott and his staff asked Capitol Hill police to eject us from the event. We were detained for about 15 minutes before being allowed to leave.