When I was first elected to represent the people of Delaware, I made a vow to hold myself to a higher standard. The voters had placed their trust in me, and I knew if I broke that sacred covenant, I’d never forgive myself. Which is why, 35 years later, when someone tries to sway my position on an issue by offering me a small favor or modest campaign contribution, I’m not afraid to put my foot down and clearly state that no, my vote is not for sale at a price that low.
It’s as if some of these special interest groups think they can just walk into my office and buy my influence for no more than a few grand. Can you believe the goddamn nerve of people like that?
Having sworn to support and defend the Constitution, the very least I can do is demand the absolute best price for my vote. So here’s my message to any K Street types who think they can persuade me to withdraw my name from vital and broadly supported pieces of legislation: You’ve got another thing coming. Because if all you’re going to offer me are dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants, exclusive country club memberships, and box seats to the Super Bowl, you can just slither back under whatever rock you came from.
This is the United States Congress, after all. Have some respect. I’m not some broke first-term rep from one of those shit-poor rust belt states. I don’t go around backslapping anyone who’ll cut me a check for four figures. Five figures, maybe, but even that’s lowballing it. How dare these corporate thugs think I would dishonor this office for so little!
Just the other day, a young lobbyist for a major chemical company met with me to ask if I could push a dubious bill through the Senate Environment Committee. I thought, “What kind of asshole does this guy take me for? Does he really think I’d sacrifice my personal integrity just because he’s dangling a measly $30k in front of my face?” I almost had him thrown out of the building.
Luckily, I managed to remain calm, realizing that this idiot was new in town and hadn’t been shown the ropes yet. I explained that while I was grateful to his client for their continued financial support, it wasn’t fucking 2012 anymore. We’re in the 2018 midterms now, I have a new committee appointment, and my rates have gone up. It’s that simple.
Then I told him to never, ever honeydick me again unless he’s ready to do this the right way.
These are the principles I got into politics for, and I will continue abiding by them as long as I have the privilege of serving my country. Thankfully, there are still some groups out there who understand that—namely the banking and pharmaceutical industries. They know full well that when the time finally comes for me to retire, I expect an obscenely overpaid ceremonial role where I can collect an inflated salary for years while doing little or no real work.
To accept anything less would be unpatriotic.