A staffer for Republican Rep. Paul Cook told an undercover journalist that Cook will likely vote to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, because big campaign contributors that benefit from the bank are in his district.
“He’s probably going to vote in favor of it,” Dillon Lesovsky, a field rep for the California congressman, told the undercover reporter in a video produced by Project Veritas and obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Reason being Boeing is in our district, and then we also have Mitsubishi Cement. We have a bunch of cement and minerals companies that export out a lot of stuff.”
“They are hitting us hard on this,” he continued. “Making sure that, uh –. They are big contributors of ours. They are big campaign contributors of ours, so, you know, we’ll help them out.” (RELATED: Boeing CEO Refuses To Make Case For Ex-Im Before Congress)
The Ex-Im Bank’s stated mission is to make it easier for U.S. businesses to export goods by providing financing deemed impossible or too risky by the market, with the goal of helping the U.S. economy. But critics say it amounts to international corporate welfare funded by U.S. taxpayers.
If Congress does not act, the Ex-Im Bank will expire June 30. (RELATED: Republican Reps Refuse To Take Sides In Ex-Im Battle)
“It seems that instead of weighing the true pros and cons of reauthorizing the bank, the congressman’s vote is based on money and influence,” the narrator of the video says. “Political cronyism at its worst.”
Pressed about Boeing, Lesovsky said Boeing is a big contributor to everyone. “Is that kind of how it works?” the reporter asks.
“Unfortunately, a little bit,” Lesovsky responds.
“In terms of whether or not people vote?” the reporter asks.
“It’s actually influence more than anything,” the staffer replies. “I run the political arm of things for my boss, so I see that whole end of it.”
Cook disputed his staffer’s account. He told TheDCNF he does not base his votes on the wishes of big campaign contributors. ” My staffer was out of line and grossly misinformed about how I make decisions, and I regret that he made such erroneous comments,” he said in a statement emailed to TheDCNF.
He added that he voted against Trade Promotion Authority, contrary to the wishes of some of the same entities that support the Ex-IM Bank. (RELATED: Why The Senate Should Think Twice Before Granting Fast Track Authority)
“If my decisions were based on the positions of contributors, I would have been lining up to vote in favor of Trade Promotion Authority because some of the same entities who support Ex-Im are much stronger in their support of the TPA,” he said. “But I opposed TPA and will continue to do so. The bottom line is I make my decisions based on policy and the effects it will have on my constituents.”
Asked whether Lesovsky has been disciplined, a spokesman for Cook declined to comment for legal reasons. Lesovsky’s Twitter account and personal website are no longer online. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Cook voted for the Ex-Im Bank last time it was up for reauthorization, but told TheDCNF he will wait for legislation before making a final decision on whether to support the Ex-Im Bank this time around.
Conservative opposition to the bank has reached a near-fever pitch, and Lesovsky tells the reporter he doesn’t think House leadership will even allow a reauthorization measure to the floor for a vote. (RELATED: Conservative Opposition To Ex-Im Bank Hits New Heights)
But another undercover reporter spoke with Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who is a supporter of the Ex-Im Bank. “We going to make it [reauthorization] happen,” she said.
“Mark my words” she added.
Lesovsky disagrees: House leadership “are not going to put it up for a vote,” he told the reporter, adding “they are going to let it expire” because of “political realities.”
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