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Toxic corruption of our politicians 

EnergySolutions Inc. The name has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? But whose energy problems is this company trying to solve?

Italy's, for one. That country has 20,000 tons of nuclear waste it wants to dump somewhere, so this Salt Lake City corporation says that, for several million dollars, it will gladly import Italy's waste and bury it in Western Utah. Great. Our country can't figure out what to do with our own nuclear nasties, yet this corporate huskster would throw open our borders to everyone's trash. Send us your tired, your poor ... your nuclear waste!

Not wanting America to become a global Dumpster, some lawmakers are trying to ban the importation of radioactive foreign waste. EnergySolutions has responded by applying the handy- dandy solution used for wiping away corporate problems in Washington: money. In the past four years, company execs and investors have upped political giving tenfold, dumping nearly $400,000 into congressional campaign coffers. They've also ramped up spending on Washington lobbyists, topping a million bucks last year.

When confronted with the obvious charge of trying to buy votes, EnergySolutions asserted it is merely buying "access" to lawmakers. As a corporate spokesman explained, campaign cash "gives us the opportunity to participate with elected officials."

In other words, "the opportunity to participate with elected officials" requires a major cash transaction a corruption that shuts out ordinary citizens, perverts the public interest and mocks our democracy. This is a bigger, more toxic problem than nuclear waste, and one solution is to take the corrupt money out of the system with public financing of congressional elections. Learn more at publiccampaign.org.

Jim Hightower is the author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

  • This is a bigger, more toxic problem than nuclear waste.

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