[Nameplate] Partly Cloudy ~ 72°F  
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Culture of Corruption

InfoUSA is one of the largest compilers of consumer information in the world.

Basically, they make lists of people and sell them to junk-mailers and spam-blasters.

For example:

1) "Oldies But Goodies" -- lists 500,000 gamblers over age 55.

2) "Elderly Opportunity Seekers" -- lists 3.3 million older people looking for ways to make money.

3) "Suffering Seniors" -- lists 4.7 million elderly people with cancer or Alzheimer's disease.

Vinod Gupta is the chairman and CEO of InfoUSA. He hails from Rampur Maniharan, a town in Uttar Pradesh state. And if you can find it on a map, you win a cookie.

He received a BTech degree from IIT Kharagpur in 1967, and an MS in Agriculture Engineering and an MBA from the University of Nebraska in 1972.

Gupta served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (appointed by President Bill Clinton). He was nominated (by President Bill Clinton) as the U.S. Counsel General to Bermuda. He was also nominated (by President Bill Clinton) to be U.S. Ambassador to Fiji.

It's nice to have friends in high places.

In January of 2002, Bill and Hillary Clinton (and others) took a vacation in Acapulco, Mexico. They traveled on Gupta's private company plane. According to court records, InfoUSA paid $146,866 for the excursion.

From 2002 through 2006, InfoUSA paid Bill Clinton over $2 million as a consultant. They spent $900,000 to fly him around the world for his presidential foundation work and to fly Hillary Clinton to campaign events.

It's nice to have friends with deep pockets.

These outrageous examples of a fat-cat entrepreneur trying to ingratiate himself with high-profile political figures came to light recently in a lawsuit filed in Delaware, initiated by angry shareholders of InfoUSA stock.

According to the New York Times, May 26, 2007, an InfoUSA spokesman described Mr. Clinton's consulting services by stating, "They were limited to making appearances at one or two company events each year."

It's nice to be paid oodles of money for showing up once or twice a year and making an appearance.

Where do I sign up for such a gig? Heck, I'll do it for half the price and I'll even throw in a card trick.

But not to worry. Nancy Pelosi has come along to save us from unscrupulous politicians.

Since 1987, Nancy Pelosi has been a member of the House of Representatives, representing the Eighth Congressional District of California. As a Democrat, she was the House Minority Leader from 2002 to 2007. When the Democrats gained a majority in the House in last year's congressional election, she became the Speaker of the House, and as such is second in line of succession, behind Dick Chaney, to become President.

When she became Speaker of the House, she vowed to rid politics of the "culture of corruption" that had prevailed under the Republicans. Apparently, Democrats are honest folks and Republicans a bunch of crooks.

Well, isn't that refreshing. Finally, someone is going to clean up all the sleazy political influence peddling.

In February of 2007, shortly after Ms. Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, her son Paul Pelosi Jr. was hired by InfoUSA as its Vice President for Strategic Planning, at a salary of $180,000 per year.

And to make it convenient for Paul Pelosi Jr. to strategically plan things for InfoUSA, he is able to remain at his full-time job as a mortgage officer for Countrywide Loans in California. Unlike all the other employees at InfoUSA, he does not have to report to work at the company's headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

Call me curious, but the strategic planning (or lack thereof) and mom's new job has a bad smell to it. Cultures of corruption tend to emit an odor much like a dead skunk in the middle of the road. And it stinks to high heaven.

Politicians are just like everyone else; some are good, some are bad and most are somewhere in-between.

Party affiliation doesn't seem to matter much either. There are plenty of corrupt politicians to go around.

Note to Ms. Pelosi: If you're going to clean house, clean your own house first. And start with your venal son.

* * *

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He can be contacted at bret@centurytel.net.