Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Bit Too Much Gratitude

This caught my eye:
A 2009 study of the EDA [Economic Development Administration] by the nonpartisan Cato Institute collected numerous government oversight reports and documented widespread abuse of taxpayer dollars. The study noted that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is familiar with the EDA process. In 2008, he hand- delivered a $2 million EDA check to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Research Foundation to begin construction of the "UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park."
As any university fund-raiser can tell you, a "naming opportunity" is a valuable resource.  People are willing to pay big bucks to have buildings and other things named after them.  In light of this fact, isn't it fair to say that Senator Reid received some nonpecuniary compensation from this recipient of government funding?  Why should this transaction be legal when more explicit pecuniary kick-backs are not?

Let me propose that Congress adopt the following rule: No institution receiving government funds should be able to name itself (or any part of itself) after any government official who had a hand in providing those funds.